Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Make Your Own: Taco Seasoning & Pico de Gallo

Taco Seasoning
Tacos are one of our favorite meals. You can make them with chicken, fish, shrimp, turkey, steak/beef...and the list goes on. Not to mention all of the topping possibilities (see the recipe for pico de gallo below)! But do you ever wonder what's in that little packet of taco seasoning that you buy at the store? Why not make your own? Yes, it's THAT easy.

This is Alton Brown's Taco Potion #19. And let's be honest...this man always gets it right. This blend of spices is perfect for 2 pounds of meat. If you're only using 1 pound, please use only HALF of the spice mixture (it will be way too salty/spicy!) I did make 2 small changes. I decreased the amount of salt because I like to add low-sodium beef broth to the meat/spice mixture instead of water (gives it more flavor). I also decreased the amount of cayenne pepper...if you like things EXTRA spicy, feel free to use more! I CAN promise you this...You will never go back to using store-bought taco seasoning!!

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Alton's recipe calls for 2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Alton's recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon)
Put all of the ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

When ready to use: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If desired, add 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add 2 pounds of ground beef and cook until all the pink is gone. Add the seasoning mix and 2/3 cup low-sodium beef broth and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and serve in taco shells with desired toppings.

Pico de Gallo
Toppings are the fun part! Some of my favorites are fresh avocado, crumbled feta cheese, sour cream and...pico de dallo! Recipe courtesy of Our Best Bites.

About 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded & chunked
1 smallish jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped (use the seeds if you like it hot!)
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1/2 of a lime (add more if you want a distinct lime flavor!)
Kosher salt, to taste
Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate 2-3 hours to blend flavors. Serve with tacos or tortilla chips.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dessert Pizza

Dessert pizza is always a big hit at summer get-togethers! This recipe will make a round, 12" pizza, serving 8-10 people. I often double the recipe, using an 11x17" rectangular cookie sheet with a shallow rim. Make this recipe your own by adding your favorite toppings (fresh fruit, cookie crumbs, chocolate bits or drizzle, coconut, etc.) Chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie dough can also be used for the crust!

1 (20 oz.) package/tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough (such as Pillsbury; found in the dairy aisle)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
Desired toppings

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Press dough into greased 12-inch pizza pan. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and milk with wire whisk (I use my Kitchen Aid) until smooth. Gently stir in Cool Whip. Spread on cookie crust.

Garnish with desired toppings. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mediterranean-Style Pot Roast

Another great slow-cooker meal! I added some cubed potatoes during the last few hours of cooking (on low). Makes 6 main-dish servings. Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens.

1  2-3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1  14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano & garlic, undrained
1/4 cup sliced, pitted ripe olives (I used Kalamata)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dried herbes de Provence, crushed (find in spice aisle or see recipe below)
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Herbs de Provence (Emeril Lagasse's recipe)
2 Tbsp. dried savory
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 Tbsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. dried basil
2 Tbsp. dried marjoram
2 Tbsp. dried fennel seed

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container. If you want to make the exact amount needed for this recipe, use 1/4 tsp. of each ingredient. If you do not have one of these herbs, it's okay! I didn't use savory or fennel and the roast was still delicious :)
Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3 1/2 - 4 quart slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Set aside.

Place onion in slow cooker; top with meat. In a medium bowl, combine undrained tomatoes, olives, Worcestershire sauce, herbes de Provence ad pepper; pour over meat in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove meat from slow cooker. Cut meat into six serving-size pieces. Arrange meat on a serving platter. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to serving platter, reserving juices. Spoon enough of the juices over meat and vegetables to moisten. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Chicken Roban

This recipe was given to me by a friend and past-coworker, Jennifer Prince. It is based on a recipe called 'Semolina's Chicken Roban' from Semolina Restaurant in Louisiana. It is definitely a keeper. Next time, I might try it with shrimp! Serves approximately 6 people. For the 2 of us, I cut the recipe in half. And yes, we had leftovers :)

Note: I had a bit of a hard time finding 'blackened seasoning.' I eventually found Phillip's brand at the seafood counter of a Shurfine Market. Jenn says she buys Zatarain's brand at Walmart.

1 jar alfredo sauce (to make your own, see my post from May 24 for 'Shrimp & Scallop Fettuccine Alfredo'
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
4 teaspoons blackened seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic
1 pound chicken, diced
1 package shell pasta, cooked and drained

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for a few minutes.

Stir in garlic. Saute one minute longer. Add cayenne pepper and blackened seasoning. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.

Cook chicken in the same skillet. When chicken is no longer pink, add onion mixture to skillet. Add heavy cream and alfredo sauce. Heat through. Serve over shell pasta (I mixed the pasta into the sauce).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Classic Tortilla Soup (Mexican Tomato Soup)

I was first introduced to this delicious soup while working as a waitress at the Nav Jiwan Tea Room at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Each week, the tea room would feature a different ethnic cuisine. All of the food was made fresh and prepared from scratch...AMAZING! I  still crave it...their curry, the hummus & guac, Mexican chocolate cake, and the orange mint and chai tea...YUM! But, I have to admit, their Mexican Tortilla Soup was my absolute favorite! Unfortunately, the tea room has closed, but they still have an awesome cafe! You should check it out :)

The profile picture of me at the right of my blog, was taken in Mexico while Nick and I were on our honeymoon...I was eating Mexican tortilla soup!

Because the Nav Jiwan Tea Room's recipe should remain a best kept secret :), I combined their recipe with Marcela Valladolid's recipe from the Food Network. Makes approximately 6 servings.

Ingredients - Soup
4 large tomatoes
1 white onion, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4-1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients - Tortilla Strips
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2- inch wide strips
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Sour cream, for serving
2 avocados, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes or slices
Queso fresco or mild feta cheese, crumbled

Directions - Soup
Put the onion chunks, tomatoes and garlic cloves in a baking dish and roast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the tomato skins are beginning to look black and charred.

Skin the tomatoes and puree with the onion and garlic in a blender or a food processor. Pour into a large saucepan with 1 Tbsp. oil and saute for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and reduced. Add the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Directions - Tortilla Strips
In a medium, heavy skillet, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 1/2 an inch. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

To serve, ladle the soup into 6 individual serving bowls. Serve sour cream, avocados, cheese, and tortilla strips.

Chipotle Chicken Rolls with Avocado Dipping Sauce

I'm re-posting this recipe because I made a few changes (mainly to the dipping sauce). These rolls make a great appetizer, but you can also serve them as a main course (like I did last night!) Just add a nice big green salad & some fresh fruit :) Don't be frightened by the length of this recipe...the directions are very detailed...it really only takes 30-40 minutes to get these on the table! Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray. Serves 2-3 people.

1 lb. ground chicken breast
4 scallions, thinly sliced, then chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (You can find these in the international foods aisle in any grocery store...they come in a small can.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Dipping Sauce:
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves (about 2 Tbsp...if you love cilantro, add more!)
1 tsp coarse salt
3 tbsp extra-vigin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, scallions, cheddar cheese, garlic, and chipotles and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a sealable plastic bag. To turn the sealable plastic bag into a homemade pastry bag, trim 1½ inches off one of the bottom corners of the plastic bag. Push the chicken mixture to the cut corner without pushing it through the hole. Reserve while you prepare the phyllo.

Arrange 1 sheet of phyllo dough with the long side closest to you on your kitchen counter. Brush liberally from edge to edge with the melter butter, and season with salt and pepper. Place another sheet of phyllo on the top, again brush liberally with butter. Repeat with the third sheet of phyllo.

Place the trimmed end of the pastry bag ¼ inch in from the left side and ½ inch up from the bottom of the phyllo sheet. Squeeze half of the chicken mixture from the bag while moving along in a straight line from left to right until you have completed a long roll. Tuck the ends in and then brush the entire outside of the phyllo log with more melted butter. Transfer the first log to a rimmed cookie sheet, putting the seam side down. Repeat this process to make the second log with the remaining half of the chicken mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, or unitl the logs feel firm to the touch.

While the phyllo-wrapped chicken is in the oven, prepare the dipping sauce. Place the avocado in a food processor and combine with the lime juice, cilantro, coarse salt and about 3 tbsps of water. Process until the avocado mixture is smooth and then stream in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Once the chipotle chicken rolls are cooked, remove from the oven and let them cool just enough to handle. Cut each roll into 3 equal pieces. Serve 2 chicken rolls per person on a bed of bib lettuce with the dipping sauce.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Parmesan Potato Wedges

Use one potato per person and adjust the recipe accordingly. As the ingredients are now, it serves 6. So easy & very tasty! Makes a great side dish. I served these potatoes with grilled steak earlier in the week (see below!) Recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens.

6 medium baking potatoes (about 2 lbs)
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. Italian seasoning, crushed
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper

Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil; set aside. Cut each potato lengthwise into eight wedges. In a large bowl stir together butter, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add potato wedges and stir to thoroughly coat. Place the wedges on the prepared baking pan.

Bake, uncovered, in a 425 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Awesome Steak Marinade

Nothing beats a good steak on the grill! Summer is a great time to try new marinades and rubs...this recipe is definitely a keeper! Flavorful and juicy. Titled "Best Steak Marinade in Existence" on allrecipes.com :) Because I was grilling for the two of us, I cut the recipe in half.

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (or black)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)

Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.

Pour marinade over desired type of meat. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sausage and Peppers

Another simple & quick weeknight dinner. One of our favorites. Recipe lightly adapted from the original at myrecipes.com. Makes 4 servings.

Cooking spray
(4-ounce) links turkey Italian sausage
1/2 of a large green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 of an onion, thinly sliced
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
15 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb. cooked pasta (any variety)
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; cook 8 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from pan; cool slightly. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Wipe pan with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Place pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers & onion; sauté 6 minutes. Add sausage; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add sauce; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Add mozzarella, stirring until melted. Place 1 cup pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls; spoon about 1 cup sausage mixture over each serving. If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Asian Baked (or Grilled) Salmon

Even the pickiest eaters will love this salmon! The original recipe recommends that you bake the fish. I grilled and it was fabulous! Allrecipes.com.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
12 ounces fresh or thawed salmon

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a gallon-size ziploc bag & shake it up. **If grilling, make additional marinade and reserve. Add salmon to bag. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour, turning after half an hour (I let the salmon marinate for 4 or 5 hours).

To bake: Pour the salmon and the marinade into a baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven, covered with foil, for 15 minutes. The salmon is done when it flakes easily at the thickest part. 

To grill: Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Remove the skin and serve warm.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chicken Caesar Burgers

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home. What a terrific idea! To make this dish even lighter, skip the roll and use the burgers to top a salad! Note: this recipe only makes 2 burgers (you may need to adjust it).

I'll be out of town this weekend...look for a new post on Tuesday :)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound ground chicken
2 hamburger buns, split
1/4 cup torn romaine
4 teaspoons fat-free creamy Caesar salad dressing

In a small bowl, combine the onion, 1 tablespoon cheese, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well. Shape into two patties.

Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Serve on buns with romaine and salad dressing. Yield: 2 servings.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spiced Beef Stir Fry with Couscous

A nice light summer supper. Cost-cutting tip: Sirloin and flank steak can be expensive and other cheaper cuts of meat can be tough in these types of quick-cooking dishes. I found a very thin cut of meat called 'Braciole' at the grocery store. It is very inexpensive and tender...perfect for stir fry dishes, stroganoffs, etc. Recipe lightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used braciole)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
1 1/4 cups couscous
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tablespoons snipped cilantro
1 tablespoon snipped mint
8 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons canola oil

In a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, add the first 7 ingredients; seal bag and shake to mix up the spices. Add beef to the bag, seal bag; toss to coat beef; set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in couscous; remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, cucumber, cilantro, and mint; cover to keep warm. 

Heat a large skillet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add in green onions; stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until crisp-tender; remove green onions from skillet. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet; add in the beef. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes or to desired doneness.

To serve, equally divide couscous mixture among plates. Top each with beef mixture and green onions.

Lemon-Sage Chicken

The sauce in this recipe is amazing! I doubled the sauce ingredients so there would be enough to serve over a pasta side-dish. Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.

FYI...shallot substitutions: Shallots are part of the onion family and have a mild onion-garlic flavor. In place of 3 to 4 shallots, use 1 medium onion plus a pinch of garlic powder or 1 minced garlic clove.

Ingredients: Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese blend
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients: Sauce
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine
4-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Flatten chicken to 1/2-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine the eggs, cheese and seasonings. Place flour in another shallow bowl. Coat chicken with flour, then dip in egg mixture.

In a large skillet, brown chicken in oil in batches. Transfer to a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.

In the drippings, saute shallot until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the wine, lemon juice, herbs and lemon peel; cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add cream; cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter until melted. Serve sauce with chicken. Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Burgers with TWO Bonus Recipes: Guacamole & Zucchini Fries!

Jalapeno Popper Burgers
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home. Remember to wear disposable gloves and avoid touching your face/eyes when working with jalapenos. Even though they are one of the mildest hot peppers, the burning sensation that they cause is quite unpleasant!

3 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 (turkey) bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
3 ounces light cream cheese, softened
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 pounds ground beef
4 slices Pepper Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns, split
4 lettuce leaves
1 large tomato, sliced
3/4 cup guacamole (store-bought or homemade: see recipe below!)

Brush jalapenos with oil. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. When cool enough to handle, finely chop. In a small bowl, combine the bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno until blended.

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, salt, lemon-pepper, pepper and paprika. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight thin patties. Spoon bacon mixture onto center of four patties; top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal.

Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat for 6-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160° and juices run clear. Top with pepper Jack cheese. Cover and cook 1-2 minutes longer or until pepper Jack cheese is melted.

Grill buns, cut side down, over medium heat for 30-60 seconds or until toasted. Serve burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato and guacamole. Yield: 4 servings.

I add diced tomatoes, green olives & onion to my guac. Add what you like! For a zestier guacamole, increase the amount of chili powder or use cayenne pepper or a dash of Tabasco.

2 medium avocados
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small roma tomato, seeded & diced OR 1/4-1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 tsp. salt (do not add if using olives)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

In a medium bowl, mash the avocado with the mayo until the mixture is smooth (avocado will be slightly lumpy). Stir in the salt, pepper, chili powder and lemon juice. Mix in the tomato (or olives), onion & cilantro. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Makes about 3 cups of guacamole.

Zucchini Fries
A healthy-alternative to french fries! My hubby loved them! Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups panko (Japaenese breadcrumbs)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or chili powder)
Coarse salt & ground pepper
2 large egg whites
2 large zucchini, halved crosswise and cut into 1/2 inch wedges

Preheat oven to 425 with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly coat two rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. In a wide, shallow dish, mix together panko, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, cayenne, 3/4 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. ground pepper. In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg whites.

Working with one at a time, dip zucchini wedges in egg whites, then breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Arrange on sheets in a single layer. Bake until coating is golden brown & crisp, about 20 minutes. Flip zucchini & rotate sheets halfway through. Season to taste with salt & pepper; serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Baked Chicken Parmesan

A lightened-up classic family-favorite. Serve as a quick and easy weeknight meal in less than 30 minutes! Pair with an easy starch (I made a cheesey polenta) and a vegetable or salad (we snacked on edamame). Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. Its delicious! Serves 4.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Set out 3 shallow dishes. Combine the first 3 ingredients in the first dish; place lightly beaten egg whites in the second; place panko bread crumbs in the third. Dredge one piece of chicken in the flour mixture. Then dip it in the egg whites; then dredge in the panko. Repeat with remaining chicken breast pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Turn chicken over; cook 2 minutes. Place pan in oven. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; top each breast half with 2 tablespoons sauce, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, and 3 tablespoons mozzarella. Bake 6 minutes or until chicken is done.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Slow-Cooked Pork Carnitas

I wanted to re-post this recipe (it was my first blog post!) One, because it's what we're having for dinner tonight! Two, because it calls for a lot of cilantro and if you're growing it in your garden (like I am), you probably have more than you know what to do with! And three, because it tastes absolutely amazing! The pork is so tender and juicy, it just falls apart. And it's packed full of amazing flavor! You could also use this recipe for pulled pork sandwiches (if you're not a taco person). And, it doesn't heat up your kitchen because it's cooked in a slow-cooker instead of the oven. I'm begging you to try it :) Recipe lightly adapted from Taste of Home.

3 lb boneless pork shoulder butt roast
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup tequila or additional chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
12 small flour tortillas, warmed
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped avocado and chopped tomatoes, optional

Place roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Sprinkle with garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Add the onions, cilantro, salsa, broth, tequila and chilies. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove meat; cool slightly. Shred with two forks and return to the slow cooker; heat through. Spoon about 2/3 cup meat mixture onto each tortilla; serve with toppings of your choice. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baked Ziti

Cheesy, saucy, meaty goodness :) I'm sure this will quickly become one of our favorite meals. Restaurant-quality baked ziti right here! For the 2 of us, I cut the recipe in half and we still have tons of leftovers. This recipe was lightly adapted from Allrecipes.com.

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork sausage (or double the beef)
1 1/2 jars (39 oz. total) low-sodium spaghetti sauce
Salt (to taste)
1 (6 ounce) package provolone cheese, sliced
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in oil until tender. Stir in rosemary and garlic. Transfer to a small bowl.

Place ground beef and sausage in the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Stir in the onion mixture and the spaghetti sauce. Season with salt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. In the prepared dish, layer 1/2 of the cooked pasta, provolone cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and a little less than 1/2 of the meat mixture. Then layer the rest of the pasta, mozzarella cheese, remaining meat mixture, and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated through and cheeses are melted.