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Monthly Archives: December 2008

Peanut Chicken

Last night I was out of ideas for dinner. I had a long weekend with work, so my creative juices were not flowing. I decided to cook the chicken I had thawed that day and figured I would go from there. I opened the cupboard and saw peanut butter and this idea came to me. The noodles I made are Ronzoni’s Smart Taste. I usually buy 100% whole wheat, but these were on sale AND I had a coupon for them, so I couldn’t pass that up!

I will be going home for Christmas soon, so I am not sure how many posts I will be doing in the next week. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and are able spend some time with the people you love the most.

Peanut Chicken

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts
1 handful of spaghetti noodles
1 cup of raw or dry roasted peanuts
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion
2 cups of broccoli
1 tbsp peanut butter (more if you’d like)

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet to medium and add the 4 chicken breasts. Cover with a lid and let cook. Flip periodically (about every 3 minutes). They are done once each breast is at 165F. Once finished, cut into strips and place in a Tupperware container in the microwave to stay warm.
  2. While the chicken in cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles as directed by the package.
  3. In a small skillet, heat the oil. Add the peanut and onion and saute for 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the broccoli and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until the broccoli is bring green.
  4. Add the peanut butter and mix until well blended.
  5. Serve the chicken and vegetable mixture over pasta. Enjoy!
 
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Posted by on December 22, 2008 in Chicken, Pasta

 

A Mexican Twist on Lasagna

The other day I asked Jason what he would like for dinner, because I was out of ideas at the time. He said lasagna and then it came to me; make a lasagna with Mexican-based ingredients. Jason sounded a little skeptical, but went with it, like he usually does. The result – AMAZING! Jason finished off 4 slices easily and wanted t more…he decided to stop since he knew we had delicious chocolate candies from my parents that we would have later for dessert.

This is slightly different than lasagna because it has minimal cheese. Jason and I don’t like ricotta and I didn’t feel like grating cheese when I prepared this in the morning. The only cheese is on the top, but it still tastes great!

Mexican Lasagna
Ingredients
-8 to 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles (depending on your pan size – you will need enough to make 2 layers)
-20 oz container of ground turkey
-1 large onion
-1 can black beans (if fresh, make sure they are soaked, rinsed, and boiled already)
-1 cup of frozen corn
-Jar of spaghetti sauce
-Jar of Salsa
-Mozzarella cheese
-Mild cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring about 10-12 cups of salted* water to a boil (if you cover the pot it will boil faster since less heat is escaping). Place 3-4 lasagna noodles in the pot and boil for 4-6 minutes, or until slightly soft. Remove from the pot and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Watch out…they are VERY hot! Place on a dish towel to cool. Repeat the process.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey. Once fully cooked, add the onion. Since ground turkey is lean and there is little fat that come off of it, I like to just cook the onion in the fat that is there instead of going through the extra steps just to swap out a few grams of saturated fat for unsaturated fat (normally you would need to drain and rinse the meat, set in a separate bowl, wipe out the pan, add oil, heat oil, and then add the onion – this saves me 5 minutes!). Cook the onion for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Leave the skillet on the burner. Add the frozen corn (still frozen). The heat from the pan will thaw the corn. Once thawed. Add the black beans.
  3. Spray a 13 X 9″ baking pan. Add one layer of noodles to cover the bottom. Top with half of the meat and vegetable mixture. In a back-and-forth motion, top with about 1/3 cup of spaghetti sauce and 1/3 cup of salsa. I didn’t measure when I did, so add as much as you think is needed. Top with the rest of the noodles. Top those with the rest of the meat and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce and work into the meat mixture using a spatula or spoon.
  4. At this point you have two options: you can place the lasagna in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before you bake it, or you can bake it right away.
  5. Once you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 400F. Don’t add the cheese yet!
  6. Bake for 30 minutes in the center rack.
  7. Remove from the oven and top the lasagna with your choice of cheese. We used about 1/3 of a block of mozzarella and 1/3 of a block of mild cheddar.
  8. Place back in the oven on the center rack and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

*salted water – many people say that you salt water to make it boil faster. This is incorrect. When you add salt to water it raises the boiling point, so the water will take longer to boil, but will boil at a temperature higher than normal. In turn, this makes your food cook faster. Think about this – this is why they use salt on ice outside; it 

lowers the freezing point, causing the ice to melt at 32F and below!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2008 in Favorites, Meat, Pasta

 

Creamy Pasta Primavera

I always seem to run out of ideas for meals. I usually end up standing in front of an open pantry pondering what in the world I could make. Today I figured I could do something with Pasta, so I just started boiling some, hoping inspiration would come to me. While this recipe is nothing inspiring, it did get eaten up in one sitting (thanks to Jason’s ravenous appetite).

Creamy Pasta Primavera
Makes 3 Servings

Ingredients
-1 1/2 cup thick whole wheat noodles (I used Rotini in this dish)
-A bag of your favorite frozen vegetables (I used traditional California Blend) or chop up and saute fresh vegetables of your choice.
-1 cup of skim milk
– tbsp all-purpose flour
-1 tsp Salad Supreme seasoning
-1 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning
-1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
-3 portioned chicken breasts (I like Tyson and Perdue Chicken that is pre-packaged)

Directions

  1. Pasta: Cook the noodles as directed on the package.
  2. Vegetables: Thaw out the frozen vegetables.
  3. Cream Sauce: Add flour to 1/4 cup of milk and stir well. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk and stir well. Pour into small skillet. Add the seasonings. Heat the skillet to medium-high. Stir with a spatula, continually scarping the sides to prevent caking. Continue to stir until the sauce begins to boil; stir for 2 more minutes and remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and stir completely. Pour into a separate container to cool slightly.
  4. Chicken: In a small skillet heat the chicken on medium heat. Cover with a lid and cook form 3-4 minutes on each side. Continue to cover and cook until the temperature reads 165F. Remove from heat and cube.
  5. Total Dish: Pour 3/4 cup of pasta into a deep bowl. Top with 1 cup of frozen vegetables, 1/2 of a chicken breast, and a few tablespoons of sauce (a little goes a long way).
 
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Posted by on December 16, 2008 in Chicken, Pasta

 

Homemade Pizza

Once you have homemade pizza crust, other pizzas just don’t taste the same. I made my first homemade pizza crust 2 years ago and I can only remember buying pizza once since then! I got the crust recipe from The Big Book of Vegetarian. It is great because it makes four crust that can be frozen for later use, so you don’t need to make a new crust every time.

Here is a brief lesson in baking with yeast. Yeast eats sugar to ferment, so never omit sugar, no matter how “health conscious” you are trying to be. Also, sugar substitute will not work. Salt kills yeast; a little is good because it keeps the yeast “in-check” and prevents over proofs. However, too much will kill the yeast completely. The water temperature is VITAL for the yeast. If it is too cold, the yeast won’t ferment. If it over 115F, the yeast will die. I suggest temping the water every time you are making something with yeast.

Pizza is one of those foods that everyone seems to think is forbidden, when in actuality, it can be quite healthy. This crust is half white, half wheat and the pizza is loaded with veggies and topped with a little cheese. While it is not like the triple cheese and meat pizza from your local chain pizza joint, it taste 100% better and is 100% guilt free 🙂 My guess is that each slice has 1/2 – 1 serving of veggies, so eat up!

Wheat Crust (from The Big Book of Vegetarian)
[My notes are in italics]

Ingredients
-1 1/4 cups of warm water (105-115F)
-1 envelope or 1 scant tbsp of active dry yeast
-1 tsp sugar
-3 cups all purpose flour
-2 cups whole wheat flour
-2 large eggs
-2 tsp salt

* The original recipes is 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour; however, I have made it with 3 cups of whole wheat and 2 cups of all-purpose flour and it is has turned out. The only downfall is when you freeze the latter dough and thaw it at a later date, it doesn’t roll out as well.

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the water, yeast and sugar; let stand for 10 minutes, or until foamy. I usually heat the water in a glass measuring cup and then just add these items to the measuring cup to save dishes.
  2. In a food processor, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, eggs, and salt. Pulse to mix. With the motor running, pour in the yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and then process for 45 seconds longer (this takes the place of the kneading), or until the dough is smooth and elastic. I do not have a food processor big enough for this, so I do it in the old fashion way. I mix the flours and salt together in a large bowl, add the egg and mix well. I then add the yeast mixture and stir together. once 3/4 of the flour is incorporated with the yeast mixture, I take it out of the bowl and and work in the remaining flour. I then knead for 5-8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Put the dough in a large, oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free location for about 1 hour or until doubles in volume. I usually place this in the oven (obviously when it is off). I have had the yeast double in as little as 45 minutes.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal parts. shape the pieces into balls, lightly cover with dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes (the dough will NOT double in volume). Again, I usually stick this in the oven.
  5. Roll each dough out. If you plan to save the dough for later, roll it out large enough to fit into a freezer bag (but don’t put it in yet). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then put into a freezer bag. You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months or you can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days.

If you plan to make the dough now, continue reading below…

Pizza Recipe

Ingredients
-1 thin crust pizza dough (see above)
-Olive oil
-Pizza sauce of spaghetti sauce
-Toppings of your choice
-Cheese of your choice, grated*

*If you are looking for a health option, choose low-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese. White cheeses are lower in fat than orange cheeses.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Spray or coat a baking pan with olive oil. Roll out the dough to fit in the pan and place into the pan. Fold the edges over to form a small crust, if desired. Lightly coat the crust with olive oil.
  3. Bake the crust for 5 minutes on a lower-middle rack to crisp it up slightly.
  4. In a skillet, saute any vegetables you are using for the pizza in olive oil. Season as desired.
  5. When the crust is done, remove from the oven and lightly coat with pizza sauce. Pour some on the crust and spread with a spoon to evenly distribute. Top with vegetables (and any other topping you are using), followed by cheese.
  6. Bake the pizza for 5-7 minutes on the lower-middle rack. Let cool and cut into 12 pieces.
 
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Posted by on December 16, 2008 in Bread, Favorites, Vegetarian

 

Orange Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Since I have had more time on my hands, I have been able to search through some of the blogs I enjoy. I was looking at some recent posts on Simply Recipes and noticed a recipe for marinated orange chicken. Ironically I had just bought 4 pounds of oranges on sale last week. While I did not follow the recipe, it was more or less inspiration; I read through it once a few days ago and then made the recipe on a whim. I have posted a grain pilaf before , but this version was for my left over rice. I love the tasted of toasted nuts with sauteed vegetables and grains. I think my favorite part of this recipe was getting to eat with my chop sticks again 🙂

Orange Chicken and Brown Rice Pilaf
Ingredients – Orange Chicken
-4 chicken breasts
-4 oranges, peeled and chopped
-1/2 onion, diced
-salt
-pepper
-Teriyaki sauce
Directions – Orange Chicken

  1. Blend the oranges together. Cut the chicken breasts into slices and place into the orange puree. Let soak for 8-12 hours.
  2. Heat a large pan on medium heat. Place chicken in the pan. Add about 1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce – more or less as desired. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Cover and stir periodically for 10 minutes. Check the temperature of the chicken (it should read 165F when it is done).

Ingredients – Brown Rice Pilaf
-2 cups left over rice
-1 tbsp oil
-1/2 onion, diced
-1 cup broccoli, chopped
-1 large carrot, sliced and halved
-1 cup frozen peas
-1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
-salt
Mrs. Dash Table Blend seasoning

Directions – Brown Rice Pilaf

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add peanuts and onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir continuously for 5-10 minutes, or until carrots are as soft as you would like.
 
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Posted by on December 14, 2008 in Chicken, Grains

 

My Version of Risotto

New posts three days in a row? Yes, I think I am back! The semester came to an end this week. I still have my thesis to work on over break, as well as some recommendations for the work site wellness program I am working on with Head Start. Besides that, I will be working at Ruby Tuesday and (hopefully) cooking and posting up a storm!

Last Thursday the other interns and I got together for lunch. Each person brought a dish to pass, so Whitney and I worked together to make some stir-fry. Whitney made some lemon-grass Chicken, while I sauteed some vegetables and made WAY TOO MUCH rice. I am not quite sure what I was thinking when I made 3 cups of dry rice for 8-10 people. Needless to say there are a lot of left overs. I also had purchased some diced ham last week for Hawaiian pizzas (Jason’s favorite), but we didn’t end up making them. I decided to improvise and make my own Creamy Ham and Pea Risotto. I am not quite sure if this counts as risotto, since I have never made one before, but it appears to have a similar consistency. If anyone is an expert on risotto, I would love to learn more!

Creamy Ham and Pea Risotto

Ingredients
-2 cups of cooked rice
-3/4 cup skim milk
-1/4 cup water (only if more liquid is needed)
-3/4 pound diced ham
-1 cup frozen peas
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp peper
-1 tbsp “Salad Supreme” seasoning

Directions
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a large skillet and heat pan on medium-high.
  2. Continuously stir the ingredients. The sauce will begin to boil. When this happens, turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir.
  3. Stir contents until a thick consistency is obtained (about 10 minutes). Turn the heat off and let cool.
 
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Posted by on December 13, 2008 in Grains, ham, left overs

 

White Bean Chili









Although it is not officially winter yet, it sure feels like it! Today it has been in the teens all day with the windchill feels like the single digits. Jason and I love eating soup and chili when it is cold like this. I usually never buy canned soup because it is so easy to make in the crock pot. I wanted to try something new, so after skimming some white bean chili recipes online, I came up with my own simple version. It turned out great, especially for a first try!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I used water with a powder broth)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP of sweet chili sauce (recipe can be found at Sweet and Spicy (American) Chinese)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a 3-4 serving crock pot. Stir well. Cook on high for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2008 in Beans, Chicken, Soup