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: 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: 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: 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: The Olive Garden’s Capellini Primavera

I had amazing success with the last Olive Garden copy cat recipe I tried so I was super excited to give this baby a shot.  It’s loaded down with good-for-you vegetables too! 

I found this recipe here but sadly, I didn’t realize there wasn’t a picture associated with it and we scarfed this down so fast I didn’t take a picture of it.  It’s pretty though.  🙂

Olive Garden Logo

The Olive Garden’s Capellini Primavera

Serves:  4-6 generous servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots (I used pre-cut matchstick carrots)
  • 5 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1-1/4 cups thinly sliced yellow squash (cut squash in half lengthwise before slicing)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbs. beef bouillon granules (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, minced
  • 1-1/4 cups crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. fresh angel hair pasta (I used dried whole wheat pasta)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots and broccoli in butter 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, squash and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta and cheese; stir well. Bring to simmer, then cook 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended. Serve over cooked angel hair pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese.

THOUGHTS

  • My husband loved this dish.  I liked it, but I definitely prefer the other Olive Garden copy cat recipe
  • This dish requires a significant amount of chopping but my husband helped chop and it didn’t take us very long.  It’s worth it when you consider that this fed us for 3 separate meals. 

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

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

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Chef in Training

Recipe Review: Olive Garden Spaghetti Delle Rocca

Note: this picture is not of this recipe but of a very similar one.  I could not find the original sour of the Olive Garden Spaghetti Delle Rocca recipe.  If you want the recipe for the picture, click on it and it will take you to the original source.

Note: this picture is not of this recipe but of a very similar one. I could not find the original source of the Olive Garden Spaghetti Delle Rocca recipe. If you want the recipe for the picture, click on it and it will take you to the original source.

This dish was so delicious that I could have eaten the entire (enormous) pot by myself.  I did not want to share!  If you love Italian food with flavors that dance on your tongue then you have to try this!

Olive Garden Spaghetti Delle Rocca

Serves: Not Listed (probably 4… or just me)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 oz. washed and dried quartered button mushrooms
  • 2 oz. diced yellow onion
  • 2 lb. cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup pitted green olives
  • 2 tsp capers, rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp salt (I omitted this)
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. dry pasta, cooked according to package instructions
  • Grated parmesan cheese to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a saucepot. Add garlic, onions and mushrooms. Cook for one minute; do not brown. Add cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, basil, parsley, salt and pepper flakes; sauté 10 minutes, stirring frequently. In a large bowl, combine sauce and drained pasta while both are hot. Top with grated Parmesan cheese; garnish with fresh basil leaves.
  2. Eat and then eat some more!

THOUGHTS

  • OMG – YUM!
  • I omitted the salt as the person I was cooking for is on a low-sodium diet.  Between the two different types of olives, the capers, and the parmesan cheese, the ½ tsp of salt wasn’t missed.
  • I could eat this every week for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. 
  • I chopped up all my veggies the night before so that all I had to do was cook the pasta and sauté the veggies.  If you know you’re going to be in a hurry, this dish cooks up quick as long as the chopping was done the night before.  Trust me, you won’t be sorry you took the time to chop those veggies!
  • Who’s hungry?  I am!

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

bloom

hhpweekendlinkparty22

One Artsy Mama

UndertheTableandDreaming

cit

Recipe Review: Bean and Pasta Soup

So surprise, surprise, this is another recipe from Taste of Home.  You can view the original source of this recipe here.  I’m fairly certain I’ve purchased several Taste of Home magazines while standing in the checkout line and that’s where I get all these other Taste of Home recipes from.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for strategic marketing.

Bean and Pasta Soup

Serves 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked small pasta (elbows, shells, orzo, etc)
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (15 oz) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet sauté the celery, carrots, onion and garlic in oil for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the water, tomatoes, broth, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  3. Drain pasta; stir into vegetable mixture.  Add the beans; heat through.  Stir in spinach; cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

THOUGHTS

  • I served this as a dinner meal on a chilly night with some delicious French Onion Pan Rolls that I’ll be sharing with you later.  It was mmm mmm good!  This soup is absolutely PACKED with good-for-you veggies and the flavor is really light – not overpowering in the least.  It makes a great healthy dinner!
  • I’ve made this soup before and used whole-grain shells but this time I used orzo because it’s what I had on hand.  You can really use anything.  If all you have on hand is spaghetti noodles just cut them up into 1” pieces and use those.  Anything works.  You can also use whole-grain pasta for added fiber and health benefits over white-flour pasta.
  • Due to the noodles this recipe does not freeze particularly well – they will disintegrate over time and it causes a strange texture.  So, I recommend eating all of the soup within a day or two and not freezing it.
  • If you use vegetable broth this dish is vegetarian.

I’ve linked up to these great parties:

Bloom Design
Chef in Training
Delightful Order
Happy Hour Projects
I Heart Nap Time
One Artsy Mama
Skip to my Lou
Uncommon Designs
Under the Table and Dreaming

Recipe Review: Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce

I have to be fair and say first and foremost that I’m biased.  My mom makes the best spaghetti sauce.  Period.  There’s no comparison.  Just ask my husband.  He totally agrees with me.  It’s not for everyone – it’s thick and it’s spicy – which is very different depending on what part of the country you’re from.  I grew up on it though so I love it.  My husband obviously didn’t grow up eating it but he adores it.  It’s probably his favorite meal.  So, it’s not entirely fair for me to review another spaghetti sauce recipe because in my eyes, I’ve already had the best.  That being said, I’m still going to go ahead and tell you what I thought about this recipe.

Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce

Serves 20 (serving size ½ cup)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz pancetta, chopped (or center cut bacon) (I used pancetta)
  • 1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil) (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped fine
  • ¾ cup carrots, chopped fine
  • 2 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 – 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and fresh pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup half and half

DIRECTIONS

Go here

THOUGHTS

  • I have never heard of putting pancetta, celery, carrots, white wine, or half and half in spaghetti sauce.  I don’t eat pork so I was already sort of wishy-washy to start.
  • This is definitely not my mom’s spaghetti sauce.
  • I had both my husband and my mom try this and they both said ‘meh’ – mom suggested mixing it with a can of vegetable soup and eating it as a soup.  I’m definitely not going to try that personally.
  • This made enough for 3 meals for the Hubs and I (i.e. 6 servings).  I put them all in the freezer and we will eat them on nights when all I have time to do is boil noodles.  I love freezer-ready meals.
  • Don’t misunderstand – this recipe isn’t bad, it’s just different.  I think spaghetti sauce is one of those things that people either love it one way or they hate it another way.  My neighbor makes hers with chicken and sugar.  Yuck!

I’ve linked up to these great parties:


Days of Chalk and Chocolate

One Artsy Mama

UndertheTableandDreaming

Skip To My Lou


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