Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

You wouldn't think that kids would eat this, but mine all loved it tonight. I'm carbo-loading this week, so I tried this recipe as an alternative to spaghetti. Yum Yum if you like pesto (so Mom probably wouldn't go for this one). Tips: I used one type of pasta, halved everything in the recipe, and it still made a lot (with sauce to spare). Don't forget to marinate the chicken does take some planning ahead.

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

¾ lb. fusilli pasta
¾ lb. bow-tie pasta
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups homemade pesto (I used prepared pesto from Costco)
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ¼ cup good mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis, toasted (To toast pignolis [pine nuts] place them in a dry sauté pan and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, until evenly browned, tossing frequently.)
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp black pepper
Lemon Grilled Chicken pieces, cooked (recipe below)

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes, until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and continue to puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta, then add the cooked chicken pieces, Parmesan cheese, peas, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Mix well and season to taste. DELICIOUS.

Lemon Grilled Chicken

Juice of one lemon (~3 Tb lemon juice)
3 Tb oil
1 tsp minced garlic (~ 2 medium or 1 large clove)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp oregano
1 lb chicken breasts

Marinate chicken overnight. Usually, if I plan on using this for a pasta dish or pizza, where the chicken needs to be cut up, I cut up the raw chicken before I add it to the marinade. Then after it marinades overnight I cook the pieces in a pan on the stove and drain off the juices/marinade.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Green Chile and Cilantro Enchiladas Topped with Special Sour Cream Sauce

(Picture courtesy of I forgot to take a pic of the last batch I made on Wednesday.)

My friend Tara made this recipe for a lunch group probably like 6 months ago and every time I have these, they get more and more yummy to me and they are definitely Christian and my favorite enchilada recipe. This has become my official "if guests are coming to dinner" entree. It's so easy, it's a little New Mexican, and it is oh, so delicious.

Green Chile and Cilantro Enchiladas Topped with Special Sour Cream Sauce

3 C. chopped cooked chicken
2 C. Pepper Jack Cheese (the kind with the jalapeno peppers in it)
1/2 C. Sour Cream
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
8-10 flour tortillas

Sour Cream Sauce Mix:
1-8oz. sour cream
1 8oz. green taco sauce (I prefer La Victoria brand, you can find it at any grocery store.)

Mix Enchilada filling ingredients, spoon and spread over tortillas and roll up. Arrange in 9x13 baking pan and coat with cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Optional: For the last 10 minutes of baking take out and put some of the sour cream sauce and some extra pepper jack or Mexican blend cheese on top. Serve with sour cream sauce and your favorite salsa.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

This salad is so yummy and fresh. I love it! It's super easy too.

Grilled Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

This is from my good friend Michelle. She served this salad at a baby shower and I made it for my family last night and it was a HUGE hit.

Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:
3 hearts of Romaine lettuce
1 bag of baby spinach
6 grilled and chopped chicken breasts
Medium bag of Mozzarella cheese
1 small bag of Craisins
toasted slivered almonds to taste

Mix the following ingredients for the poppy seed dressing:
1 1/2 c. mayo
2/3 c. sugar
4 T apple cider vinegar
4 t. poppy seeds
*This dressing does not taste like Mayo! :)

Honey Lime Enchiladas

I always forget to take a pic before we eat. This was the lone leftover guy. That speaks for itself, right?

Honey Lime Enchiladas

submitted by Brittany, Our Best Bites

1.5 lbs pork or chicken, cooked and shredded


1/3 c honey

1/4 c lime juice

1 Tb chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 (10 oz) cans green enchilada sauce

equal parts mixed together of:

mozzarella cheese, shredded

cheddar cheese, shredded

flour tortillas

Mix together sauce ingredients then add to shredded pork or chicken. Let the sauce soak into the meat for about 30 minutes.

Lightly spray 2 pans with non-stick baking spray. (I usually use one 9x13 and one 9x9 but it may vary with how thick you stuff your enchiladas) Pour green enchilada sauce into pans to coat the entire bottom. Fill tortillas with shredded meat and desired amount of cheese. Roll and place in dish.

Pour remainder of sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle more cheese on top - don't be stingy! (I sometimes use more like 1 1/2 cans- you can freeze left over enchilada sauce in a baggy.) Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn on broiler and place enchiladas nearer the top of oven. Let it broil until cheese is slightly brown and crispy. It is now time to WOW your family!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicken Tostados with Cilantro Lime Drizzle

This dressing is done in about 30 seconds and it tastes almost exactly like Cafe Rio. Yum. I love tostados and you can't go wrong with this one.

Chicken Tostadas with Cilantro Lime Drizzle
adapted from You're Gonna Bake it After All

For the Tostadas:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded (see below)
6-inch corn or flour tortillas
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
14-oz. can chicken broth
Cumin, Chili Powder, Pepper

For the Cilantro Lime Drizzle:
1/2 cup light ranch salad dressing
juice of one lime
handful of cilantro

1. Prepare shredded chicken by cutting it into three chunks, put these into a medium saucepan, then top with 1 14-oz. can chicken broth, 1/4 can of water, sprinkle of cumin and chili powder, and some fresh ground pepper. Bring this to a boil, uncovered, then reduce heat to simmer, partially covered, for 7 minutes. Then, covered completely, remove pan from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. I removed the chicken from the broth and shred it with two forks.
2. Prepare Cilantro Lime Drizzle by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend well.
3. Lay tortillas on a warm skillet and add cheese on top. Allow them to crisp up and the cheese to melt.
4. Top tortillas with black beans, chicken, and cilantro lime drizzle. Additional topping options: mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, sour cream.

Good Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know the world doesn't need another chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I made these yesterday for a dinner party we were having. Dave had a bunch of work friends over, and I felt like I should do something home-made to go with the burgers and chips. They were a hit, so I will definitely use this recipe again! Today they are not as moist as I would like, and I'm not sure if it's because I left them sitting out for too long last night, or if there's something more I can add to the recipe to make them moister. Let me know if you have any ideas on that!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Allison Weenig in the Capistrano 2nd Ward cookbook

1 1/2 cups shortening (I used 1 cup butter flavored shortening, plus 1/2 cup unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (don't pack)
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 bag of chocolate chips (I added more, and mixed milk and semi-sweet)

Cream shortening and sugars, add eggs and beat. Stir in dry ingredients and bake at 375 for 8 minutes. They will look slightly under-baked when you take them out, with some of the peaks slightly browning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rich Chocolate Frosting

I used this recipe to make cupcake frosting for Taylor's birthday and it was amazing. I never use the store-bought stuff (yuck!) so I'm always on the lookout for great frosting recipes and this one was a winner. I'll definitely be using it again.

Rich Chocolate Frosting

1 cups butter (no substitutes), softened
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

In large mixing bowl, cream butter. Add remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add more milk, if needed, until you reach your desired consistency.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta

This one was refreshing and filling. I used the Barilla Plus Pasta and served it as a main dish. It is a fabulous way to use up your garden tomatoes. tastes even better the next day!

Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta

from Sister's Cafe

2 large ripe, firm tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
1 Tb fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese
6-8 oz angel hair pasta ( we prefer whole wheat)

Mix together the diced tomatoes, chopped basil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Let "marinate" on counter for 30 minutes. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain and toss with the tomato mixture. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan. Mmmmmm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cake

A friend made this after I had Izzy---so YUMMY...and naughty! The most moist, rich cake ever!

Molten Chocolate Cake
Veronica Hunter

1 pkg. Devil's Food Cake Mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 1/4 c. water
1 lg. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

Beat all ingred. for 2 minutes; Add 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips. Grease and flour bundt pan; Bake 350 for 50-55 min.; Cool on rack 5-10 minutes and take out of pan. Place on serving platter and prepare topping.


1 c. heavy cream
2 c. semi-sweet chips

Melt in double broiler on low. Melt but don't let it bubble. Let sit for 10 min. then pour over center and top of cake. Serve warm with a dopple of fresh whipped cream!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whole Wheat Ricotta Pancakes

(I stole this pic off of My Sister's Cafe Blog, but these were how yummy these looked- promise.)

I made these pancakes this morning and they were so good that I thought I'd better post them right away- they're that yummy. I might add a tiny pinch of salt to the the batter next time, but they were really good without too. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted from recipe in October 2009 Parents magazine

6 Tbs. whole-wheat flour
4 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 large beaten eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1Tbs. milk
(recipe also calls for frozen berries to fold in, but Oliver doesn't like "stuff" in his pancakes, so I omitted them)

In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. Stir in beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, and milk. Fold in berries, if desired. Cook on hot griddle. Top with syrup or powdered sugar and berries. Makes approx. 6 pancakes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thai Peanut Noodles

Thai Peanut Noodles

The recipe & picture is from Our Best Bites

1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1-2 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
8 oz. linguine noodles
Chopped green onions (optional)
Chopped cilantro (optional)
2 limes, cut into quarters (optional)
Chopped peanuts

Cook noodles in salted water. In the meantime, combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Toss cooked noodles with sauce and divide among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, chopped peanuts, and garnish each serving with 2 lime quarters. Before eating, squeeze lime juice over noodles and stir to combine.

*You can add meat to this dish by stir-frying shrimp or very thinly-sliced chicken (partially freeze it first) in some olive oil with a couple cloves of garlic, some fresh ginger, some green onions, soy sauce, and a small squirt or two of Sriracha chili sauce.

Chicken Parmigiana

1 pound chicken breasts, pounded thin
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 onion, minced
1 1 lb.-4 oz. can tomatoes (2 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese

Oven at 350.

In 3 Tbs. hot olive oil, in saucepan, saute garlic and onion until golden. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper; break up tomatoes with spoon; simmer, uncovered, 10 min. Add tomato sauce, thyme; simmer, uncovered, 20 min.

Beat egg well with fork. Combine crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Dip each chicken piece into egg, then into crumbs; saute in hot olive oil in skillet, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Set slices side by side in baking dish.

Pour 2/3 of tomato mixture over chicken, straining it, if desired. Arrange mozzarella on top; spoon on rest of tomato mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes. Serve with pasta.

OR to make it quick and easy--use a jar of spaghetti sauce. I need healthy recipes from you all!!! I can't use heavy cream, white rolls, and junk. :)

Ham and Swiss Sliders

Okay, these sound really weird but they were so, so good. They have also been officially declared as the perfect baby/wedding shower food. I highly recommend them!

24 good white rolls, if you are in utah we like shirley's or judy's
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices swiss cheese
1/3 mayo
1/3 cup miracle whip

{poppy seed sauce}

1 1/2 TBSP poppy seeds
1 1/2 TBSP yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBSP minced onion
1/2 tsp. worschestershire sauce

in a small bowl, mix together mayo & miracle whip. spread into both sides of the center of each roll. place a slice of ham & a slice of swiss inside of each roll. close rolls & place into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. place very close together.
in a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. let sit 10 minutes, or until butter sets slightly. cover with foil & bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. uncover & cook for 2 additional minutes. serve warm.
** sandwiches can me assembled a day ahead & kept in the fridge ready to bake.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chicken Florentine

(adapted from Blogging-Its Whats for Dinner)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar Classico Traditional Sweet Basil spaghetti sauce
1 cup cream, 1 cup milk
1/2 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 box/pkg of your favorite noodle

Preheat oven to 375*. Place chicken breasts in Ziploc bag and flatten with a meat mallet. Place flattened chicken breasts in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle chicken liberally with garlic salt and pepper.

In a separate dish, combine sauce, cream, and spinach. If you can't find the Classico sauce, just use your favorite spaghetti sauce. No sweat. Pour entire mixture over the chicken, which will be crammed into the 9x13 baking dish. Don't stress because the chicken is squished. It's okay. Once you've poured the sauce over the chicken and finished stressing about how the chicken is squished in the pan, bake it uncovered at 375* for about 35 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, stir the sauce around as best as you can to incorporate everything again, and then dump your grated cheese all over the top and allow the cheese to melt before serving. Serve over your favorite noodle.

This is definitely one of my favorite go-to recipes...its the easiest thing you'll ever make, so delicious, and pretty healthy.

Chicken Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls

These are hard to stuff if you don't allow enough room. I would err on the side of too big because it can get frustrating!

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough* (or make your own)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil or melted butter
sharp cheddar cheese (I used 75% sharp cheddar and 25% mozzarella)
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
about 1 C shredded, cooked chicken.
3/4 C mayo
3/4 C milk

First take 1 teaspoon of your ranch dressing mix and combine it with 1 1/2 T parmesan cheese. Set aside. Combine the remaining ranch mix with 3/4 C mayo and 3/4 C milk and place in the fridge to chill.

Preheat oven to heat specified on pizza dough package. Usually it's 400-425 degrees.

Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" by 8". You're going to want to cut it into 24 squares, so just eyeball it if you need to. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares.

Place cheese and desired toppings on each square.

When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on them, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Then place them seam side down in a lightly sprayed pie pan (or similar sized dish). Brush with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan-ranch mixture.

Time out for a sec. I tried a few new things this time around. One was to cook some of my rolls in a mini-muffin pan. This might work better for serving depending on the situation. They turned out great. You're making 24 rolls, so it fills up the pan perfectly. They cook quicker this way than in a pie pan so keep an eye on them. Mine only took about 8 minutes whereas the ones in the pan took about 13-15.

Place your rolls in the oven. I've noticed baking time really depends on the type of dough I'm using. Whether it's different brands from the store, or homemade dough, they all take different amounts of time. Set your timer for 10 minutes and check on them after that. They may take up to 15 or 20 to be done. Take them out when they're lightly golden on top.

Serve them warm with a side of freshly made ranch dressing for dipping.

Chili's Fajita Marinade

I don't think I'll ever make fajitas any other way! This marinade is delicious!! I've used it on steak and chicken and it is equally good. To die for!

¼ c. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. water
2 Tb vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
3 tsp vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp liquid smoke
¼ tsp black pepper
dash onion powder

1 to 1 ½ lbs chicken slices or top sirloin
1 yellow onion
1-2 red, yellow or green bell peppers
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tb water
½ tsp lime juice
dash of salt and pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients. Marinate chicken (at least 2 hours) or beef (overnight). Grill 4-5 minutes per side. Slice onion and peppers. Fry in a preheated fry pan at medium high heat until softened but still crisp (important! there is nothing worse than soggy fajita vegetables). Add soy sauce, water, lime juice and salt & pepper. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Slice meat thinly. Serve with onion and peppers and salsa in a tortilla. May also serve with sour cream, cheese, guacamole...the options are endless.

Chicken Pesto Strombolli

I used pizza dough instead and it still tasted great! Plus, this looks super fancy--definitely an impressive meal.

1 Rhodes Rolls Frozen bread Loaf
1/2 cup Pesto Sauce
2 cups Spinach
2 cups Cooked Shredded Chicken
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella
1/2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Thaw bread according to package.
On greased counter roll out to a rectangle about the size of a cookie sheet
Spread Pesto all over leaving a 1 inch space from edge
Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan on top of pesto. Sprinkle Mozzarella the layer of spinach, last your shredded Chicken.
Now roll, jelly roll style, starting at the long end.
Roll it all the way so it makes a long tube.
Place on a greased cookie sheet, make sure seam is on the bottom. Tuck ends under.
Brush with egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Garlic Salt.
Cut slits along the top to vent
Let Rise 30 minutes. Bake @350 until golden brown, 20-30 minutes.

Warm Pasta Salad

Okay, this is Rachel's recipe. She made it when she was here and we all loved it plus it fed a crowd for not much money!

12 oz. pasta (I always use Barilla Plus- yum)
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 tsp. saute spice (equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2/3 c. Creamy Caesar dressing
4 Tbs. Basil Pesto (I use Classico brand)
Veggies of your choosing (I used one squash, one zucchini, and lots of broccoli)

Cook pasta and cut up onions and veggies. Drain pasta and slightly cook veggies til desired tenderness. Mix all ingredients together- add veggies last and mix. Enjoy!

Sweet and Spicy Slow-Cooker Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (14 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

Coat the inside of your crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Place all ingredients in the crockpot. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours, or until chicken shreds very easily with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Chicken will absorb liquid after it is shredded.) Serve in tacos or however your little heart desires.

Crock Pot Mango Chicken

This is my new go-to meal! I love, love, love it!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups tomato based mango salsa- i use the one with peach from Costco
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP salt

put all ingredients in the crock pot on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. shred chicken. use in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, salads, etc.

Hasselback Potatoes

This was a fun new way to make potatoes. They were really good hot or cold!

5-6 medium baking potatoes
4 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic pressed or finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the potato on a cutting board, flat side down. Start from one end of the potato, cut almost all the way through, making thin slices.

Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle the garlic in between the slits. Scatter some butter on top of each potato (it doesn't have to be exact - I just pinched off pieces of butter and put them on top of the potato and in random slices). Then drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle some salt and freshly ground black pepper over the potoates.

Bake the potatoes for about one hour or until the potatoes turn crispy and the flesh is soft.

Chicken Gyros

This is my new favorite recipe! We have a new restaurant down here, The Broadway Diner, who serves this same meal. This taste just the same! The soft wrap bread is AMAZING! I made extras and used it for sandwiches, pizza, and tortillas later. They are so tasty, super easy, and healthy. Also, i would recommend getting the Greek yogurt instead of straining through cheese cloth. Though, you would be amazed at how much liquid came out of the yogurt!

**Keep in mind this recipe requires straining yogurt which may take overnight and marinating chicken which will take 1-2 hours so plan ahead!**

Makes enough chicken and tzatziki for approximately 4-6 gyros.

For the tzatziki sauce:
16 oz. plain yogurt (not fat free unless it is Oikos or Fage or another Greek-type yogurt)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded (I used 1/2 of an English cucumber)
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken:
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

To assemble:
Soft wrap bread (or pita bread)
Fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
Red onion, sliced thin

To make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. (You won't believe how much liquid drains from the yogurt - it makes the yogurt much thicker and creamier. If you want to splurge on Greek yogurt, like Oikos or Fage, you won't need to strain it like this.)

Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. (I sauted them in a hot skillet.) Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat pitas. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. Serve immediately.

Soft Wrap Bread
from King Arthur Flour

*Makes about 8-9 breads

3 to 3 1/4 cups (12 3/4 to 13 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) boiling water
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup (5/8 ounces) potato buds or flakes (I used potato flakes)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast*

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and 1 cup of the remaining flour with the salt, oil and yeast. Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough.

Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it's not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky (the dough is fairly stiff, so don't be worried - just be careful not to overflour the dough). Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour (I let mine rise up to 2 hours).

Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) on a griddle or frying pan over medium heat for about 1 minute per side (I cooked mine about 2-3 minutes per side and they didn't dry out), until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

*This recipe works best with instant yeast because it dissolves during the kneading process, so you don't have to knead liquid into the dough. If you really prefer to use active dry yeast, use only 1 cup boiling water for the initial dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, and add this mixture to the dough along with the potato flour mixture. It'll be somewhat "slippery" at first, but will knead in and eventually become smooth.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri

I always like to find new recipes for pork. The chimichurri sauce on this was particularly divine! I had to grill it about twice as long as the recipe states.

2-3lb pork tenderloin (2 small-med pork loins)
1 1/2 C chopped parsley
1 1/2 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C loosely packed oregano leaves*
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T red wine vinegar
3 T chopped garlic (6-7 cloves)
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

*Fresh is best, but if you don't have access to fresh oregano, you could use fresh cilantro and parsley and add in 1 Tbs plus 1 tea dried oregano leaves.

Place pork tenderloins in a ziplock bag and set aside.

Place parsley, cilantro, oregano, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times until finely chopped. Remove mixture and place in a bowl. Add red pepper flakes and then stir in olive oil by hand.

Remove 1/2-3/4 C chimichurri (the herb mixture you just made) and place in bag with pork tenderloins. You just need enough to coat them well. Be careful to not cross-contaminate since you will be serving the remaining chimichurri over the top of the finished meat. Seal bag and set aside to marinade for about an hour or longer if you need to. Place plastic wrap over the remaining chimichurri and set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to cook, preheat grill. Remove tenderloins from bag and let excess marinade drip off. Place on grill and cook for about 5-8 minutes before flipping to the other side. You want the internal temp to be about 160 degrees, so check with a thermometer and take it off the grill when it reaches 155-158 since it will continue to cook a bit as it sits. Remove from grill and let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Slice, and serve with remaining chimichurri drizzled on top.

Chicken Bowtie Pasta Salad

This one was really good. It reminded me of that dish at Johnny Carino's. Actually, I added bacon bits into this and I would totally recommend doing the addition!

2 cups farfalle (bow-tie pasta), uncooked
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 pkg. (6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Grilled Chicken Breast Strips (just used leftover chicken)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, cut into chunks
1/2 cup KRAFT Light Zesty Italian Reduced Fat Dressing, divided
1/2 cup KRAFT Natural 2% Milk Reduced Fat Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese Crumbles
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese

COOK pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the cooking water for the last 2 min. of the pasta cooking time; drain.

TOSS chicken, tomatoes, dressing, cheese crumbles and olives in large bowl. Add pasta mixture; mix lightly.

SPRINKLE with Parmesan cheese.

Homemade Hot Pockets

We really enjoyed these and they stayed fresh for several days! Definitely a man meal!

1 recipe of Breadsticks and Pizza Dough (see below)

Desired fillings (I used about 6-8 oz. of ham and 4-6 oz. sharp cheddar)

Prepare dough through the first rise. After dough has risen the first time, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle, probably about 16x8 inches big (16 inches long, 8 inches tall). Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 8 equal portions.

Leaving a little bit of a "margin" on the right and left sides, add toppings with the cheese going on last. Stretch the dough out a little to give yourself a bit more dough to work with. Fold the left side over the middle and then the right side over that. Starting at the bottom of the "mummy," tightly roll the filled dough, stretching it very gently as you go to make sure you're getting a tight seal. Place on a sprayed cookie sheet and repeat with remaining dough. When finished, cover the pan with a clean cloth and preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
When oven has heated, bake pockets for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. For shine, you could brush the tops with a bit of egg white mixed with water during the last 5 minutes of baking, or you could rub a little butter on top of the rolls while they're still hot.

And honestly, these are just as good not-hot as they are straight from the oven, so if you or your honey are looking for something to take to work and eat for lunch but don't have access to a microwave, these will still be pretty darn good!


Bake according to directions and allow to cool. Place in a Ziploc freezer bag, squeezing out all the air. When ready to serve, just pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes (depending on how fast your microwave cooks).

Breadsticks and Pizza Dough
Recipe from Our Best

1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.

Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.

Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.

Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it's okay if they're close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life's greatest pleasures!

Cover pan and allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes. When there's about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt. Or you could sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

*This dough was really, really good. We used whole wheat and it definitely could have been used to make bread!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Simple and Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

3 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (these do not add spice - just flavor!)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 box Penne or Rotini noodles
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup cottage cheese

Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a blender or food processor until they are coarsely ground and no large pieces remain. Then, add the tomato sauce, basil, and oregano and blend slightly to mix.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is lightly browned and no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Scatter the noodles over the meat and then pour in the ground tomatoes sauce over the pasta. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Dot heaping tablespoons of the cottage cheese over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cover and let stand off the heat until the cheese melts, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve.

I made this for dinner on Thursday night...I really like it a lot, and so do my kids. Its fairly easy. I've made this recipe twice now, and the first time around I used the ricotta cheese, which isn't my favorite. So, this time, I used the old lasagna standby, cottage cheese, instead and it was a winner...much better.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Avocado Sandwich

Adapted from Simply Recipes

3 Tbps olive oil
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (less or more depending on how much heat you want)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breast halves)
4 small slices of Monterey Jack cheese
4 sets of hamburger buns
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
Iceberg or lettuce of preference

1. In a shallow bowl, stir together the olive oil, lime juice, and chipotle chile powder.

2. Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of wax paper. Use a meat pounder to pound the breasts to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut off excess fat. If you are starting with 2 half-pound chicken breast halves, cut each one in half so that you have 4 pieces (to better fit the buns). Place the chicken breasts in the marinade, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour.

3. Heat your grill on high heat if you are using a gas grill, or prepare coals for direct heat if you are using charcoal. You can also use a cast-iron grill pan on your stove if you do not have a grill. Grill the chicken pieces a couple minutes on each side, until cooked through. Once you have cooked the chicken pieces on one side and flipped them, add a slice of cheese to the chicken. Cover the grill for half a minute to melt the cheese. Toast the buns on the grill as well.

4. Assemble the sandwiches - bun bottom, chicken with melted cheese, avocado and lettuce, mayonnaise on the top bun.

Serves 4.

My Changes:

I really liked this sandwich- it was easy and pretty healthy too. I pounded the chicken in a ziploc bag (with a meat mallet) and then poured the marinade into the same bag and refrigerated for several hours. I cooked these on a skillet over the stove b/c our gas grill wasn't working- and they still turned out very juicy and nice. I had a block of monterey jack cheese and so just cut little pieces off of it and melted them on the sandwich near the end of cooking. I used whole wheat sandwich buns from Wal-Mart and they were very tasty.

Instead of slicing the avocado, I mashed it and spread it on top of the mayo- I'm not a huge fan of avocado and I felt like this worked better for me and gave a great flavor. For next time, I might try putting some roasted red peppers on top as an additional garnish- Yum!