Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cheesy Bacon Pierogie Bake

I have never, before this meal, eaten a pierogie.

I don't know why... I just don't think we ever had them growing up, which means they weren't something I actively sought out in my own cooking.

That will change, though, because this Cooking Light meal was too good to leave as a one-hit wonder.  It's been popping up throughout my food blog world, and for good reason.  This was barely enough for all four of us, though; next time I will double.

Cheesy Bacon Pierogie Bake
barely adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1  (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (such as Mrs. T's)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  slices turkey bacon,  chopped
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3  cup  (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4  cup  thinly diagonally sliced green onions
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Arrange the pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff

This stroganoff was the "loser" in my Round 2 submission for the Crockpot March Madness going on right now at 365 Days of Slow Cooking. It was a hearty comfort-food meal that yielded more leftovers than I know what to do with; this would be a great dinner to divide and then throw half in the freezer.

I already have some ideas to lighten up this dish, so look for updates, but this was delicious as is. It certainly gave the Cafe Rio Chicken some serious competition!

Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff
from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp dehydrated onion or 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 (13.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the chicken, onion, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup, and tomato sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Shred the chicken and add in the parsley, sour cream and salt and pepper. Stir and turn to HIGH. Let sit without lid for 10-15 minutes. Serve over egg noodles.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crockpot Cafe Rio Chicken

When 365 Days of Slow Cooking announced a crockpot version of March Madness, I jumped at the opportunity to participate. My NCAA bracket went up in smoke early on (thankyouverymuch to the two students who suggested I send Syracuse and UCLA to the finals) so I was excited about a second chance.

My little piece of the tournament included this Cafe Rio Chicken against Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff (stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow). I didn't have high hopes for the Cafe Rio dish; who doesn't love a good stroganoff?

I shouldn't have underestimated Cafe Rio, however; the stroganoff put up a good fight but this one ultimately took the win.

I adjusted the quantities (I made maybe 1/4-1/3 of the original recipe below) because I don't have an army to feed, but if you're having company, this is such an easy (and SO CHEAP!) slow cooker meal.

Cafe Rio Chicken
from 365 of Slow Cooking
  • 5lbs of chicken thighs and/or breasts
  • 1 (8 oz) bottle zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
Mix Italian dressing, chili powder, cumin, and garlic in a bowl. Place chicken on bottom of a greased slow cooker. Pour mixture in bowl over the top of chicken. Cook on HIGH 5-6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and reserve juice to pour over chicken when serving. Makes 15 servings.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Asian Couscous Salad

Couscous has only been on my radar for a year or two and I'm sorry for the years I've missed out.  It's so easy to make and has such a distinctive flavor.

I've seen this salad on several different sites, and even though I was afraid my husband wouldn't like this, I added it to the menu alongside some meatballs.  It comes together so quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.

Asian Couscous Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 of 16 oz bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced and toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup crunchy chow mein noodles (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or oil of your preference)
  • 1 TB hoisin sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1-2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

In small bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, oil, hoisin, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Bring 1 1/4 cups water to boil. Add 1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous. Take off heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Once couscous has absorbed water, fluff with a fork and let cool.

In large bowl combine shredded coleslaw mix, carrots, green onion and almonds (and crunchy noodles if adding). Add cooled couscous to mixture and gently combine. Add dressing to salad and toss. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Can be served immediately at room temperature or refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham Omelet

I'm for sure the cook in our house, but when it comes to breakfast, my husband is usually the champ.  If we're venturing outside of the realm of frozen waffles or cereal, he picks up the spatula and whips up his famous pancakes.

This weekend, though, after ripping out a page in the most recent Everyday Food issue, I took control of the most important meal of the day.  In true Sam-I-Am fashion, Ryan wanted nothing to do with this green breakfast.  I doubled their recipe (changes are reflected below) and made one giant omelet that my husband and I split. 

This was quick and easy, and the flavor?  Well, let's just say I would eat them in a box, or with a fox, or in a house, or with a mouse...

Too much?  Sorry.

Green Eggs and Ham Omelet
slightly adapted from Everyday Food
  • 3-4 cups spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3-1/2 ham steak, warm and diced
In a small nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons water over medium-high heat.  Add spinach and cook, tossing, until completely wilted, about one minute.  Transfer to a colander to drain, pressing out as much water as possible.  Finely chop spinach; transfer to a medium bowl along with eggs.  Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Return skillet to heat and melt butter, tilting to coat pan; add egg mixture.  Cook, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula, until eggs begin to thicken, 30 seconds.  With spatula, pull edges of omelet in toward center, tilting pan so uncooked eggs flow underneath.  Cook until just set, 15-30 seconds.

Arrange cheese and ham on top of omelet.  With spatula, fold omelet in half.  Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Takeout at Home: Chicken and Broccoli

My friend Christina recently hosted a blogging challenge involving a popular takeout cuisine - Chinese food! She posted a link to an article on food.com and asked her readers to select a meal they would like to try out. She has been sharing all of the results on her blog: Tales From a Mad Men Kitchen.

We LOVE Chinese and probably order once or twice a month, so I was excited to participate in this challenge. We are boring creatures of habit. We might get sweet and sour chicken or chicken lo mein or the occasional egg roll, but we always order chicken and broccoli. So when I saw this recipe, I knew that's what I wanted to cook.

We absolutely loved this dinner. It didn't taste really like our local restaurant, and I might decrease the amount of ginger next time, but this was a huge success. Luckily, this was on a night when I was cooking late so the kids had already eaten; the two of us alone finished it so there wouldn't have been enough. Next time I'll for sure double it. Isn't one of the best parts about Chinese take out the leftovers?

Chicken and Broccoli
slightly adapted from food.com

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1/2 cup water, plus
  • 2 tablespoon water, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into thin 3-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • hot cooked rice

  • In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic powder until smooth.

    Add chicken and toss.

    In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, stir-fry chicken in 1 tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness; remove and keep warm.

    Stir-fry broccoli and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes. If necessary, deglaze with about 1/4 cup chicken broth.

    Return chicken to pan.

    Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan.

    Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

    Serve over rice.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Taco Stuffed Peppers

    My most recent recipe exchange dish came from my friend Kelly. I admit I was skeptical - I only just recently discovered that maybe I DO like peppers, so I was nervous that this would be a bit too in-your-face for me.

    This, however, was delicious. I learned that I like yellow peppers better than green, and the leftovers made for a great to-go lunch. And the fact that this is weight-watchers friendly (5points+ per pepper) is an added bonus!

    I changed a few things to accommodate our palates as well as what I had on hand, so check out Kelly's site for the original.

    Taco Stuffed Peppers
    adapted from Running Mama Cooks

    6 medium sweet bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
    1 Tbs salt
    1/2 C cooked couscous
    2 Tbs olive oil
    1 onion, diced
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup frozen corn kernels
    2 green onions, sliced
    1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning
    1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
    1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
    1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
    3/4 C Mexican blend cheese
    tortilla chips, just a handful and more for serving if desired.

    Preheat oven to 350. Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off, and removing insides. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil whole peppers for about 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.

    Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, green onions, taco seasoning, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Place peppers in a baking dish. Remove skillet from heat and add couscous, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir to combine well and give it a taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and taco seasoning to your liking. Then evenly divide mixture between peppers. Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

    Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
    Serve with tortilla chips and desired toppings (sour cream, avocado, cheese, etc...)

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Broccoli

    I just love doing recipe exchanges. I love thinking about which dish I want to submit, and then I anxiously await my assignment. I always get nervous. Will we like it? Will it require weird ingredients that I'll have to buy and never use again? Will it be easy to make while 2 energetic young boys run around my kitchen?

    This is my third exchange with my online group (I still haven't blogged the second - yikes!) and I'm three-for-three. Melissa submitted Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac and Cheese, and you probably all know how much I love anything pasta-related, especially mac and cheese. I definitely have my favorites, but I love trying new variations.

    This is definitely another one to add to the rotation. At first, I was really wary of the quantity. HALF a box of elbows was going to feed all four of us? I was positive I'd be making some sandwiches later. But don't be deceived - we all ate it and there was still some leftover.

    I wasn't a huge fan of the cheese and sauce combo, but it was so fast and easy that it doesn't matter. Next time I would probably use half cheddar and half American, my usual cheese concoction. I also took Melissa's advice and added some turkey bacon. Yum - this was a hit for the whole family!

    Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Broccoli
    adapted from Alton Brown, as seen on I Was Born to Cook

    • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 6 ounces evaporated milk
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Fresh black pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    • 10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
    • 1 package frozen broccoli, cooked
    • 4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and chopped

    In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

    Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese, bacon, and brocolli. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Happy 3rd Birthday to La Cucina di Lauren!

    Hard to believe, but today is the 3rd anniversary of my food blog. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it, and certainly no idea how many people would actually READ it (today alone, the blog has already had 262 hits just in the US - and, by the way, 2 from the United Arab Emerates).

    This has been quite the journey for me, and the experience has given more than I ever would have imagined. I've participated in challenges, cooked new foods, and met new friends. The online collection of recipes I thought I was starting has morphed into a creative outlet for me and a portal into a world I didn't know existed.

    Thank you so much for indulging this little hobby of mine. I love sharing with you!

    Related Posts with Thumbnails