Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tastes like Noodles

I made this for dinner Monday night. So good. It really does taste like Penne Rosa from Noodles & Co., just not quite so spicy. I guess you could just add more red pepper flakes if you want it spicier. We loved it, even the kids.
It's from too.

Skillet Chicken with Broccoli, Pasta, and Parmesan Cheese
adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes
**The original recipe only used 8 ounces of pasta. I knew that wouldn't be enough for our family so I adapted the recipe to make more for my family. It makes for a very full skillet, but if you have a 12-inch skillet, it should still be big enough. This serves 4-6. If you don't want to make as much, scale down the amounts in the recipe.**

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch squares
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 ounces ziti (penne makes a great substitution - I've used both with great results)
4 1/4 cups water2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4-5 cups broccoli florets (depending on how much broccoli you want)
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped coarse
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half, couldn't tell the difference)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (asiago was the cheese in the original recipe and can be interchanged, but I always have parmesan on hand so I used that)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of the pink color has disappeared and the chicken is lightly browned around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add the pasta, 3 cups of the water, and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is very thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 2-3 minutes.Uncover and return the heat to medium-high.
Stir in the cream, parmesan, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing more grated parmesan at the table, if desired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mini Vegetable Cakes

These are a great way to get veggies into your kids when they aren't big fans of veggies. I can guarantee you there is no way my kids would knowingly have eaten beets, but chopped up small (use a food processor!) they didn't even care! And *I* personally wouldn't have liked to eat them either (seriously, I'm worse than my kids sometimes) but these were acutally tasty! Give em a try sometime you're feeling adventurous. (Credit to for yet another recipe that I'm posting).

Combine half an 8-1/2-ounce package corn-muffin mix with 1 egg white and 3 tablespoons water. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped canned beets. Drop batter by the tablespoon into 2 tablespoons hot canola oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until browned.

cheesy italian tortellini

I thought this was yummy. it is a meaty sauce which is what my husband likes, and the kids all ate it, so it is a keeper for me.

Cheesy Italian Tortellini

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Hours 15 Minutes

Ready In: 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 6
"A delicious marinara sauce is cooked all day in the slow cooker. When it' s time for diner, just throw in some tortellini, and sprinkle with cheese. When the noodles are cooked -- pass around the bread, and enjoy!"
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (16 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced

tomatoes, undrained
1 (9 ounce) package refrigerated or fresh
cheese tortellini
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Crumble the ground beef and Italian sausage into a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain.
2. Combine the ground meats, marinara sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on LOW heat for 7 to 8 hours.
3. Stir in the tortellini, and sprinkle the mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes on LOW, or until the tortellini is tender.

Beef and Vegetable Deliciousness

The "real" name of this is "beef and vegetable potpie", but it isn't a pie and is much yummier than it sounds. So I renamed it. We give it lots of stars (especially for being chock full of veggies) and it is pretty easy too.

Olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
2C chopped zucchini
1C chopped onion
1C chopped carrot
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 (8oz) package pre-sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2C dry red wine
1/4C tomato paste
1 1/2tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2tsp black pepper
1 (14oz) can beef broth (I don't use this much- only about 1/2-3/4C so that the topping doesn't get soggy)
2 Tb corn starch
2 Tb water
1 (11oz) can soft bread stick dough- use Italian flavored!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add beef, cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain. Set beef aside and wipe drippings from skillet. Heat a little olive oil in pan. Add zucchini and next 6 ingredients (through garlic). Saute for 7 min, or until soft. Return beef to pan. Stir in wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and beef broth. Cook 3 min. Mix 2Tb cornstarch with 2Tb water, then add mixture to the pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Spoon beef mixture into an 11x7 inch baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray. Separate bread stick dough into strips. Arrange strips in a lattice fashion over beef mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or until browned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chicken Gyros, yum!

Okay, I don't know if it is the fact that I have a bazillion kids or what, but these took me ALL day to make! Well, not really but it felt like it. And part of it is that I had to go to the store a hundred times....because I got greek yogurt, but then it turns out it was honey flavored and then I took it back but they didn't have any greek yogurt at the other store and so on and SO forth. But the good news? SO TOTALLY WORTH IT! These gyros were so yummy!

And should I really keep going on this recipe blog? Because I totally am just trying out all of the yummy recipes from, which is where I got this recipe : )

* oh and here's my thoughts on the yogurt thing. I was scared to strain the yogurt because I have an irrational fear of cheesecloth, but turns out that greek yogurt is hard to come by in these parts (except honey flavored) and also turns out that my mother in law has cheese cloth on hand. I only strained it for like...two hours? and it wasn't that scary. So go ahead and strain your yogurt, or I bet the world wouldn't end if you didn't. It's good sauce. You should definitely double the tzitki sauce too!

*I served these with hummus (one can chickpeas, 1/4 c olive oil, a little lemon juice, garlic and salt all blended up together) and feta salsa! Excellent combo!

Chicken Gyros adapted slightly from Annie's Eats (originally from Elly Says Opa!) **Keep in mind this recipe requires straining yogurt which may take overnight and marinating chicken which will take 1-2 hours so plan ahead!**

Makes enough chicken and tzatziki for approximately 4-6 gyros.

For the tzatziki sauce:

16 oz. plain yogurt (not fat free unless it is Oikos or Fage or another Greek-type yogurt)

1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded (I used 1/2 of an English cucumber)

2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken:

4 cloves garlic, smashed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

To assemble:Soft wrap bread (or pita bread)Fresh tomatoes, seeded and dicedRed onion, sliced thinTo make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. (You won't believe how much liquid drains from the yogurt - it makes the yogurt much thicker and creamier. If you want to splurge on Greek yogurt, like Oikos or Fage, you won't need to strain it like this.)Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. (I sauted them in a hot skillet.) Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.Heat pitas. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions

Soft wrap bread - pita bread

I used this soft wrap bread recipe for chicken gyros (will post that recipe in a moment). Can I just say this was the best bread I have ever made? SO YUMMY. Do yourself a favor and double if not TRIPLE the recipe. I want to figure out how a person can freeze bread dough or something because it would be so nice to have these on hand. I made mine in the morning and was dying to try one before dinner so I had one with butter and honey, sweet mercy.

We each only got one for dinner because the recipe only made eight. And that was so so so sad.

Seriously, double the recipe.

Got this recipe from

Soft Wrap Breadfrom King Arthur Flour
*Makes about 8-9 breads
3 to 3 1/4 cups (12 3/4 to 13 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) boiling water1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup (5/8 ounces) potato buds or flakes (I used potato flakes)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast*

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and 1 cup of the remaining flour with the salt, oil and yeast. Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough.Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it's not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky (the dough is fairly stiff, so don't be worried - just be careful not to overflour the dough). Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour (I let mine rise up to 2 hours).Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) on a griddle or frying pan over medium heat for about 1 minute per side (I cooked mine about 2-3 minutes per side and they didn't dry out), until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.*This recipe works best with instant yeast because it dissolves during the kneading process, so you don't have to knead liquid into the dough. If you really prefer to use active dry yeast, use only 1 cup boiling water for the initial dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, and add this mixture to the dough along with the potato flour mixture. It'll be somewhat "slippery" at first, but will knead in and eventually become smooth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coconut Lime Chicken Soup

Start to Finish: 25 minutes
1 2- to 2-1/2-lb. deli-roasted chicken
1 15-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups water
1/4 cup lime juice (2 medium limes)
3 medium carrots, thinly-sliced diagonally (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Thai seasoning blend
1/4 tsp. salt
Thai seasoning blend (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

(We served over rice)


1. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Shred chicken. In large saucepan combine shredded chicken with coconut milk, water, lime juice, sliced carrots, soy sauce, the 2 teaspoons Thai seasoning and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 8-10 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.

2. To serve, sprinkle bowls of soup with additional Thai seasoning (this is spicy - so do this at your own discretion) and cilantro. Pass lime wedges.

(Traditionally, you wouldn't do this, but we like to add rice to our coconut soup -- it makes it easier for the kids to eat and it helps fill you up too.)

This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens. Fast, easy, tasty. We're trying to expand our kids palate, so this was good to try to introduce our kids to other foods. It's a keeper for us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tex-Mex Stew

This recipe was adapted from the website. We ALL liked it (and that says a lot because my kids are terribly picky).

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (11 ounces) corn niblets, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (Rotel or generic)
1 can tomato sauce
1 packet onion soup mix
2-1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon ground cumin + a couple shakes
1/2 teaspoon salt + a couple pinches
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano + a couple shakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (only used 2 shakes total)
a couple shakes of cinnamon
shake of garlic powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1. Brown beef with green peppers in 5- to 6-quart large, deep pot over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes, breaking up meat with wooden spoon but leaving some large pieces. Drain fat.

2. Add beans, corn, tomato & chilis, tomato sauce, soup mix, 2 cups water, cumin, salt, oregano, cayenne & cinnamon. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup water into flour in small cup until smooth. Stir into stew; cook until thickened, about 1 minute.

We served with tortilla chip scoops. I've edited this post with some of the seasoning tweaks that I think really make the dish -- the cinnamon I think really brought out the flavor. Sorry the measurements aren't exact -- that's how I cook. It's good and it's EASY and it's fast.