Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

I have a problem with breakfast.  The problem is that I love breakfast and that I have not a whole lot of time in the mornings.  So, it's not unlikely that my breakfast is Lucky Charms.  Or cinnamon buns, which, of course, are not homemade.  Totally good for me, and totally going to keep me full from 6 till 11.

So, when I stumbled across this recipe for homemade Egg McMuffins, something I've been wanting to try anyway, I decided the time was right and made them right away.

This seemed like a great and yummy solution to part of my breakfast dilemma.  I've made it three mornings and haven't yet had success following the directions.  Rather than do the prewarming in the whole oven (adding another 10-15 minutes to the morning rush), I made it in the toaster oven.  Our toaster oven is generally wonky, so why I thought this would be successful, I'm not sure.

So, on day 1 I followed Macheesmo's directions exactly.  The result was a rock hard muffin.  On day 2, I dropped the temperature to 325 for 20 minutes, and the muffin was still pretty hard.  Tomorrow I'll try an overnight defrost before putting it into the oven for a little while.

I think part of hte problem was my overcooking the eggs and maybe the muffins from the beginning.  I wonder if the egg should be frozen separately, warmed in the oven with cheese on top, and the muffin toasted separately....

Anyway, here's Macheemo's directions.

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches Source:  Macheesmo

6 English muffins
6 eggs
Butter (optional)
Shredded Cheese
Spray oil

1.  Lightly spray a muffin tin with oil.  Crack an egg into each muffin spot.  Bake 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven (these should cook out of the oven, which I didn't do and so, overcooked).
2.  Meanwhile, grate your cheese.  Lay slice English muffins on a baking sheet and pop in the oven along with the eggs, about 10 minutes.
3.  Remove the eggs (I used a silicone "Spoonula" with great success).  Top each muffin with an egg, top with cheese, add muffin top.
4.  If eating now, bake another 5-10 minutes.
5.  If freezing, place unwrapped sandwich on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for about an hour.  Wrap each in foil and put them all inside a freezer bag.  When you're ready to eat, bake frozen sandwich in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes (watch it... mine was really hard and sorta burned!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

I'm taking on a Recipe Swap challenge this week, and I'm so excited about what I received!

Here's the meal plan for the week:
Monday:  Mexican Stuffed Shells
Tuesday:  Cajun Mac and Cheese
Wednesday:  Breakfast for dinner (no real plan yet; suggestions welcome...)
Thursday:  Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia
Friday:  Tempeh Tacos
Saturday:  Baked Chicken Nuggets
Sunday:  Shrimp, Cherry Pepper, and Arugula Linguine

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crab and Avocado Salad

I originally planned the very romantic Pulled Pork dinner for Valentine's Day, but had also added this to the week's menu.  Since this seemed like a much more sophisticated and classy meal, I made the quick switch.

This was an incredibly good and easy to make dinner.  I tried to cut costs a bit by using imitation crab, and my husband didn't notice anything different, so I guess it worked!  We both liked this quite a bit, and the boys of course weren't interested.  I was a bit nervous after reading tepid reviews of it on Food Network's page, but then noticed all those who reviewed it poorly left out anchovies from the dressing; I also noticed that those who rated highly said they definitely HAD used the anchovies, so I made sure to INCLUDE them!

I'm not typically a fan of Caesar salads, but this homemade salad dressing was delicious.

An excellent Friday Lenten meal for you!

Crab and Avocado Salad from Food Network Magazine via


  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound haricots verts or green beans, halved
  • 2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound lump or claw crabmeat
  • 1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and diced
  • 3 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat croutons
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved


Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the haricots verts and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
Puree the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, basil and anchovies in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the crabmeat, half of the avocado and about 1 tablespoon of the yogurt dressing in a small bowl. Toss the romaine, croutons, haricots verts and the remaining avocado with the remaining dressing in a large bowl.
Divide the romaine salad among plates, top with the tomatoes and place some of the crab mixture in the center.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pineapple Glazed Chicken

It's been a long string of not so great dinners around here. So when I planned dinner, I turned my attention to the good ole folks at America's Test Kitchen, who almost never let me down. I'd bought the ingredients for a dinner a few weeks ago, so it wasn't a problem to put together on the fly in that regard, and since it comes from their Best 30 Minute Recipe book, it wasn't a problem for that rush hour need to get it ready fast kind of dinner.  It took me almost 35 minutes on the nose, which could have to do with a little bit of dawdling on my part.  So it's certainly easy and fast!

But who really cares about easy and fast if it's not tasty?   This, is definitely tasty!  How could you go wrong with pineapple and chicken, along with a few other spices you might not expect?  I discovered the cupboards were bare when it came to soy sauce, so found a substitution to use 4T Worcestershire sauce with 1T of water and halved it--this substitution was pretty delicious or at least not noticed as being a substitution.

If you're in a hurry, give this one a try!

Pineapple Glazed Chicken Cook's Illustrated's Best 30 Minute Recipe

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds , toasted (see note)


  1. Lightly pound chicken so it's roughly the same thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown the chicken, about 4 minutes per side.
  2. Meanwhile, drain pineapple chunks, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Whisk pineapple juice, honey, soy sauce, curry powder, and cayenne together.  Add this mixture, along with the pineapple chunks, to the skillet with the chicken and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 8-12 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and an instant read thermometer through the thickest part of the chicken reads 160 degrees F, 
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate, cover with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Return glaze to simmer and cook, uncovered, until thickened slightly and glossy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add accumulated chicken juices to glaze. Whisk cornstarch and vinegar together until smooth, then whisk into glaze. Continue to simmer glaze until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour glaze over chicken, sprinkle with toasted almonds, and serve.
  5. Note: To toast the 1/4 cup almonds, put them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the skillet occasionally to prevent scorching and toast until they are lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 8 minutes.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Latin Rice

A few weeks ago, I made Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas and also made the Skinnytaste recipe for Latin Rice.  This recipe calls for Sazon, which is a seasoning.  At the store, I looked at it, was shocked at the price tag and turned to the internet to find a make at home version.  I found it here.

Latin Yellow Rice 
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 3/4 cup  Old Points: 4 pts  Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 193.2 • Fat: 2.1 g  Protein: 3.8 g  Carb: 38.8 g  Fiber: 1 g  


  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 4 tsp canola oil
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 5 medium scallions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 packet Sazón
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

    In a medium heavy pot with a tight fitting lidheat oil on medium heat and sautescallions, cilantro and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute another minute. Add rice and saute 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add water, bullion cube and sazón. Taste the water for salt and add more to taste. Let water boil on a high flame stirring once.

    As the water boils down and just barely skims the top of the rice, turn the flame to very low and cover 15 minutes. The steam will cook the rice so do not open. After 15 minutes, shut the flame off and let it sit at least 5 more minutes. This will finish cooking the rice without burning the bottom.

    Sazon recipe:
    Combine 1T of each:  salt, ground black pepper, granulated garlic or garlic powder, dried ground coriander seed, cumin, oregano and paprika.  Mix well and use 1-1/2 t for a packet of Sazon.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    BBQ "Beef" and Mashed Potato Pie

    Please pardon the horrible cell phone picture, worse than my normal regular camera food photography.

    I thought this was really cool because the mashed potatoes used no milk or butter, and my husband didn't even notice.  I made a few modifications, reflected below, but accidentally used too much Dijon mustard, which gave it a little more tang than I'd have liked.

    My boys wouldn't try it.  My husband ate it, a little begrudgingly.  But you should try this nonetheless.  I really enjoyed it, even with too much Dijon.  Since I won't be making this for my husband, I think this would be delicious with some kidney beans inside.  Or some green veggies would be good in with the meat too.  Cheese on top!  Garlic!  It seems like a really adaptable recipe, which would really change the flavors.

    BBQ Beef and Mashed Potato Pie, No Beef, All Turkey Source:  Adapted from Woman's Day March 2012

    2lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
    4T olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    1lb ground turkey
    2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
    1/2c ketchup
    2T cider vinegar
    1T Dijon mustard
    1T molasses
    1T Worcestershire sauce

    1.  Boil a pot of salted water.  Add potatoes and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.  Reserve a cup of the water, then drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Mash with 3T oil, 1/4t salt, black pepper, and 2T of the cooking liquid (more if needed!).
    2.  Meanwhile, heat 1T oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and some pepper and cook until onions are tender, about 8 minutes.
    3.  Heat broiler.  Add turkey to the onion and cook until brown, breaking it up with a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Drain grease.  Add tomatoes, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 4 minutes.  Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.  Add to the mixture and cook for about 1 minute.
    4.  Transfer the beef and onions to a 2qt broiler proof dish and top with mashed potatoes.  Broil until starting to brown, about 4 minutes.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Southwest Chicken Panini

    Once upon a time, I was afraid of the panini. No, not to eat the panini; I'd had many and they were delicious. But making the panini seemed so far out of my skill set that I thought they were out of reach. But then I tried to make my first, and it's so darned easy! The first time, I used a strange contraption as a weight on top; this time, I used my cast iron skillet to grill the sandwich and the next smaller sized cast iron skillet as the press. This worked like a CHARM!!

    I found this recipe on Annie's Eats, and it seemed like such an easy and fast weeknight meal, that I added it to the list.
    Despite having it on the counter, next to the stove, I forgot to add the tomato sauce. It made for a still tasty yet probably less messy sandwich. I was happy for the removed seeds (which I'd never considered doing since... uh, I hadn't thought about it), because it gave delicious chipotle smokiness without the spiciness that sometimes goes along.

    Next time, I'll have to make this one as written... with the spices, with the tomato sauce!

    Southwest Chicken Panini, Source:  Heat Oven to 350 via Annie's Eats

    For the filling:
    2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
    2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded thin
    1 cup chopped yellow onion
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced

    *Juice of 1 lime


    • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook, turning, until golden brown on both sides and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 160˚ F.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool slightly.
    • Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion, garlic, and chipotle to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Cube the chicken into bite size pieces and return to the pan with the onion-spice mixture.  Cook until warmed through and well blended.  Off the heat, stir in the lime juice.
    • Heat a second skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat and coat lightly with oil.  Lay out slices of bread for sandwiches, lightly oiling one side of each piece and facing that side outward from the filling.  Assemble sandwiches with some of the chicken mixture, shredded cheese, and chopped cilantro as desired.  Place sandwiches on the heated pan to cook briefly, turning once, until the outside is golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Serve warm.

    To assemble:
    Sliced sourdough bread
    Olive oil
    Shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
    Chopped fresh cilantro

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Meal Plan Monday

    Last week's meal plan got a little messed up with my being sick and not feeling like cooking, so some from that list go on this week's list... using up what we have; I like it!

    Monday:  Southwest Chicken Panini
    Tuesday:  Pulled Pork  (Nothing like Valentine's Day Romance!)
    Wednesday:  Crock Pot Mealballs
    Thursday:  Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana
    Friday:  Baked Chicken and Pastina  (hmmm, I think I've made this before?)
    Saturday:  Crab and Avocado Salad
    Sunday:  Enchilada Lasagna

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas

    I've had a string of dinner time flops. An every single new recipe I tried went into the trash kind of string. So it was with trepidation that I added a few recipes from Gina's Skinny Taste to the meal plan.

    I should probably have had more trepidation about the length of time to make the dish (thought that's more the combination of the enchiladas and the rice), or the number of dishes it made, but definitely not the taste.  It was soo good.  M said he wasn't sure which version of enchiladas he likes better, this one or this one.  I agreed, because this version is smokey and spicy while the other is much more traditional, like what you'd find at your local Mexican chain restaurant.  Both are delicious, but they are very different!  It was a little too much in the spicy department for both of us, so I'm glad we had some sour cream on the side--it was perfectly balanced with it but  too much without it.

    Yay for a success!!

    Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas Source:  Gina's Skinny Taste

    For the sauce:
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce 
    • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
    • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
    • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
    For the chicken: 
    • 1 tsp vegetable oil
    • 8.5 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 2 large clove garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup cilantro
    • kosher salt
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
    • 1/3 cup chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 8 (7-inch) reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas 
    • 1 cup shredded low fat Mexican cheese
    • non-stick cooking spray
    • 1/2 cup chopped scallions or cilantro for topping


    Prepare the suace:  Saute garlic in a medium saucepan with some canola oil (about a teaspoon). Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Prepare the filling:  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Divide the chicken equally among your enchiladas; roll them and place in the dish with the seam on the bottom.  Top with reserved sauce, followed by shredded cheese.

    Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
    Makes 8 enchiladas.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onion

    I can't recall how I stumbled upon this one, but I'm always looking to add more meatless recipes to the repetoire, and have always heard such great things about risotto that I keep on trying. I loved that this recipe offers a different way to make than others do, and it was with high hopes I made this recipe.

    Unfortunately, the flavors just...didn't do it for me. The texture, however, was perfect. Rice is so not my thing, or at least, it's not the thing I know how to properly cook, so that tells you something about the cooking method. I hope to try again another time, when inspiration for different flavor combinations strikes.

    Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onion Source:  The Kitchn

    serves 4 to 61/2 ounce dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms, finely chopped
    2 cups boiling water
    1/3 cup olive oil, divided
    4 yellow onions (about 2 pounds)
    4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    1 large sprig fresh rosemary
    1 cup Arborio or short-grain white rice
    1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 cups vegetable broth
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to garnish
    Heat the oven to 300°F. Rinse the dried mushrooms lightly, to remove any dust or grit. Place the mushrooms in a ceramic bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set them aside to steep while you cook the onions.
    Chop one of the onions into a fine dice. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 3-quart (or larger) ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Push the onions to the side of the pot, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add all the sliced cremini mushrooms and let them cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Flip the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes, or until they are quite brown and a crust is developing on the bottom of the pan.
    Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the mushrooms and rosemary sprig to the pan and sauté briefly, mixing with the onion and the rest of the mushrooms. Add the rice and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 4 minutes, or until the rice begins to turn transparent.
    Turn the heat to high and add the white wine, vinegar, broth, and reserved mushroom steeping liquid. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan as you add the liquid to deglaze any yummy mushroomy bits sticking to the pan. Stir in the salt and pepper.
    Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and put it in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
    While the rice is baking, make the caramelized onions. Heat the remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cut the remaining three onions in half, and then slice them into thin half moons. Add them to the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark mahogany brown. Let them go as long as you can; I usually cook mine for at least 30 minutes.
    When the risotto has finished baking, let it stand uncovered for 5 minutes before serving. Dish it up and top each bowl with a spoonful of caramelized onions, a little extra pepper, and, if desired, a scoop of sour cream, whipped mascarpone, or whipped Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese.
    (Adapted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles, Harvard Common Press)

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Meal Plan Monday

    Long time, no post.  Lots of duds followed by old favorites in the past few weeks.  My fingers are crossed for lots of successes this week!

    Monday:  Low Fat Chicken Enchiladas with Latin Yellow Rice
    Tuesday:  Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo
    Wednesday:  Pineapple Glazed Chicken from Cook's Illustrated Best 30 Minute Recipes (linked recipe looks the same...)
    Thursday:  Southwest Chicken Panini
    Friday:  Pulled Pork
    Saturday:  Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
    Sunday:  Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions

    Have a great week!  :)

    Bonus:  Lunch Club next week-- Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
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