Wanted: All Good Recipes!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lemon Grilled Chicken and Perfect Asparagus

I'm always on the hunt for easy, healthy recipes that my family will like, and these are both definite winners!  I found this first one on the Better Homes and Gardens site, and adapted it a bit.  I  used chicken tenders instead of the chicken breasts, marinated it for two hours, and then cooked them on our little George Foreman grill.  So super easy!

Lemon Grilled Chicken
photo from Better Homes and Gardens 
4 chicken breasts
1/2 fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp finely snipped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/4 tsp black pepper

For marinade, combine broth, zest, juice, thyme and pepper.  Trim the fat from the chicken, and place it in a  freezer bag.  Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator.  Marinate for 1-2 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain the chicken, but save the marinade.  Our George Foreman is one of the older, simpler ones, so there are no settings to adjust; you just plug it in, and it heats up.  If yours is adjustable, I'd say to set it to medium, let it warm up, and throw your chicken on there.  We only had to cook ours for a few minutes, because our pieces were so small, but we had a lot of them.  If you'd like, brush some of the marinade on the chicken when it's about half way done, flip it over, and brush it on the other side as well.  We skipped this step on ours, and they were still super moist, tender, and lemony-delicious.  

While Brandon tended to grilling the chicken, I took care of the asparagus.  I found this recipe for "perfect" asparagus" here, and I'm telling you, it is aptly named.  That asparagus was delicious.  I'd never tried blanching my veggies before, but I will definitely be doing so again.

Perfect Asparagus, with Lemon
photo from the original post at afamilyfeast.com
fresh asparagus
fresh lemon
1/2 tbsp butter

Wash your asparagus, then snap off the hard ends and discard (compost!) them.  Prepare your ice bath: basically, you just need to have a big bowl full of iced water handy by the stove.  Boil water in a large pot.  Once it's come to a boil, add the asparagus and allow it to return to a boil.  Set a timer, and boil the asparagus for about two minutes.  Skinny asparagus will finish faster, thicker ones may take a little longer, but don't let them go for more than three minutes!  They will be a bright, vibrant green when they're ready.  At this point, use a pair of tongs to move the asparagus to the water bath, and leave it there for about two minutes.  Use the tongs again to remove it and set it aside.  I just placed mine in a strainer in the sink, until the chicken was just about done.  
When he put the last two pieces of chicken on the grill, I melted my butter in a non-stick skillet over  medium heat, added the asparagus, squeezed the juice from about half a lemon over it, and sauteed it for only a minute or two and then served it immediately.  

I'm trying to focus on meat and veggies at dinner, to avoid over-doing on the carbs, so that was our entire dinner: chicken and asparagus. We each took healthy helpings of both, especially the asparagus.  And man, oh man, was it good.  All of it.  Strangely, neither of the girls was the least bit interested in any of it--I can usually count on Kaylie to eat hers, but not this time.  Still, there was not a bit of asparagus left by the end of the meal, and there were only 3 little pieces of chicken.
I think that next time I do this asparagus, I'll try doing a balsamic glaze instead of the lemon, and maybe pair it with a Mediterranean chicken?  Oh, this is making me hungry!

Friday, October 12, 2012

All-In-One Chicken Bake

This recipe is easy, simple, and delicious.  It was a huge hit with my husband, so this will definitely be something we make again.  

4-6 trimmed chicken breasts (I used 3 large breasts)
new potatoes, or small red potatoes
fresh green beans (or any green veggie, really)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 package dry Italian dressing mix

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut your potatoes and green beans, and arrange along each of the long sides of your 13x9" baking dish.  Arrange the chicken breasts down the middle.  Sprinkle the dressing mix evenly over everything, then pour the butter evenly over everything.  I knew from this recipe that the Italian dressing mix would be salty, so I made sure to use unsalted butter.)  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for one hour.

Super easy, right?  It only dirties the one baking dish, a knife and a cutting board, then you get to ignore it for an hour, AND everything comes out tender and tasty.  Love it!

Banana Nut Bread

My banana bread recipe has been requested, so here it is!  I basically just use the recipe recipe from my big Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but with more nuts, and sometimes I like to throw some chocolate chips in as well.

Banana Nut Bread 

2 c AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 5 medium)
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter (or oil)
3/4 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c mini chocolate chips, optional
streusel nut topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease one 9"x5"x3" (or two 7.5"x3.5"x2") pan, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mixture, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine mashed bananas, beaten eggs, butter and sugar.  Once mixed, add it all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened; batter will be lumpy.  Fold in nuts and, if desired, chocolate chips.  Spoon into prepared pan.  If desired, top with streusel.*

Bake at 350° for 55 to 60 minutes, or until wood toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire racj for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on rack.  Wrap and store overnight before slicing.  (As if I ever have the patience to wait.)

*Streusel Topping:

1/4 c packed brown sugar
3 tbsp AP flour
2 tbsp butter
1/3 c chopped walnuts

Mix sugar and flour.  Use a pastry cutter to cut in softened (not melted!) butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in walnuts.

If you end up with more batter than will fit in your loaf pan (it should not be more than half full), but don't have enough to make a second loaf, you can make the rest into muffins.  Just spoon them into a greased or lined muffin pan, and bake for 15-17 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them, to make sure they don't over bake.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken: A Fail, and then A Win

I found 2 similar crock-pot chicken recipes on Pinterest, and wanted to try them both.  I got to this one first.  It was just as easy as the recipe says, and the chicken was tender, but I didn't like the flavor at all.  My husband liked it more than I did, but he wasn't wowed by it either.  If you're a fan of canned cream of chicken soup, the you will like this.  I, apparently, am not a fan.

A week or so later, I tried this recipe.  I almost skipped it, since it also calls for cream of chicken soup, but this recipe only needs one can and it calls for cream cheese.  I decided to give it a chance, and I'm so glad that I did!  This chicken was creamy and tender and flavorful.  My only complaint was that it was a bit on the salty side, probably from the Italian dressing mix.  Next time I'll just make my own, and I'll be able to control how much salt goes into it.  I think I'll also take the mushrooms from the first recipe and add them to the second. 

Cream Cheese Crock-Pot Chicken

2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
8oz cream cheese
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix

Place chicken, soup, cream cheese, and seasoning mix in slow cooker. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-9 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. (I used less chicken, and it took only 6 ours on low.) Serve over hot cooked rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta, if desired.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pesto Rolls and Pasta Caprese with Sausage

Do you like pasta?  Do you like cheese?  Do you like caprese?  If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then you need to make this dish.  Now.  Unless you're counting calories, in which case, you should probably close this window and try to forget that you ever saw this post.

Photo from original post on Pelin Chef.  Idea from Pinterest.  
I was starving, so I started off by putting some pesto rolls in the oven to munch on while the pasta was baking.   It was suuuper easy:  "Press out cresent roll dough.  Spread pesto.  Roll up into a log. Slice. Place in a pie plate like cinnamon rolls. Serve with marinara dip."  That's Pinterest said, and that's what I did.  It quick, easy, and delicious.

Photo and recipe from original post on Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour.

But enough of that.  On to the pasta.  This recipe is fantastic!  It was straight-forward and pretty easy, but not terribly fast.   I followed it pretty much exactly, except for adding some mild Italian sausage, and doubling the mozzarella.  If you decide to do sausage, too, pre-cook it according to the package directions, slice it, and mix it in with the pasta and sauce prior to adding the tomatoes, cheese, and basil.  You really just can't go wrong here. 

Mmm.  So good, so full.  But because I'm a glutton, I went for the trifecta.  After dinner, I made peanut butter blossoms

Anyone want to go for a run?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

photo from the six sisters original post.
This is another one that I found on Pinterest.  The pin came from Six Sisters Stuff, and they got the recipe from Get Off Your Butt and Bake.  We made some guacamole to go with it, and it was delicious!  We will be making this one again--with a few alterations.  We had a lot of the meat mixture left over, so next time I'll use my 3 qt baking dish, instead of the 2 qt dish recommended in the recipe.  We're also going to skip the tortilla layers in the casserole, because they just got soggy.  Perhaps next time, we will serve it in the tortillas, burrito style.  Here's what we did:

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large red onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup (reduced-fat) Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons (reduced-sodium) taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 small can of drained corn (or about 1 1/4 cups of frozen corn)
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn, taco seasoning and cumin.
Spoon a generous, even layer of the meat mixture on the bottom of your 3 quart baking dish, sprinkle with grated cheese, top with a flour or corn tortilla.  Repeat until you've filled your dish (or run out of meat).
The last & final layer should be a healthy dose of grated cheese.
Cover with foil that has been sprayed with pam or other and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce and tomato.  Guacamole is strongly recommended.
Yield: 8 servings. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf with Tzatziki Sauce

photo from All Day I Dream About Food

My sister-in-law found this recipe, made it and raved about it, so of course I had to try it.  The original recipe suggests using coconut flour in place of bread crumbs to make it low-carb, but I just used the bread crumbs. Here is how I made mine:

Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 medium cucumber, seeds removed, and shredded
1 tsp chopped, fresh dill
1/4 tsp salt


1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the sauce, mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and chill until serving.

For the meatloaf, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 325°F. (I didn't have any parchment paper, so I skipped that part and it was fine.)  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, salt and pepper and saute until onions are translucent but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add in spinach and stir until heated through.

In a large mixing bowl, combine onion mixture, turkey, bread crumbs, chicken stock, egg and worcestershire sauce. Mix until very well combined.

Place half of the turkey mixture on prepared baking sheet and shape into a flat rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Cover with feta cheese, pressing on feta to adhere to meatloaf. Place remaining turkey mixture overtop of feta and shape the whole thing into a rough loaf.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until internatl temperature reaches 160F on an instant read thermometer.
Cut into slices and drizzle with tzatziki sauce, passing remaining sauce at the table.

Serves 6.

I absolutely loved it, but my husband wasn't such a fan.  (He said the tzatziki sauce was great, and he probably would have liked it a whole lot better had it been made with beef instead of turkey.)