February 28, 2010

Weekly Menu: March 1-5

Happy Sunday, everyone! Can you believe tomorrow is March 1? Wow - time is flying by! Here's a look at the menu that we'll be enjoying this week. 

Monday: Crock Pot Turkey & Vegetables
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions & Gorgonzola Cream Sauce  (I am omitting the bread and not doing sandwiches - just chicken!)
Thursday: Dinner at a friend's
Friday: Homemade French Onion Soup

February 27, 2010

Homemade Veggie Pizza

Ok, I use the word "homemade" loosely in this post. Although this meal was a big step forward compared to our usual frozen pizza Fridays - yes, it's a tradition of ours - don't judge!

I don't have a recipe for this, as the dough and sauce were bought from Trader Joe's. But I still thought it was worthy of being posted because it was absolutely delicious. In fact, my husband stated that this didn't even compare to the frozen pizza we usually eat. Well, obviously - this is "homemade!" :)

To make the pizza even simpler than it already was, I decided to omit meat from it and make it just vegetables. I feel like the veggies I used were really "meaty" though, if that makes sense! Artichokes, mushrooms and black olives - a delightful combination. We sprinkled our favorite cheese - 4-cheese Italian blend - over the the top. A great way to spice up your pizza night and feel slightly less guilty than if you were to pull a pizza out of the freezer!

February 25, 2010

Balsamic Honey Pecan Chicken

(I know - not very flattering!)
Seriously? I made two meals last weekend?! Why, yes I did. As I've previously stated, I rarely make meals on the weekends. Hello! When you have a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood, you can't feel guilty about frozen meals. Anyway, I decided to make a nice Sunday night dinner, and the hubs and I really enjoyed it. It was my first time trying a recipe from Elly Says Opa - I'm fascinated by her blog but feel intimidated at times. I'm so glad I picked this recipe. It's super easy and tastes fabulous. What's even better is that it used ingredients I already had on-hand - absolutely convenient!

2 chicken breast halves (about 4-5 oz. each)
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves smashed garlic
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, mix the honey, balsamic vinegar and garlic together. Add the chicken and rub in the marinade. Allow to marinate for about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. On a plate, combine the bread crumbs and pecans. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and then dredge in the breadcrumb/pecan mixture.

Place a wire rack on a cooking sheet and spray with oil. Place the chicken on top and spray the top with a little cooking oil. Bake for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

*Note: I do not have a wire rack; the cooling racks I own have a rubber coating. I just placed the chicken in a glass baking dish. Unfortunately, the bottom was soggy (to be expected), but still yummy! If you follow her directions exactly, you'll have a crusty coating all over.

February 24, 2010

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies

I know I've talked about this before, but I absolutely love baking on Sunday afternoons. My husband is usually catching up on class work - watching video lectures, inventing medical devices, basic engineering graduate school stuff! - so I have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Last week I splurged and made Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. But hey, this blog is devoted to casual indulgence, so those cupcakes were to be expected, right!? It's not like I bake decadent baked goods like that every week - the week before I made 70 Calorie Cookies, so I feel like it balanced out quite well! I tried to go back to a more healthy option this week. This recipe is from Cooking Light - one of my favorite cook books. Enjoy this delicious cookie - I promise you won't even realize that it's a lighter version of a regular cookie!

Source: Cooking Light 

1 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1  cup  regular oats
3/4  tsp.  baking powder
1/2  tsp.  baking soda
1/2  tsp.  salt
3/4  cup  granulated sugar
1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
1/3  cup  butter, softened
1 1/2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
1  large egg
1/4  cup  chopped pecans
1/4  cup  semisweet chocolate mini chips - I used regular size

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and mini chips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Serving size: 1 cookie
Nutritional Information per serving:
81 calories
3 g. fat

February 22, 2010

Chicken Pasta Medley

Let it be known that I RARELY cook meals on the weekends. For some reason, when I do my menu-planning for the week, I tend to just plan for Monday-Friday. We're pretty spontaneous people (well, my husband is - and I'm learning!), so sometimes I feel like trying to plan out meals for a Saturday would lock us down to a certain schedule, or we would end up not sticking to it. Anyway, this past week I had a recipe I was planning for Thursday, but my husband had last-minute evening plans. I made this on Saturday for lunch, and it made a lot. So we also enjoyed this Saturday night! 

I was inspired by this recipe from Loves to Eat: Cheesy Chicken Skillet. With a few changes, I now call this Chicken Pasta Medley. Enjoy!

2 chickens breasts, cooked & cubed
2 cups uncooked pasta
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shredded cheese - I used an Italian 4-cheese blend

Cook pasta as directed. Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium heat, combine chicken, soup, tomatoes, mushrooms, milk and seasonings. Heat until bubbly. Pour into large bowl and add hot pasta - stir until mixed. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

February 17, 2010

I won!

I won a food blog giveaway! I can't even believe it! Daily Deliciousness was giving away $50 Safeway gift cards to 2 lucky winners. Now although I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, there are just some items that TJ's doesn't carry (mainly baking items, ziploc bags, etc.) - so that's when I have to make random trips to Safeway. This is perfect!

I'm so excited to have won - thanks go to Daily Deliciousness. 

Here the direct link to the post: SAFEWAY WINNERS!!!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is by far my favorite soup. There are many reasons why I like it: it's made in the crock pot, it's spicy, and the cheese on top is perfection. It's very easy to prepare this soup. To save time in the morning, you could chop the onion and peppers at night and put them in the fridge. In the morning, you'll just drop everything in!

I just did it all in the morning, and it worked out just fine. I made this soup in the fall for my work's "Soup Cook-Off." I won! Clearly, it's a great soup!

Source: Real Mom Kitchen  

1 - 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes - I used the one with green chiles
1 - 10 oz. package frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 cup chopped onion - I used white
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper - I used red, although green would add some color
2 chicken breasts - frozen works well
1 - 10 oz. can enchilada sauce - I used hot
1 - 10.75 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk - I used skim
*Optional toppings

In a large crock pot, combine beans, tomatoes, corn, onion and pepper. Place two chicken breasts on top. In a large bowl, whisk together the enchilada sauce and soup. Stir in the milk until smooth. Pour over chicken breasts and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours - or on high for 3-4.

About an hour before it's ready - use two forks and shred the chicken breasts. I just do this while they're inside the crock pot. It's easy - and I don't have to worry about making a mess when I remove them.

Serve in bowls and *top with a variety of selections: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, you name it!

February 15, 2010

Menu: February 15-19

Tuesday: Soup leftovers
Wednesday: Homemade Veggie Pizza
Thursday: Cheesy Chicken Skillet
Friday: Freezer Friday :)

Pineapple Chicken

I'm always on the hunt for new crock pot recipes - the possibilities are truly endless! I love coming home from work and not having to worry about dinner - that is absolutely the best. Sticking to my New Year's resolution (using my crock pot once a week), I made this dish last week. It came from that huge crock pot recipes document that I got from someone on The Nest. 

It was good - in my opinion, not great. I think I'd make it again, though, because it is super easy and it's definitely different than your normal way of preparing chicken.

4 chicken breasts
20 oz. can of pineapple chunks (in natural juice)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced

Arrange chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot - sprinkle pepper on top. Drain about half of the juice from the pineapple. Mix pineapple chunks with half the juice, mustard, soy sauce and garlic together in a small bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours - or on high for 3-4 hours.

February 14, 2010

Brown Sugar Cupakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


I have a problem. I'm addicted to sweets. Ok, wait - that's not really a problem. I mean, I don't mind my sugar cravings. I do, however, mind them when I get a craving and can't fix it...that's the worst! I help prevent this problem by baking treats on the weekends to get me through the week. I've been really into cookies lately but decided to change it up this weekend. Cupcakes have always held a special place in my heart. Growing up, I loved the Funfetti boxed mix - so yummy! I'd like to say that my tastes have matured a bit, now that I'm older. CRUMBS in New York City is absolutely delicious, as well as Red Velvet Cupcakery down in Washington D.C. I must admit...I've actually only had red velvet cupcakes at both! They're just divine.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to make cupcakes, and there was a recipe for brown sugar cupcakes that I've had bookmarked for a while. These are wonderful - and the vanilla buttercream frosting was absolutely perfect on top. I don't have any icing gadgets, so I just put the buttercream in a ziploc bag, and frosted the cupcakes with that - had no problems at all. 

Brown Sugar Cupakes - from Sweet Kitchen

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar - I actually used dark
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Measure out milk and vanilla together - I used a liquid measuring cup.

Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.

Place baking cups into muffin pan. Fill with batter - 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Yield: 12 cupcakes.

Billy's Vanilla Buttercream - via Martha Stewart, courtesy of Billy's Bakery 
*I cut this recipe in half - and still had more than enough to frost 12 cupcakes.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6-9 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

February 13, 2010

Mahi Mahi Almandine

*Pictured above with Parmesan Orzo & a side of green beans

So we've already established the fact that I'm a rookie when it comes to seafood. Broiled Parmesan Tilapia is so far my favorite, but there is a close runner-up...Mahi Mahi Almandine. The topping of this consists of butter, lemon juice and almonds (& parsley), and it is very flavorful. The actual fish itself is very "meaty" - and doesn't have a "fishy" aroma. That might be why I tried this in the first place! 

4 (6 oz.) Mahi Mahi fillets
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup slivered almonds - I used sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Minced parsley

Rinse and wipe fillets dry. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Grill 4 or 5 minutes on each side. Cook until fish flakes easily. Or heat up your George Foreman and grill for 4 1/2 minutes total (our only option as we live in an apartment!).

Meanwhile, saute minced garlic, almonds and butter until almonds are golden brown. Add lemon juice and parsley. Spoon over grilled fish and serve immediately.

February 11, 2010

70 Calorie Cookies

So Baltimore has been experiencing some crazy weather this past week. We have a total of 50 inches of snow on the ground - 2 blizzards hit us within 4 days of each other! Since I've been locked inside for almost one week straight, I've been wanting to bake and cook like a mad-woman. I was really craving cookies...any kind, really...I'm not picky. I came across this recipe from Cara's Cravings for low-calorie chocolate cookies. I figured l these would be a good option for me - nothing too unhealthy and over the top. Cara made 16 cookies and calculated the calories to equal 86. I ended up making 20 smaller ones - and the calorie count for one cookie is roughly 70. Enjoy and don't feel guilty! :)

2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
1 cup cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the egg whites and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites, and mix at low speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. The batter will seem dry at first, but will become shiny and smooth as it mixes. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the batter for 3 hours, or up to overnight. *I followed Cara's lead, and put it in the freezer for 1 hour and then the fridge for 1 hour, to cut down on time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thoroughly grease two baking sheets (or line with parchment paper). Drop the dough by two tablespoons onto the baking sheets. The dough is not a normal dough, but rather a thick, smooth batter.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, reversing the pans (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through. Remove them from the oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. 

February 10, 2010

Mmm...Mexican Lasagna.

So I feel like I've been on this Mexican food kick these past few days. I made Taco Dip on Friday, cheesy quesadillas for the Super Bowl (I didn't blog it - it was rather simple & I just used ingredients that I had on-hand) and last night I made Mexican Lasagna. My husband had to walk home from campus last night, as the shuttle system was shut down because of this crazy blizzard we're experiencing. He couldn't find a taxi either, so he trekked it across Baltimore. I just admire him and his positivity. I would have sat down in the middle of the street, waiting for someone to get me. :)

Anyway...once he got home, he said he was craving some solid, hearty comfort food. Yay! It was a win for the wife - I had the Mexican Lasagna in the oven, and boy was he excited! This was extremely easy - I know I say that a lot - I should just stop because all the food I make is super easy - but really, this was! You can tailor it to your tastes...if you don't like green chiles, then just use diced tomatoes. If you don't like black olives, then don't add them. Get creative!

1 lb. of ground turkey (or beef)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup of salsa
2 tortillas - I used whole wheat
1/2 can refried beans
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 small can of sliced black olives
Shredded cheddar cheese - I actually used "Mexican Style"

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground turkey (or beef) - add taco seasoning. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 2.5 quart baking dish, pour half the salsa on the bottom. Place 1 tortilla in the baking dish - mine didn't fit perfect, but close enough. You'll be having two layers, so you'll split the ingredients in half.

Spread half of the refried beans over the entire tortilla then add cheese, ground turkey, tomatoes, corn, black olives, then spread some salsa over the top. Add another tortilla and repeat. You can finish it with more cheese and black olives.

Bake covered (with lid or foil) for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. I served it with sour cream on top.

Springform Pan

So here we go again - another item that I've officially added to my wish list. I would use the word "need," but that's just not true. I'm going to be honest - I just want this. I have a feeling I know where my desire for this is coming from. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, many food bloggers have added special desserts to celebrate this romantic holiday. I found this recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake the other day (it was originally posted last year), and I've been craving it ever since. If only I had a springform pan, so I could whip this up...then eat it...all of it. 

Let's get to the specifics. I want this Calphalon one, as all my other bakeware is Calphalon. Well, all of it except my cookie sheets - those are AirBake - and they make the best cookies. Anyway, here's the pan - it's a beauty, isn't it?!

Calphalon Classic Nonstick Bakeware 9" x 3" Springform Pan
*Photo courtesy of Calphalon

February 9, 2010

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Background info: I grew up in a "red-meat household." That's right - we pretty much had red meat for every dinner. Ok, deli sandwiches now and then, but that's about it. I'm not complaining...I enjoyed it at the time as I really didn't know anything different. Of course, growing up in a small town in Nebraska probably contributed to this meat of choice. I went to college and discovered chicken - yum! And having married a man that loves all things relating to the ocean, I've expanded my tastes to seafood. There - I can't believe said it! I'm sure those of you who've known me for a while probably think I'm lying when I say that I eat seafood - and regularly! 

I got married in June, and I've only made a meal with red meat twice...that's it! Chicken, turkey and fish frequent our dinner table often. Now when I do eat red meat, I just feel "full" a lot faster.  I'm not here to persuade you to give up red meat - heck no! Because even I crave a juicy steak every now and then!

This recipe for tilapia is amazing. It's the first way I ever prepared fish, and I love it. Tilapia has such a mild flavor, and the sauce is so yummy. I believe it can make a believer in fish out of anyone!

Pictured above with Gourmet Mac & Cheese, and a side of corn.

Original recipe from allrecipes.com.

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (shredded, not grated!)
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
**This is for 2 lbs. of tilapia fillets - but I use this much on 3-4 individual fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.  In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

February 8, 2010

Menu: February 8-12

So I never got around to making mahi mahi last Friday because of the snow storm that hit good ole Baltimore. It's on the menu again for this week!

Monday: Mahi Mahi Almandine from CD Kitchen, parmesan orzo & broccoli
Tuesday: Mexican Lasagna from For the Love of Cooking
Wednesday: Lasagna leftovers
Thursday: Crock Pot Pineapple Chicken (new recipe!) with rice & green beans
Friday: Chicken leftovers, pasta & corn

February 7, 2010

Taco Dip

I've been craving a creamy, cheesy dip for quite some time now. With the "storm of the century" about to hit the East Coast, I figured this was my time. Of course, I needed specific ingredients, so my only option was to head to the grocery store the day the blizzard was going to creep in on Baltimore. So there I was, with all of the crazies in the grocery store, fighting lines, being denied milk (I couldn't even buy soy milk - it was all out!). In the end, it was completely worth it...this dip was amazing! I had looked up various recipes, and there wasn't a clear winner in my eyes. I combined a few, and this is what I got: an absolute delicious...easy...tasty...creamy...perfect dip! I think I would make one minor change next time (and only because I LOVE spicy food): I'd add a small can of diced jalapenos to the cream cheese mixture.

1 block cream cheese - I used low fat
1/4 cup sour cream - again: lowfat
1 - 10 oz. can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (might equal one normal packet, but I had a HUGE packet)
1 - 2.25 can of sliced black olives
1/2 cup shredded cheese - Mexican blend
tortilla chips

Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature - I set it out for about an hour. Set oven to 350 degrees. 

Using a spatula, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, can of Rotel and taco seasoning in a medium dish. You should stir it until it is well-combined. Evenly spread the mixture into a pie plate. Drain the black olives and sprinkle over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle cheese over black olives. Bake for 13-15 minutes. After removing it from the oven, allow it to set for about 5 minutes before digging in. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

February 4, 2010

Peanutty Noodles

Along with my New Year's resolution to use my crock pot at least once a week, I've also decided to start using my Cooking Light cook book more. That's where I found this AMAZING recipe - no joke. It is quite delicious. I made these Peanutty Noodles last night for dinner, had some for lunch today and STILL have a lot of leftovers. This is good though, because I'm going out to eat with my sorority alum group tonight. My husband is excited to eat this again! The original recipe is for just the noodles, but Cooking Light suggested adding chicken or shrimp to turn this into a main dish  - and that's what I did! I cooked 2 chicken breasts and then cubed them. It worked out wonderfully. I can't wait to make this again (and I probably will next week!).

Peanutty Noodles from Cooking Light

2  cups baby carrots 
1  tablespoon  vegetable oil, divided
2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
3  garlic cloves, minced
1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2  cup  natural-style peanut butter 
1/4  cup  low-sodium soy sauce
3  tablespoons  rice or white wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1  teaspoon  chili garlic sauce 
1/4  teaspoon  salt
Cooking spray
1 cup bell pepper strips (I used an orange pepper)
1  pound  snow peas, trimmed
1 pound uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
*2 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed (optional)

Cut the baby carrots in half, and then in half again. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and minced garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt); stir until well-blended. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and snow peas and carrots; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine  peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mixture, linguine (*and chicken) in a large bowl; toss well. Serve warm.

February 3, 2010

Chewy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

Yum. Yum. Yum. Sunday = Baking Day in my house. I always look forward to Sundays; they're so relaxing and low-key. I bake goodies on Sundays that way we have homemade treats to get us through the week - it's perfect. I found this recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. I've made some main meals from this cook book, but this was my first attempt at a cookie recipe. You can add chocolate chips and/or peanuts for an even tastier treat. I decided to hold off on both - mainly because I just made the Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies last week, and that seemed too similar. These are so chewy and soft - absolutely perfect!

Source: Better Homes & Garden New Cook Book

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
*Optional: 1 cup chopped peanuts and/or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until well-combined - about 30 seconds. Add sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer (I was able to do it all with my KitchenAid Stand Mixer). Stir in rolled oats - and peanuts/chocolate chips if using them.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet - I used parchment paper on the cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes & transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 48 small cookies - I made 36 normal-sized cookies.

February 1, 2010

Creamy Chicken & Vegetable Pasta

I've made quite a few recipes posted on the blog, Stephanie Cooks. I feel like her recipes are easy to follow and realistic - she cooks with very common ingredients, so I never feel intimidated. And there are 65 pasta tags...65! How could one get bored!? I decided to try this recipe, as I've never made a creamy sauce before. It was good, and very simple. You can add whatever vegetables you like, making this a very versatile dish. Enjoy!

Adapted from Stephanie Cooks: Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Pasta.

8 ounces pasta
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp. flour (I used close to 2)
1 1/3 cup milk (I used skim)
2 tbsp. light cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup broccoli, cooked and set aside
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced and set aside

Cook the pasta and set aside, keeping warm. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the mushrooms and onions until soft - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic & stir well for about 30 seconds. Add the flour, stirring it into the veggies. Pour in the milk and whisk continually until well combined. Cook until it thickens - this will be about 10 minutes. Be patient - it will thicken!

Once it thickens add the salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat, stir in the cream cheese until well-combined. Add the parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, chicken, tomatoes, pasta, and broccoli to the skillet. Cook over low heat until heated through.

The Pampered Chef Garlic Press

Oh, garlic, how I love thee. Unfortunately, I don't like the process of mincing garlic and buying jarred garlic is not an option...it's just not the same. I have a feeling I know the source of my loathing...my garlic press tool. When my husband and I registered for gifts for our wedding, we were adamant about only registering for gifts that we would use. I'm sorry - but registering for EVERY SINGLE kitchen gadget there is, is a little much. To me, it just seems greedy. Anyway, we didn't register for a garlic press because, to be honest, I didn't know how often we'd use it. We ended up buying one from Target, whiling purchasing any last minute household items with gift cards from our wedding. We spent $2.99...so now you understand why I don't like it. It's messy, hard to clean, and already getting rusty. Yuck. A kind girl over on The Nest (and the author of Bella's Bistro), suggested I purchase The Pampered Chef Garlic Press. Guess what - you can press the garlic without even peeling it. That seems like so much fun. Here's a beautiful picture of it (courtesy of The Pampered Chef):
So I'm adding it to my Wish List. I know it's only $16, which in the grand scheme of things, isn't much at all. It's just that I'm not the type of person to go buy something just because I want it. I do, however, accept random gifts from people!

Menu: Februay 1-5

Monday: Crock Pot Chicken & Vegetables adapted from One Pot Wednesday
Tuesday: Leftovers 
Wednesday: Peanutty Noodles with Chicken from Cooking Light
Thursday: I have a girls' night dinner - my husband will be on his own!
Friday: Mahi Mahi Almandine from CD Kitchen, corn & rice