Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baked Mushroom Linguine

For this week’s meatless meal, I decided to steer away from the beans and instead use mushrooms as the “meat”.  This dish uses two different types of mushrooms, pasta, and a light cream sauce.  It may not look like much, but it is delicious in its simplicity (especially with an extra sprinkling of cheese!)

Baked Mushroom Linguine
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp flour
¾ cup skim milk
2 oz fat free cream cheese
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried thyme
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup onion, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
½ pound whole wheat linguine
Salt & pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  When the butter starts bubbling, add the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to brown, about 3 minutes

Add in the water or broth, continue cooking, still stirring, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Stir in the milk, cream cheese, rosemary and thyme.  Reduce heat to keep the mixture at a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and have released their juices. 

Cook the linguine just shy of al dente (2-3 minutes less cooking time).  Drain and rise with cold water to stop the cooking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Add the cream sauce to the mushrooms and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the noodles into the mushroom mixture and transfer to prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and cook until the cheese is browned and the mixture is bubbly.  Remove from oven.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Tacos

I love Mexican food.

Tacos, burritos, and quesadillas are always making an appearance on our dinner table in one form or another.  I just love how quickly all these meals come together and the way simple variations make a completely unique and delicious meal.

When I made these tacos, I used hard corn taco shells, black bean dip (remember when I told you how well it freezes?) and seasoned chicken (the best part is, you can use a Mexican blend or any old chicken seasoning and it tastes great!)  Toss it all together with your favorite toppings, and you have a fantastic, customizable meal!

Chicken Tacos

4-6 taco shells
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
Chicken seasoning (I used Monterey seasoning)
Lettuce, shredded
Colby jack cheese, shredded

Season the chicken well.  Cook on an outdoor or George Foreman Grill for 7-10 minutes or until cooked completely.  Slice chicken into ¼ inch strips.

Spread bean dip on the inside of the taco shells.  Evenly distribute the sliced chicken into the shells.  Top with shredded lettuce, cheese, and salsa.

Serves 2


Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are one of my favorites.  I once tried making them from a grocery store mix and was greatly disappointed.  Then I found this lovely recipe over at Your Homebased Mom.  The muffins are perfect with a wonderful lemon kick.  I cut the sugar a bit and added some yogurt to make them a little more breakfast-like, but I just couldn’t part with the lemon glaze!  If you are a lemon lover like me, these are the perfect breakfast treat!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Adapted from Your Homebased Mom

1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp poppy seeds
Zest from 1 lemon, approximately 1 tbsp
1 (6 oz) container French Vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla

Prepare a 12-muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest.  In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, oil, egg, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Fill 2/3 full.

Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

Mix together powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle the glaze over top the cooled muffins.

Makes 12 muffins


Friday, March 25, 2011

Mexican Pizza

Happy Friday!  To me, Friday night is synonymous with pizza night, so we’re making Mexican Pizza (bonus meatless dish this week!)

To make this pizza, I used my recipe for Pizza Hut Pan Pizza dough, black bean dip (which freezes well if you don’t use it all) and a few other toppings. 

Mexican Pizza
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Pizza dough, refrigerated or your favorite recipe
1 cup cheddar jack cheese
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
2 tbsp onion, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Roll out pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round (or 9 inches for deep dish)

Spread the bean dip onto the crust in an even layer.  Top with the shredded cheese.  Sprinkle the diced jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions over the top.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Black Bean Quesadillas

It is the third Friday of Lent tomorrow.  Can you believe it is going so fast?  Did you give anything up for Lent or promise to start doing something to better yourself?  I’m working on being more patient with my children and not talking on my phone while driving.

Chicken quesadillas are often a “go to” recipe in my house, especially when we have limited time.  So I thought, why not try a quick and easy meatless quesadilla?  The “meat” of this recipe comes in the form of black beans, with a little added spice to make this a little more interesting.  I also added just a little bit of tomatoes and onions to fill out the flavor palate.  I do not like a lot of tomatoes or onions, so I used them sparingly.  If you love them, go ahead and add more!  My whole family loves cheese, so I am always very generous with the cheese. 

My husband and I loved these so much that we are thinking of making it our new “go to” quesadilla recipe. 

Black Bean Quesadillas
An Amy Original

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 green onions, white & green parts sliced
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
6 flour tortillas, taco size
2 cups shredded cheese (Colby jack or Mexican blend)

In a bowl, stir together beans, tomatoes, onions, cumin, paprika, and cayenne.

Divide filling evenly between the tortillas and top with 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.

Fold each tortilla in half and place in a Foreman Grill (or Panini maker), preheated on high.  Cook for 4 minutes or until cheese is melty.

Serve immediately with guacamole and salsa.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

S’mores Cupcakes

This past weekend, I got a new sink in my kitchen!  The old one was ugly and the faucet scared the living daylights out of me.  It was discolored and cruddy and nothing I did seemed to matter—it was a frightening germ haven.  And did I mention the garbage disposal?  You could hear it from the street (when the windows were closed) and it had stopped effectively grinding food.  Yes, a new sink was definitely needed.

So, my husband and I ventured out (with the kids!) to the hardware store and got all of our supplies: stainless steel sink (to replace the brown cast iron sink), stainless steel faucet (to replace the scary white one), and a top of the line garbage disposal (not even comparable to the piece of junk residing in my cabinet).  We were ready to go, except one thing: My husband, while quite handy, does not having much experience with plumbing projects.  Since we wanted to avoid any geysers in the kitchen, we sought out help from our wonderful neighbor.

Wow—he got the project done well, and in a fraction of the time it would have taken my husband.  So it was time for some thank you cupcakes.

S’mores cupcakes are all over the internet right now.  There are all different varieties.  Some have a chocolate crust, graham cracker cupcake and marshmallow crème frosting.  Others have a graham cracker crust, chocolate cupcake, and an egg white based frosting.  Some are garnished, others aren’t.  No matter the recipe, I noticed that they were all rather labor intensive; especially the ones with the egg white frosting (those required candy thermometers and very specific temperatures—yikes!)

So I set out to make an easy and authentic S’mores cupcake.  I started out with a graham cracker crust with a little melted chocolate over the top.  Followed by chocolate cupcakes from a mix.

Then came the fun part!  I moved the cupcakes to cookie sheets and carefully topped them each with a marshmallow (get the good ones so they get nice and puffy!)  Then I placed the cupcakes back into the oven.

Once the marshmallows were nice and gooey, I took them out and quickly patted each one down to cover the cupcake.

The last step was to stick them under the broiler for a minute or two (watch them closely, we don’t want fire alarms going off) for a nice toasty marshmallow topping!  Now that’s a thank you cupcake!

S’mores Cupcakes
An Amy Original

8 graham crackers (about 1 ½ cups of crumbs)
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Devil’s Food Chocolate cake mix
            Eggs, oil, & water for mix
24 marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until finely ground.  In a medium sixed bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.

Spoon 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into each cupcake liner.  Press flat with the bottom of a cup.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle 8-10 chocolate chips on top of each graham cracker crust.

While the crusts bake, mix together the cake mix according to package directions.  Divide cake batter evenly into the cupcake liners on top of the graham cracker crust and chocolate.  Bake about 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven.  Do not turn the oven off.

Let the cupcakes stand about 5 minutes.  Once they are cool enough to handle, move cupcakes to a cookie sheet.  Carefully place 1 marshmallow on top of each cupcake.  Return to the oven for 3 minutes, working in batches if necessary.

After 3 minutes, quickly press down on each marshmallow to cover the top of the cupcake.  Turn the oven to broil.  Place the cupcakes in the oven under the broiler.  Leave the oven door cracked and watch the marshmallows carefully, you want them to brown, not burn.  Once the marshmallows are browned, remove from the oven and let cool.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Edited on 4-6-11:
I recently remade these in my mom's oven and the cupcakes came out very tall and cone shaped (originally, mine came out relatively flat).  Because of this, the marshmallows would not stay on top of the cupcakes.  If this happens, simply use a butter knife to cup the top 1/4 inch off of each cupcake so you are able to balance the marshmallows. - Amy


Monday, March 21, 2011

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

A mere two days ago, I shared a recipe for sour cream dip for sweet potato fries, but the fries just weren’t ready to share.  That all changed today and I just couldn't wait to share it with you!  A little back story...

I recently ordered sweet potato fries for the first time at a small local restaurant and they were astounding!  Crispy, salty, delicious…but fried.  They were to die for, but just not realistic everyday indulgence.  So I have been working ever since, trying to replicate those sweet potato fries without compromising the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

Over and over again I would come close to the taste, but not the crispiness.  You see, sweet potatoes just do not like to crisp up like white potatoes.  So I got to thinking, onion rings are breaded, why not sweet potato fries?  After all, the fries at the restaurant were most likely battered before they were fried.

So in this recipe, in addition to the spices, I used a simple breading and a high oven temp and bam!  We have ourselves some crispy sweet potato fries!  Yum!  I wanted to have some leftovers so I made just over 2 pound of fries (3 largish sweet potatoes), but I wrote the recipe for 1 pound to make it easier to adapt.  Just double everything as needed to make your delicious appetizer.  I think I’m going to go raid the fridge for leftovers now…

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
An Amy Original

1 lb sweet potatoes, cut into sticks
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp coarse salt
2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together egg and water.

In another shallow bowl, stir together bread crumbs, parmesan, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, and salt.

Dredge the cut sweet potatoes through the egg mixture.  Allow the excess to drip off, then add to the bread crumb mixture, turning until completely coated.  Place the coated fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fries are browned and crisp.  Serve immediately with Spicy Sour Cream Dip.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Black Bean Dip

Dip #3 in the dip-a-palooza weekend is a spicy black bean dip.  It is another dip that can be made up very quickly.  It is nice and smooth and has just the right amount of heat.

We enjoyed this dip on chips, tacos, and on Mexican pizza (recipes coming soon!)

Black Bean Dip
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp chicken broth (or water)

Combine the black beans, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt in a small food processor.  Pulse to grind into a chunky paste.

Scrape down the side of the bowl.  Add the chicken broth or water.  Pulse until the mixture is smooth.

Enjoy on chips, veggies, or as an alternative to refried beans


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sour Cream Dip for Sweet Potato Fries

Yesterday I brought you my favorite 5 Minute Guacamole.  Today, I have for you an equally fast dip that is the perfect complement to sweet potato fries.  The amounts may not look like much, but it is the perfect amount for two or three people (sharing fries made from two large sweet potatoes).  I had originally planned to share a sweet potato fry recipe with this dip, but I am just not satisfied with the sweet potatoes at this point.  Just a bit more tweaking and they will be ready.  And they are going to be fabulous!

The following recipe is very lightly spicy.  If you really love heat, add more hot sauce to your tastes.  I totally could have used more heat, but I played it safe for the company we had over when I made this.

Sour Cream Dip for Sweet Potato Fries
An Amy Original

¼ cup light sour cream
¾ tsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Wing sauce)
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Mix the sour cream, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce until well blended.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.


Friday, March 18, 2011

5 Minute Guacamole

I feel like I have been holding out on you.  I’ve recently made a bunch of different dips for different recipes and occasions, but I haven’t shared any of them!  So, I think we are going to have a dip-a-palooza this weekend!  Let’s break out the chips and make some dip!

This original 5 Minute Guacamole recipe is actually my husband’s recipe.  This recipe was created last year when I was pregnant with my youngest son.  I suddenly had a pregnancy craving for guacamole one evening, so he started scanning the internet for a quick recipe.  He found that most recipes called for diced tomatoes, diced, onions, cumin, and garlic, in addition to the avocados.  The problem was: we didn’t have tomatoes or onions!

But this didn’t stop my dear, sweet husband.  He put two and two together and realized that salsa has tomatoes and onions (plus a little extra kick!)  And so he created the following recipe to appease his hungry, pregnant wife.  We continue to enjoy this guacamole frequently (no pregnancy cravings needed!)

5 Minute Guacamole
An Amy’s husband Original

2 small or 1 large avocado
1 ½ tbsp salsa
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
Dash of salt

Scoop avocado out of the skins and onto a plate.  Mash up with a fork (it is ok, if there are still some chunks).  Stir in the salsa, garlic powder, cumin and salt, mix well.  Enjoy immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers

As promised, our next Lenten Meatless Meal is a vegetarian burger.  Meatless burgers are something I never really thought I’d ever make.  Honestly, they just didn’t appeal to me.  That is, until I came across this delicious recipe for chickpea burgers.  They were so good that even my meat & potatoes husband enjoyed them.

There are a couple key points to remember if you want these to be a success:

#1 – Spice is your friend!  The beans are blander than beef, but a nice kick of spice (green chilies and cayenne) make up for it!

#2 – Don’t expect these to taste just like beef, because they are not!  Again, the spices help.  Also, be prepared for a texture difference.  These are going to be a little crisp on the outside, but creamy in the middle.

If you keep those points in mind, you can treat these just like a regular burger.  Toss them on a bun with your favorite toppings and a side of chips or fries and you’re in business!

Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers
Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 (15 oz) can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), drained and rinsed
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1-2 tbsp water
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp dried parsley
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Cheese slices
Bakery buns
Ketchup & mustard

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, green chilies and water until smooth, pushing mixture off the sides as needed. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the chickpea mixture, bread crumbs, egg, and spices until well blended.  Shape into 3-4 patties.  Note: I used a patty press sprayed with cooking spray (the beans were rather sticky)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Cook the burgers for 4 minutes.  Flip the burgers and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the cheese and cook until melted, about 1 more minute.

Serve the burgers on hamburger buns with mustard and ketchup.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I had intended to give you a quick tutorial on how to do those pretty cookies you see at the top of this post, but alas, I was decorating at midnight (yeah, midnight, I waited until the kids were down) in poor lighting and the photos were just awful!  So my new plan is to make you something pretty for Easter and do a tutorial at that time.

Is anyone cooking traditional Irish fare today?  I just wasn’t that ambitious yet this year, so instead I am making green pizza (yum!) and perhaps some pancakes with green eggs! 

Have a fun day!  Don’t forget to wear green!


Lemon Dessert (Lemon Cream Pie)

Lemon Dessert, otherwise known as Lemon Cream Pie, was featured two days ago as my second Pi Day pie (the other was yesterday’s Shepherd’s Pie).  As I was looking around for pies I found several recipes for lemon cream pie (different than lemon meringue).  Since I just love anything with lemon, I decided to give it a try.  Then I looked at the ingredient list and realized something…other than the crust, lemon cream pie was identical to my Grandma’s Lemon Dessert and Lemon Dessert is one of my all time favorites!

As far as I can tell, Lemon Cream Pie uses a baked graham cracker crust (homemade or the ones you can buy in the store) in a pie pan and Lemon Dessert has a loose graham cracker crust in an 8x8 baking dish.  Since I was being lazy that day and wanted to be even more geeky (πr2 – hehe it still makes me giggle), I decided to go with the no bake 8x8 version of this dessert.

With the exception of the chilling time, this dessert comes together in no time flat (I’d say about 15 minutes of actual work), so this is an excellent choice if you are pressed for time, but really want to serve something stunning. 

Note: please be sure to chill the dessert long enough for it to set up, otherwise you end up with a soupy mess (but it is still delicious!)

Lemon Dessert (Lemon Cream Pie)
My Grandma

5 graham crackers, divided
1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup (half pint) whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Break up 4 graham crackers and pulse in a food processor to fine crumb.  Sprinkle the crumbs evenly on the bottom of an 8x8 pan.  Alternately use a premade graham cracker pie crust.

In a bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  Let stand until thickened.  Pour mixture evenly on top of the graham cracker crumbs (or into the pie shell).

Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Add in the powdered sugar and the vanilla; mix a minute or two longer.  Spread the whipped cream carefully over top of the lemon mixture.

Pulse the remaining graham cracker in a food processor.  Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the dessert.  Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 9


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shepherd’s Pie

Yesterday, in honor of Pi Day, I made Shepherd’s Pie for the first time.  This was a pretty easy dish to put together.  The vegetables sautéed while the potatoes were boiling and the oven was preheating and it was a delicious one dish meal!  Even my 3 year old ate a few of the “meatballs”.  The best part was that it was even better the second day!  The lovely flavor of the Worcestershire sauce really started to meld with the other flavors after a night in the refrigerator.  So even though Pi Day has passed, go on and enjoy some Shepherd’s Pie!

Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
½ cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp canola oil
½ cup beef broth (I used chicken broth)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
1 cup shredded cheese
3 tbsp butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray a pie pan or casserole dish with cooking spray.

Place the diced potatoes in a pot of boiling, salted water.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large skillet.  Sauté onions and carrots for about 5 minutes.  Add the beef and cook until no longer pink.  Stir in peas.

Mix in Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the beef broth and cook, uncovered, on low for 10 minutes.

Mash the potatoes with the butter (I prefer to use a hand mixer to get very smooth potatoes).  Stir in shredded cheese.

Place the beef mixture into the prepared dish.  Smooth mashed potatoes over the top, swirling with a fork to add designs, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Serves 4


Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day!!

Shepherd's Pie

Happy Pi Day!  For all of you non-math geeks, Pi is a mathematical symbol ( based off the Greek letter π). Used to find the circumference (perimeter) and area of a circle.  So why is today Pi day?  Pi is a crazy long, never ending number but the first 3 digit of pi are 3.14.  Today is March 14th…3/14.  So what better way to celebrate Pi Day than with pie??  Hooray! 

Note: In researching Pi day, I did find that those of you in Europe usually celebrate Pi Approximation day on July 22 (22/7) which is the fractional approximation of Pi.

Shepherd's Pie Pi  (Bwa ha ha ha)

Ok, since I’ve thoroughly geeked you out, I’m going to take it a step further with this:

Simple Simon met a pie man,
going to the fair
Said Simple Simon to the pie man,
I thought πr2  (Pi are squared)

Lemon Cream Pie (Squared)

Tee Hee!

Stay tuned, I’ll share the recipes for Shepherd's Pie and Lemon Cream Pie later this week!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tuscan Garlic Chicken with a Light Alfredo Sauce

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for a good alfredo sauce.  Throw in some breaded chicken, and we have ourselves a winner (especially since we can convince our 3 year old that it is chicken nuggets!)

My friend Sarah shared this recipe with me a few weeks ago.  I made a few adjustments.  One, this originally called for a bell pepper and 8 ounces of spinach.  Somehow I missed these ingredients on shopping day, so I just a little improvising (which you see reflected in the recipe).  Second, I lightened up the alfredo sauce (I’m trying to keep the baby weight off!)  Do note that lightening the sauce does make a thinner sauce.  To make a more authentic, thick alfredo sauce, simply use 1 ½ cups heavy cream in place of the milk, or go here for another great recipe.

Tuscan Garlic Chicken with a Light Alfredo Sauce
Adapted from Sarah Hill

½ cup, plus 1 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6)
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tbsp minced garlic
12 oz frozen vegetable mix (broccoli, peas, orange bell pepper)
4 oz spinach
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups lowfat milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb fettuccine (I used whole wheat spaghetti)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, salt, pepper, marjoram, basil and oregano in a shallow bowl, mix well.  Put each chicken breast in the mixture, flipping until well coated.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook the breaded chicken for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, an additional 2 minutes.  Add more oil and cook remaining chicken breasts.  Place the browned chicken on a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions, adding the frozen vegetables for the last 6 minutes of cooking time.  Drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the garlic until soft, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, stirring constantly until the flour is smooth and lightly browned.

Add the wine to the saucepan and bring to a low boil.  Add the spinach and milk and heat through, but do not boil.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and heat through.

Toss the pasta and vegetables with the alfredo sauce. Serve each chicken breast on a bed of pasta.

Serves 6


Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Cleaned Out my Freezer Beef & Vegetable Soup with Carrots 3 Ways

Do you ever watch one of those cooking competitions on TV?  I love them!  Have you ever noticed that there is always one chef who either comes up with insanely long names for their dishes or for every course has some vegetable “3 ways”?  It always cracks me up.

When I made this vegetable soup, my husband and I were inspired by there overachieving chefs.  And so, I Cleaned Out my Freezer Beef & Vegetable Soup with Carrots 3 Ways was born.  The “cleaned out my freezer” part is pretty self explanatory.  I had a whole bunch of bags of frozen vegetables with just a handful left.  They were cluttering my freezer and at risk of getting freezer burnt, so instead of throwing them out, I threw them all in the soup.

Carrots 3 ways?  As I was throwing all of the freezer vegetables into the pot, I noticed that there were carrots in three of the mixes and that they were all cut differently:

Peas & Carrots: Diced
California Mix: Cut into coins
Coleslaw mix: Shredded

So, carrots 3 ways: diced, coins, and shredded.

Overall, this was a delicious and hearty soup that reminded me of one of my favorite canned soups (but so much better).  This makes a very large pot of soup, so expect some leftovers or feed a crowd!  Like most soups, this is just as good, if not better the second day.

I Cleaned Out my Freezer Beef & Vegetable Soup with Carrots 3 Ways

Adapted from Apples & Twinkies

2 ½ lbs top round or blade steaks
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 head of garlic
1 small onion, diced
2 bay leaves
½ tsp dried thyme (I put in 2 sprigs fresh thyme)

Use the following, or whatever you have in the fridge or freezer!  If you like a very hearty soup, put in enough vegetables to fill the pot (they will shrink down somewhat).  If you like a thinner soup with more broth, put in fewer vegetables

Peas & Carrot Mix
California Mix (Broccoli, cauliflower, & Carrots)
Diced potatoes
Coleslaw Mix (without sauce)
2 cups low sodium V8 juice

To begin the broth, heat the oil in a large soup pot.  Season the steaks with salt and pepper and cook until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, beef broth and water and scrape and “gunk” off the bottom of the pan. 

Cut the top 1/3 off the head of garlic and remove any loose skins from the outside.  Add the garlic, onion, bay leaves, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Using a shallow spoon, skim off and discard any foam or fat that rises to the surface.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.

Transfer steaks and garlic to a plate to cool.  Remove and discard bay leaves and sprigs of thyme.  When cool enough to handle, cut the beef into bite sized pieces.  Squeeze the garlic cloves onto a plate and mash with a fork.  Add the beef and the garlic paste back into the pot.

Stir all the vegetables (frozen or thawed), and V8 into the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.




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