Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Morning Mr. Chicken!

Short and simple- I wanted an egg dish that was grab n' go. I came across a recipe for "egg cups" in one of my magazines. I altered it to fit what I had and what I like. They turned out great!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Eggs in a basket
serves 6

12 slices Carl budding deli cuts ham (healthy heart version)
2 slices white bread (you will only use 1 1/2)
4 medium eggs, beaten*
4 oz cheddar cheese
cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400.

Lightly spray 6 muffin tin cups. Place 2 slices ham in the cups, press gently. The sides will poke out a bit, this is fine.

Cut the bread into quarters. Discard 2 of the quarters, you will only need 6 pieces. Press 1 piece of bread in each ham cup.

Pour beaten eggs evenly over bread. Season with pepper if desired.

Shred cheese. Sprinkle evenly among the cups.

Bake 15 minutes until set. (I chose to blot off some excess oil at this point.) Remove from muffin tin. Serve with a side of fresh fruit for a complete breakfast.

* You may use egg substitute instead of eggs for a healthier, lower cholesterol version.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mock Risotto

Looking for an easy side dish for my grilled shrimp skewers I came across a recipe in my cooking light cookbook for a creamy orzo pasta. I decided to give it a whirl. It turned out great! It reminded me of a rich, basic risotto. I plan on trying variations of this recipe using different stocks and herbs. Will let you know how they turn out!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Mock Risotto
Serves 2

1/2 TBS I can't believe its not butter
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2/3 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup water
1/8 cup (1/2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dry basil or dry Italian seasoning
dash of salt and pepper
2 tsp chopped pecans*

Heat butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add orzo, cook 3 minutes stirring constantly.

Stir in broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is done, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to bring out the starches.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Serve immediately.

* The original recipe calls for toasted pine nuts. I don't really care for them so I substituted with chopped pecans. Jon and I agreed they were a GREAT addition.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gustatory Gamble

I was asked to come up with some possible blog titles for a friend of mine. This was one of the titles that popped into my mind. I decided to use it for today's blog. For those of you who aren't aware, gustatory relates to the sense of taste, to the sensation in the taste buds.

Tonight's dinner was just that. A challenge to change my hubby's taste buds in regards to mac n cheese. I wasn't sure how he'd react to the new textures and flavors of my baked mac n cheese. After all, as far as he's concerned macaroni and cheese is a squishy, noodle dish that swims in a bright orange cheese sauce. Not exactly what I was going to be serving tonight.

Traditional baked macaroni and cheese is calorie laden and very high in sodium. This is a lighter version that has all the creamy goodness of the original with a fraction of the calories and salt.

Jon gave it the thumbs up, requesting it stay on my tried and true recipes list. So a successful gamble ;)

Happy Memorial Day to you all!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Baked Mac N Cheese
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups small pasta shells
2 1/2 TBS flour
1 1/3 cups skim or 1% milk
1 1/2 oz Swiss cheese
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 oz cheddar cheese
1 1/2 oz Velveeta Light Cheese or 2 Kraft free singles
2 1/2 TBS dry bread crumbs, plain
1 TBS I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, melted
1/8 tsp salt
fresh cracked black pepper
dash of onion and garlic powders

Cook pasta according to package, omit any fat. Drain well.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large sauce pan- add flour. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat until thick, stir constantly. Add cheeses. Cook until cheese is fully incorporated. Add seasonings and cooked pasta.

Very lightly spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spoon in pasta mixture.

Combine bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pecan crusted pork chops

Up by request of not only my hubby- but others as well, pecan crusted pork chops. They are a spin off of my mom's pecan chicken fingers. Quick and easy, but oh so flavorful. If you need a sauce, I recommend a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Pecan Crusted Pork
Serves 3

1/3 cup crushed corn flakes or rice crispy cereal
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp onion powder
12 oz boneless, center cut pork chops
1-2 TBS coarse ground mustard
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine all ingredients except mustard and pork.

Pound pork into thin pieces about 1/2-1/4 inch thick using a meat mallet. (This is a great stress reliever...)

Brush pork with mustard then dredge in pecan/cereal mixture. Gently pat coating into meat to make sure it wont fall off. Place on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake 10-15 minutes until cooked thru.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sticky sweet

Tonight we had to have dinner in a hurry. The rain clouds were threatening to open up at any second and we had softball games to play. I got home from my walk with my walking buddy and pulled out my Cooking Light Magazine. Flip, flip, flip. Page 91. There it is.

What was "it"? Apricot Lemon Chicken. 15 minutes or less to prep and cook. I had time for this. (For those of you who don't know, I am hyper organized when it comes to meals now days. So knowing I had very limited time, when I made my weekly menu on Sunday I preplanned this quick and easy meal.)

Jon informed me quickly after the first bite this was "a keeper!" Always nice to get that feed back, pun intended since we are talking about food... Yea yea, I thought it was funny. Anyway, Jon liked it.

By the way, softball team left room for improvement. And yes, the clouds opened up. It was a very wet evening. But fun was had by all.

This recipe reminds me of my dad. He experimented with a coconut crusted chicken tender with apricot dipping sauce when I was in high school. Another restaurant dish made our way in our family kitchen :) So this one is for my dad for all his inspiration he gives me in my own kitchen.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Apricot Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 (6oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
cooking spray
1/3 cup apricot preserves (Polaner all fruit)
2 TBS water
2TBS lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon rind (opt)

Combine curry, salt, and pepper together. Rub over chicken.

Heat a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. Add chicken to pan. Cook about 6 minutes per side until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan, keep warm.

To the hot skillet, add apricot preserves, water, and lemon juice. Stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute. Spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with lemon rind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am a meat-a-vor honey!

My husband, if you haven't gathered from previous posts, is a carnivore. He LOVES steak. It is a very close race to first place with his other love, bacon. Anything that doesn't contain one of those two ingredients takes some nudging to get him to try it.

Tonight we had penne with spinach, roasted red peppers, and navy beans. Does that sound like steak? Bacon? Nope. So, it will take a few more tries before he willingly accepts this one pot dish as "supper." I am more than willing to keep trying this one on him until he gives in though ;)

Super simple, one pot, really quick. It's a winner in my book!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Garden Penne
Serves 4

1 3/4 cup uncooked multigrain penne
1 TBS olive oil
1 3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup chopped, bottled, roasted red peppers
1/2 can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 oz fresh grated parmesan

Cook pasta according to package, omitting salt and fat.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes. Add garlic. Cook 1 min.

Add spinach, peppers, and beans. Cook 3 minutes until spinach wilts slightly.

Stir in pasta, basil, salt, and vinegar. Cook 2 minutes until heated through.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sneaky Mom!

My mom used to sneak veggies into meals in plain sight. You will see what I mean with the recipe I post today. It's a creamy, cheesy, delightfully filling baked potato topper. It tastes so wonderful you don't realize you are eating so many veggies.

It only seemed fitting on Mother's Day to post one of my mom's quick fixing recipes. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend! Cheers!

Cheesy Baked Potato Topper
Serves 2

1/2 cup skim milk
2 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
5-6 oz frozen mixed veggies
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 TBS corn starch
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp pepper
2 small baked potatoes, cut in half the long way

Cook veggies according to package. Drain.

Mix milk, corn starch, dry mustard, salt, and pepper together. Simmer until thick and bubbly. Add in cubed cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Return drained veggies to cheese sauce.

Spoon over potatoes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Home Run!

We are quickly approaching softball season. This year Jon is playing for two teams; his regular men's league and now-church league. This means I will also be busy with games, my walking regimen, and of course, chatting with the ladies of the "First Wives of Softball" club. (You can find the three of us in our matching pink camping chairs next to our dugout pretending to pay attention long enough to keep score...)

During this wonderfully active time of year I need healthy meals, fast. While in search of said recipes I stumbled across a "copy-cat" olive garden recipe. It was for a creamy tortellini with bacon bits. Sounds delicious, but really bad for me. So, I take a peek at the nutrition facts, HOLY COW! Yep, defiantly bad. But I really wanted to try it. So I made some adjustments and tried it out tonight.

It was great. Jon gives it an 8. Not bad for him on a pasta dish. (He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy) I give it a 9. I am a pasta girl through and through! ;)

Note-I have left the brand names I used for this dish as alfredo sauces and pasta flavor sometimes varies by brand.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Creamy Tortellini with Diced Ham
Serves 3

1 small package Buitoni three cheese tortellini*
1/3 cup Classico roasted garlic alfredo sauce
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, diced small
4 oz lower sodium ham steak, diced small
fresh cracked pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add peas to cooking pasta. Drain well once pasta is cooked.

Saute onion, garlic, and ham together until ham begins to caramelize and onions become translucent. Stir in alfredo sauce. Add pepper to taste.

Gently toss sauce and pasta together.

*This is a fresh pasta often found in the deli coolers or dairy cases.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I will be brief today. I was looking through some of my old recipes and came across his gem. Pizza Chicken. It is so quick and easy. Always a hit!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Pizza Chicken
Serves 3

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, part skim
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper
dry Italian seasoning

Cut chicken into 3 equal pieces about 4 oz each. Pound thin. Rub with garlic. Sprinkle with pepper. Place on a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Broil at 450 for 7-8 minutes, until no longer pink.

Divide sauce among the three pieces. Evenly top with cheese. Sprinkle with a little Italian seasonings.

Broil until cheese melts and begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes.

Let set 1-2 minutes before serving.