Friday, September 30, 2011

No-Peeking Peking Chicken (Slow-Cooker)

'Tis the season for slow-cooker recipes! I have already posted quite a few :) This recipe is also from the October issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. For the two of us, I used 3 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast (the recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs). I served the chicken with rice (to soak up the sauce!) and a side of edamame. Rachael also recommends pulling the chicken off the bone and wrapping it in soft tortillas with hoisin sauce and strips of crunchy cucumber and scallions.

8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 4 lbs.), skin discarded --> I used boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup chopped scallions (about 6)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. sesame oil

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a greased 6- to 7-qt. slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine scallions, garlic, soy sauce, honey, ginger and sesame oil. Pour the mixture over the chicken, cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh away from the bone reads 165°, about 4 hours. Serve with the pan juices, sprinkled with additional chopped scallions. Serves 4.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stuffed Summer Squash

A great way to use up any left-over squash and zucchini from your garden! I cut this recipe in half and only used one large summer squash. It was plenty of food for the two of us...very filling and so, so yummy! Recipe courtesy of All You magazine.

1 large yellow summer squash
1 large zucchini
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground turkey or beef 
1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1/2 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup dry Italian-style bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan

Fill a bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cut squash and zucchini in half lengthwise; place in boiling water. Bring back to a boil; cook until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Transfer squash to ice water. Cool for 2 minutes. Remove; pat dry.

Scrape out seeds and stringy pulp from each squash half, leaving a large cavity for stuffing. Arrange snugly in a large, lightly oiled ovenproof baking dish.

Warm 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add turkey or beef and cook, stirring to break up until crumbly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth and thyme. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until turkey is thoroughly cooked and some of liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place equal amounts of filling in each squash half, piling it high in center. Mix bread crumbs with Parmesan, then sprinkle mixture over squash and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Serves 4.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin-Spice Cupcakes

The blog, Gina's Skinny Recipes is fantastic. Loving all things pumpkin and fall, I had to try this recipe. The cupcakes are super moist and have great flavor and the pumpkin cream cheese icing is sooo yummy. A perfect fall-time treat!

18.25 oz Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla Super Moist Cake Mix
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup water

For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
5 tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.

Combine cake mix and pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree and water, mix about 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake about 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar until smooth. You can use a spatula to ice the cupcakes or pipe them which may require making more frosting. Makes 18-24 cupcakes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

(Un)stuffed Peppers

What a great idea! This dish was ready in LESS than 30-minutes! Same flavors as stuffed peppers, but ready in half the time! Thanks again, Rach :)

1 cup long-grain rice
1 pound mild italian sausage, casings discarded
2 green bell peppers, chopped
One 10-ounce package white mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped

In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes; fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the rice.

Return the skillet to the heat and add 1 more tablespoon olive oil, the bell peppers, mushrooms and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the sausage and rice and toss.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tuna Croquettes

This recipe is courtesy of Alton Brown (Food Network). Instead of using these as an appetizer, I divided the mixture into 4 rounds (instead of 8) and served them like a crab or salmon cake for a main dish. They were delicious! Alton never lets me down :) Serve with a remoulade or tartar sauce. They would taste great as the protein on a salad, too.

1 (12-ounce) can albacore tuna, drained well and chunked
2 green onions, chopped fine
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
Olive oil, for sauteing

Place the tuna, onions, mustard, eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Divide the mixture into 8 rounds and set aside on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Place the remaining bread crumbs into a pie plate. One at a time, coat each round in the panko on all sides.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the croquettes and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack set over a half sheet pan lined with paper towels. Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

5-Bean Chili

For those of you who don't know, Nick and I lived in Cookeville, Tenneseee for the first year and a half after we were married. If not for both of our families living in Pennsylvania, we would still be there (we enjoyed it very much!) We especially miss our friends. This chili brings back fond memories of fall in Tennessee...carving pumpkins, having campfires, and sharing a pot of chili with our good friends, Caleb & Laura (who introduced us to this recipe). We all agree that this is one of the best chili recipes out there.

The ingredient list looks long, but the recipe is super easy! The only chopping you have to do is onion, green bell pepper and garlic. Then comes a mixture of 7 common spices, and the remaining ingredients are canned tomatoes and beans!

I open each can of beans and dump them into a colander to drain them. I then rinse them (this eliminates a lot of excess sodium). I also add about 1 1/2 cups canned or frozen sweet corn (as suggested by the Thurmans :) When the chili is done cooking, top it with your favorite garnishes. We all agree that the best toppings are fritos, freshly grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and LOTS of cilantro! This recipe is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse (and the Thurmans!)

1 lb. ground chuck
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, broken up with your hands
3 cups beef stock or canned, low-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups great northern beans
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained pinto beans
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained kidney beans
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained black beans
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained navy beans
Chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese & fritos or corn chips (for garnish)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the meat until well browned, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, and cinnamon, and cook until vegetables are soft, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and stock; bring the mixture to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add all of the beans, stir to combine, and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until flavors have come together and the chili has a nice, thick consistency.

Serve hot, garnished with cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and chips, if desired.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Tarragon Chicken (Slow Cooker)

This recipe is from the October 2011 issue of 'Everyday with Rachael Ray' - my favorite magazine. I made a few changes. I used boneless skinless chicken breast instead of bone-in chicken pieces. I also doubled the stove-top sauce ingredients (with the exception of the lemon juice), so there would be enough to ladle over a side of noodles. I would recommend using the juice from only half of a lemon (even if you double the sauce recipe). The sauce was delicious, but a little too tart for my taste. A perfect dinner for a cool, rainy day!

Ingredients: Slow Cooker
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. chicken broth
4 Tbsp. dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
4 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, drumsticks and thighs), skin discarded
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

Ingredients: Stove-Top
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 lemon, finely zested & juiced
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

Pour the broth into a 6- to 7-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, 1 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper; rub the chicken with the mustard mixture. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and top with the garlic and 2 Tbsp. tarragon. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh away from the bone registers 165 degrees, about 5 hours.

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Strain the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. In a small bowl, combine the cream and cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan and cook until the sauce is thickened; stir in the lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, parsley, and 1 Tbsp. tarragon. Top the chicken with the zest-herb mixture.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This recipe is courtesy of Gina's Skinny Recipe's at She has TONS of great recipes that are good for you, too! And yes, these muffins are as delicious as they look.

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3 1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners or use non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.

Add flour mixture to bananas, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into muffin tins.

Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the confectioner's sugar with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. water. Drizzle over each muffin.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mini Meat Loaves

Meat loaf is one of my ultimate comfort foods. And now, as the weather is turning colder - not to mention rainy(er) - it seems like the perfect weeknight dinner. Mini meat loaves is such a great idea, too. Quicker cooking time = quicker to the table! This recipe has GREAT flavor. Pair the meat loaves with some mashed potatoes and green beans, and yourself have a hearty, homemade meal. Recipe lightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl combine egg, 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce, bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp. of the basil, and salt. Add beef and 1/2 cup of the cheese; mix well.

Divide beef mixture in four equal portions. Shape each portion in a  5 1/2 x 2-inch oval. Place on 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

Spoon on remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees. Sprinkle meat loaves with remaining basil leaves.

Banana Pudding

I'm not a huge fan of bananas. Banana bread...yes. Anything else...nah. BUT, when I tried this banana pudding at a small group gathering, I fell in love and had to try it for myself! It makes a great dessert for a covered dish or potluck dinner. And, it tastes even better the next day after the vanilla wafers have time to soften up.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
5 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
4 bananas, sliced
1/2 (12 oz.) package vanilla wafers

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy (I use my Kitchen Aid). Beat in condensed milk, pudding mix, cold milk and vanilla until smooth. Fold in 1/2 of the whipped topping.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch dish with vanilla wafers. Arrange sliced bananas evenly over wafers. Spread with pudding mixture. Top with remaining whipped topping. Chill.