Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bacon Pierogie Bake

With the start of spring comes the end of the "comfort food" season (in my mind anyway!). My menu planning seems to still be stuck in winter mode this week for some reason. Can't wait for more of the fresh tastes of summer, though!
This meal came together quickly and we both really liked it. I had never looked for pierogies in my grocery store and was actually surprised to find them. I got plain potato pierogies instead of potato and onion since the Mr. doesn't eat onions. My chives have just started growing again so I was excited to be able to just go outside and snip them to use on top of the dish. Anxious to see what other herbs are hiding under that dirt!!

Bacon Pierogie Bake
from Cooking Light and Cooking This and That

16 oz package frozen potato pierogies
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 mushrooms, sliced (I added this..you can omit)
1/3 cup Neufchatel cheese (low fat cream cheese)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (used about 1/3 cup)
1 small plum tomato, seeded and diced (omitted)
1/4 cup thin sliced green onions (used chives)

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place frozen pierogies in dish.
Cook bacon in a saute pan until crisp. Remove from pan. (I removed half of the drippings at this point also).
Saute garlic in drippings for 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add broth and whisk until combined. Pour sauce over pierogies and top with mushrooms and cheese. Be sure to cover the pierogies with sauce (turn them over if you have to) so they don't dry out on the edges. Bake for 15 minutes, then top with tomatoes and bacon and bake an additional five minutes.
Sprinkle with green onions and black pepper and serve.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken

I love to be able to make up my own recipes and they actually work! I also like trying other people's recipes that they made up that worked for them. I'll always enjoy recipes passed down from generation to generation also, but it's nice to try something new and fresh. This is a Macaroni and Cheesecake original.
We both really enjoyed this. The chicken is really moist and the reduced marinade is great on the chicken and drizzled over couscous. I served it with whole wheat couscous mixed with fresh papaya and pineapple. Great work, Stephanie!
Hawaiian Chicken
from Macaroni and Cheesecake

1 cup crushed pineapple (don't worry about draining it if it's from the can...I would actually add about 2 tbsp of the juice from the can next time!)
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (will be on the salty side if you don't use reduced sodium!)
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt (don't use if you didn't use reduced sodium soy sauce)
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (didn't use because I didn't have; looks nice with it though!)
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half (used three smallish chicken breasts)

Combine all ingredients except chicken and cilantro in a bowl. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat. Marinate for one hour. (If you leave a marinade with soy sauce on chicken for too long it will be super salty and turn kind of mushy...learned that the hard way!)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and marinade to the pan. Cook for about ten minutes on each side. Serve chicken topped with cooked marinade and chopped chilantro.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shrimp Cobb Salad

This is a satisfying and quick main dish. Norris and I both really enjoyed it. The shrimp are amazing! I'm sure they would be great cold the next day, too, but ours didn't make it to the next day!
The dressing is really good on this, so I would suggest using it--Norris liked it, too. It's bright and citrusy and perfect for this warm weather we are finally getting! (by the way, did we skip Spring? We went from sweats to sweating in about two days!)
I have proclaimed my hate for paprika before, but loved it on these shrimp. They would be good on almost anything. If you'd rather cook outside, you can certainly grill your shrimp for this salad! I didn't put amounts on the vegetables because I think you should just adjust those according to your tastes. This salad will definitely be made again, and I will probably roast the corn next time and make it even better!

Shrimp Cobb Salad
from Cooking Light via Prevention RD

4 slices center cut bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp paprika (I used 2/3 tsp)
1/4 tsp black pepper (plus I used some in my dressing)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt, divided (I had to use a bit more in my dressing)
2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
romaine lettuce
cherry tomatoes (omitted)
shredded carrots
frozen corn, thawed
diced avocado

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and wipe pan clean. Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet and heat over medium heat.
Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Cook in skillet until done, flipping halfway through. This should take about two to three minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice and mustard. Drizzle in the oil and continue to whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste and ajust liquids to taste.
Toss lettuce, corn, carrots, and dressing together. Arrange on plate and top with shrimp and bacon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Balsamic-Dijon Chicken with Mushrooms

When we were almost done eating this, I said "it almost tastes like steak"---something about the salty sauce and earthy mushrooms I guess! Norris and I both really enjoyed this. I cut the mushrooms ahead of time which made the prep on this next to nothing. This sauce would also be excellent with steak!

Balsamic-Dijon Chicken with Mushrooms
adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
salt and pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat in a saute pan.
Combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl.
Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dip in vinegar mixture to coat. Place in pan to saute. Pour remaining sauce over chicken. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.
Add remaining 1 tsp oil to the pan along with the mushrooms and thyme. Saute for about five minutes, until tender. Add the chicken broth to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. Bring to a simmer and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
Return chicken to pan and warm through. Serve chicken with sauce.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes

I love to make breakfast on Sundays and just reheat every morning. Baked oatmeal is my normal breakfast of choice, but I wanted to change it up a bit. Once I realized that these pancakes took a lot longer to cook than my normal oatmeal pancakes, these turned out great. I ruined a few, so my recipe made less than ten, but I can see that it would make ten if you don't ruin the first couple batches:) Too many things going on in the kitchen at once--oops!

Strawberry Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk (I used 1/2 cup)
1 egg and 1 egg white
2 tbsp apple sauce
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped strawberries (original calls for frozen blueberries)

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in microwaveable bowl. Stir in milk and yogurt. Microwave for 90 seconds.
Beat egg and egg white for about three minutes or until light and frothy.
Fold egg, applesauce, cinnamon, and fruit into oat mixture.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbles are popping, then flip. These did take quite a bit longer to cook than regular pancakes, so let them cook!!

Makes 10 pancakes

from Kim's Kitchen
Nutritional Info: (2 pancakes) (Info from Kim; using blueberries and 1/4 cup milk)
Calories: 163; Fat: 2 g; Carbs: 30.5 g; Protein: 8 g

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

Sticking with the theme of quick, easy, and ability to prep ahead, this meal fit the bill perfectly. We both liked this and will make it again--the only thing I need to change is to crush the pretzels more. I should have just given them a spin in the food processor but I was having too much fun making a lot of noise crushing them with a can.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

4 cups unsalted tiny pretzels, crushed
4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch thick strips
3/4 cup honey Dijon mustard (French's is really really good! We were just putting dabs of it onto pretzels and it was really great!)
3 tbsp chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375. Put crushed pretzels on plate.
Pat chicken dry. Brush chicken on both sides with 1/4 cup of mustard (I used a bit more than 1/4 cup to coat them). Dredge chicken in crushed pretzles (press them on). Place on lined baking sheet.
Bake chicken for about 10 minutes on each side or until done.
While chicken bakes, combine remaining mustard, broth, and seasoning in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute. Serve as dipping sauce with chicken.

from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crepe Towers

The crowning glory: dessert! This is super rich, but when paired with refreshing strawberries it is so good. I won't even begin to calculate nutritional information for any of these competition recipes with all the butter, sugar, etc., but this is really darn good. We tried about six different variations of everything and the students did some serious research into peanut butter mousse (that's the kind of research everyone wants to do, right??) to decide on this combination of flavors and ingredients. The end result was something the judges said was "amazing"-- the kids were pretty excited to get their dessert called amazing:) Enjoy!

Chocolate Crepes with peanut butter mousse

Flour ¾ cup
Cocoa powder ¼ cup
Confectioners’ sugar 3 Tbsp
Salt A pinch
Unsalted butter, melted 1 Tbsp
Milk 1 cup
Large eggs 1 egg
Vanilla extract ¼ tsp
Vegetable oil As needed
Strawberries 2 medium

1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the butter, milk, eggs and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add the liquid mixture a little at a time to the dry mixture, whisking to dissolve any lumps. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes

2. Lightly brush a 6-inch skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. When the pan is hot, remove from the heat and pour in 1/4 cup of the batter. Swirl the pan around to spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Return the pan to the heat and cook until lightly golden, 30 to 40 seconds. Turn the crepe over and cook the second side for about 15 seconds. Remove from the pan. Repeat the process until all of the batter is used, stacking the crepes between the squares of parchment or waxed paper to prevent them from sticking together.

Core and slice strawberries and set aside until dessert plating.

Peanut butter mousse
1/6 cup whipping cream
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp milk
¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ cup chopped peanuts

In a chilled small mixing bowl beat whipping cream until soft peaks form; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and milk until combined. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Cover and chill until use.

Chocolate Ganache


Cut small circles out of crepes using round cookie cutter.

Put peanut butter mousse in piping bag with small tip.

Place one crepe on plate and squeeze a spiral of peanut butter mousse on the crepe. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Layer with another crepe on top of the mousse. Repeat layers until you have used 4 crepes, ending with a crepe on top.

Pour chocolate ganache in ketchup bottle. Drizzle across layered crepes, lengthwise, also drizzling across plate. Place sliced strawberries next to the crepe tower.

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, whisking until smooth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Filipino Adobo Chicken

Now that soccer season has started, I am always on the search for easy recipes that can be prepped ahead of time. Considering our upcoming beach vacation, I need to also find recipes that will leave me ready to enjoy the sun in a swimsuit!! This recipe fits all of my criteria plus it is inexpensive to make, which is a big bonus.
I found this on Skinny Taste which I have mentioned before. Gina has great Weight Watchers recipes on there and I even found a lot that Norris will enjoy or has already enjoyed! (Asian Drumsticks to name one--and we did use that leftover glaze over smoked chicken wings and it was really darn good!)
The only thing I changed was to bake this instead of cooking it stovetop. I needed it out of my way since I was using the stovetop for other creations! I baked it for 30 minutes covered and 15 uncovered.

Filipino Adobo Chicken

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs on the bone, skin removed (original calls for legs)
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 bay leaves
1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)--I used a sprinkle of ground red pepper instead

Marinate chicken in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, jalapeno, and pepper in a baking dish for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Add 1/2 cup water to dish and stir into sauce. Bake covered with foil in a 325 F oven for 30 minutes, then uncover, increase heat to 350, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Nutrition Info (per serving--2 thighs):
Calories: 179; Fat: 5.4 g: Carbs: 3 g; Protein: 28.5 g

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lightened up Broccoli Cheese Soup

First--some exciting news! (I will probably delete this picture in a few days but enjoy for now!) My ProStart students won 3rd place in the State ProStart Competition!! (that link will take you to the ProStart website if you don't know what it is) It was so exciting since we have never come close to third place before! The kids got a trophy, medals, and scholarship offers to Johnson & Wales, The Art Institute, and New England Culinary School. How cool is that?!? They were pretty pumped after and so was I:) Thanks again to my wonderful family that all came to support us! Now you definitely need to go try some of those recipes I posted--they were the recipes that got them third in the state!!

Back to the soup:
Although this is a terrible picture of a bowl of green stuff, it is really one of my most favorite soups I've made all season! (and I've made a LOT of soups this year) You will have a hard time believing there are so many vegetables and no cream in this recipe. If you like the chunks in your current favorite broccoli cheese soup, just steam some florets separately and add those in at the end. I wanted to lick the bowl because it was so excellent.
I used far less cheese than the recipe called for because I wanted to try it before all of the cheese. After trying it, I really liked it as it was and ended up only adding a bit. I showed the changed below and in parentheses you will see the original amounts. The version with less cheese only clocks in at 100 calories per serving. You might find me eating this for a snack, too!!
Broccoli Cheese Soup

adapted from Cook's Illustrated; found on Prevention RD

Yield: 7 1/2 cups (6 servings; 1 1/4 cups per serving)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs broccoli florets
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp...)
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2-3 cup water
1/4 tsp bakign soda
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups baby spinach
shredded sharp cheddar cheese for garnish (original calls for 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese to blend in when pureeing)
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (original calls for 3/4 cup to blend in when pureeing)

Melt butter in pot over medium high heat. Add broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt to pot and cook until broccoli and onion are slightly softened (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Add 1 cup of water and baking soda. Cover pot and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the broth and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add in spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Puree soup and Parmesan cheese in a blender. Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer, thinning out with water if needed (didn't need to do this). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Info (with the cheese as I wrote it, not the original recipe)
Calories: 100; Fat: 6.2 g; Protein: 5.7 g; Carbs: 7.7 g