Monday, January 30, 2012

Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken

Last week I made the below glazed chicken recipe from a recent issue of Cooking Light. This recipe is so simple yet tasted fantastic. I loved the combination of maple syrup and stone ground mustard and those are two ingredients that you are likely to already have in your kitchen which makes this recipe perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. I am a huge proponent of searing chicken in a skillet and then finishing it in the oven. In my opinion, this is the best way to get moist and flavorful chicken.

Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken
** adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 tsp. olive oil 
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/2 tsp. pepper 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth 
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 tsp. thyme, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 T. apple cider vinegar 
1 T. stone-ground mustard

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add broth, syrup, thyme, and garlic to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and mustard; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Return chicken to pan, and spoon mustard mixture over chicken. Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan; tent with aluminum foil and let stand 5 minutes. Serve the mustard sauce that is in the skillet over the chicken breasts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta

You know a dish turned out amazing when you are already planning when you'll make it again and you are envious that your boyfriend ended up with the leftovers at his house. Brady and I made the below pasta recipe over the weekend and LOVED it. My mom made this dish a few weeks ago and raved over it so I knew that it was going to be good but it turned out even better then I imagined. There is a little bit of prep work that goes into making this dish but it is so worth it.

This is such a great hearty winter pasta and it's surprisingly under 400 calories. We used the creme fraiche as suggested in the original recipe but I will definitely try using light sour cream next time. They taste so similar that I think it would be an easy swap and make the dish even lighter. I'm telling you, this is a standout recipe and one that I will be making again very soon!

Wish I could say this was my photo but it came from Cooking Light.

Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta
** adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 6
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

1 large butternut squash, seeds removed, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil 
12 ounces uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta 
1 bunch kale, chopped
3 bacon slices 
2 cups onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided 
5 garlic cloves, minced 
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
1 cup crème fraîche (or light sour cream)
1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange cubed squash in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Cook pasta according to directions, till almost al dente, omitting salt. Add kale to pot during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to bacon drippings and cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche (or light sour cream).

Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Split Pea Soup with Ham

A few weeks ago Brady and I sat at Table 52's bar for dinner. The restaurant's bar has become one of our favorite low key dinner spots in my neighborhood.  While the restaurant is on the upscale side, the bar is cozy and laid back and the perfect place to sit and order a beer and pizza. The bar faces the huge wood fired oven so it's fun to sit and watch the chef cook the pizzas, cornbread, mac and cheese and side dishes. The chef answers my (probably annoying) questions about ingredients and I'm crossing my fingers that if we go often enough he will politely share the recipe for Art Smith's famous Goat Cheese Biscuits. ** Fingers crossed! **

We usually both order the pizzas which are seasonal and feature a variety of unique ingredients but this around I opted for soup and salad. I had the Split Pea Soup and it was amazing. I have been thinking about it ever since. Last weekend, I decided to recreate Chef Art Smith's Split Pea Soup with Ham. Brady and I thought the soup turned out great, it's not as good as Mr. Smith's but definitely a soup recipe that I will be making again.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Serves 8
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 or 2 ham hocks - don't skip this ingredient, these are super cheap (about $2.00) and add so much flavor
2 cups cubed ham steak
3 bay leaves
6 low sodium bouillon cubes
8 cups of water
1 Ib bag of green split peas
1 tsp dried thyme

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, carrots and celery until they start to brown and soften. Add the ham hocks, chopped ham, bay leaves, water, bouillon cubes, split peas and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour.

After an hour the split peas should be soft and starting to dissolve. Add the cubed potato and simmer for an addition 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and ham hocks. If there is any meat on the ham hocks remove that and add to your soup pot. Use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup. You could also remove half of the soup from the pot and blend it in a food processor or blender and then add it back to the soup pot.

** If you would prefer a thinner soup add a little more water after blending.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cupcakes

I thought I would share a picture of the cute cupcakes that I made for my 1st and 2nd graders. We read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the other day and wrote fun weather stories. I thought these would be a tasty treat for our publishing party. I think I had them sitting too close to the radiator though because the frosting got a little melty. Oh well, luckily kids don't notice those kinds of things! I realized after I went through a package of wet wipes and half a roll of paper towels that I should have taken a picture of 16 kids with frosting on their noses, in their hair, on their uniforms, on the desks, etc...

Celebration Cake Balls

I have been wanting to make cake balls for the longest time. I love mini bite-sized treats, and well to be honest, anything mini (the travel section at Target makes me incredibly happy). I have thought about trying my hand at making cake balls on numerous occasions but the thought of 40 some small balls of cake and frosting sitting around and tempting me deterred me. I finally had the perfect reason to make these though, my good friend Thru is turning 30 tomorrow and I thought these would be the perfect treat to bring to her birthday party.

The below recipe makes about 20 vanilla and 20 chocolate cake balls. You could easily just make one cake. You could also use store bought frosting but I love cream cheese frosting and it's easy to make so I decided to make my own. I love the endless possibilities with these cake balls- different cake flavors, flavored candy coating, fun sprinkles, different shapes, etc. These are so fun and beyond cute!

Celebration Cake Balls

Makes about 40 cake balls
Prep/Cook Time: 2 hours (includes time to let them set)

For the cake:
1 small Jiffy Devil's Food Cake mix
1 small Jiffy Yellow Cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup water

For the icing:
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 of a package of 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
about 2 cups powdered sugar

For decorating:
2 packages of white vanilla Wilton Candy Melts (available at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, etc)

In two separate bowls, make the cake mix according to directions (mix cake mix with 1 egg and 1/2 cup water). Bake both cakes according to directions. Remove from the oven when golden and let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting in a stand mixer. Mix butter, cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar.

Once the cakes have cooled, cut into pieces like you would cut brownies (I didn't use the edges because they were a little brown) and put the cut cake pieces into two large mix bowls. Add about 1/2 cup of the cream cheese frosting to each bowl. Stir to combine. Roll into small balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or parchment paper. Put the cake balls in the freezer about 30 minutes to harden.

Melt Candy Melts in two separate small bowls. I microwaved each bowl for 30 second intervals and stirred in between heating. It took about a minute and half in all. Add food color if desired. Drop a couple of cake balls into the candy coating and use a fork to remove. Shake off the excess and place back on the wax paper covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle generously with sprinkles. Once all of the cake balls have been dipped place back in the freezer for about 20 minutes to set.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beef and Broccoli

This week I came across another great make at home stir-fry dish. The below recipe for beef and broccoli is beyond easy. The most time consuming part is actually cooking the brown rice. I loved the simple flavor of the sauce and the crispness of the broccoli. Flank steak isn't much higher in fat then a piece of chicken so this was a nice change to my usual chicken/pork/fish dinner. While I am no beef and broccoli connoisseur, I thought this tasted just as good as any take-out that I've had.

Beef and Broccoli
** adapted from Monkey See Monkey Do Blog

Serves 2-3
Prep/Cook Time: 15 minutes (not including time to cook the rice)

1 Ib top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into strips (I used flank steak)
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1/4 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 T. high-heat oil (grapeseed or canola)
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cooking oil
salt and pepper

Stir-fry sauce:
3 T. oyster sauce
2 tsp dry sherry
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

*** I served the beef and broccoli over brown rice. Most brown rice cooks for at least 25 minutes so make sure to start this ahead of time. 

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade. Place meat in a ziplock bag and pour in marinade, massage and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another small bowl, mix together the stir-fry sauce.

In a wok or large skillet, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3-5 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green and crisp tender. Drain the water, set the broccoli aside and dry the pan. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the steak strips and cook until cooked to desired doneness.

Pour in the stir-fry sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back to the pan. Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup #2

Last spring I shared a good chicken tortilla soup recipe that I had come across. Well, I have just found a new recipe for tortilla soup that has kicked that recipe to the curb. I loved the below soup recipe. This recipe is a little more time consuming then my original post but the extra time is well worth the effort. This soup has tons of flavor, is hearty and comforting, yet low in fat. I can't think of anything else to say to sell this soup other then you've just got to trust me and make it!

 Chicken Tortilla Soup
** adapted from My Life as a Mrs.

Serves 6-8
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
3 cups hot water
1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons cornmeal
5 corn tortillas, cut into strips

Optional Garnishes: sour cream. cilantro, diced avocado, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and red onion

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix together the spice mix: cumin, Cayenne, and garlic powder. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then spray it with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil evenly on the chicken breasts, and place them onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the spice mix on both sides of the chicken breast (reserve the rest of the spice mix for later). Bake chicken for 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Shred chicken by pulling them apart using two forks and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions, red pepper, and green pepper. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften. Add in the garlic and stir for another minute or two. Next, stir in the remaining spice mix and then add the shredded chicken and stir until combined. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the Rotel, chicken broth, water, black beans and frozen corn. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Mix the cornmeal with a splash of water and pour into the soup. Allow soup to continue to simmer for an additional 15-30 minutes. While the soup is simmering, heat a small skillet over high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the tortilla strips. Season with a sprinkle of cumin and cayenne pepper. Saute until crispy, about 5 minutes. Serve the soup topped with crispy tortilla strips and your favorite garnishes.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai

I love making take-out inspired foods at home. While there are some nights that call for ordering take-out, it's nice to occasionally put aside the menus and create my own healthier version of some of my take-out favorites. Right before I started this blog, I made pad thai for Brady. We were both pleasantly surprised when it turned out as good as the pad thai that we order for take-out. I've talked about making the recipe again for months now and finally got the chance the other night. This is a surprising simple recipe and one that won't disappoint if pad thai is on your list of take-out favorites. 

Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai
** adapted from All Recipes

Serves 3
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 (8oz) package dried flat rice noodles
3 T. fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 T. sugar
2 T. oyster sauce
2 tsp Asian chili pepper sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tsp Tamarind sauce
3 T. vegetable oil
1 T. garlic, chopped
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups bean sprouts
6 green onions, chopped
2 T. chopped unsalted peanuts
1/4 cups cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Fill a large bowl with hot tap water and place the noodles in it to soak for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, oyster sauce, Asian chile sauce, chicken stock, and the Tamarind sauce.

Heat a wok, or large skillet, over high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, saute the garlic for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add in the shrimp and cook for an addition 3 minutes or until the chicken and shrimp or cooked through.

If you are using a wok, move everything out to the sides of the wok and pour the eggs into the center. Cook and stir the eggs until firm. If you are using a large skillet, I would suggest scrambling the eggs in a small skillet and then adding them back to the large skillet once they are cooked. Add the noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce. Cook until the noodles are tender. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the bean sprouts and the green onions. Remove from the heat and garnish with remaining bean sprouts, cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve with a lime wedge on the side.