Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quick Chicken Soup or 15 minute Chicken soup

Literally. Healthier and better than Ramen noodles too.

Water (to fill a large saucepan-6 cups I think it was)
Pasta (I used little stars)
2 boneless chicken breasts-cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 cups or half bag of frozen mixed veggies (ie: carrots, peas, corn, beans)
Bouillon/chicken stock powder (I had a whole food powder type thing) OR substitute chicken broth for water
Dash pepper
dash bay leaf
dash garlic powder
dash parsley
*I also threw in some broccoli

Boil water, add chicken chunks. They'll cook fast. After a few mins I added the veggies and pasta and seasonings. That was it. Perfect for last night with Kevin's flu, my cold, no one felt like cooking or shopping. Soooo easy. Granted it's not quite the same as the one that cooks for hours with real chicken bones, but when you're in a pinch and don't want canned junk, there ya go. And Kian could eat it too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sweet/Spicy Stir Fry

Of course I made this up, modeled after may other recipes and meals I've tasted.
You can use chicken, pork or beef. I prefer chicken or beef, as they have milder taste and pick up the other flavors better. And cook faster!

2 cups rice (cook as directed by package) 1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables (wegmans makes a variety so you can choose the veggies you prefer) *I use about half of the bag for me and Kevin, with some leftover

1 lb chicken or pork, boneless, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup apricot preserves (I use wegman's triple fruits with apricot, peach, and some other orange fruit)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (I use Jane's crazy mixed up pepper)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder

dash salt to taste (salt after meal is together for best flavor)

few tablespoons of water
*all spices to taste, if you want it spicier, add more ginger and pepper

1. cook rice according to package directions.
2. while cooking rice, saute' meat in frying pan, on medium, with tiny bit of olive oil
3. add veggies to frying pan, may need to add a few tbsp of water
4. while that is cooking, in a small bowl mix all ingredients of sauce together. if it's really thick, add a bit of water.
5. when meat is done and veggies are almost done, add sauce into frying pan.
6. I put the rice in a bowl, and top with veggies and meat and some sauce. You may have to play with the measurements of the sauce if you want some leftover to drizzle on top of the meal. It can cook into the meat and veggies fast if the heat is up high.


I haven't lately, but here's my fave dish:

about 1-1.5 lbs of meat (I like to do half ground beef and half ground pork)
1 box lasagna noodles
1 Jar sauce (or I sometimes get tomato puree/crushed tomatoes and add my own seasonings)
1/2 of small onion, chopped
Mozzarella cheese (I use an 8 oz bag, shredded)
Parmesan cheese
8 oz. Ricotta
1 egg (plus dash cinnamon)

garlic salt
dash pepper

green/red peppers
broccoli/other veggies (yes I have made a meat & veggie lasagna before)

*Boil water-add a little olive oil to prevent sticking, add noodles, cook until 'al dente'. You don't want them too soft, nor too hard. While boiling noodles:
*Cook meat in frying pan. I add some garlic salt/powder, basil, oregano (or just use Italian seasoning) When no longer pink, drain off any grease. If using vegetables, can add in the meat and cook until semi-soft.
*Add ricotta, egg, 1/3 of mozzarella, dash of cinnamon, dash of garlic powder, dash of basil (can you tell I LOVE herbs and seasonings?) and mix together.
*Drain noodles, spread a little sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Arrange one layer of noodles, to cover bottom.
*Add meat, spread with some sauce and top with some mozzarella.
*Layer noodles on top. Spread ricotta mixture on top, and spread a little sauce on top of that.
*Arrange another noodle layer. Top with a generous amount of sauce and mozzarella cheese.
*Bake at 375 for almost an hour. Can put foil on top of pan to prevent cheese from browning, just remove about 15 minutes before lasagna is done.

*You can layer however you want. I just like putting the heavier meat on the bottom, as the ricotta is lighter and doesn't hold the shape as well. My mother layers noodle, meat/ricotta, noodle, meat/ricotta, noodle, etc. So do as you wish.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Roasted Potatoes

How can you not love roasted potatoes? They're much healthier than fries, mashed potatoes, possibly even baked potatoes-unless you're one of those weird people who eat baked potatoes plain-who does that? I made these for just Kevin and I, and Kian had one little piece. It would probably feed 3 as a side dish. So, double if you have more than that. Anyways, without further ado:

The Ingredients:
4 medium Red potatoes
about 1/2 tsp Rosemary
about 1/4 tsp Thyme
about 2 tbsp Olive oil
about 1/2 tsp Garlic salt

*I say about because I don't measure, I dash a few things in here and there, but I use my eye to guess about how much it is. But, we've been over this before. I also went light on the herbs because Kevin doesn't really care for herbs the way I do. If things are too covered in herbs he says I have "put birdseed and grass all over his food". Hmph!
Cut potatoes in quarters or eighths, (meaning smaller ones can be quartered, but larger ones should be cut into eighths so that they're all about the same size and cook uniformly)
I then toss them in a bowl, add the seasonings, stir, then add just enough olive oil to coat them lightly.
Then I dump them into a pan, any old pan will do really.

I baked/roasted them at 400 for about 40 mins. Just check with a fork or knife before bringing out. If they're starting to stick to the bottom, add a bit more olive oil. I turned them over and stirred them up about half way through.
Then Eat!! Easy AND Delicious, who could ask for more?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Split pea soup

7 cups water
1 lb bag of split peas
3 medium carrots-chopped
1 small onion-chopped
2 cloves garlic-minced
black pepper
Ham (either on bone or ham steak, chopped into bite size pieces)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp chopped bay leaf
dash savory
Optional: Bouillon cube and/or goya sauzon packet

First empty split peas into bowl, make sure there are no pebbles, rocks, etc. Then rinse by adding water, swirling or stirring around to make any "junk" float to the top then pour off.
Peas after washing

Add water into large pot, add peas, turn heat to med-high. Add onions:
Add carrots:
Add garlic:
Add in dash black pepper, bay leaf, (salt either now or at the end-if you add at the end you will end up using less because it won't cook in and you'll taste it more)
If using ham on bone, add now. If using ham steak, can chop into bite sized pieces and add at any time. I chose not to use bouillon cubes as they are just full of salt and "junk" I can't pronounce. And I was giving this to Kian. Bring to a boil:

Then cover pot, turn down to a simmer and let cook until peas are tender, I think mine cooked for about 2 hours. I like mine really "mushy". Then I added salt and ham at the end. I gave it to Kian without the ham or salt. Picture of finished product coming soon!

Chicken Parmesan

Yes, I use 95% of Wegmans products and yes I even suggested to them that they have a blog on their website for weird people like me! I made this for company a few weeks back so I couldn't take pictures of every step, but the end result was delicious and looked great. Maybe next time.

Chicken breast or thin Chicken breast cutlets
2 eggs
1 jar sauce
1 box spaghetti or pasta of choice
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Italian bread

Breading Ingredients:
1-2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
handful of grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup I believe)
1 tsp garlic powder
dash black pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (I love seasonings)

Mix all these together in a somewhat shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl beat 1-2 eggs together. Take your chicken breast, pat dry, dip into egg, coating all over. Then lay it in the breading bowl and make sure it is entirely covered. Lay onto a baking sheet (either sprayed with Pam or wiped with Olive oil so that it doesn't stick). Repeat with remaining chicken. I prefer not to fry it in a saute pan first because that just adds more oil and fat and calories.

Bake at 375 for about a half hour. I use the thin breast cutlets so it doesn't take as long. When chicken is about done- I take the tray out, spread a couple spoonfuls of sauce on each piece, then top with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted but not browned.

Serve over pasta, side of salad and of course bread! Try that bread with the herbed butter!

Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Chicken & Veggies

Long name, good stuff.

1 box penne
1 clove garlic mashed/minced
about 2 tbsp chopped onion
1 lb - 1.5 lbs of boneless chicken breast
about 1/2 cup peas
about 1/3- 1/2 cup tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes cut in half)
Olive oil

Sauce:2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
1tsp -or more- basil
close to 1/2 cup parmesan
3 deli slices provolone
dash ground black pepper
*I eyeball everything, I really don't use measuring cups*

While pasta was boiling, I cut the chicken into bite size pieces (about an inch or so) sauteed them in some olive oil with the garlic and onion.

Sauce: In a saucepan, on medium, I melted the butter, added a bit of salt, the basil, then the flour (a wire whisk works great here--basically making a rue to begin with). Then slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking it smooth and giving it time to thicken each time. When that is done, I added the provolone and parmesan (you can use any cheese instead of provolone, mozzarella is okay but tends to get very stringy, provolone melts without being too stringy).

I then threw the peas and tomatoes in the sauce, but you can also put them in the chicken pan. I wanted the tomatoes warm and soft but not totally mushy. Then add the drained pasta and the chicken together. Voila! I wish I had a picture because the pasta with the greens of the peas and reds of the tomatoes looked darn good! And it was yummy! And Kevin liked it, so that means it's good.

Chicken Soup

Every time I make a roast chicken (which is probably 4 times a year) I save all the extra meat and the carcass, yes it's a carcass. It's dead. And this is what i do:

Throw the carcass with some of the meat still on the bones into a huge pot of water.
Add some seasonings:
1-2 tsp salt (can adjust taste after soup is done)
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp chopped bay leaf
1/2 tsp parsley
sometimes random stuff like thyme, savory, whatever I feel at the moment.

Then I let it boil for few/several hours to make a nice chicken stock or broth (I still don't get the difference between a stock and broth-remind me to ask Emeril)
Occasionally I will throw in a bouillon cube.

Then after you get that nice chicken broth add:
1 large chopped potato
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery (with leaves)
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup green beans
corn, other veggies you want in there. (I am guessing on measurements, I don't really measure much) or if I don't have lots of fresh veggies I'll use a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Whatever you fancy. *Add softer veggies later, like peas, beans, etc. Carrots and potatoes need the longest cooking time.

Then I adjust seasonings to taste, throw in some pasta. I prefer Ancini de pepe or little pasta stars. I usually freeze a lot, in meal size plastic ware, to thaw out one at a time for a meal here and there. It's really simple, there's not a lot to it, and you don't have to do it all at once. I put it on the stove, let it simmer, come back a few hours later, add stuff, come back later add more, etc.


1 cup warm water
1 1/2 -2 tbsp yeast (i like mine yeasty and to rise a lot)
1-2 tbsp sugar or honey
Mix and let yeast rise for about 10 mins

Add about 4 cups flour and 1tsp salt in a bowl (I use 1/2 wheat and 1/2 unbleached reg)
Add 1/4 cup olive oil to yeast mixture
Then pour liquid into flour/salt bowl.
Stir into a dough ball. Cover with some oil, then cover with a towel, plastic wrap, whatever and let rise a little. I don't always let mine rise, sometimes I let it rise 20 mins while I get the rest of the stuff ready.

Oven to 400 degrees. You can divide dough into 4 smaller pieces or 2 pieces for large calzones (my preference) Roll it out, square, triangle, round, whatever, as long as you can fold it over later. (this is kevins, sans vegetables...sigh)

I add ricotta, mozzarella, (sometimes parm) veggies (chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms) and chopped pepperoni (or sausage) Fold in half and pinch to seal. Can brush with butter or egg if desired. I use whatever meat/veggies are in the fridge. I prefer to keep the sauce on the side for dipping, but I have put sauce inside before.

Parmesan-Dill Tilapia

If you know me, I don't like seafood really at all. I can stand a fish fry here and there, but (very) oddly enough I LOVE tuna! But, I still cannot bring myself to try lobster, crab, clams or anything in a shell. Knowing the wonderful benefits of fish, the omega-3s, the lighter fare best for your health, etc. We've been trying some new things for meals.

Enter Tilapia. It doesn't taste fishy!!! The first time I put some panko breadcrumbs on it and sauteed it a bit with a little olive oil. Yes, I realize putting things on it does detract from the healthfulness, but until I get used to it, I can't eat it plain yet. So last night I combined a few things from various online recipes to make my own dish:

2 tbsp mayo
2-3 tbsp Parmesan (I use a fresh chunk and grate it myself)
1/2 - 1 tsp dill (depends on your taste)
dash of pepper
dash of garlic powder
2 fillets tilapia

This doesn't make much and that's the point, it was just a very light covering on each side.Mix all ingredients together. Paint on one side of fillet, broil for a max of 5 mins (I have a low broil setting on my oven, and rack was about 6 inches from the top). Flip over, paint on the other side and broil that side for about 3 mins. Voila! I also sliced some potatoes really thing, splashed a bit of olive oil on, broiled them until just becoming golden/brown. Flipped, broiled some more and added a tiny bit of cheddar and parm cheese. Accompanied by a Caesar salad. Delish!

Chicken Wing Dip

This is my most favorite. So delish. You can adjust the heat level by how much hot sauce you put in to it.

Ingredients: 2 pkg Cream cheese (btw-don't use low fat, it doesn't turn out as well!)
large can chicken (or 1-2 med chicken breasts, cooked, chopped/shredded)
Buffalo wing sauce (some people use franks red hot, but i prefer the wing sauce)
Bleu Cheese (optional)
Mozzarella and/or Cheddar (your preference)
Tortillas, crackers, celery for dipping

You can either layer this dip, or mix it all together. I like the layering, but it gets mixed up either way. I start by spreading the cream cheese in the bottom of a 9x9 pan (or is it 8x8?) Then I spread some bleu cheese over that. I probably use 4 tbsp, but you can leave it out if you wish. In another bowl, mix chicken and hot sauce. The hotter you want the dip, the more sauce you add. I usually use 1/3 of the bottle, sometimes more. Then spread the chicken/sauce mix on top of the cream cheese. Then sprinkle with cheese. Not a lot, just to give it some gooey-ness. I bake it at 350 for about 30 mins or until it starts bubbling, but the cheese isn't brown on top yet. I love this with tortillas and celery. C'mon you know they always give you bleu cheese and celery with your wings! Mmm Mmm

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Best Mac & Cheese ever

2 tbsp butter
1/2-1 tsp salt (depending on preference)
1/4 cup flour
1 box favorite pasta (shells, elbows, bow ties, rotini, something with crevices for the cheese to get in!)
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
For best taste I use about 1 1/2 cups cheddar, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella (or any variety you like-have also used pepper jack, Monterrey, Colby, extra sharp cheddar, etc.)
Optional: 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, breadcrumbs/crushed crackers for top
Boil pasta according to directions, while melting butter in separate saucepan on medium heat. Add salt. When melted, add flour-a wire whisk works good in this recipe for all the mixing. When mixed it will look almost doughy, start adding milk, about 1/4 cup at a time. Mix well, give time to thicken, then keep adding milk slowly. After milk is added, add cheese. Stir until melted. Now you can add right to drained pasta, or you can mix with pasta and transfer to a casserole dish, top with crumbs and bake for about 10 mins at 400 degrees. Either way is delicious! So much better than store bought in a box crap =D

Variations on grilled cheese

I love grilled cheese as much as the next person but sometimes it gets boring and I like to shake it up a bit. I also have a panini griller which I absolutely LOVE and use that for making sandwiches a lot. So, here's some ways I change it up:

*spread bread with herb butter
*add tomatoes
*add tomatoes and onions
*use more than one kind of cheese
*use cheese spreads (wegmans makes ones with things like artichokes, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.)
*different breads, wheat, sourdough, etc.
*ham, turkey, some kind of meat
*I love tuna melts with tomatoes, onions and pickles (yes even when I'm not pregnant!)
*roasted red peppers
*ham & provolone

Ok, so pretty much grilled cheese sandwiches have endless possibilities! So much you can do with them. And of course best paired with Tomato soup, but you can shake up the soup too! I usually put some basil and/or parsley in my soup. You can do croutons on top, more cheese, some frozen veggies for a healthy twist, you name it!

Herb butter

Here's something extremely easy and so versatile AND delicious.

1 stick butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4-1/2 tsp thyme
*change amounts depending on your taste.

Let butter stand at room temperature until it's fairly soft. Add in herbs and spices. Mix with a fork or spatula for best results. Can return to refrigerator and use as needed.

Great on: Italian/french bread-cold or warmed, grilled cheese (instead of buttering bread with regular butter) biscuits, pretty much anything!