Friday, December 31, 2010

Turkey Pesto Panini

Happy New Year's Eve, here's a fun party food!  My awesome hubby came up with this delicious panini sandwich recipe, which we have served up several times this Christmas season.  It's stuffed with turkey breast, piquillo peppers, spinach, pesto and jack cheese all melted together.  Anything with pesto is great in my opinion.  We used a natural "Oil Browned" turkey breast, which is nitrate/nitrite free, right from our local deli!  Be sure to buy a high quality pesto for this or here's my recipe to make your own pesto!  If you don't have a panini press, you can always use a grill pan and compress your sandwich with something heavy like a brick wrapped in aluminum foil.

Recipe (makes 4 sandwiches)
1 medium loaf European Style Bread such as Pugliese or Filone
1/2 pound deli sliced natural turkey breast
piquillo peppers, blotted dry with a paper towel
~1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
sliced jack cheese
1/4 cup pesto

1. Slice loaf into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Spread about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of pesto on each of the eight slices.  Assemble sandwiches with sliced turkey, piquillo peppers, spinach leaves and a slice of jack cheese, top with other slice of bread. *tip* for a large group or party you can prepare the sandwiches up to this point ahead and cover them in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
2. Place sandwiches on Panini press and grill until golden and cheese is melted, about 4-5 minutes.  You can also use a grill pan or frying pan and press your sandwich with a heavy object such as the bottom of a clean pot or a brick wrapped in foil, flip halfway through. Serve hot with your favorite soup or a simple green salad. here for the recipe!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Portobello Panini

Meaty Portobello mushrooms are the "bread" of this grilled sandwich. This is more of a knife and fork sandwich but it's packed with flavor and oozing with tasty Gorgonzola cheese. Enjoy!
Sandwiches made and on the Panini Press
just about ready to come off the grill

Piquillo Peppers

Recipe: (serves 4)
6 piquillo peppers sliced in half, blotted dry with a paper towel
8 portobello mushroom caps (~2 ounces each)
1/4 cup Gorgonzola Cheese
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Clean mushrooms with damp paper towel and remove stems so they lay completely flat. Top four of the mushrooms with 1 1/2 slices of piquillo pepper (that have been blotted dry with a paper towel), ~ 1-2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese and several spinach leaves. Drizzle inside lightly with olive oil and top with remaining mushroom cap to make a sandwich.

2. Preheat large non-stick skillet or Panini Press over medium-high heat until hot. Place mushroom sandwiches in the hot pan carefully, they may have a tendency to slide out of the press at first so carefully hold them in place for ~ 30 seconds until they begin to soften on the grill, continue to cook for two minutes.

3. Flip carefully and cook until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown and the cheese is melted, about another 2 minutes, no need to flip in a Panini press.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and serve. We served ours up with some roasted rosemary potatoes, yum. here for the recipe!

Friday, December 17, 2010

White Bean and Chicken Stew

This is a new recipe I modified from my Better Homes Cookbook. It's a slow cooker recipe, which I love, especially on cold rainy days like today.  It's wonderful to fill the house with the aromas of stew.  It has a great depth of flavor and richness without being too heavy.  Next time I want to try adding a can of hominy to this and topping it with some fresh chopped cilantro. Let me know what variation you try and what you think! We served ours up with some warm, toasty cornbread. Yum.

Recipe: (serves 6)
2 (15 ounce) cans white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
6-7 chicken breast tenders or 2 breasts (okay to add frozen chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound small dutch yellow potatoes
2 ounces (1/2 of small 4oz can) diced green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
4 cups low sodium chicken Broth
Jack cheese, shredded, for garnish
Avocado, sliced, for garnish


1. In a 4 quart Slow Cooker combine the drained beans, chicken, onion, bell pepper, potatoes, green chilies, garlic, cumin, salt and Italian Seasoning. Stir in the chicken broth.

2. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours or on high heat setting for 4-5 hours until chicken is cooked completely. Pull out chicken tenders and shred them, return to stew.

3. I "hit" this soup with my immersion blender for 2 seconds, literally two seconds, no longer.  This thickens it up while maintaining the great texture and leaving some whole beans and pieces of chicken and vegetables.  If you don't have an immersion blender, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the stew and pulse it lightly in a blender or food processor then return to the stew.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and top with cheese and avocado if desired. Serve with cornbread on the side. here for the recipe!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bread

This is a quick bread my hubby made that tastes a lot like pumpkin pie. It's even better when served the next day.

Back in October I took my boys to the Pumpkin Patch for the Preschool fieldtrip,
we came home with a beautiful blue pumpkin.  

We never carved it so in early November we chunked it up, baked it {scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a large glass baking dish, bake @ 350'F for 20-40min until tender} 

and pureed it in the food processor into beautiful orange puree.  
Would you believe it made nearly 12 cups of puree?

We used up some more of that homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe.  The mini muffins were a hit at my son's Preschool snack time this week. This recipe makes either two 9x5 loafs or one loaf and 48 mini muffins. Another fun use for our trusty mini muffin tin. Enjoy and try getting the kids in the kitchen to help.

Recipe: makes 2 (9x5) loafs OR one (9x5) loaf and 48 mini muffins

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 4 cups)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Plain yogurt
4 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or ~2 cups homemade pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350' F. Spray two 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray (or prepare mini muffin tin if using), not necessary to spray Stoneware pans. Sift dry ingredients together; 3 1/2 cups of flour, the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs, and pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, add the water. If your pumpkin puree is thin you may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour here until you get a cake batter type consistency. Stir in walnuts if using. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans, use a tablespoon to fill the mini muffins about 3/4 full.

3. Bake for 1 hour-1 hour, 10 minutes for a loaf size, 10-14 minutes for mini muffins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Store wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. here for the recipe!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup

This is that soup that you have as a starter in the Chinese restaurant, or at least my take on that. Spicy, sour and tasty! The combo of steamy broth infused with fresh ginger is especially great when you aren't feeling well, the spice really clears the sinuses too. You can substitute out the chicken broth with vegetable broth to make this vegetarian if you prefer. We enjoyed ours alongside some tasty vegetable spring rolls. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or substitute Vegetable broth)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Low Sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
8-10 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, diced for garnish

1) In a large soup pot, combine broth, soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add mushrooms; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons vinegar with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Add mixture to the soup pot, simmer, stirring until the soup is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

3) Add lightly beaten egg SLOWLY alittle at a time through a slotted spoon, stirring to form ribbons. Stir in tofu and grated ginger. Remove from the heat and let stand covered about 5 minutes. Serve in small soup bowls garnished with scallions. This goes great with spring rolls. here for the recipe!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Nothing like a cold wintery day to make me want a bowl of hot soup. This soup is made with dried "split" peas and it's warm, satisfying, and great for leftovers. I added in some yummy veggies and used our Immersion Blender to blend it into a deliciously smooth soup right in the pot.  This is a great fix it and forget it dinner, once you drop everything in the pot just let it simmer away.  Enjoy!

Recipe (serves 6)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1-2 slices uncured applewood smoked bacon, diced
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
6 cups water
1 pound dried green split peas
1 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Add olive oil to large soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions, celery and carrots about 3 minutes. Add garlic and diced bacon, saute until tender about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth, water and seasonings. Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas and add to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover loosely and simmer about 1 hour, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Purée the soup with an Immersion blender or use a food processor or blender working in batches. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons. here for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tofu Stir-Fry

This is a fun meatless dinner idea I adapted from the Everyday Food Blog. Tofu doesn't have much flavor on it's own but soaking it in a delicious marinade makes it very tasty. I didn't have any snow peas in the fridge so I substituted some fresh organic green beans, same great crunch. I made alittle extra of the marinade to add at the table as needed. Tasty!

Ingredients (serves 4)
* 1 pound firm tofu
* 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus more for serving
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 9 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
* 1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch squares
* 1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed (or green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds)
* 5 paper-thin slices fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons cold water
* cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

1. Slice the tofu block lengthwise in half; slice each half into 8 rectangles. Arrange on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; top with more paper towels and another baking sheet. Refrigerate 2 hours or at least 20 minutes.
2. Transfer tofu to a shallow dish. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil with 1 tablespoon water; pour over tofu. Marinate 5 minutes (reserve marinade).
3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook tofu until golden, 2-4 minutes per side. Set tofu aside.
4. Stirring often, cook onions, mushrooms and bell peppers in skillet over high heat until golden, 5 minutes. Add peas (or green beans) and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add marinade and cornstarch mixture, stir to combine. Cook until heated through. Season with soy sauce as desired. Serve with Jasmine rice, top with tofu and garnish with cilantro. here for the recipe!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tortellini Soup

We have a few sickies in our house this week and I felt like some brothy soup tonight.  This soup has a base of chicken broth with some fresh lemon juice and seasonings.  You can use whatever pasta you like, I threw in some tasty fresh pesto tortellini that we had on hand for a hearty dinner dish.  Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium leek, white and light green only, thoroughly washed and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
10-12 ounces tortellini pasta (or your favorite pasta)
2 cups fresh organic spinach leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded

1. Combine oil, carrots and leeks in large soup pot over medium high heat.  Once vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes, add thyme and poultry seasoning, stir to combine.
2. Add chicken broth and water to pot and bring up to a gentle boil.  Add lemon juice.
3. Add pasta and cook about 1 minute less than package instructions.  Add spinach leaves.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve in soup bowls topped with cheese and served with warm crusty bread.

Along side our bread we like to pour a small plate of delicious olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar for dipping.  This is what our dipping sauce looked like tonight.  :) here for the recipe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatball Soup

This is a fun one for adults and kids alike! I adapted this recipe from a Rachael Ray cookbook, Cookin' Round the Clock. It's hearty and tasty and perfect for a cool fall evening. The best part is you can whip it together in just 30 minutes. It makes alot so plan for some yummy leftovers too.

Recipe: (serves 4-6)

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup Egg Beater's (or one large egg)
1/3 cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
dash of salt and black pepper

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow potato, cubed
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can (15oz) cannellini (white beans), rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes in their juices
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cups water
1 cup (small handful) spaghetti pasta; (whole wheat or semolina), broken into 2 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Start the meatballs: Combine the turkey, Egg Beater's, bread crumbs, Italian Seasoning, cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl, break up meat with a potato masher and stir to combine, set aside.
2. For the soup: Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, carrots, onions and zucchini, saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, chicken broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and water to the pot. Cover and raise to high heat.
3. Start forming your meatballs. I like to use my small ice cream type scoop but a spoon and your hands will work great too.
When the soup boils, about 3 minutes, add meatballs directly to the pot slowly one at a time, don't stir them until they begin to brown to prevent them from falling apart. Gently run a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.
4. Once meatballs are brown, about 5 minutes, Add in your pasta, stir soup gently. Simmer to cook the pasta and meat, about 6 minutes or until meatballs internal temperature reads 165'F.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from the heat. Serve hot with warm crusty bread for mopping. here for the recipe!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

Simple, healthy and inexpensive, what more could you ask for? This soup has a great creamy consistency without the cream and it's oh so delicious. The leek is a member of the onion family, but the flavor is much more subtle than a standard onion. This is a recipe made easier with your Immersion Blender but if you don't have one you can always blend it up in batches in your blender or food processor. The combination of aromatic Thyme paired with leeks and potatoes is wonderful!  Oh, and the bacon isn't half bad either.

Recipe: (serves 4)
2 medium-sized leeks, washed thoroughly and diced
4 sprigs fresh Thyme leaves, diced (or 1 tablespoon dried Thyme)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 strips bacon, diced + 2 strips cooked in the microwave and crumbled for garnish, chopped
6 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 - 1 1/4 pounds potatoes, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh green onions or chives, diced for garnish
Shredded cheese for garnish
Crumbled bacon for garnish

1.Trim the darkest green portions of the leeks and using a sharp knife, halve the white parts lengthwise and rinse very well under cool water being sure to get rid of any grit and sand. 

 Leeks are notoriously dirty so this is a very important step 
as even the most delicious soup will be ruined if it has grit from the leeks. 

Cube up the potatoes in about equal size cubes 

2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to crisp up.  Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the thyme, remaining chicken broth, potatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and falling apart.

4. Using an Immersion Blender puree the soup right in the pot being sure to keep your blender at a slight angle.  Or if you are using a blender or food processor, work in batches pureeing the soup until smooth then return to the pot.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

5. Serve topped with various toppings such as chopped green onions, bacon crumbles and freshly shredded cheddar cheese. here for the recipe!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Take on Banana Bread

This is a low sugar, vegan banana bread (Dairy-free, Egg-free)** and yes, it's actually still quite tasty. It's more in the realm of a bread than the traditional cake type banana "bread". I like both varieties but decided to try something new! Try it out, it's a wonderful way to use up some over ripe bananas. Here's my other banana bread recipe if you're interested.

Recipe: (yields 10-12 slices)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Orange Juice (or you may use plain soy milk, rice milk, etc)
2 Tablespoons ground Flaxseed (you can buy it already ground as "flaxmeal")
1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable oil (you could substitute this with 1/4 cup of applesauce too)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
3-4 over ripe bananas, mashed (~ 2 cups)
1/2-3/4 cup walnuts (depends on how nutty you're feeling; could also add dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 350'F, Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan* with cooking spray
(*or you may use a Stoneware loaf pan which requires no spray)

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, whisk gently to combine.

2. In a second large mixing bowl combine the Orange Juice and flax meal. Stir the oil (or applesauce), vanilla, brown sugar (if using) and bananas until well mixed.

3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet by hand just until combined, don't over mix, it will be lumpy. Add nuts (and/or dried fruit), fold in. Spread batter into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (if you add extra bananas it may take up to 40-45 minutes), bake until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After a few minutes, remove loaf from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Banana Tip: My boys and I love bananas but more often than I'd like there are one or two that ripen alittle too much before we can eat them.  Rather than toss these, I bag them up in a zipper top bag and freeze them.  When I'm ready to make banana bread, I pull the frozen bananas out and let them soften at room temperature about 1 hour or float the plastic bag in a bowl of warm water until the bananas are soft, then I add them to my recipe!

Mini-Loaf Option: This recipe will make four mini-loaves, bake in a 350'F oven for ~ 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. here for the recipe!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Pepper Stew

This is a wonderful "Fix it and forget it" stew for dinner tonight. My hubby created this recipe and it has become a favorite in our house. Layer all your delicious ingredients into the Crock Pot, your house will be filled with wonderful aromas, and dinner will be done! I love to set the bread machine up as well on days like this so we can have fresh hot bread along side our "simmered all day" stew. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 6)
Add to the Crock Pot in the following order:

layer of 3/4 inch round potatoes (~1 1/2 pounds) I like Dutch baby yellow potatoes or small Red potatoes
layer of diced carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
it will look something like this
Next Add...
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes with their juices
layer of sliced mushrooms (~1-1 1/2 cups)
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust quantity to your liking)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (okay to use frozen)
Generously season the top of the chicken with
1 Tablespoon cumin
several twists of fresh ground black pepper

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Before serving, shred the chicken and stir stew, season to taste.  Serve hot with warm crusty bread. here for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hi sweet readers! Oh my goodness it's been awhile since I've been on here. Life is back to normal, praise the Lord and I'm back to cooking and blogging!
It's Fall and the cooler weather makes me crave soup. I love soup and God has blessed me with a family that does too! My hubby has warmed up to the idea of soup as a meal and our 3 year old son couldn't be happier about a nice bowl of soup for dinner. This is a family favorite and special request of my hubby. Have fun with a variety of toppings so everyone can make their own just how they like it.

Recipe: (serves 6-8)
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Cumin
1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with their juices
5-6 cups Low Sodium chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies (or diced jalapeños for more heat)
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts or 6-8 chicken breast tenders*, cooked and shredded

Tortilla chips
shredded cheese
avocado slices
diced red onion

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in chili powder, Italian seasoning and cumin and lightly toast ~ 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 5 cups of broth and water, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.

2. Stir in chilies (or jalapeños), beans, cilantro and chicken*. Add more broth if needed. Simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Serve topped with your favorite toppings.

*If you prefer, you can add raw chicken to the simmering soup in step 2. Be sure your chicken is cooked through, you may want to add an additional 5 minutes to your cook time. Pull out your chicken breasts or tenders when they are fully cooked, chop or shred the meat then add it back to the soup. here for the recipe!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Marsala

So cooking takes energy. Duh. Not just physical energy but emotional energy is needed to think about, plan, shop for, prepare, cook and clean up after a meal. Add in kids that need attention and entertainment and *whew*, it can be alot. On an average day when everything is going "normal" for us, cooking and the energy I spend on it is FUN and somewhat of a creative outlet for me.

This week we've had some trials and more than our share of worry and I found it interesting that I had next to no desire to expend any extra energy on meals. I gained a new perspective; cooking takes energy! So, if you've got something in mind and in the works for dinner tonight, awesome! If you're struggling...try to make a good choice for take out and remember there's always tomorrow.

I made this dish several nights ago and now that all my boys are napping peacefully and some level of calm has found it's way back here, I'm sitting down (with a piece of chocolate) to another of my creative outlets, blogging.  I know it's totally weird but I kind of like html coding, what do you think of the new wider blog layout with bigger pictures?  Enjoy this one!

Recipe: (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin 
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

1. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, coat lightly in flour.
2. Bake chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray in a 425'F oven for 15-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until it reaches an internal temperature of 160'F.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saute pan, add the shallots, garlic and thyme and saute for ~ 1 minute.   Add the mushrooms cooking an additional 3-5 minutes.  Season lightly with pepper.  Deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine. Add butter and remove from the heat.
4. Serve the chicken topped with mushroom mixture and a lemon wedge.

Serve hot with a side of pasta and vegetables. Tonight I made a semolina pasta, which has more protein, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and about 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and some fresh green onions. We also had broccoli, notice it's color, just cooked until al dente. Enjoy! here for the recipe!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

This is a great way to use up leftovers, especially roast chicken or turkey and top them with some delicious mashed potatoes. I love the addition of leeks, which are so tasty and in season right now! The recipe is adapted from the Eating Well in Season Cookbook. It was tasty and hearty. I opted to leave the skins on my potatoes for some added fiber. I also made this ahead of time (during nap time) and stashed it in the fridge until I was ready to bake it off for dinner. I don't know about you but evenings around our house can be alittle crazy so it helps to have most of dinner made ahead. Serve this up with a fresh green salad or as a stand alone one dish meal.

Recipe: Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour (or for gluten free; substitute 1 tablespoon potato starch)
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 1/3 cups Low-Sodium, Organic Chicken broth
2 cups cooked turkey or chicken diced
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

Mashed Potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, cut into chunks
3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk
salt & pepper to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425'F. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute more.

2. Pour in just 1/3 cup chicken broth and stir to deglaze the pan. Add 3 tablespoons flour (or potato starch) and sage, stir constantly until the flour starts to turn light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in rest of broth and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens and carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add turkey (or chicken) and peas, season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.

4.Place potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, cook ~ 10 minutes, drain and return potatoes to warm pan. Mash potatoes with masher or with Immersion Blender (stick blender) adding enough buttermilk to make a smooth puree. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in egg. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the turkey mixture.

5. Bake at 425'F about 20-25 minutes until heated through and top is golden.

{Make ahead TIP}: Prepare through step 4, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator up to 1 day, pull out and let rest on counter about 20 minutes before baking. May need to add 5 minutes to baking time as needed. here for the recipe!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pesto Pizza - I Heart Faces Photo Challenge

My Dinner Recipe in Photos for the I Heart Faces Photo Challenge...

This is a favorite dinner around our house and a special treat! We were inspired by a dinner out at our favorite pizzeria and decided to try our hand at making pesto pizza at home. We simply pull out some Semolina pizza dough from the freezer, (made ahead it in the bread machine, then frozen for quick meals later on) smothered it in my homemade pesto, some freshly grated Mozzarella cheese and grilled chicken cut into strips. It is delish and actually very close to the restaurant's version, maybe even better since it was a tad less greasy. This is a garlicy-basil explosion in your mouth, wonderful!

I took some of the tons of fresh basil we have growing in our garden and made some pesto! I used walnuts for this and toasted them in the oven to give them alittle extra toasty flavor. Just spread them on a sheet pan and toast in a 350'F oven for about 8-10 minutes until fragrant and just browned, but not burned. :o)

Pulse food processor to chop nuts
 Add basil and garlic and pulse again
 Add Parmesan and stream in the olive oil
finished pesto...yum!

Pesto Recipe: (yields ~1 cup)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop then add in your basil leaves and pulse a few more times to chop the leaves. Add the garlic and pulse a couple more times.
2. Pour olive oil in slowly while the food processor is running, about 1 minute. Scrap down the sides with a spatula halfway through to be sure it all incorporated. Finally, add the cheese and pulse once or twice to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread on fresh bread, smooth over pasta, layer on sandwiches or make pesto pizza!
*I like to freeze the sauce in small-one meal portion-zip top bags, or you could freeze it in ice cube trays for easy 1-ounce measuring.

Semolina pizza dough - In the Bread Machine
Mix the following in the bread machine and run on the 'dough' cycle: Makes two 12 inch pizzas
1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups All Purpose (AP) flour
1 1/2 cups Semolina durum wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

When the dough cycle is over (~1.5hr) "cloak" the dough with AP flour and then divide into two even pieces. Shape each piece into a dome shape by folding the edges underneath. Cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. Use immediately or place into quart size ziploc bags and refrigerate for up to 24hrs then let rest for 20 minutes on the counter, then use. Or freeze for up to 3 months, put the dough in the refrigerator the night before to defrost.

Baking instructions:
Par bake your dough! Place pizza stones in the oven and Pre-heat to 450'F. Shape the dough using plenty of AP flour until it is a uniform 12-14 inches in diameter. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until the outside has a light crust to it but it is still very soft to the touch. Constantly check for bubbles in your dough, pop with a fork. Take it out and add your pizza toppings then cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly or until the dough is to your liking (some like extra crispy crust some like soft). Enjoy.

Assembling the pizza:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1/2-3/4c up of Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Par bake your dough as described above. Spread about 1/4-1/2 cup of pesto sauce all over dough. Lay out your sliced grilled chicken strips evenly. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and finish in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown. Add your family's favorite and have fun with your toppings! here for the recipe!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chicken Satay Skewers

These are fun and delicious!  I roasted up some sweet potatoes and carrots with alittle olive oil, salt and pepper at 450'F for about 20-25minutes. Get the chicken started earlier in the day as it needs about 2-3 hours to marinate. Serve the chicken skewers up with some rice and a veggie side or a nice crisp green salad.

{TIP}: When choosing limes from the market, choose ones that are bright green, have a slight give to them, smell "limey" and most importantly are heavy for their size, this way they'll be more likely to be nice and juicy with great flavor!

Recipe: (serves 4)

1/4 cup Low-Sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (~1-2 limes)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup warm water
10-12 chicken tenders (or 5-6 chicken breasts, cubed)
fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
wedges of fresh lime

1. Whisk all ingredients except chicken in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Skewer chicken tenders onto wooden skewers, leaving some space at each end. Lay skewers in a 13x9 glass baking dish and season with pepper. Pour marinade over chicken, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for 2-3 hours.

3. Remove skewers from marinade and grill them over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes per side, basting them with more marinade once, until they reach an internal temperature of 155'F.  Discard any remaining marinade as it has raw chicken juice in it.  Garnish chicken with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup Low Sodium Soy sauce
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
generous squirt of Sriracha sauce

Combine in a small bowl with a whisk until smooth and combined. here for the recipe!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Moroccan Chicken with cabbage slaw and flatbread

This is a another chicken dish, but spiced up in a new way! You'll want to let this chicken marinate for at least 2-3 hours to really infuse the great flavor. You can whip up the marinade in the morning for dinner tonight. Don't be deterred by the list of spices, check out your grocery store's bulk bins and remember that once you buy a new spice jar it will likely last you awhile and see you through many recipes. We served this tasty chicken along side some Napa cabbage slaw with apples and carrots and some toasted whole wheat pita bread. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)

- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
black pepper

1. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, and spices in a large glass dish, set aside.

2. Season the chicken lightly with pepper and add to the dish, turn to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the dish in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 hours. Turn chicken over at least once during that time.

3. Remove the chicken and save the marinade.  Cook the chicken on the grill and brush the marinade over it, discard any remaining marinade as it has raw chicken juice in it.  Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160'F (we like to pull ours off the grill at ~155'F and place on a plate and cover with foil, it will keep cooking to 160'F and this helps prevent it from drying out). Garnish with cilantro and serve with slaw and toasted flat breads.

Cabbage Coleslaw:
- 1/2 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped
- 3 medium organic carrots, shredded
- 1 medium organic apple, thinly sliced

- 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 pinches of chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil

Place cabbage, carrots and apples (add any other veggies you think will taste good that you have on hand) in a large bowl, toss to coat. In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients together with a whisk, taste it, adjust seasoning as needed then drizzle over the veggies. here for the recipe!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Strawberry Mini-Scones

My awesome hubby loves to bake and he found yet another use for our new mini-muffin tin! I love this tin (click here to see what it looks like). As you may recall I used it to make some delicious mini turkey meatballs awhile back, as well as muffins and now, scones. We were having fun calling them "sconies", "minis" or even "sconitas".

Just take J's original recipe found here and substitute in the fruit of your choice, here he used organic strawberries (remember you can use frozen berries too).

Then place in the mini muffin pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (~9-12 minutes) here for the recipe!

Penne with Saffron Infused Vegetables & Turkey

This is a hearty pasta dish I modified from one I saw on one of my favorite cooking shows. I used whole wheat pasta for extra fiber and protein. The seasonings are delicious and really resemble a sausage flavor without the sausage. My hubby suggested I call this one, "I can't believe it's not sausage". The "sauce" is one you create, not from a jar, and part of the layering of flavor comes from infusing some stock with Saffron. Don't skip this step as it really makes the whole dish. Enjoy!

Recipe: (Serves 4)
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
big pinch of saffron threads (about 24 threads)
1 medium size firm eggplant, diced very finely into cubes
2 small zucchini, diced very finely into cubes
2 medium garden fresh tomatoes, diced finely into cubes
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped, or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 pound short-cut pasta, whatever shape you like
Parmesan cheese for garnish
fresh basil for garnish, julienned

1. Infuse your broth with the saffron; pour 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and saffron threads in a small pot. Bring to a simmer to infuse and concentrate the flavor. (It will turn a beautiful deep orange color)

2. Meanwhile, peel the skin off the eggplant. Dice very finely into 1/8-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and reserve.

3. Place a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.

4. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the turkey and lightly brown while finely crumbling it into small bits with a wooden spoon. Season with Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, thyme and chili pepper flakes.

5. Squeeze any liquid from the eggplant, then stir it into the turkey. Add zucchini and tomatoes. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently until the vegetables are tender. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup chicken stock, stir a minute then add the reduced saffron-infused stock, about 1 cup. Stir in the milk and simmer over low heat while the pasta cooks.

6. Cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup starchy cooking liquid, then drain and toss the pasta with the sauce, adding the liquid as necessary to combine. Toss for 1-2 minutes. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil for garnish. here for the recipe!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice

I saw this recipe in my new Cooking Light Magazine and decided to give it a try. I bumped up the vegetables and added zucchini, of course, but otherwise followed their recipe fairly closely. It was a delicious combination of spicy (curry) and sweet (sweet potato). I used an ice cream scoop to portion out the rice on top of the vegetables, rather than filling our bowls with rice with a topping of veggies; a fun presentation I recently saw Rachael Ray do. This is a great one, don't be afraid to serve it up to your kids too, it's full of fun flavors!

Recipe: (serves 4)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups diced, peeled sweet potato
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1/4 thinly sliced yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
3/4 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth (or Vegetable broth)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, in their juices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup of Jasmine rice cooked according to package instructions (I prefer to cook our rice in Low-Sodium Chicken broth rather than water for added flavor)

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Top with scoop of Jasmine rice and sprinkle with cilantro. This would also be great with brown rice. here for the recipe!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crepes with Apple Filling

What a wonderful treat!  My sweet hubby let me sleep in on Saturday and made a delicious breakfast with our 3 year old son.  We had a ton of fresh Organic apples, more than we could have eaten so he decided to make apple filled crepes...awesome idea!!  He is always impressing me with his gift of patience and his cooking is no exception.  He and our son took the time to peel and slice up some apples and make a special breakfast treat together.  Here is his recipe, I love that he used non-fat yogurt and flax.  Enjoy!

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp flax meal

Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl:
1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet using a whisk. Batter consistency should be much thinner than pancake batter. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes (if you can wait).

Now for the filling. This time we tried apples. Any organic apple should work, just use them when they are almost ripe so they still have some tart flavor to them. Why organic? Organic fruits and vegetables have much more flavor than standard produce. This way the apple adds flavor as well as texture. Mix the following into a pot and cook over medium heat until apples are tender and yummy:
5 small organic apples peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt

As the apples cook let's get back to the crepes...

Heat up a large flat pan on medium-high heat and spray with canola oil or lightly grease with butter. Pour 1/2 cup of batter in the middle of the pan and quickly swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly around the pan. Make them as thin as you can but keep a consistent thickness so it cooks evenly. Flip the crepe once the it has changed color and is lightly browned on the under side. Lightly spray the top of the crepe with canola oil and flip. Once both sides are lightly browned put the crepe on a plate and place some filling in it and roll up.
Dust with powder sugar and enjoy. here for the recipe!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chicken Tacos and Spanish Rice

As I was jetting through the grocery store aisles these corn tortillas jumped out at me and I decided to give them a try. They were on the natural foods aisle and they were delicious. I stuffed them with shredded chicken, warm pinto beans, cilantro, hot sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. The perfect pair with my Spanish Rice. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 6)
For the Rice

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup uncooked rice (white or brown)
1 small white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups low-sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup water
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes in their juices
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 bell pepper, diced (red or green)
1/2 teaspoon salt
cilantro or green onions for garnish, chopped

1. Sauté rice, onion and olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until rice is just golden and onions are tender.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients except for cilantro. Heat to boiling then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer, covered about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. {NOTE} if you choose to use brown rice the cooking time will be closer to 45-55 minutes. Season to taste. Garnish with cilantro or diced green onions.

For the tacos

12 delicious corn tortillas, small
6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders*
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 can (15 oz) Pinto Beans, warmed in their juices
Jack cheese, shredded for garnish
1 avocado, sliced
hot taco sauce (optional)

1. Season chicken tenders lightly with salt and pepper and place in a saute pan over medium-high heat, cook, flipping a couple times until lightly browned and to an internal temperature of 165'F, remove from heat, place in a bowl.

2. Shred chicken by pulling it apart with two forks. Sprinkle with Cumin, 1/2 of the cilantro and the chicken broth and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning or add more broth as needed.

3. Warm tortillas on a warm flat grill pan. Place a few tablespoons of chicken in each tortilla, a spoonful of warm pinto beans, a sprinkle of cilantro and cheese, hot sauce and a slice of avocado. 

*Edited to Add: You could also use our Crock Pot Chicken recipe for the chicken in these tacos. Delish! here for the recipe!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta

We're still trying to find ways to prepare zucchini and tomatoes from our garden. I decided to roast them in the oven along with some garlic and onion to really bring out their concentrated flavors. Garden fresh basil is the perfect tasty garnish.

Recipe: Serves 4
4 small zucchini squash, cubed
8-9 Roma tomatoes (about 4 cups), cubed and seeded
1 medium red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
8 ounces short pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup fresh basil leaves, diced

1. Preheat oven to 450'F. Spread squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning; toss to coat.
2. Roast ~30 minutes until tender and golden. No need to turn them during cooking.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook per package instructions, drain. Add roasted vegetables to the pasta. Mix in the butter and Parmesan and stir to coat. Serve warm garnished with basil and Parmesan cheese. here for the recipe!

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