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.

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Recipe Review: Martha Stewart’s One-Pot Pasta

So I was telling my husband last night that I didn’t feel like it was appropriate for people to give me kudos and praise when I make something tasty because 99.9% of the time I am following a recipe that someone else created.  I mean, doesn’t that mean that the creator of the recipe should get the credit and not me?  How hard is it to follow a recipe?  Well, when I made this dish from Martha Stewart it sort of drilled my point home… there’s no actual recipe.  It’s a list of ingredients (without quantities) and directions.  I wanted to love this dish, but we didn’t.  It was edible but that’s about the best I can say.  Does that make it a fail for me, for Martha, or both???

Martha Stewart's One-Pot Pasta

Martha Stewart’s One-Pot Pasta

Serves: 4 (the way I made it at least)

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta of choice (we used one box of linguine, but the recipe calls for penne)
  • Broccoli (we used a package of frozen broccoli florets)
  • Olive oil (we just drizzled until desired consistency)
  • Garlic cloves (we used 6)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Lemon juice & zest (we used one small lemon)
  • Parmesan cheese (LOTS!)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil penne 6 minutes less than al dente; add broccoli florets, and cook until penne is al dente. Drain; return to the pot, and toss with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, some olive oil, the zest and juice of a lemon, salt and pepper, and plenty of Parmesan.

THOUGHTS

  • I think I’d try to make this again and see if I can get it to work out better.  I think I’d use half butter and half olive oil.
  • I also think we didn’t use enough salt or cheese so we’ll probably use more of both next time.
  • The nice thing is that we usually have all the ingredients for this dish on hand which means if I’m ever in need of a quick-fix meal, I can whip this up.

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

Recipe Review: French Bread Chicken Melts

So I’m 99% certain that I found this in a Cooking Light magazine at some point but naturally, I can’t find the source online.  Nonetheless, it’s a yummy recipe so I’m going to share it with you.  I’ve tweaked it a bit so I’m going to tell you how I make it.

french bread chicken melts

French Bread Chicken Melts

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 white or yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts (I just cooked two chicken breasts in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes and used that)
  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 1 package of sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup honey Dijon salad dressing (optional – we don’t use or like this and instead we substitute a bit of chopped garlic, salt and pepper)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add onion and bell pepper; coat vegetables with cooking spray.  Cover and cook 8 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken and salad dressing; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
  3. Split bread in half horizontally; place bread halves on a baking sheet, cut sides up.  Spoon chicken mixture onto bottom half of loaf; top each slice of bread with a slice of cheese.
  4. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is lightly toasted.  Place top half of loaf over bottom half.  Cut loaf into 4 equal portions.

THOUGHTS

  • This makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner.  We like to serve this with homemade Cream of Tomato Soup.

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: 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: 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: Amish-inspired Beefy Casserole Pie

Recipe Review: 

I found this recipe via an online booklet I received called Frugal Recipes: 26 Easy Ground Beef Casserole Recipes.  You can get a copy of this free ebook by clicking here.  This is the first time I’ve made a recipe from this booklet.  You can view this particular recipe by clicking here.

Amish-inspired Beefy Casserole Pie

Amish-inspired Beefy Casserole Pie

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small package cream cheese
  • 1 can mushroom soup
  • 1 cup canned corn with pimento
  • 1 package refrigerated biscuits

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brown ground beef in skillet; drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Mix cream cheese, soup and corn in a seperate bowl.
  4. Pour into two quart casserole dish. Add beef.
  5. Top with biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

THOUGHTS

  • I originally picked this recipe because I thought it’d be something quick and easy that my husband could pull together on a night when I was working late or had other plans.  He likes “manly meals” and this sounded like one to me. 
  • At first, my husband liked this dish.  After a while, whoever, he changed his mind and told me he hated it and to never ever make it again.  Want to know what caused the flip?  It was the biscuits.  You see, after cooking them for 20 minutes, the ones towards the outside of the pan were cooked, but the parts towards the middle weren’t.  You couldn’t tell from looking at the top of the dish… everything looked uniform.  But underneath, the biscuits were still raw.  He took one bite of raw biscuit and gagged.  That was it for him.  Sadly, I’m not entirely certain how to fix this problem except for one way… take your biscuits, smush them together and then roll them out so that they resemble a piecrust.  Then top the casserole dish with your biscuit pie crust. 

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: Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas

Hey guys – sorry for the hiatus.  Things are nuts at work and something just had to give.  But I’m baaaaaaaaack so let’s get started shall we?

I originally found this recipe here.  I’m not sure what drew me to it though since we’re not a big soy-eating family but nonetheless, it somehow found its way into my stack of recipes to try.  I tried it once, long ago, using the soy crumbles that it calls for… and can I just say yuck?  It’s not the taste that bothers me, it’s the texture.  I’m sorry but the texture of soy is just gross.  I can’t get behind it.  I thought the recipe had potential though so now we just make it with super-lean ground beef instead of the soy.  I also switched out the low fat/fat free items for the good stuff.  I’m sorry but fat free cheese just tastes like cardboard to me.  It’s not worth it. 

Even my Hispanic husband loves these enchiladas… just don’t tell his mom!  J

Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas

Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound super-lean ground beef (we like Laura’s)
  • 3/4 cup bottled salsa (we use Pace medium)
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) block-style cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 12 to 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, garlic, beans, and soy crumbles, and cook 2 minutes, stirring mixture frequently.
  3. Stir in salsa, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
  4. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread 1/3 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup black bean mixture down center of each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange enchiladas, seam sides down, crosswise in dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

THOUGHTS

  • As I mentioned above, you can check out the original source of this recipe if you want the meat-free low-fat version of this recipe, but trust me… my version is waaaaay tastier.  I say eat only 1 enchilada and have a large salad if you’re worried about the fat/calories. 
  • This dish definitely needs a side… a salad (if you want to be healthy about it) or you can go the traditional beans and rice route like you’d get in a Mexican restaurant.  My husband particularly likes this paired with rice and avocado. 
  • I am of the opinion that it takes 2 people to make this enchilada recipe a cinch… I heat the corn tortillas to soften them up (one at a time) and then I hand them to my hubby who fills them and rolls them.  It just makes really seamless.  So, get a helper if you can but if you cant, these are still totally worth the effort of doing them yourself. 

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