Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smothered Italian Chicken

When I see something on Stephanie's blog, I know I will enjoy it; when she raves about something, I know I will as well.  This is no exception.  I've made this before, but wanted to highlight it again since I found a way to not waste the rest of the Philly Cooking Creme, again thanks to Stephanie...  see my next post to see how I used it up with amazing results.

This dinner also inspired my husband to make this into a sandwich.  I made more than enough chicken cutlets, which he topped with the leftover sauce, tomato, lettuce, and bacon on a whole grain ciabatta roll to rave results.


Smothered Italian Chicken Source:  Stephanie Cooks
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1.5 cups baby spinach
1/3-1/2 tub Philadelphia Italian Cooking Creme
Salt and pepper

1- Preheat the oven to 350.
2- Slice the tomato and place in a small baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Bake covered for 15 minutes or until soft.
3- Meanwhile, dip the chicken in egg, then bread crumbs, until coated. Heat oil and fry chicken until crisp and cooked through. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
4- Add the spinach and cooking creme to the tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so, stirring well.
5- Spoon the sauce mixture over the hot chicken. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meatless Monday: Baked lemon orzo

It's no secret that my kids are gonzo for Mac and Cheese, so when I saw this recipe, I figured it would be a more sophisticated version of mac and cheese for us to try.  It also happened that I was reading a book, and "orzo" was the hip new thing, in the early 80s.  So, it was clearly Kismet for us to give this a go.

As for the result, I liked it, but wasn't super jazzed about it.  I took it for lunch leftovers (as written, it makes a LOT) but it was really missing some pizzazz.  Definitely a good side dish, though I'm certainly not likely to put this much time and effort into a side dish.

But, maybe it's for you or you can think of a way to get this suited to your family's tastes better!  (Side note:  I did skip the bread crumb topping, which could have been my problem here)

Baked Asiago and Lemon Orzo Source:  Sarcastic Cooking
  • For the Pasta:
  • 1 Pound Orzo Pasta
  • ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter, plus more for greasing
  • ½ Cup Diced Yellow Onion
  • 1 Clove Garlic, grated
  • ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 ½ Cup Shredded Asiago Cheese, plus more for topping
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Dill
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • For the Topping:
  • 1 Cup Cubed Stale Bread
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo, cook according to packaging.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, sauté for two minutes until translucent. Add garlic, stir to combine. Sauté an additional minute.
  4. Add the flour to the saucepan. Whisk to combine flour and butter. Cook for one to two minutes.
  5. Slowly pour in the milk, while stirring/whisking. Stir/whisk until the sauce and roux are totally combined.
  6. At this time the pasta should be ready to be drained. Drain pasta and set off to the side.
  7. Add the cheese to the sauce, stir, and cook until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in all the seasonings, zest, dill, and lemon juice.
  8. Grease a large 9×11 inch baking dish with butter. Add pasta to the baking dish, pour sauce over the pasta, and stir to evenly coat all the orzo with sauce.
  9. In a food processor, pulse the stale bread until a medium/fine crumb is formed. It doesn’t have to be uniform.
  10. In a small skillet, heat butter over medium/high heat until it melts. The butter will crackle and foam and then start to slowly turn brown. Once the butter starts to turn brown, add in the breadcrumbs and stir. Cook for another minute or two and then remove from heat.
  11. Pour the brown butter breadcrumbs over the cheesy orzo along with a little bit more shredded asiago and parmesan cheese.
  12. Bake in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Let sit for three to five minutes before serving.
  13. Store pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat in microwave or oven.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cilantro lime shrimp

I wasn't thinking when I made this shrimp dish, and served it over plain brown rice.  While it was certainly delicious, I should have served it over Cilantro Lime Rice.  Not only would I have made a side dish that better complimented the dinner, but I also would have used up some of the extra ingredients I bought to make the shrimp dish.

And the shrimp dish was lovely.  I brought it in for lunches for a few days after, and while the shrimp definitely get rubbery in the microwave, I still enjoyed this the second time around.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Source:  Skinnytaste, via He and She Eat Clean
2 lbs shrimp, shelled & deviened
2 tsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

1. Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat.
2. Add oil to the pan & once the pan is hot add shrimp.
3. Season with salt & pepper.
4. When the shrimp is cooked on one side (about 2 minutes), turn over & add garlic.
5. Saute another minute or two until shrimp is cooked, careful not to overcook.
6. Remove from heat.
7. Squeeze lime over shrimp & toss with cilantro.
8. Serve & enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (each serving is 6 oz)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chili mac

Ah the days of school lunches.  According to my son, a lot of my favorite lunches still grace the cafeteria (chicken patty, anyone?), so it was with fond memories that I stumbled across this recipe in the midst of a clean eating challenge.  Of course my beloved chicken patty was not real food, and it's likely even worse now, but I can make chili mac with all real ingredients, and it will be delicious too.

All three boys enjoyed this too, though the two youngest of them have this thing about onions lately, and spent more time picking onions out than enjoying.  I enjoyed it for several days after as lunch, and the boys even asked for it in the lunchboxes one day.

Clean Eating Chili Mac Source:  The Gracious Pantry


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean, ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (or 8 fresh cloves, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, no sugar added, low sodium is best
  • 1 cup water
  • Whole grain macaroni, cooked to package directions (I used half a box)
  • Salt to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. In a medium to large soup pot, cook the turkey in the oil.
  2. When the meat is about half way cooked, stir in all the spices.
  3. When the meat is finished cooking, stir in the pasta and remaining ingredients.
  4. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weelicious Veggie Tortilla Wrap

You may have heard that lunchboxes are no longer what they used to be.  Moms across the internet (and surely Dads too, but they don't seem to have as much of an online presence) cut foods into cute shapes for their kids to eat (or, perhaps, turn up their noses at).

I don't do any of that.  I have been known to use a cookie cutter on a sandwich and also got the Cute-Z-Cute cutter  as a Christmas gift, but I try to keep the lunchboxes full of interesting foods and keep my fingers crossed they will like them.  Pinterest is a huge source of inspiration, but one of the mavens of the lunchbox world has recently published a cookbook, Weelicious Lunches:  Thinking Outside the Lunchbox, and I knew I had to give it a try.

I wish I'd packed one of these for myself, but I didn't quite have enough of the ingredients.  It was not a hit for the boys, though I will likely make it for them again in the hopes their tastes will change, but my husband and I both thought this might be one for US to try one day.  Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead and make the homemade hummus ahead of time, but it took so little time that it was really no big deal (even though I pack lunches after cooking dinner and just want to crash on the couch).  Since I made the hummus from scratch, though, I didn't get around to making the suggested veggie salad for the side.  Maybe next time I'll plan better, but the boys got a side of the hummus, pita chips, and grape tomatoes and baby carrots instead.

Weelicious Veggie Tortilla Wrap Source:  Weelicious Lunches:  Thinking Outside the Lunchbox
*Makes 4 servings
  • ½ cup hummus
  • 4 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
1. Lay the tortilla flat on a work surface, and spread hummus along the inside.
2. Top each tortilla with 1/4 of the grated carrots, then 1/4 of the sliced avocados.
3. Roll everything up, cut into half, and lunchbox it.

I used this hummus recipe, from the Weelicious website, for this wrap.  


  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (can be usually be found right next to the peanut butter at your local grocery)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. 1. Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and puree.
  2. 2. Add the olive oil and continue to puree until creamy.
  3. 3. Serve.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pineapple Glazed Chicken

Sometime last year, I reorganized many of the photos on my Photobucket account, and as a result, many of my older blog posts no longer have photos.  So, even though this is a terrible photo of a yummy meal, I'm posting it to update the older post.  I've made this a few times, and if you have the book in which the recipe can be found ( Best 30 Minute Recipe), I also recommend the cranberry version (which I also don't seem to have shared here).  

Although my husband is not generally a fan of curry flavors, I continue to make this because the curry is subtle and adds some interesting balance to the sweetness of the pineapple.  This is really nice with rice on the side, especially if you use some of the pineapple sauce on top of it.

Pineapple Glazed Chicken Cook's Illustrated's Best 30 Minute Recipe
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & fresh ground pepper
  • tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • tablespoon soy sauce
  • teaspoons curry powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon cornstarch
  • 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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Peaches and cream crockpot oats

Making oatmeal in the crockpot has made mornings around here substantially less crazy.  The boys enjoy it and I know I'm giving my kids (and self) a hearty and healthful breakfast with little work on my part.  It takes a little bit more prep work than the little instant packets I had as a kid, but is surely much better for all of us than those were and less costly too.

The first time I made steel cut oats in the crockpot, I made a gigantic mess.  The cooked oats stuck to the crock and it required much elbow grease to clean the mess.  I've since discovered a much easier method:  place all ingredients in a bowl that will fit inside your crockpot, and fill the crock around that bowl with water.  Cook as directed.  If there's any mess, it's confined to the small bowl, but I've found it doesn't get stuck on the way it did that first time.

The original directions for this Peaches and Cream Oatmeal suggest using canned peaches; I used frozen since that's what I have on hand, but the flavor just wasn't there without the juice.  My boys didn't notice or mind, but I (of the instant preference) wasn't really nuts about this.  That's not to say I won't make them again, the boys enjoyed and I didn't mind enough to not eat them, but I will probably add some honey or sugar to my bowl in the future.  I'll share the original recipe for you to try either way!

Peaches and Cream Crockpot Oats Source:  Eat at Home
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 can (15 oz) sliced peaches in light syrup
  • enough milk to bring liquid to 4 cups
  • dash salt
  1. Spray inside of crock with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Put steel cut oats in crock.
  3. Drain can of peaches, reserving juice.
  4. Slice peaches in bite size pieces. Add to crock.
  5. Add milk to peach juice to make 4 cups. Pour into crock.
  6. Add dash of salt and stir to combine.
  7. Cook 3-4 hours on low. You can cook up to 7-8 hours, if needed.
  8. Serve with extra milk, if desired.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Shrimp Penne Rosa

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!  I hope you have great plans for Game Day; we'll probably watch a little of the game with the boys but otherwise have no plans.

I'm feeling in a food rut.  This is particularly true for my own breakfasts and lunches, but it's applying to dinners around here too.  So I turned to some past recipe swaps for inspiration.  This recipe, shared by Becoming Pigzilla seemed rut breaking so I gave it a go.  I liked that it called for some different ingredients than I've been using lately (though it seems like nearly everything has been served with pasta lately), and it's fairly clean too.  

This was pretty good, but probably would have been kicked up a notch if I'd added more red pepper flakes (which I don't do for my boys' sake, but could have amped up the flavor here) and I also used two rather than three tomatoes; I definitely wish I'd used three.

Shrimp Penne Rosa as seen on Becoming Pigzilla
12 oz whole wheat penne pasta
olive oil
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup dry white wine
9 oz fresh spinach, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1. Cook penne according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
2. In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften stirring frequently, about 5-8 minutes.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.  Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Increase heat to medium and add shrimp.  Add white wine and cook until shrimp become bright pink and are almost cooked through (don’t worry, they’ll continue to cook), about 4 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Stir in spinach and cover.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together marinara sauce and Greek yogurt.  Once spinach has wilted, add sauce to pan and turn heat back on low.  Add in pasta and stir until well combined.  Stir in basil.  Serve and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tropical Chicken Quesadilla

I made these last spring as part of the recipes swap in which I was partaking at the time.  That version used a pineapple-avocado salsa while this time around, I used the originally called for mango.  

I know I liked the pineapple, but this was fantastic.  It was an amazing salsa to go along with your pretty standard chicken and cheese quesadilla, and so bright and fresh for the dismal wintery "Polar Vortex" weather we've had lately.  I made these with some shredded chicken I had in the fridge, but Kelsey gives directions for cooking fresh chicken and spicing it up with some Mexican flavors.

Tropical Chicken Quesadilla with Mango Avocado Salsa  Source:  Kelsey's Apple a Day
For the salsa:
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 habañero (Scotch Bonnet) or jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
juice from one fresh lime
1/4 c. chopped red onion
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the quesadillas:
2 t coconut oil, divided
shredded chicken
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 medium/soft taco size tortillas
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese 

  1. Make the salsa by combining all ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Adjust seasonings as you like.
  2. Make the quesadillas by laying out the tortilla then topping half with cheese, shredded chicken, onion, and pepper.  Fold quesadilla in half over the filling.  
  3. Heat 1 t coconut oil in a skillet.  When hot, lay the quesadilla in the pan and cook until crispy, then flip over to cook the other side.  Repeat with remaining quesadillas.  Serve with the salsa and enjoy!

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