Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables

Since it was Sunday yesterday and I actually had some additional time to devote to cooking, I decided to give everyone a break on the slow cooker meals and do something different, yeah!  Although this meal I prepared was still very easy to do even if you wanted to try it during the work week.
So first thing's first, I took 4 pieces of chicken (the recipe called for chicken breasts but I used chicken thighs) and then sprinkled both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  I added 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and cooked the chicken over medium-high heat until it browned on both sides; about a total of 6-7 minutes.
 While that was cooking, I chopped 1 yellow squash and about 1/3 of a cup of white onions (the recipe called for yellow but I prefer white or sweet onions when I cook).

 Once the chicken was browned, I set that aside in the microwave to keep warm and cooked the onion and squash for about five minutes.
Then I added 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes.  The recipe called for diced tomatoes with rosemary and oregano, however, since I wasn't able to find this particular type of diced tomatoes I just added my own rosemary and oregano (dried) to the diced tomatoes to get the flavor it needed.  Once that was stirred in I added the chicken back to the skillet, lowered the heat, covered it and cooked it for about 11 minutes.  After that it was done!
All in all the total time to make this was only about 30-35 minutes, so this is certainly a meal that can be done during the week after work.  You can add whatever side you'd like to this, I made garlic mashed potatoes, yummy!  This was only about 249 calories and cost about $2.16/serving.  Can't go wrong there!
Here's the recipe!

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts (or whichever type of chicken you'd prefer)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped yellow squash
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes with rosemary and oregano (if you can't find this, you can certainly add your own as I did)

Happy cooking everyone!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Stew

Hey there, hi there, ho there everyone!  It's true, I'm harassing twice in one day again...I'm not exactly sure how you will ever be able to handle it!  :)  Today was, of course, another slow cooker meal.  I just can't seem to get enough of them!  Honestly, though, it's because my current office has moved farther away and my time is even more limited now.
Not to worry, though!  I will make sure to get back to cooking more, as well.  My slow cooker probably can't handle all of this use anyway!
So first thing's first!  I added four chicken breast halves (the recipe called to cut them into small pieces, but I prefer to leave them whole to let the slow cooker do its job!), 1 19 ounce can of cannellini beans (make sure they're drained and rinsed!), 1 15.5 ounce can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed too!), 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a cup EACH of chopped celery and sliced carrots, and two small cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped, into the slow cooker!!
Then I took 1 1/2 cups of water (the recipe called for dry red wine or even chicken broth, but I was out of both!), 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (again, I was out so I improvised with basil and oregano) into a bowl and mixed well!  Then I poured THAT onto the mixture in the slow cooker.
I put the slow cooker onto its low setting and left it to do its thing while I went to work!  When I got home, all I had to do was shred the chicken and voila!  Dinner was served!!
It was very hearty and filling, and only 410 calories!  It was also only $2.97/serving!  Wow, right?  Here's the recipe!

boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
(19-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
(15.5 or 15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
(14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
cup chopped celery
cup (2 medium) sliced carrots
small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
tablespoons tomato paste
tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

Happy cooking my friends!!!

Slow Cooker Italian Tortellini Stew

So it's that time again, ladies and gents...I know I'm excited!  :)  It's another slow cooker meal from last night...gotta love those slow cooker meals!  Turn it on and forget about it and when you come home there's a delicious meal waiting for you!  Not to mention, I was out of chicken broth, as the recipe will call for later, so this meal was basically a vegetarian meal!  So, for all you non meat eaters, have at this recipe!
First thing's first, I chopped up a half of a large onion, as well as halved a squash and sliced the halves.  The recipe called for zucchini but the store was out of them so I had to work with what they had!

Then I put those into the slow cooker, along with 2 3/4 cups of water (the recipe called for chicken broth but I was out!  This is where the vegetarians out there will be happy about), 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1 15.5 ounce can of great northern beans (make sure these are drained and rinsed!), and 1/4 teaspoon of EACH salt and pepper.

Then I went to work for eight hours (I seriously love slow cookers)!  When I got home I added 1 tablespoon of dried basil,
and a package of fresh cheese tortellinis.
You can usually pick up fresh tortellinis in the deli section where they have the pesto sauce and freshly sliced deli meats, or you can also get dried tortellinis from the pasta section.  Those are usually in a bag, but use whichever is your preference!  I turned the heat up to high and let that cook for about 20 minutes and voila!!!
I added a little sprinkle of some grated parmesan cheese and it was readt to be served!!  The best part was this meal was only 170 calories!  Honestly, without using the chicken broth it was probably even less than that, and everyone ate it up!  My suggestion, though, if you have bigger eaters, is to double the recipe.  Everyone went back for seconds and there weren't any!!  It was also only $2.56/serving!
Here's the recipe:

1 small onion, finely chopped 
2 medium zucchini, halved, cut into 1-inch slices 
2 (14 1/2-oz.) cans ready-to-serve vegetable or chicken broth
1 (28-oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, undrained 
1 (15.5-oz.) can great northern beans, drained, rinsed 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves 
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cheese-filled tortellini

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Turkey and Brown Rice Chili

All right ladies and gents, it's another day and another meal needs to be cooked!!  I knew this week was going to be pretty hectic so I decided to make it a slow cooker week!  Yeah!  I know I'm excited.  :)
Today's slow cooker meal is slow cooker turkey and brown rice chili!  So first thing's first: I heat up 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat and cooked 1 lb. of ground turkey until brown.
The recipe called for 1 cup of diced onions to be cooked with the ground turkey, but I added it on the next step, because I didn't feel like overcooking the onions on this one.  :)  While the ground turkey was cooking I added the onion, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of chili beans, 1 can of chopped green chilies, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tbsp. of sugar,  2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt into the slow cooker.
Once the ground turkey was cooked, I added it to the slow cooker and put it on the low setting and went to work and let it do its job!
When I got home, I threw 2 cups of brown rice into the rice cooker.  Follow steps from the previous blog about the right amount of water to use for rice!
Once that was done cooking, I threw it into the slow cooker and changed the setting to high to cook for another 15 minutes.
And voila!  The meal is done!  I mean, honestly, the slow cooker does most of the work but who doesn't love to be able to come home and smell dinner already cooking and almost ready?!?
I added just a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and I myself particularly love Sriracha sauce on my chili (one day I will devote a blog to the different hot sauces I like with each meal :)).  Of course, add whatever suits your desires!
The meal was only 240 calories and literally $1.98/serving...I mean honestly!
Here's the recipe!

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cans (14.5oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15-16oz.) chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 can (4.5oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked brown rice

Happy cooking!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Mexican Beef Stew

So, honestly, what is the point of cold weather if not to allow for slow cooker cooking?!?!?  I absolutely LOVE using my slow cooker, especially when it's cold, and it HAS been pretty cold the past few days, so I thought 'why not?'
For today's meal, I put about 2lbs. of beef stew meat, 1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes and 1 tsp. chili powder into my slow cooker.  It also called for a bag of frozen onions, but I was out so I just did without.  I will definitely try it next time, though!
I set the slow cooker on low and let that cook while I went to work for about 9-11 hours (I believe it ended up being closer to 11 hours).  When I got home I added a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a can of Mexicorn (drained) and a packet of taco seasoning.  That just had to cook on high for another 15 minutes or so and!  Not only was this easy, but it was DElicious!!
The recipe called to add some Mexican cheese on top, but all I had was Mozzarella so I improvised!  It was only 440 calories and only $3.62/serving!  Seriously, I don't make up these calories or cost can do it, I promise!
Here's the recipe!

2lbs. beef stew meat
1 can (28oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp. chili powder
1 package (1oz.) taco seasoning mix
1 can (15oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (11oz.) Mexicorn, drained
Mexican cheese blend to top (or your choice of cheese)

Happy cooking!!!

Smothered Pork Chops

Hey there, hi there, ho there everyone!!  I know it has been a minute but there was some serious birthday weekend action going on for my sister's 35th birthday!!!  So please, forgiveness for the slacking but I will make up with two in a row...what?!?  That's right...TWO!!
Today's recipe, which is technically yesterday's recipe but let's not split hairs, is Smothered Pork Chops!  First thing's first, I took a cup of brown rice and let it cook in a rice cooker.  If you don't have a rice cooker, just follow the instructions on the bag.  Also, the recipe called for white rice but I was trying for a healthier version!
Usually I rinse the rice out a couple of times before filling it with the right amount of water.  I've learned from experience that if you put your index finger to the top of the rice and let the water fill up to the first line on your finger, that tends to be just the right amount of water to cook however much rice is in there.
After that I chopped 2 cloves of garlic,
and threw that into a skillet with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and 4 bone-in pork chops.  The recipe calls for six, but the ones I ended up buying were huge and I could only fit four in the pan!
I let that cook until the pork chops were brown, adding salt and pepper to taste on both sides.  It ended up being about 5-6 minutes per side, but it'll depend on the size and stove temperature how long it will take on yours.  While those were cooking, I mixed a can of French onion soup and 2 tbsp. of cornstarch.
Then I poured that over the cooked pork chops and brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to medium and cooked for another 15 minutes, until it was cooked all the way through.
I served it over the brown rice, and also decided to serve some corn!
With everything, including the corn, it ended up being about 425 calories, and it was also around $3.12/serving!  Very tasty and not enough!  Everyone was asking for more!
Here's the recipe:

1 cup uncooked white rice (or brown if you prefer a healthier version)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 bone-in pork chops (again, depending on how large they are, you may only be able to do 4-5)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (18.5oz.) French onion soup
2 tbsp. cornstarch

Happy cooking!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fiesta Spaghetti Tacos

So when the kids first told me of their idea for this meal, I was completely hesitant and in NO way wanted to make it.  I mean, spaghetti tacos, really?  It sounded terrifying to me, honestly, and I figured it was another crazy kid concoction that they invented.  Let me say how surprised I was when I was perusing my Facebook page one day and managed to see an ad to the side for SPAGHETTI TACOS!
So I caved, but only when I realized people had actually tried it out in their test kitchens and wasn't filled with strawberry jelly or something.  :)
So first thing's first.  The recipe called for 1 lb. of ground beef but I was feeling saucy and got us some ground pork!  I had my oldest son help me start to brown that.
As you can see, my son has some serious showman skills.  ;)  While he was browning that I boiled some pasta, about 5oz.  Make sure to break them in half before putting them in the water!
Once the meat was done cooking we drained it, and then I had my son add a packet of taco seasoning and a 1/2 cup of water.
We heated that until it was boiling, and then turned the heat down to let it simmer until the sauce thickened.  Once it did, we added 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce and 1 cup frozen corn to the meat mix!
We let that heat until it was warmed and while that was cooking, we drained the cooked pasta. Then we added the pasta to the meat mix.
Then we got some taco shells (those awesome ones that can stand up)  and heat those up for about 45 seconds in the microwave, just to get them warm!
This next part proved to be trickier than originally to get the spaghetti INTO the tacos?!?!  My son got more on his hands than in the taco, but he really didn't mind.  He started to almost eat his fingers, he said it was so good!  I almost thought he had burned himself at first, because he had attacked his fingers so voraciously.  Then he informed me it was so delicious...:)  So, eventually I got my son to stop eating his fingers long enough to MOVE so I could finish the tacos.  I sprinkled some grated Parmesan cheese on the top.  
The recipe also suggests adding some tomatoes, which the husband and I did.  We were still both very nervous to try this, but, to be completely honest it was REALLY good!  Everyone went back for more!  And even more exciting was it was exactly 500 calories, so it still stayed within the calorie limit I like to keep at!  It was also only $3.15/serving...gotta love kid ideas!
Here's the recipe!

Fiesta Spaghetti Tacos
5oz. uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
1lb. ground beef (or whatever ground meat you prefer.  I also suggest trying ground turkey)
1 package (1oz.) taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1 box (4.7oz) taco shells (10 shells, preferably the standing ones)
1 medium tomato, chopped, if desired
2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

Happy cooking!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stir-Fried Chicken Pizza

So when you ask your kids what they want for dinner, what they usually say?  "Pizza!"  I have always cringed at that, I really hate feeding my kids pizza.  Not that I don't like pizza, I just know there are better alternatives out there, especially healthier ones.  Well color me surprised when I found a recipe for pizza that was under 500 calories (this is usually my calorie limit for dinner meals)!
So first thing's first!  I preheated the oven at 425 degrees while I prepped everything else.  Then I got one of those refrigerated pizza dough's in the pop can (am I the only one that continues to cringe every time I go to open one of those cans, only to be disappointed when the pop isn't as big as I expect it?), and spread it out on a cookie sheet that I sprayed with some cooking spray.

The recipe actually said to spread it out on a pizza pan.  Seeing as I don't even like to cook pizza for the family, I don't even own a pizza pan so I had to improvise and you can to!  Then I sliced one sweet onion into rings,
diced a sweet red pepper,
sliced up about a cup of mushrooms,
and then minced two garlic cloves.
Once the oven was preheated, I put the pizza dough into it for about 8 minutes.  While that was cooking, I heated 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and stir-fried all of the previously chopped veggies for about 5-6 minutes.
And while THAT was cooking, I chopped up the remaining chicken I had from my rotisserie chicken I used in the meal the other night.  The recipe actually called for chicken breasts and to be cooked in the pan once the veggies were done, but I don't like wasting food and I thought that would add a really nice flavor to the meal.  You can always experiment as you wish, as well.
Once the veggies were done, I set those aside while I warmed the chicken.
Once the chicken was warm, I added the veggies back to the mix.  When the pizza dough was done, I layered 3/4 cups of mozzarella cheese on it, and then the chicken and veggies mixture, and then another layer of 3/4 cups mozzarella cheese.
Then I took some fresh basil (my absolute FAVORITE fresh herb) and ripped small pieces over the pizza.
I let that cook for another 7 minutes and voila!  You've got Stir-fried Chicken Pizza.  I was worried with there being no sauce that the pizza would be terrible, but with the sweet pepper and chicken, it really was a delicious meal!
The best part was it was only 382 calories and $3.47 per person!  So the kids got what they wanted but so did I!  Here's the recipe!

Stir-Fried Chicken Pizza
1 10oz. can refrigerated pizza dough
3 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or whichever chicken you'd like to use)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 red bell pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh basil

Happy cooking!