Recipe Review: Mac Chicken Cacciatore

So now that I’m in the gym every day at lunch it’s changed my work schedule and I’m not getting home until after 7:00pm most nights. This means that by the time I cook dinner we’re eating at about 8:30pm which is NOT good. So, I’ve been trying to cook a few simpler dinners during the week to save time (like this one). Unfortunately, they’re not the healthiest options. It’s a catch 22 it seems.

Mac Chicken Cacciatore


Mac Chicken Cacciatore

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pkg. (7-1/4 oz.) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner (I used the Deluxe dinner which I think is larger than 7-1/4oz)
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Deli Fresh Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (or 1 chicken breast, precooked and cubed)
  • 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup chopped green peppers (I used frozen – just toss in with the boiling noodles during the last few minutes of cooking)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare macaroni in large saucepan as directed on package.
  2. Stirin remaining ingredients; cook on low heat 5 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

THOUGHTS

  • I haaaaaate those refrigerated precooked packaged chicken strips that this recipe calls for so my plan was to precook and cube a chicken breast. However, our grocery store was literally out of chicken breasts that weekend!  So, I ended up cooking it with the dreaded refrigerated precooked packaged chicken strips. I will say that I ate it. I will say that it was decent. I will also say that I still hate those chicken strips and that the next time I cook this it will be with a precooked and cubed chicken breast.
  • I drained my tomatoes because I felt it would make the recipe too watery otherwise – I added in an extra ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon freeze-dried (you could also use fresh) basil.
  • After Step 2, I placed everything in a 9×9 Pyrex dish. I then combined 1/3 cup panko with 2 Tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar, 2 Tablespoons shredded mozzarella and 2 Tablespoons shredded parmesan and sprinkled it on top of the casserole.  I baked it in the oven on 350 until hot and bubbly (about 15-20 minutes).
  • All in all, this wasn’t bad for a quick (if you already have a chicken breast cooked and cubed) weeknight dinner but like I said before, it’s not the healthiest option. This is a good option to get some good protein and veggies into a picky child though – it IS mac and cheese after all!

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: Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

So I love this dish, like a lot.  It’s a Kraft recipe that you can find here.  If you happen to click on that link you’ll notice that it says that in France, they make this dish with 40 cloves of garlic instead of 20.  I might just have to make it with 40 next time.  I made this dish for girls night the other night and we were all calling “DIBS!” on the garlic cloves.  Soooo yummy. 

Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled (I used the pre-peeled kind you can find in the refrigerated section of your stores produce department)
  • ¾ cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup creamy Caesar dressing
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook 4 min., turning chicken after 2 min.
  2. Stir in broth and dressing; cover skillet with lid. Cook chicken 3 to 5 min. on each side or until done (165ºF).
  3. Sprinkle with Parmesan; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 1 min.

THOUGHTS

  • Using the pre-peeled garlic makes all the difference in the world with this dish.  You can cut your prep down to about two minutes by using this which means that you can pop this on the stove quick, fast and in a hurry on a weeknight. 
  • The picture shows this dish being served with roasted carrots and potatoes but I felt like this made for a really monochromatic dish so I served it with marinated tomatoes and the Buttery Almond Green Beans.  I’ll be sharing the tomato recipe soon. 

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

Recipe Review: Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

I found this recipe long, long ago in a Kraft magazine.  Now, you can find it by clicking here.  We love broccoli at our house so this is a definite go-to when we want something cheesy but relatively healthy. 

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2cups multigrain rotini pasta, uncooked
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1cup 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt and adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 min.
  3. Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 min. or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; simmer 3 min. or until chicken is done. Add cream cheese; cook and stir on low heat 1 min. or until melted. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  4. Drain pasta and broccoli. Add to chicken mixture; mix lightly. Spoon into 8-inch square baking dish; cover.
  5. Bake 15 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, 3 min. or until melted. Let stand 5 min.

THOUGHTS

  • Y’all this dish is soooo delicious.  It’s cheesy and creamy and guess what?  Relatively healthy thanks to the multigrain rotini pasta and the broccoli.  Pair this baby with a side salad and you’ve got a quick, easy and DELISH weeknight meal.  YUM!

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

Recipe Review: Easy Bake Strata

So it’s Valentine’s Day and I think it’s only fair that I provide a recipe that you’re going to fall head over heels in love with!

I think I’ve mentioned this before but if not, I’ll mention it now… I don’t really like eggs.  I remember eating scrambled eggs nearly every weekend when I was a kid but for some reason as I got older I started to dislike them.  Now the flavor and texture of scrambled eggs will make me gag.  I do, however, like quiche and strata if it’s made correctly.  I’m weird, I know. 

I found this recipe ages ago… I think in a Kraft magazine.  Anyway, I never made it until now.  I needed some way to incorporate eggs into the Foods You Should Eat Every Day Challenge and since this also had lots of spinach in it which I happen to know is super good for you I decided to give it a go. 

Easy_Bake_Strata

Easy Bake Strata

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 cups packed torn fresh spinach
  • 1 package (6 oz) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken (I used the low sodium version)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray large skillet with cooking spray.  Add onion and red pepper; cook and stir on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until softened.  Stir in spinach; set aside.
  2. Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package; stir in onion mixture and parsley.  Beat eggs; mix with stuffing mixture.  Pour into greased 8-inch square baking pan.  Sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Bake 35 minutes or until firm.  Cool 15 minutes.  Cut into strips or squares.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

THOUGHTS

  • I thought this was absolutely delicious!!!  I thoroughly enjoyed eating it for breakfast for several days in a row and that says a lot.  I rarely like to eat the same things in a row. 
  • I think you could use yellow or orange bell pepper instead of red if that’s what you have on hand.  You could also use Swiss cheese instead of mozzarella. 
  • Sprinkling the cheese on top caused a distinct cheesy layer… I think the next time I bake this I’m going to try to stir the cheese in just a little bit.  I would prefer it more incorporated I think. 
  • This dish is super easy and I truly think it would be a crowd pleaser.  Serve with some applewood smoked bacon and fruit and you’ve got yourself a winner!

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

Remember, today is the 14th so it’s your day to practice a Random Act of Kindness in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.  I’d love to hear what you do!  Please feel free to leave comments!  I will be posting my RAOK on the 16th.  See you then!

raok sandy hook

Recipe Review: Zesty Chicken and Pasta

So this recipe isn’t really all that ‘wintery’ but it’s a nice change of pace from those heavy meals you’ve probably been eating for the last few weeks.  It has a light zing and is loaded with good-for-you veggies.  This is a Kraft recipe that you can find here.

zesty chicken and pasta

Zesty Chicken and Pasta

Serves:  6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (8 oz) fusilli pasta, uncooked
  • ½ cup light Italian dressing, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.
  2. Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup of dressing in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook and stir 4 minutes or until done.  Add vegetables and parsley; cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain pasta; toss with chicken mixture and remaining dressing.  Top with cheese.

THOUGHTS

  • First off, this dish makes a rather sizeable amount of food.  This can easily feed a family of 4 with a small side salad or some sliced fruit & garlic bread.
  • I found the cooking times of ‘5 minutes’ to be rather on the loooow end of things.  It took at least twice that for me to get my desired level of ‘done-ness.’  It’s still a very quick meal and definitely suitable for a school night when you’re tired and everyone has something else that they have to get done before bed time.
  • If you don’t like broccoli or red bell pepper you could easily switch up the veggies to suit your taste.  Just choose whatever fresh veggie works for you – squash, zucchini, tomatoes, or carrots would be some good options.

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Happy Hour Projects
One Artsy Mama

UndertheTableandDreaming

Skip To My Lou

bloom

Chef in Training

Recipe Review: Zesty Herbed Carrots

So I got this recipe from this nifty Kraft magazine that I get from time to time. 

Zesty Herbed Carrots

Serves 6 (approx ½ cup each)

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour dressing over carrots in a large nonstick skillet; stir to coat.
  2. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in parsley and walnuts.

THOUGHTS

  • I actually left the nuts out because I’m not a big fan.
  • This dish was super simple, healthy, and delicious.  This is an easy go-to recipe for a nutritious sidedish to serve with cooked meat and a side salad.  I would recommend serving with a roast or baked chicken.  So yummy!

I’ve linked up to these great parties:


One Artsy Mama

I Heart Nap Time

UndertheTableandDreaming

Skip To My Lou


Recipe Review: Farmhouse Chicken Dinner

So do you remember the other day when I took dinner to some friends who were going through a rough patch?  Well, over the next three days I’m going to share with you the simple (and easy to double/triple) recipes that I used.

This dish is one of my go-to dishes when I need to feed men because it’s pretty heavy so it fills up even the biggest guy but you can also cut a chicken breast in half for someone with a smaller appetite.  I found this recipe YEARS ago in a Kraft magazine but you can find it here on their website.

Farmhouse Chicken Dinner

Serves 4 (big servings!)

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4 small bone-in chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lbs), skin removed (I don’t like bone-in chicken so I use boneless skinless chicken breasts and they cook up nice and tender so feel free to sub those *see cooking notation under ‘thoughts’)
  • ¼ cup zesty Italian dressing
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges (like you’d slice an apple)
  • 14-1/2oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped curly parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix flour and pepper in a shallow dish.  Add chicken; turn to coat both sides of each piece.  Gently shake off excess flour.  Heat dressing in large nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Add chicken, meat sides down; cook 5 – 6 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn chicken.  Add carrots, onions, and 1 cup broth; cover.  Simmer on medium-low heat 20 minutes or until chicken is done.  Meanwhile, cook rice as directed on package.
  2. Spoon rice onto platter.  Use slotted spoon to remove chicken and vegetables from skillet; place over rice.  Cover to keep warm.
  3. Add cream cheese and remaining broth to liquid remaining in skillet; cook on medium-high heat 5 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and sauce is well blended, stirring constantly.  Simmer on medium-low heat 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Spoon over chicken and vegetables; top with parsley.

THOUGHTS

  • *If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts I find it easier to cut the breasts in half and then flour and cook them.  The people who want a whole breasts can easily serve themselves two halves.  The reason I cut them in half is because usually they’re so thick that they don’t cook all the way through if you leave them whole.
  • When cooking the cream cheese mixture it really does mean stir CONSTANTLY.  It will burn super-quick if you’re not careful and stirring for the entire time.
  • This dish is a huge crowd pleaser.  Everyone always raves when I make this.  I made it for a group of girlfriends the other night and they raved just as much as the men I’ve served it to before so it’s two thumbs up all around!
  • Oh and if you’re wondering, this post is in no way sponsored by Kraft.  The picture above is from their website though.  Yet another great thing about this dish is that when you make it, it turns out looking just as pretty as the picture that was taken by a professional photographer!

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Bloom Designs
Chef in Training
Days of Chalk and Chocolate
Happy Hour Projects
I Heart Nap Time
One Artsy Mama

Recipe Review: Chicken Capri Pasta

Recipe Review:  Chicken Capri Pasta

I found this recipe a while back when Kraft came out with their Philadelphia Cooking Crème.  Have you used that stuff?  It’s great.

What You Need

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • ½ cup halved red pepper strips
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 tub (10 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
  • 2 cups hot cooked angel hair pasta
  • ¼ cup KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Make It

  1. COOK and stir chicken and peppers in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 7 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in broccoli; cook 2 to 3 min. or until heated through.
  2. ADD cooking creme; cook and stir 2 to 3 min. or until heated through.
  3. SERVE over pasta; sprinkle with Parmesan.

I used a bit more red bell pepper just because I wanted to use up the bell pepper and not leave part of it in the fridge.  We also used regular spaghetti noodles instead of angel hair pasta.  I found that it took more than 2-3 minutes to get the broccoli cooked to the degree that we like it (I don’t like it still super-firm).  Next time I might toss it into the noodle water and let it boil for a few minutes and then toss it with the dish.  The dish came together in a flash and was really tasty.  Serve with a simple green salad and a slice of chilled watermelon and you’ve got yourself a quick summer dinner that everyone should love.

* sidenote:  Kraft in no way sponsored this post.  Although that’d be cool.  Also the photo above is from the Kraft Recipes website.  My photog skills are definitely not that good.  In my dreams!

I liked up to this party:

Bloom Designs
Chef in Training
Creatively Living
Delightful Order
Mommy by Day… Crafter by Night
Skip to my Lou
Under the Table and Dreaming

Recipe review: Fuss-Free Ravioli and Cheese Bake

As several of you know, I’m a couponer.  When I get coupons for items that don’t go bad quickly (these are called shelf stable in the food industry) I tend to buy them.  Right now, we have at least 8 jars of spaghetti sauce in our pantry.  We don’t eat spaghetti sauce.  At least not like ‘normal’ people would (i.e. as spaghetti).  My mom makes the BEST homemade spaghetti sauce so why eat something generic out of a can when you can have the best??  BUT there are zillions of recipes out there for what to do with a jar of spaghetti sauce.

(photo from Kraft Foods website)

This weekend, we tried the Fuss-Free Ravioli and Cheese Bake from Kraft Foods.  This recipe has actually been sitting in my Recipes to Try box for quite a while.  Here’s what we thought…

Pros:

  1. Quick
  2. Crazy easy to make (dump a bunch of stuff in a bowl and go)
  3. We had most of the items already on hand (we only had to buy the ravioli)
  4. You could probably sub tortellini or any other filled pasta for the ravioli
  5. You could vary the flavor of the dish by using different kinds of filled pasta (i.e. spinach instead of four cheese)

Cons:

  1. Didn’t rock my socks.  The dish was ok but not great.  Definitely not what we refer to as ‘company food’  in our house.
  2. The flavor of the ravioli got kind of lost in the intense tomato flavor.  This might be ‘fixable’ if you used another type of pasta (see #5 above).
  3. When you put the cheese only on top, it forms this solid cheese layer which is not the easiest to cut through with a fork.  It also means that only half of your raviolis get cheese on them.  I might try mixing the cheese into the dish instead of just plopping it on top next time.

Deviations:

  1. We actually didn’t deviate from the recipe at all except for the basil.  I didn’t have fresh on hand and didn’t want to purchase it solely for this dish and end up with a lot leftover so we used ½ tsp. dried basil instead.

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Alderberry Hill
Beyond the Picket Fence
Bloom
Chef in Training
Chic on a Shoestring
Classy Clutter
Craftionary
Crafty Confessions
DIY Home Sweet Home
DIY Show Off
Ginger Snap Crafts
Handy Man, Crafty Woman
Home Maker on a Dime
Home Stories A to Z
House of Hepworths
I Gotta Create
I Heart Naptime
JAQS Studio
Kammy’s Korner
Lil Luna
Live.Laugh.Rowe
Made in a Day
Mod Vintage Life
My Girlish Whims
One Artsy Mama
Primp
Skip to My Lou
Under the Table and Dreaming