Recipe Review: Please Cheese Me (i.e. Healthy Mac N Cheese)

I’ve been making this for several years now and my husband and I both love it.  It’s originally from a website called Hungry Girl but I make it slightly differently.  It’s delish!  It’s also quick to make so it’s great for weeknights.

Please Cheese Me - a healthy alternative to mac n cheese (note - for picture source, click the Hungry Girl link above)

Please Cheese Me – a healthy alternative to mac n cheese (note – for picture source, click the Hungry Girl link above)

Please Cheese Me

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 boxes of frozen cauliflower in cheese sauce
  • 2 cups uncooked whole wheat spiral (rotini) pasta, uncooked
  • 4 wedges Laughing Cow Original
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare pasta according to the instructions on the box, and then drain well and set aside. While pasta is cooking, place cauliflower in microwave and cook according to manufacturers instructions (note: it may take longer than suggested on the packaging).  Make sure to stir your cauliflower every few minutes to prevent burning.
  2. Put cooked cauliflower (with sauce) and Laughing Cow in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add any salt or pepper at this time and re-blend.
  3. Pour sauce over pasta and stir to combine.

THOUGHTS

  • If you want to change up the flavor, you can use a different kind of Laughing Cow (other than the Original).
  • This is not going to replace Kraft Mac N Cheese like you ate growing up.  However, it’s much healthier and contains about half the calories and less than half of the fat of the packaged kind.
  • Note: this photo shows the pasta topped with parsley.  I’ve never served it this way and probably wouldn’t.

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Pecan-Crusted Catfish

So I’ve had some leftover catfish filets in the freezer for a while now and decided to use it up on this recipe.  I’m fairly certain I found this in a Cooking Light magazine a while back but I couldn’t find it online.

Pecan-Crusted-Catfish

(note: this picture is not mine – the source can be located here)

Pecan-Crusted Catfish

Serves:  4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup pecan meal*
  • 4 (6-ounce) catfish filets
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 lemon wedges

* note:  I couldn’t find pecan meal so I did some research and it turns out that it’s really just finely chopped up pecans.  I pulsed some pecan pieces in my food processor until they looked small and similar to whole wheat flour.  Make sure you don’t over process or you’ll end up with pecan butter (i.e. peanut butter made out of pecans)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish; stir well.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs and pecan meal in another shallow dish.
  4. Pat fish dry.
  5. Dip fish in egg mixture and dredge in breadcrumb mixture, pressing firmly to coat.
  6. Spray fish with cooking spray.
  7. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Serve with lemon wedges.

THOUGHTS

  • I had everything I needed on hand except the lemon which made this dish quick and easy.  Oh… and it’s also really, really yummy.
  • I served this with some steamed broccoli and both my husband and I really enjoyed it.  This will definitely be served again at my house.

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: P.F. Chang’s Dumpling Dipping Sauce

Remember when I told you a while back that we made our first trip to Trader Joe’s?  Well, one of the things we bought while we were there was some chicken and vegetable potstickers.  They’ve been hanging out in our freezer since then and we decided to cook them up the other night and make this dipping sauce to enjoy as well.  I have no idea where I originally found this recipe – I just searched for a copy cat of P.F. Chang’s Dumpling sauce years ago and found it.

P.F. Chang’s Dumpling Dipping Sauce

(note: this image is not mine – the source can be found here)

P.F. Chang’s Dumpling Dipping Sauce

Serves: not listed, but this made enough for probably 6 servings for my husband and I, perhaps more.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 oz white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 oz sugar
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • sesame oil, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients.

THOUGHTS

  • My husband loved this – I thought it was waaaay too salty.  I added a lot more sugar to mine and it was much tastier that way (for me at least).
  • I’ve recently found a post on the P.F. Chang’s website that shows their recipe for their sauce.  I think I’ll be trying this sometime soon.  However, after looking over the ingredients I don’t think they were 100% forthcoming.  We’ll see.

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

 

Recipe Review: Benihana Style Chicken Fried Rice

Have you ever been to Benihana’s?  We LOVE their food… it’s so delicious!  However, they’re a tad pricey.  So, when I ran across this recipe for copy cat Benihana Chicken Fried Rice you know I had to give it a shot.

Please note that some changes to the original recipe were found here.

Benihana Style Chicken Fried Rice (click photo to see source)

Benihana Style Chicken Fried Rice (click photo to see source)

Benihana Style Chicken Fried Rice

Serves:  2 as a side dish (we doubled the recipe and it made enough for 2 people as a main course with no sides)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ounces cooked chicken
  • 8 ounces steamed rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons carrot, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons green peas
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 6 pinches pepper
  • 6 pinches salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Scramble eggs and chop after cooking.
  2. Sauté chopped onion, green onion, seasoning and carrots in the oil until done and mix with chopped scrambled egg and chicken.
  3. Mix steamed rice with vegetable, egg and chicken.
  4. Add sesame seed, minced garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, stirring well.
  5. Add butter and soy sauce into the mixture, stirring well until done.

THOUGHTS

  • This dish was very tasty.  My husband would be happy if I made this weekly.
  • I actually baked one whole chicken breast the night before (about ½ lb) and used that (which resulted in more than 2oz of chicken)
  • I would have been happy with 3 cloves of garlic and only 2 Tablespoons of butter.  It was a smidge too buttery for Chinese food in my opinion.
  • I didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand and didn’t want to purchase some for just this one dish so instead, I used about 1/8 teaspoon of grated powdered ginger.
  • I did not add the optional salt

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

 

Recipe Review: Asian Spaghetti

I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time successfully cooking Asian food for some reason.  I have no idea why, but that ability eludes me frequently.  However, the other night I made this dish from Taste of Home and it was delicious.

asian spaghetti

Asian Spaghetti

Serves:  5 (haha, yeah right – more like 2 to 3 if you’re eating this as your only side like we did)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup fresh snow peas
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and onions in oil until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar and cayenne. Drain pasta. Add pasta and soy sauce mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Heat through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

THOUGHTS

  • I purchased presliced mushrooms and matchstick carrots which meant the only thing I had to chop was 4 scallions – this dish came together in a flash!  Great for a quick weeknight meal.  We served this with chicken marinated in a 30-minute Asian marinade I found near the salad dressings and BBQ sauce at our local grocery store.
  • This dish is a bit strong in the soy sauce department in my opinion but my husband disagrees.  I am not a huge lover of soy sauce like he is however.  I think next time I’ll use ½ soy sauce and ½ water or perhaps try tamari sauce which is supposedly a less salty, richer tasting type of soy sauce.

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

 

Recipe Review: Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Yep, another soup recipe.  This time, with quinoa.  Aren’t you excited???  Come on, look at that picture!  Doesn’t it look delicious?!?!

vegetable-quinoa-soup

Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Click here

THOUGHTS

  • This soup has soooo many good for you things in it.  In fact, there’s not one single solitary unhealthy item in it. 
  • I thought this soup was a little on the bland side unfortunately so for me, it needs some tweaking.  I think instead of plain diced tomatoes next time I’ll used the basil, garlic and oregano ones.  In addition, I like to top mine with a bit of mozzarella cheese. 
  • Serve this with some crusty bread or a turkey sandwich and you’ve got a delicious healthy meal. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Orange-Chicken Rice Bowl

I think I’ve mentioned before that I stink at making Chinese food.  Sometimes, however, I stumble across a recipe that does most of the work for me, like this one

orange-chicken rice bowl

Orange-Chicken Rice Bowl

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • ¼ cup Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 3 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 3 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice
  • ¼ cup chopped salted peanuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 5 to 7 min. or until done.
  2. Stir in dressing and juice. Bring to boil. Add vegetables; cook 5 to 7 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve over rice; top with nuts.

THOUGHTS

  • The flavor of this dish is great, but I prefer mine with more sauce so I think next time I’ll double the sauce contents (the dressing and orange juice). 
  • I’m not an enormously huge fan of broccoli in my Chinese food and most frozen stir-fry mixes are at least 50% broccoli.  I think next time I’ll use half a bag of stir-fry mix and half a bag of frozen bell peppers and onions. 
  • This is definitely a quick and easy weeknight meal. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Tarragon

Beautiful.  Easy.  Delicious.  Need I say more?  You can view this recipe here

Marinated Heirloom Tomatos with Tarragon

Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Tarragon

Serves: 8 servings (serving size: about 3 tomato slices)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons extravirgin olive
  • 2 pounds (about 6 medium) heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. Arrange tomatoes on a platter. Sprinkle tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper; drizzle with shallot mixture.

THOUGHTS

  • Y’all this recipe is so easy and when I served it at girls night every girl raved.  This dish is super simple to make and would be a great dish for a potluck. 
  • This dish doesn’t do well as “leftovers” so I’d make sure that you feed it to a large group or cut the ingredients in half if you just want to feed 4 people. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Easy Minestrone

It’s no secret that I love me some soup.  I’m especially a fan of soups that are chock-full of veggie goodness and beans and take practically zero time to prepare like this one from Taste of Home

Easy Minestrone

Easy Minestrone

Serves:  10 (or so it says, I think closer to 4-5 if you’re serving this as the main course)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni  the recipe calls for this, but I don’t include it (see the ‘thoughts’ section for more info)
  • 5 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Just before serving, stir in macaroni and heat through. Serve with cheese.

THOUGHTS

  • This soup is delicious.  I especially love it topped with parmesan cheese.
  • I prefer this soup without the noodles because they have a tendency to get soggy and smushy.  I’m not a fan of either so I just leave the noodles out. 
  • To speed things up, I chop my tomatoes, carrots and celery in the food processor. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.

Recipe Review: Coconut Banana Bread

I’ve had some leftover flaked coconut in my pantry for a while now and when I stumbled across this recipe here I just knew I had to make it. 

Coconut Banana Bread

Coconut Banana Bread

Serves: not listed

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Click here

THOUGHTS

  • I made one big loaf instead of 4 mini loafs (like the originator of this recipe did).  One piece of this bread with a large glass of milk makes for a delicious breakfast.  So yummy. 
  • I couldn’t find light coconut milk like the recipe calls for so I used regular milk and it tasted just fine.  If you can’t find the light, don’t stress about it. 
  • I would suggest that you pulse your sweetened flaked coconut a few times in a food processor before incorporating into the recipe.  Leaving it ‘as-is’ made for a slightly stringy texture in some areas. 
  • This would also make a great gift for Christmas or some other occasion where you want to give several people homemade baked goods.  Since you can make 4 mini loaves with one batch you could make quite a few in a relatively short amount of time. 

You can view all of the recipes I’ve posted by clicking here.