Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

If you like macaroni and cheese and buffalo wings, this one is for you. We both really enjoyed this and will like it even more next time when I use the mild wing sauce instead of the hot sauce. Despite the sweat beads forming from eating this with spicy sauce, we both went back for more and polished off the leftovers, which is a sign of something great in our house. You can prep this a day or two before and just bake when ready!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
very slightly adapted from Prevention RD
Serves 6 generous portions

13.25 oz whole wheat pasta (that's the box size they sell at my market)
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp buffalo wing sauce, divided
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup feta or Gorgonzola cheese
Nicole suggested topping with green onions and cilantro, which I think would be excellent!

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in flour to form a roux. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and turn heat down to low. Simmer while stirring until milk thickens slightly. Stir in cheeses until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup wing sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Spray a 9x13 with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine pasta, sauce, and chicken, then pour into baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown, top with feta and bake another five minutes. Drizzle with remaining wing sauce and top with other garnishes if using.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"The Best Vegetable Soup"

Still on the soup kick. I have been trying to kick a sickness or allergies, whatever this is, and soup and spicy foods are especially great for that. This reheats wonderfully and even freezes well, so I made enough for this week plus 2 more servings and in a couple weeks I'll have a week of a different soup every day for, my life is exciting, huh??
This is called "The Best Vegetable Soup" so I'm sticking with the name. And for the taste and nutrition information balance, I'd say this is definitely a contender for best vegetable soup. I think I still like the Quick Fall Minestrone the best, but this is also tasty and a great way to get your veggies on!

The Best Vegetable Soup
adapted from Prevention RD
Serves 6

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 dried bay leaf
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
32 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large russet potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen green beans
5 oz condensed tomato soup
5 oz water
1/4 lemon, juiced

Saute onion in oil over medium heat for five minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf and cook another minute.
Add stock, canned tomatoes, and juices to pot and bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover pot. Simmer 15 minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and squash. Simmer another 12 minutes.
Add corn and green beans and simmer another 10 minutes.
Add soup, water, and lemon juice, heat through, season to taste, and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

Yum!!!I loved these so much. I think I liked them better the day after I made them after the caramel had a chance to set up and get thick like icing instead of glaze. I'll be making them again and adding walnuts...that would just take these over the top. 
 I used my regular cinnamon roll dough and followed her instructions for the rest, so I'll just link to her site for the recipe. Try these out this fall--be sure you have someone to share them with!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Mexican Pot Roast

When we walked into the house for FCA last week, we were greeted with the smell of dinner cooking. Our host was proud of what his wife was making and showed us into the kitchen where he lifted the crockpot lid (don't tell his wife!! I think it was pretty close to done though) and revealed a Mexican pot roast topped with Monterey jack cheese, jalapenos, and tomato sauce. That sounded so good to me, but I knew my husband wouldn't go for thos toppings and I'd have to top it on my own. I searched for a recipe (hers was from a church cookbook) and found one I could adapt..I wanted to be sure the meat still tasted like the Mexican dish I was going for and knew I could just top it with the good stuff myself. This meat was really good, but I accidentally poured too much water over it so I know it would be better without so much water. You could make burritos or tacos out of it, but I served it with sour cream rice and kind of mixed them together and it was excellent that way! Especially considering I don't normally care for roast, I really enjoyed this!

Charley's Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat
from All Recipes

1 (4 lb) rump or chuck roast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups diced green chile pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
5 oz bottle hot pepper sauce
1 tsp garlic powder

Trim meat of excess fat, then rub with spices. Place in crockpot and sprinkle onion over meat. Pour pepper sauce over the meat, then add enough water to cover 1/3 of the meat.
Cook on low for ~8-9 hours, then shred meat and cook on low another hour.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mexican Sour Cream Rice

Oh man, this stuff was good! (Dad, I always think of you when I say "oh man"!!)
I like that you can adapt this recipe to whatever you have on hand and whatever flavors you like. I would have LOVED it with roasted jalapeno peppers, but my husband wouldn't have appreciated that at all, so I had to settle for topping it with jalapenos. This is something I was actually excited to eat leftovers of.
When I was making the sour cream mixture in the beginning, it reminded me almost exactly of the dip Norris likes to make for tailgating and parties. It does taste pretty great! It's basically his dip mixed with cooked rice and baked. Add in some cooked chicken and dinner's ready!

Mexican Sour Cream Rice
from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

3/4 cup uncooked white rice
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups light sour cream
6 oz light cream cheese, softened
1 c shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
(OR instead of the seasonings, you could use a packet of taco seasoning if that's more convenient for you)
2 jalapenos, roasted then chopped
2 c frozen corn
1/2 can black beans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a square or 9x13 casserole dish.
Bring broth to a boil, stir in rice, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, cream cheese, seasnonings, corn, black beans, and 3/4 cup of cheese.
After rice is cooked, stir it into the sour cream mixture. Pour into greased pan and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until liquid is semi-absorbed and it looks creamy, but not runny. OR if you bake this in a 9x13, bake for 30 minutes covered.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Orange Pumpkin Loaf

I said I'm on a mission to try every pumpkin flavored product on the market...I think I'm also on a mission to try every pumpkin baked good recipe. I searched "pumpkin" on and came up with a giant list, but many of them were variations of the same....pumpkin bread, bars, rolls, and cookies. I wanted something different but still a little pumpkin-y. And I'm not quite ready to try pumpkin soup because I just can't get in the groove for that...if anyone's tried and liked it, please let me know!
This recipe intrigued me because it includes an entire orange (peel and all) in its ingredient list. The orange gives the bread a nice bright flavor, the dried cranberries a little tang, and the pumpkin contributes a little flavor and a lot of moisture. I really loved this!! I got a little gunshy with the whole orange and wound up leaving out one chunk of orange peel. I was afraid it would be bitter, but it wasn't at all. You could zest the whole orange and then use the entire inside just to be sure if you wanted. I froze half and can't wait to pull it out again and will definitely be making this again! I healthified the recipe, but the link to all recipes below brings you to the original if you want to try it the unadapted way.
Orange Pumpkin Loaf
adapted from all recipes

1 large orange
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Splenda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
 1 egg
2 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
Cut orange into wedges and remove seeds. Place entire orange in a food processor and pulse until pureed.
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin, water, and ground orange.
In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined, careful not to overmix.
Stir in dried cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicken Potato Chowder

This soup was very similar to a corn and bacon chowder I have made before, but more hearty and filling and enough to satisfy my husband for a meal. It rained all day here (thankfully! we needed it!) and it seemed like a perfect day for soup. I love soup and all the fall foods...I think I am on a mission to seek out every pumpkin flavored product on the market. There are so many new ones this year!
Served with garlic bread, this was a super filling comfort food meal that both of us really enjoyed. I hope you do, too!

Chicken Potato Chowder
adapted from Joelen's Culinary Adventures

6 slices bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 oz chicken broth
2 large potatoes, diced
4 cups frozen corn
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
2 cups fat free half and half
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese and green onions to garnish

Cook bacon until crispy in a large stock pot. Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate and remove all but 2 tbsp bacon fat from the pan.
Saute the garlic in the bacon fat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potato and broth to the pot, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add chicken and thyme, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are cooked.
Stir in corn and half and half and simmer another 5 minutes or until half and half is heated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper (don't forget you're adding bacon in so don't salt it too much!).
Garnish with cheese, bacon, and green onions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good stuff

As much as I like homemade ice cream, I haven't been able to find a way to make a low fat version of it that turns out really great. Ice cream was on sale this week so I picked up a new flavor and it's GOOD! You would never guess it's fat free and lower cal. It's a little like butter pecan and definitely worth the $3.50 I paid for it!
Blue Bunny Fat Free Caramel Toffee Crunch

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

I recently learned from our chili cookoff champion friend that real chili, the kind that you can win the main event for at those contests, just has the meat and sauce. That sounds pretty boring to me! I like veggies, beans, and all sorts of other things in my chili. If you are a chili purist, this recipe will definitely not pass your test, but for everyone else, try this soon! This is another meal that I made on a Sunday and ate for lunch all week. This filled me up far past the end of the school day. If I were making it for dinner, it would be perfect with some cornbread on the side!

"The Best Vegetarian Chili in the world" (as named by the recipe author!)
adapted from All Recipes
makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, chopped
 1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz can chopped green chile peppers, drained
34 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup frozen corn
15 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
~1/2-1 cup stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion to pan and saute for one minute. Add seasonings (except for chili powder) and saute until onion is tender. Add veggies and green chiles and cook until heated through, about three minutes. Add tomatoes to pot and simmer five minutes. Add chili powder, beans, and corn. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add stock or water as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

If you have allergies or a cold, I suggest you make this soon. What a way to introduce a recipe....
The reason I suggest it is because it's a really good meal and has a great spice factor that will clear you right up. This is a Cooking Light recipe that you can change up however you like. Add in your favorite veggies, serve it over brown rice, rice noodles, however you like. I thought it was great with steamed broccoli...a little sauce on the broccoli was so good!

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
2 tbsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
baby corn
water chestnuts
snap peas
1 carrot, julienned

Pat shrimp dry and toss with cornstarch.
Whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and Sriracha.
Heat oil over medium high heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for fifteen seconds. Add shrimp and stir fry another three minutes. Add veggies and juice mixture and cook another two minutes or until sauce thickens, shrimp is done, and veggies are crisp-tender.
Serve over rice, noodles, or more veggies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

Today I was telling my dogs (yes, I like to talk to them sometimes because then I’m not talking to myself at least, right??) that it feels like something has to drop in order to keep my life together. Exercise, school, class, volunteering, cooking, what will it be? I know they aren’t all essential to life, but they make me feel complete. After we talked it out (okay, they panted and waited for me to throw them a treat), I realized I can’t let anything go. I need to plan things out better, but I also need to learn to ask for help or say no sometimes. I am getting better about saying no, but asking for help isn’t exactly in my nature. I have said before that I definitely earned my nickname “mom” in college. I am a total nurturer and need to learn to be nurtured sometimes.

And hey, I must have a few minutes if I’m here writing. I should probably be doing something else, but I do what I want! Not really, but it’s fun to say!

Oh, and those pumpkin snickerdoodles? I liked them so much (and so did my husband and my students) that I went home and made a full batch the next night to another day of rave reviews. Seriously good stuff!

Anyway, back in the kitchen today. Well, I turned my crockpot on in the kitchen this morning anyway. We’ve been eating a lot of turkey tacos and other fallback foods and still haven’t resorted to eating out yet, so I’m proud of that! Meal variety is low, but we are still eating at home which I like.

A Year of Slow Cooking will probably be a great resource again for me this fall and winter. I have enjoyed many crockpot meals from this blog in the past, but may be relying on this awesome kitchen tool even more in the coming months. This honey garlic chicken turned out awesome and went perfectly with golden sweet cornbread and some veggies. Quick and easy dinner ready in the time it takes to throw things in a crockpot or as the author said, put everything in the freezer and just throw it in some morning and there is no think time in the morning! (especially helpful on days you realize at 6:30 AM that you have a meeting at 7:10…)

Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

no picture....didn't even think about it in the rush I was in to get dinner on the table then get to FCA!

4 chicken thighs

3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup soy sauce (La Choy or Tamari wheat-free are gluten free)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup honey

Combine ingredients in 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours.