Thursday, February 16, 2012

Farfalle with Artichokes and Kale

Need a quick dinner?  Here ya go.  Waiting for the pasta to boil takes longer than anything else. If you can get someone to clean the kitchen for you, you'll be sitting down to the Real Housewives in about 20 minutes!

Farfalle with Artichokes and Kale

1 can non-marinated artichoke hearts (drained, rinsed, and dried with paper towels)
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
olive oil
1 box farfalle pasta
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium heat and add chopped garlic.  Cook for about a minute (don't let garlic burn), and add artichokes.  Raise heat to medium high, saute for 3 minutes, then add kale, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until kale is wilted, about 5 minutes, and then add wine to the pan.  Bring it to a boil and simmer until pasta is ready. 
Drain pasta, and add to the pan with the artichokes and kale.  Toss, then add parmesan cheese, salt if necessary, and serve with a little extra parmesan cheese.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Slow Cooker PInto Beans

I've told you about these beans before.  My kids LOVE them.  We all do, actually, but when I find something the kids really like that is healthy and delicious, I tend to cook it a lot.  We fix our beans up like we would chili: cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro, sometimes corn chips.  So good!  Note: these beans cook for a looong time. There is almost zero prep work, just plan ahead.

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

1 pound of dried pinto beans
1 ham hock/bone (optional)
1/2 onion, as a chunk so you can remove it later
2 whole cloves of garlic
8 cups of water
8 beef bouillon cubes (you could also use beef broth if you have a thing against bouillon)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the dry beans (check for rocks) in the morning the day before you want to eat them, cover with water, and let them soak throughout the day.  That night, rinse them again and put them in the crock pot with the remaining ingredients.  Make sure the water covers the beans by a couple of inches.  Cook on low all night and through the next day (about 20 hours).  Remove and discard the ham hock, onion and garlic.  Serve with shredded cheese, avocado, and a little fresh lime juice (sour cream, tomatoes, and green onions are all good on top, too).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

It may come as a surprise to you Southerners, but until a couple of years ago I had never eaten chicken and dumplings (or chickn n' dumplins, as they say).  Neither my mother nor my grandmother ever made the dish, and the chicken and dumplings they served in the school cafeteria were gooey squares of dough with gross looking hunks of dark brown "chicken", so I never really had any desire to try it. 

Then, a couple years ago, when we had a big ice storm, our friends came to stay with us because their power was out, and Jessica brought a big pot of the most delicious thing I had ever eaten: real, homemade chicken and dumplings.  I've been hooked ever since.

Her recipe is simple and perfect, but I had a bunch of homemade chicken stock in the freezer just waiting for a freezing day like today!  Here's the EASY version of her recipe.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

4 cups homemade chicken stock
white meat from rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup Bisquick (apparently, every Southern women knows Bisquick makes the best dumplings)
2/3 cup milk

Bring chicken stock to a boil.  Meanwhile, mix Bisquick and milk to form a soft dough.  Drop by small pieces into boiling stock.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add shredded chicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

I'm not calling this recipe Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic like the original recipe does because 1) I didn't count the garlic cloves exactly as I put them in, and 2) it's nothing like the traditional 40 cloves recipe.  But it's good. Really good.  The sauce I could drink from a cup.  The garlic gets almost sweet like roasted garlic during the cooking and the chicken just falls apart. 

We had it with smashed potatoes and Spicy Kale (recipe later this week) and even the kids cleaned their plates!

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
40 cloves peeled garlic (you can buy whole, peeled garlic in the produce section)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper chicken and add it to the slow cooker.  Add the garlic, wine, and spices and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

When you're ready to serve, remove the chicken and pour the juices from the pot through a sieve into a bowl, then press the garlic through the sieve to form a paste.  Cook the sauce over medium high heat until it thickens slightly, about 6-8 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to the sauce.   Serve over the chicken.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quinoa with Kale Pesto

I found a big bag of cut up, triple washed kale at my Walmart this week! This makes me excited because kale is sort of a pain to wash, you know? I couldn't wait to make this pesto (and a big batch of kale chips).  Delicious! And what a healthy, filling meal.  And because my kids HATED it (it *is* green after all), John and I have plenty for lunch tomorrow.
Quinoa with Kale Pesto
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup kale pesto (recipe below)
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Bring water to a boil and add quinoa.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat skillet to medium high, and add a teaspoon of olive oil.  Saute artichokes and sundried tomatoes with a little salt for about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and then cook until the quinoa is ready.  Add the mixture to the quinoa, add the pesto, and toss to combine.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Kale Pesto
(This recipe makes more than is needed for the quinoa.  You can add the leftover pesto to pasta or sandwiches.)
2 cups kale leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor combine kale, Parmesan cheese, walnuts and garlic and blend until finely chopped.  While processor is running, stream in olive oil until desired consistency.  

Valentine's Day Brownies

Here's an easy way to turn something ordinary into something special for your kids: cut brownies into heart shapes! You could use a brownie mix if you are so inclined, but I made homemade ones with this quick recipe.  I made half the recipe in a mini heart shaped cupcake pan, and the other half in an eight inch square pan and just cut out small hearts. 

Quick Homemade Brownies

1 stick butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325.  Melt butter with unsweetened chocolate in a saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then stir until well combined.  Stir in flour and salt until just combined.  Pour batter into greased and floured 8 inch square baking pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Or use mini heart shaped cupcake pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Soy Ginger Salmon

To quote my husband, "this is the best salmon I've ever had." Maybe he was just throwing out compliments, but think I kind of agree.  The ginger gives it a crunchy and spicy (not hot) crust.  Adding the Sriracha really kicked it up a notch (remember Emeril? I loved watching him way back when.).  Add as much as you can take!

Soy-Ginger Salmon
(serves 2)

2 salmon fillets

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (grate with a microplane to get it really fine)
zest of one lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of half a lime
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

lime juice

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and add salmon.  Marinate for 10 minutes, no longer.  Heat nonstick pan to high and cook for on one side for 5 minutes, or until it's really brown.  Lower heat and cook on the other side for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  You can cover the pan with some foil to speed up the cooking after you flip it.  To plate, squeeze the juice of the other half of the lime over the top, drizzle some Sriracha, and sprinkle on some chopped cilantro.  Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and edamame.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Truffled Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce

It's Sunday night. I'm feeling under the weather.  I've got no milk, bread, cheese, meat, fruit, lettuce, vegetables, pasta, or even crackers. EMPTY refrigerator and almost empty pantry. But I've got eggs! And I've got marinara sauce. I've got the white truffle salt John gave me for Christmas (I'm putting it on everything these days). And a few pieces of bacon for the side.  Problem solved. And I'm going to the store first thing in the morning!

Truffled Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce 

12 eggs
1/2 cup prepared marinara sauce
white truffle salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400.  Spray 6 ramekins with nonstick spray.  Add about a tablespoon of prepared marinara sauce to the bottom of each ramekin.  Crack two eggs into each ramekin. Sprinkle white truffle salt over each ramekin and a little pepper.
Bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until the eggs are as firm as you like them: less time for runny yolks, more time for firm yolks. Remember that shallow ramekins will cook faster than deeper ones and that they will continue to cook as they cool.   Note: you can easily remove the eggs from the ramekins to serve them to kids; the ramekins are too hot for them to touch.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

French Onion Soup Redux

I love having dinners in the freezer ready to go for an easy dinner.  I don't really make huge portions for the purpose of freezing, but when I make a soup or something that has enough left over for another meal, I like to freeze it.  French Onion Soup, yes, please.

Here's the original recipe I used.  Tonight, I just thawed it out, added some bread and cheese, and threw it under the broiler for a minute. I was freezing after taking the kids to the park (I thought 50 degrees sounded warmer than it actually was) and this soup is so hot, it was perfect!

French Onion Soup (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (4 or 5 onions)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
french bread
swiss cheese, grated

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; now would be a good time to touch up your eye makeup that you cried off during the onion chopping process!

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes.
****At this point, I instead transferred the soup to a crock pot and cooked it for a few hours on low.

To serve: cut french bread to fit broiler-safe bowls.  Broil bread on high for less than a minute, until browned on one side.  Put browned side down on top of each soup bowl and top with grated cheese (as much as you want).  Put bowls on a cookie sheet and broil soups until bubbly and golden.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

I made these adorable banana puddings when we had friends over for dinner last night.  Making individual portions is such a good way to serve banana pudding!

I haven't had banana pudding in YEARS, which is strange considering I live in the south.  I guess I usually skip it because I don't care for the easy-peasy version with banana flavored jello and cool whip. 

Anyhow, this Old Fashioned Banana Pudding (no Jello involved) is perfectly Southern with meringue on top, but fresh whipped cream (not cool whip) will work in a pinch.  

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding (adapted from The Southern Living Cookbook, copyright 1987)

3 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
dash of salt
3 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12 oz package vanilla wafers
5-6 bananas

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Beat the egg yolks; combine egg yolks and milk, mixing well.   Stir into dry ingredients; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. 

Crush some of the vanilla wafers and layer in the bottom of ramekins. Add some banana slices, then top with custard.  Line sides with whole vanilla wafers. 

Top with meringue, whipped cream, or leave it plain. I actually used the real whipped cream that comes in the can.  It's a good alternative if you're in a hurry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honey Ginger Tilapia

Fish is so great for a busy weeknight because it takes no time to cook, it's healthy and full of protein, and you won't be hungry for dessert (yeah, right!).  The downside in my family is that the kids don't like it.  Believe me, I've tried and tried.  I've even told them it's chicken.  They know. 

Even though it goes against what I believe about children eating family meals, I've dropped the fish subject with them for a while and let them have sandwiches when I'm cooking fish for dinner.  Sometimes you just have to pick your battles, ya know?  I did give them broccoli though...

Honey Ginger Tilapia (adapted from Our Best Bites)
serves 2-4

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
juice of a lime
1 teaspoon grated ginger root (you can store whole ginger in the freezer, by the way)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tilapia fillets
cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, grated on microplane or pressed in garlic press
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
juice of 1 lime
Sriracha sauce to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, lime juice, and olive oil. Marinate the fish in the mixture for 10-15 minutes, but no longer, or the fish will cook in the acid of the vinegar and lime juice.

While the fish is marinating, whisk together the sauce ingredients.

Heat a nonstick pan over high heat.  Drizzle a  little olive oil and cook tilapia for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish.  The tilapia will flake with a fork when it's done. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I made these enchiladas a while back, and froze the leftover filling since it made way more enchiladas than I needed.  It was a cinch to thaw it out and bake with fresh tortillas and cheese. This is the complete recipe if you are making them from scratch. 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
serves 4-6

2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups leftover Slow Cooker Black Beans or 16 oz canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup diced green chilies (2 small cans)
About 2 cups salsa verde (buy this in the Mexican food section of the grocery)
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
10 flour tortillas
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel and dice the sweet potato. Place in a pot and cover with water; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, around 12 to 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato, black beans, diced green chilies, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

In a large baking dish, spread 1 cup of the salsa verde.  Fill each tortilla with a scoop of the filling, add a handful of cheese, and roll it up. Place the enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. When all enchiladas are in the dish, top with the remaining cup of salsa verde and the remaining cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Baked Kale Chips with Sea Salt

Kale chips? "No thanks", I was thinking.  But then I tried them....pretty darn good.  Just like the Crispy Cajun Roasted Chickpeas, they are NOT better than potato chips.  But as a healthy, crispy, salty, snack, I give Baked Kale Chips with Sea Salt an A+.  And my kids gobbled them up before I had a chance to truly enjoy them! 

Baked Kale Chips with Sea Salt

about a pound of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)

Heat oven to 375.  Prep kale by washing well and drying thoroughly.  Remove thick stems and tear kale into 2 inch pieces. Toss kale with olive oil and salt.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, or until crispy.  While hot, add more salt if necessary.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crispy Cajun Roasted Chickpeas

I finally got around to trying this little snack that is rumored to be better than potato chips.  Well, I'm here to tell you that there is no snack better than chips, duh. But if you like to snack on salty, crunchy, healthy goodness, then give these a shot.  John loves them and eats them by the handful (my husband seriously loves snacks). The kids even will have a few!

Crispy Cajun Roasted Chickpeas 

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 
Salt to taste
cajun spice blend (put some Tony's on it, y'all!)

Heat oven to 400.   Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse well.  Dry beans on a paper towel  If any of the skins come off, just discard them.  Drizzle dry beans with olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Roast for 30 minutes or until beans are golden brown and crunchy.  While they are hot, season with cajun seasoning and more salt (if necessary). 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

To me, the benefit of using the slow cooker is when you can dump stuff in and then eat it in 8 hours. Anytime a recipe requires me chop, cook on the stove, and then transfer to the slow cooker, I'm just not interested.  Are you with me?
These Chicken Tacos are perfect for the slow cooker as far as I'm concerned.  You could really pile on the toppings, but I'm watching calories these days (aren't you?) so I stuck with cilantro, lime juice, and a little cheese.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
16 oz jar salsa
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Don't forget the slow cooker liner for easy clean up! Set on low for 6-8 hours.  When cooked, shred chicken and serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, cilantro, and fresh limes. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Rosemary White Beans

When you have a simple recipe like this one that only has a few ingredients, you've got to make sure they are quality.  Don't skimp on the fresh rosemary, spend the extra dollar on the low sodium organic chicken stock (or make your own), and grate your own *Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
For the kids, I added white extra sharp cheddar cheese instead of the Parmigiano-Reggiano in an attempt to cover the green stuff in the beans (I have one child who will not, under any circumstances, eat anything green except broccoli and apple Laffy Taffy).  The cheddar was pretty tasty, and a good alternative if you can't find Parmigiano-Reggiano.   

Slow Cooker Rosemary White Beans
1 pound dried great northern beans 
4 large cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock, plus additional water if necessary
1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse beans well and pick out any rocks.  Place in slow cooker and add chicken stock, plus additional water if necessary to cover.  Add garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Cook on low for 5-8 hours.  To serve, remove rosemary stems, bay leaves and garlic.  Top each bowl with cheese.  

*Parmigiano-Reggiano is not the same stuff in the green can get real Parm in the deli case at the grocery store (even Walmart).  To grate it, you can use regular box grater, or better yet, remove the rind, cut it into big hunks, and whirl it in the food processor until it's grated. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Cranberries

Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Cranberries
serves 2

4 cups baby greens
1/4 raw chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 heaping tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
champagne vinegar
olive oil

Here's an old fashioned, but easy way to keep your salad extra healthy.  Instead of making a vinaigrette, just drizzle vinegar and olive oil. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marinated Tomato Bruschetta

I know tomatoes aren't in season.  I understand the carbon footprint caused by trucking tomatoes from Mexico to Arkansas and why you should buy locally and in season foods.  But sometimes in January, you just want/need to eat tomatoes.  Can I get an amen? And since tomatoes aren't that great in January, marinating them is the best way to eat them raw.

Marinated Tomato Bruschetta  

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 whole green onions, sliced
5-6 whole basil leaves cut into a chiffonade (roll 'em up longways and then cut into strips)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pound sweet cherry tomatoes, cut up
1 whole baguette sliced

Mix the oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices, and add tomatoes.  Allow to marinate 2-3 hours or longer. 

Slice baguette, drizzle with olive oil.  Broil for 2-3 minutes, until they start to brown. Turn them and broil for 2-3 more minutes.  Top each piece of bread with the tomatoes, using a spoon to allow for some extra juice to drop onto the bread. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock

Did you know you can make homemade chicken stock 1) with rotisserie chicken and 2) in the slow cooker?  This is the least painful way to make delicious, healthy, cheap, homemade stock.  It's only slightly painful with the cooling and the straining and straining again....

Since I've had so much homemade stock on hand, my meals have been even more tasty.  There really is a difference between homemade and boxed!  Lemon Chicken Paillard and Phake Pho are 2 dishes I've made with the homemade stock, but I have the rest in the freezer waiting for a snow day to make chicken noodle soup, tortilla soup, or chicken and dumplings.

I had the bones of 2 rotisserie chickens in the freezer (you can use any kind of chicken bones, even the neck, ick), so I tried it 2 different methods: stove top and slow cooker.  And good news! Even though the slow cooker method took much longer, the resulting stock was exactly the same as the stove top stock. You do need a big crock pot, though (I have a 7 quart).

Slow Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock

bones, skin, and extra meat of a rotisserie chicken
yellow onion, cut in quarters, skin on
4 large carrots, cut in quarters, not peeled
2 bay leaves
4 celery ribs, cut into quarters
4 whole cloves of garlic
20 whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
spring of fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley or 1/2 tablespoon dried of each (except parsley)
cool water to cover

Place everything in the slow cooker.  Don't bother to peel or chop too well because everything is discarded at the end. Cover with cool water, set slow cooker on low, and let it go for 8-10 hours (or longer). 

When the stock is finished, remove all the big stuff with a slotted spoon and discard.  Strain the hot stock first with a fine mesh strainer.  Then, place cheesecloth in the fine strainer and strain again (you can also use thick paper towels) to remove all the tiny bits. 

Pour the hot stock into a large bowl to cool.  Place the bowl in the sink with cold water and some ice to speed the cooling process.  When it's room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place it refrigerator overnight.  When the stock is cool, the fat will solidify on the top.  Remove and discard the fat.  Transfer the cold stock to small containers or Ziploc bags to freeze.  Will keep in the fridge for a week and the freezer for 3 months.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Boil an Egg

How to boil an egg.  Sounds simple enough, right?  It is. Very, very simple.  But most people do it completely wrong and end up with broken shells, over or undercooked eggs, or that weird green ring around the yolk.  

Here's how to boil an egg perfectly every time:

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover pan with a lid. Allow the eggs to sit for 12 minutes off the heat. Transfer eggs to a colander; place under cool running water to stop the cooking.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wedge Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

I think iceberg lettuce is complete underrated.  I know it's out of "style", but I just love a crispy, cold wedge of iceberg! Tonight we had wedge salads with homemade creamy garlic dressing with baked potatoes.  And I got to use my crazy powerful new blender.  That thing would blend up the silverware into a smoothie, I think!

Wedge Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

4 cloves garlic
16 oz Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Add garlic cloves to blender and pulse until they are minced.  Add yogurt, mayo, and lemon juice and blend.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

To assemble the salad, cut iceberg lettuce into wedges and drizzle with dressing. Add chopped bacon and blue cheese (if you want).  I did not because I'm watching my calories. But blue cheese would be great on this! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lemon Chicken Paillard

Make this for your next dinner party, to impress your husband's boss, or just for your kids.  It's that pretty (and delicious!).  Don't be scared by the sauce; it's just gravy! Sort of.  It's simple, though. Trust me.

By the way, paillard (pi-yahrd) is just a French term that refers to any meat thinly sliced for quick cooking.   This whole meal took about 20 minutes. Quick!

Lemon Chicken Paillard

4 thin cut chicken breasts (alternately, you can pound them thin with a meat cleaver)
olive oil
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
1 lemon, juice and zest
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade, just like Martha would, and I'll tell you all about it later this week)
Baby greens
handful of Italian parsley

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs de provence, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from pan when cooked and cover with foil to keep them hot.  
Reduce heat and add butter.  When the butter melts, add the flour to the butter and cook, stirring with a whisk, a couple of minutes to make a roux.  Whisk in the chicken stock a little at a time.  When the broth thickens to just coat the back of a spoon, remove pan from the heat. 
Toss the salad greens with lemon juice, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.  
To serve, cover the bottom of the plate with the warm sauce, top with a pile of salad greens, and add the chicken on top.  Sprinkle the plate with parsley.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spicy Salmon with Avocado Salsa

A friend of mine told me today that her New Year's resolution was to eat fish once a week.  I think that's a great one, and I'm going to give it a shot myself!  It's going to be hard in my house because the kids hate fish....maybe I'll try telling them it's chicken....Either way, I love a healthy recipe that takes 10 minutes to cook, so it's worth a shot.

Spicy Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Spicy Salmon

Drizzle both sides of thawed salmon fillets with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning (I like Tony's).  Broil on the broiler pan for 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon and broil for 5 more minutes.

Avocado Salsa
1 ripe avocado
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro
juice of half a lime
salt to taste

Chop avocado and tomatoes into bite sized pieces.  Add green onion, cilantro, and lime juice.  Taste salsa and then add salt to your taste.  Serve on top of the Spicy Salmon. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Penne with White Beans and Spinach

This one is healthy, guys. But it's so delicious, you wouldn't even know it! The beans kind of break down and make the pasta creamy.  If you want, you can drizzle everything with a little olive oil before serving.  I didn't but I sure wish I had...

Penne with White Beans and Spinach

3/4 lb dry penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups baby spinach
zest of one lemon
juice of two lemons
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or more to taste)

Cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water. When cooked, drain and reserve one half cup of cooking liquid. Set aside.
In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and saute for two minutes, until toasted and fragrant (be careful not to burn!). Add the cooked pasta, beans, sundried tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Add the lemon zest, juice, salt, cayenne and cheese and toss well. Add some of the cooking water if the mixture seems dry.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Phake Pho

This recipe isn't exactly authentic Pho, I'm sure, which is why I'm calling it Phake Pho, but it's at least as good as the noodle shop in my town (the food is good, but I'm certain it's crawling with roaches).  Pho is kind of a kicked up chicken noodle soup, in case you were wondering...Oh, and it's probably too spicy for kids. 

Phake Pho

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
6 cups chicken broth
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
3 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
5 oz noodles (find them in the Asian section of the grocery; I could only find thick ones but thin is better)
sriracha sauce for serving
chopped cilantro for serving
lime wedges for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the minced garlic and ginger and briefly saute for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt, and saute for another three minutes until chicken has turned white but not completely cooked all the way through.
Add the chicken broth, jalapeno and green onions to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until chicken is done.
Add the rice noodles directly to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes, or until noodles are soft.
Add the rice vinegar and soy sauce and stir. You can add a little more salt if you like, but taste first because soy sauce already contains a lot of salt.  Serve with chopped cilantro, sriracha sauce, chopped green onions, and lime slices on the side.
Be sure to eat it with chopsticks for authenticity.  And SLURP! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

This is quick and a great use for leftover chicken! Pile on the chicken, go easy on the cheese, and have a big salad on the side, and it's pretty healthy, too. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Homemade or store bought pizza crust (I used a thin one from my Walmart bakery)
Rotisserie chicken, white meat diced
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I like the sauce from Rendevous in Memphis)
Fresh mozzarella cheese, very thinly sliced
1/2 whole red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
chopped cilantro, to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Spoon a couple of tablespoons of BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. Top sauce with half the sliced mozzarella. Sprinkle on half the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion.
Sprinkle with a little salt, about a tablespoon more of BBQ sauce, and then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

As you are resolving to hit the gym or start the couch to 5k to lose weight for 2012 (you *are* doing that like everyone else, right?),  remember that exercising is only part of the equation.  You've got to eat right! No more fast food, don't eat out too often, and don't even bring the junk food into your house.  Do eat more fruits and veggies, fewer processed foods, and drink water instead of soda.  Easy, right? Ha!

Here's a basic salad dressing recipe that you can use for any type of salad.  We had a big salad with rotisserie chicken, apples, pecans, craisins, and goat cheese, but you could add anything you like.  When I make up a salad I like for it to have lean protein, something crunchy (like nuts, radishes, sunflower seeds, or apples), something sweet (maybe raisins, craisins, or fruit), and a little cheese. 

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pressed or grated fresh garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup good olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt.  While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified. (You can also put all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake it up.)  Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.