Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meal Plan 3/29 - 4/4

Well, this week isn't adventurous at all; I don't think I'll be trying anything new unless I end up doing a new recipe on Saturday. The stew I'm making on Wednesday is from my mother-in-law's excellent recipe and the stuffed shells I've been making for years using a recipe I modified from the back of a pasta box. Next week I need to make sure that to try at least one new recipe...

Monday - Leftover Pasta e Fagioli
Tuesday - Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup (from freezer)
Wednesday - Gone All Day Stew with cornbread
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Stuffed Shells Sausage and Mushroom Quiche with salad
Saturday - Birthday party bringing Tortellini Salad
Sunday - Restaurant

Check back soon to see these recipes posted!

Italian Baked Chicken and Shells

This casserole is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. I've tried it with a few different cuts of pasta and liked the small shells better than larger ones like rotini or penne. The butter on top tastes delicious but sometimes I get lazy and leave it off (while reminding myself how many calories are saved by skipping it). This also freezes well, but skip the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and then add them later once thawed and ready to bake.

Italian Baked Chicken and Shells

2 1/4 cups small shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

In a large pot, boil the shells according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute oil, onion and garlic over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and basil and saute a few minutes longer, stirring frequently to prevent the chicken from sticking.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and return to pot. Stir in the onion/chicken mixture, diced tomatoes with liquid, shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. Place in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter (if using) and bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Bean Lasagna

I'm finally getting around to putting up my first recipe from this week, now that the week is over! I guess I got a little bit behind. Anyway, this lasagna was pretty good but not amazing. I think that the Fiesta Lasagna that I made last month was definitely tastier, but this Black Bean Lasagna still has a few things going for it (such as being meatless and less expensive) so I plan to make it again. I had to make several additions and adjustments to the spices in this recipe to kick up the flavor and realized too late that the 2 cans of tomato paste called for was a bit excessive, making the sauce too thick and tomato-y. Next time I'll make it with only one can of paste plus a can of tomato sauce, but since I haven't actually tried that yet I can't guarantee that it will be an improvement (though I'm 99% sure that it will be). I also think this would taste better with cottage cheese instead of ricotta, so will try it like that next time.

Black Bean Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon oil
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste or 1 can paste plus 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 to 1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dry parsley flakes
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain, separate noodles, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in oil tender. Stir in the beans, tomaotes, tomato paste, water, cilantro, pepper, salt, cumin, and chili powder. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add extra water if necessary to thin out sauce.

In a small bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta or cottage cheese, Parmesan Cheese, parsley, and 1-1/3 cups of shredded cheese. Grease or spray a 13 x 9 baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup of bean sauce mixture into the bottom of pan. Layer with three noodles, half of the cheese mixture, and a third of the remaining bean sauce mixture. Repeat layer once then top with remaining three noodles and the remaining bean sauce mixture. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Yields about 9 servings.

Recipe adapted from Healthy Cooking October/November 2008.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Garlic-Lemon Cheesy Chicken 'n' Rice

The name is a bit of a mouthful, but at least it's easy to guess all of the main ingredients from the title. My inspiration for this casserole was a breaded, stuffed chicken recipe that I loved. The combination of sharp cheddar and cream cheese with a tangy garlic-lemon butter was amazing! What I was less crazy about was stuffing and breading the raw chicken, so I decided to simplify the concept into a casserole. I was quite pleased with the result: it takes less time to prepare while still capturing the same wonderful flavors of the original recipe.

Garlic-Lemon Cheesy Chicken 'n' Rice

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 cups cooked brown or white rice
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Cut the chicken breasts into chunks, a little larger than bite-sized. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the chicken breasts, 1 clove garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, just until the chicken is fully cooked. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cream cheese; stir until fully melted and smooth. Add the milk and mix until incorporated with the cream cheese. Gently stir in the Cheddar cheese and rice. Place this chicken/rice mixture into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and evenly sprinkle over the chicken/rice. Combine the butter, lemon juice, and 1 clove garlic. Carefully drizzle on top of the bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until the edges begin to bubble, about 30 minutes.

Recipe inspired by All Recipes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meal Plan 3/22 - 3/28

This week I'm making several things, a few of them new. Tuesday's lasagna is one of the new ones. Lasagna is one of my favorite foods and I love trying out different ways to fix it. Thursday I'm making a casserole that I've adapted from Giada de Laurentiis. Over the weekend I'm going to experiment with a meatless version of the chicken 'n' rice casserole I made last week and will be fixing two of Todd Wilbur's "Top Secret Recipes" plus a chocolate bundt cake. I'm looking forward to being busy in the kitchen this week!

Monday - Restaurant mystery shop
Tuesday - Black Bean Lasagna with rice
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Italian Baked Chicken and Shells with salad
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Lemon-Garlic Mac 'n' Cheese*
Sunday - Pasta e Fagioli with Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

Don't forget to check back throughout the week to see these recipes posted!

*I need to make this again to perfect the recipe, so I won't be posting it until then.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Savory Shepherd's Pie

Up until this week, I didn't like Shepherd's Pie. Or rather, I had never had one that I particularly cared for; I'm just not a meat-and-potatoes girl. But I wanted to cook something Irish on St. Patrick's Day and corned beef just didn't sound that appealing. So I thought, how about making a spiced up version of Shepherd's Pie? I planned to kind of make up my own thing, so went to Food Network to get some ideas and instead ended up finding the perfect recipe. Although it was somewhat time consuming to prepare, this pie (which I actually made in a rectangle baking dish) tasted incredible! The blend of flavors was just perfect and the mashed potatoes were probably the best I've ever had (I plan to make them again just as a side dish). I think that the beer (incidentally also something that I do not like) really gave the meat filling some great flavor, so I recommend not skipping it even if you, like me, are not a beer drinker. I now have several bottles of leftover beer sitting in my garage. I might try making some chili with it...

Savory Shepherd's Pie

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
10 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons (half a stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black

Meat Filling:
4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (12 ounce) light or dark beer
1/2 cup beef broth
1/3 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
Dried or fresh parsley (optional)

Mashed potatoes: In a large pot, cover the potatoes and garlic with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and garlic. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. With a garlic press, mince the garlic over the potatoes. Add butter and beat on low speed with an electric mixer until butter is melted. Add the sour cream, 1/4 cup of broth, salt, and pepper. Beat on low until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the potatoes are fluffy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of broth if necessary.

Meat filling: In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until almost crisp. Carefully remove the bacon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the oil, onions, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the bacon grease in the pan and cook over medium heat until the onions just begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Stir in the sugar and continue cooking the onions until they start to caramelize (about 3 minutes). Add the ground meat and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned. Stir in the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start softening (about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes paste and flour and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour in the beer and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 3 minutes while scraping the bottom of the pan, loosening any bits that are stuck. Stir in the cooked bacon, broth, rosemary, pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt; return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Grease a 10-inch round or 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Spoon the meat mixture into the bottom of the dish and distribute evenly. Cover the meat mixture with the mashed potatoes. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned and the edges are bubbly. (You may want to place a baking sheet underneath to catch any liquid that bubbles over.) Remove dish from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. After removing the dish from the oven, wait at least 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from Melissa d'Arabian.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

This recipe combines three of my favorites - soup, garlic, and tortellini - into one delightful meal. What could be better? I also love how the faint aroma of garlic lingers in the air for the rest of the evening, even after the soup's been stowed away in the fridge. For the tortellini, even though I'm usually a store brand kind of girl, I like using the Louisa brand (I get it at my local Wal-Mart). Louisa tortellini tastes excellent and at less than $3 for a bag doesn't cost much more than the store brand. I realized when I was typing the recipe up just now, that I forgot to chop my spinach before throwing it into the soup. So that step is not really necessary, except for those that don't like big pieces of spinach floating around in the broth.

This also makes quite a bit of soup, which is great for freezing. I have a nice container tucked away in my freezer right next to some of the Lentil Vegetable Soup that I fixed a few weeks ago.

The original recipe calls for Italian turkey sausage which admittedly is a delicious addition, but I usually skip that to make the recipe less expensive and lower in calories. But that's just me... so I've included optional instructions should you desire to include sausage.

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups onion, medium diced
12 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3-1/2 cups water
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bag (20 ounces) frozen tortellini
1 bag (9 to 12 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil or 4-1/2 teaspoons fresh minced basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large pot, cook the onions with olive oil over medium-low heat until onions begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the broth, water, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and simmer for about 5 minutes (test a tortellini for doneness). Stir in the spinach, basil, pepper, and pepper flakes and simmer for an additional 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Serve with grated or shredded Parmesan cheese. Yields 8 to 10 servings.

Optional sausage version:
Remove the casings from 1-1/2 pounds of Italian turkey sausage and place sausage in a pot with the diced onion. Omit the olive oil. Cook, breaking up the sausage as you go, over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink. Add the garlic and proceed to follow the remaining directions in the recipe above. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

Recipe adapted from Healthy Cooking October/November 2008.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This moist cake is so delicious it doesn't need a frosting or glaze. The pecans are optional; one of my brothers has a nut allergy so we used to make this without nuts and it was still wonderful. There's enough sugar and cinnamon that there's no need to even increase the amounts if you choose to omit the pecans. But I like using the pecans and because I buy them in bulk and keep them in the freezer, the expense isn't too bad.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup oil

Mix sugar, cinnamon, and pecans; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for the time indicated on cake box. Generously grease a Bundt pan with butter. Evenly spread some batter into the bottom of the pan. You want to use no more than one-third of the batter for this and using a little less than one-third is ideal, since the next two layers will hit where the pan is wider. Sprinkle half of the pecan mixture over the batter in the pan. Drop about half of the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the pecans. Gently spread the batter evenly, being careful to not displace the pecan mixture below. Cover the batter with the remaining pecan mixture. Top with the remaining batter, gently spreading evenly and making sure to completely cover the pecan mixture. Bake at 325° for 1 hour. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meal Plan March 3/15 - 3/21

Our first meal this week is soup - I'm trying to get as many soups in as I can before the weather warms up. I could eat soup year round, but my husband only likes it during fall and winter (though I can occasionally convince him to eat it during the summer). Then I'm planning on making Shepherd's Pie on St. Patrick's Day... not quite as Irish as corned beef and cabbage but tastier in my opinion. Friday's meal is one that I sort of created; it was inspired by a stuffed chicken dish on All Recipes that I decided to simplify by turning it into a casserole. I'm also going to experiment with making cream-filled Zeppoles, an Italian pastry traditionally eaten on or near St. Joseph's Day, March 19. I'm hoping they'll turn out all right, especially since I'm not actually using a single recipe but am going to be combining a few.

Monday - Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup with bread
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Savory Shepherd's Pie with salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Garlic-Lemon Cheesy Chicken 'n' Rice with salad
Saturday - Dinner with family, bringing Zeppoles
Sunday - Leftovers

Don't forget to check back throughout the week to see these recipes posted!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alpine Chicken Casserole

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. My mom started making it when I was a small child and I've loved it ever since. Unlike many casseroles, this one calls for cubed cheese instead of shredded. I just love how the cubes get all melty and taste so warm and delicious when you bite into them!

When I made this the other day, I discovered that the recipe wasn't kidding when it specified real mayonnaise. I was out of mayo and used Miracle Whip instead... and it still tasted good but did not taste as amazing as it usually does. I've also discovered that I definitely prefer the taste of Cheddar cheese over Swiss cheese in this particular recipe, even though I'm a huge fan of Swiss in general. Plus the Cheddar gives the dish some nice color variation. The almonds are optional; they aren't something my mom ever included and I only tried adding them once. I felt they didn't enhance the dish enough to justify the added expense, so now I just skip them.

Oh, and a note about the stuffing: if you're using a box mix like Stovetop, use the entire 3 ounce packet. The box indicates that a 3 ounce packet makes 3 cups of stuffing, but mine always measures out at around 2 cups. I guess I don't fluff it enough. But at any rate, it works out fine in the recipe and then you don't have to worry about using only 2/3 of the packet and adjusting the other stuffing ingredients.

Alpine Chicken Casserole

2 cups cooked chicken, in bite-sized pieces
2 cups prepared stuffing mix
1 cup Cheddar or Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup milk
Slivered almonds (optional)

Combine all ingredients except almonds. Place in an ungreased 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Top with slivered almonds if desired. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for about 30 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

I first had black bean burgers several years ago when I nannied in a Kosher household (read: no mixing meat with dairy). Since I usually dislike meat without cheese, but plain cheese sandwiches get boring after all... eating frozen veggie cheeseburgers became a favorite lunch. Since then though, I hardly ever eat veggie burgers though I still think of them very fondly. So when I came across this Aaron McCargo recipe on Food Network, I absolutely wanted to try it. One thing that intrigued me was the smoked paprika in it. So I bought some and wow, does it smell good!! I'm definitely going to cooking with it in the future.

I made a few changes to the recipe, such as reducing the amount of black pepper (and it still had as strong pepper flavor). Another thing I did differently was use white flour instead of wheat, which was probably the reason why I had a tiny bit of difficult keeping the burgers together. So I recommend using the wheat flour if you have it, but if you don't, just be extra careful when flipping the burgers. To keep it inexpensive, instead of using canned beans, I used a pound of dry beans (I doubled the recipe). Unfortunately, my beans didn't yield what all the websites I googled promised: namely that a pound of dry beans was the equivalent of 6 cups (which equals 4 cans) of beans. I'm guessing that I didn't cook them long enough, although they were definitely soft enough to mash. Because I only got about 4 1/2 cups, I raided my pantry and found a can of light red kidney beans to add. (That's the bits of red you might notice in the burgers.)

So anyway, the burgers turned out wonderfully and had so much flavor that I decided they didn't need to be turned into cheeseburgers. And coming from me, that's saying something because I pretty much add cheese to everything. Be warned though, these burgers are pretty spicy. After all, this recipe did come from the show Big Daddy's House which specializes in "big, bold flavors"! My 2 1/2 year old loved them though (he even asked request "burggus" for breakfast the next morning), so I dare you to try them. :)

Black Bean Burgers

3 cup cooked black beans or 2 cans, drained
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 egg white, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons oil
Burger buns

Thoroughly mash the beans in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except oil and mix thoroughly with hands or a sturdy spoon. Form into burger patties. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Gently add the burgers, reforming the patties if necessary. Cook the burgers for until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes, and then carefully flip over and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the burgers and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve on buns with desired toppings (we used spinach and tomatoes). Yields 4 large or 6 medium burgers.

Recipe adapted from Aaron McCargo Jr.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cider Vinegar Pork Roast

My mother-in-law got this tangy roast recipe out of Reader's Digest. Even though I'm really not a huge fan of pork or peppers, I just love this unique combination of flavors. The original recipe called for a boneless loin roast, but my mother-in-law has used bone-in roast and I used a boneless pork butt, a less expensive cut than loin. One thing that surprised me about this original instructions was that they didn't mention browning the roast first. I thought about browning the meat anyway, but figured I might as well save time and see what happened if I didn't. Well I thought this turned out just as well as other roasts I've made that I did brown first, but perhaps it could have been even better had I browned it? Who knows. The gravy is my favorite part, but when I attempted to strain off the fat, the seasonings were getting strained out too. So I gave up on that and the first night I made only 1 cup of (fatty but delicious) gravy and then refrigerated the remaining cooking juices. The next day, I just used a spoon to scoop all the congealed fat off the top and made more gravy. The gravy tastes awesome served over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice.

Cider Vinegar Pork Roast

1 pork roast (3 to 4 pounds)
2 cups chicken broth
1 sweet red pepper, cut into narrow strips
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons water

Cut the roast in half and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Combine broth, red pepper, onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper; pour over roast. Cover and cook on low setting for about 3 to 4 hours or until thermometer inserted in center reads 160. With a slotted spoon, remove the red pepper and onion and set aside.

To make gravy, skim the fat off the cooking juices and measure out two cups. In a saucepan, stir cornstarch and water together until smooth; add measured cooking juices. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Serve roast with red pepper, onion, and gravy. Yields about 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe from Reader's Digest March 2009.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Meal Plan 3/8 - 3/14

This week I'm making one new recipe and one very old recipe, a favorite from my childhood. And that's it! It's unusual for me to have to cook only two meals in a week, but maybe that will leave me with some extra time to make sure I keep this blog updated with recipes and photos.

Monday - Leftover Cider Vinegar Pork Roast with egg noodles
Tuesday - Black Bean Burgers with salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Restaurant mystery shop
Friday - Alpine Chicken Casserole with potatoes
Saturday - Dinner with family, bringing Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Sunday - Leftovers

Come back later in the week to see these recipes posted!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Ever since I was a little girl, broccoli soup has been one of my favorites! I have a version that I make entirely from scratch, but this particular recipe gets some help from prepared cream soups. Don't let that fool you though, this taste much better than any broccoli soup out of a can. I also put a lot of broccoli in it, because that's the one complaint I have against many broccoli soups - not enough broccoli in proportion to the broth. Plus the addition of shredded carrot makes it a little bit healthier, though if we're being really honest, anything with cream in it is probably not very healthy. Does it matter though, when it's something so yummy?

Creamy Broccoli Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. onion, finely chopped
1 c. carrot, shredded
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
4 c. half-and-half or 2 c. milk and 2 c. cream
1 lb. broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

In a large pot, saute the onion, carrot, and garlic in butter over medium-low heat until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the soups, half-and-half (or milk and cream), broccoli, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, while stirring occasionally, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender (about 15-20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Yields about 4 servings.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mushroom Swiss Noodle Bake

I created this recipe a year ago to satisfy a pregnancy craving. It was inspired by a similar dish I made once several years ago. I enjoyed it then but for some reason did not save the recipe. I think my recreation tastes even better, but it's possible that I'm a tiny bit biased. :) It's so indulgently creamy and cheesy! To save time and money, you can eliminate the fresh mushrooms by using two cans of cream of mushroom soup instead of the chicken (or use one of each). But if you're like me, you won't want to do that because fresh mushrooms are so incredible that they're worth the 45 seconds each it takes to wash them. (Seriously, it takes me about 10 minutes to clean an 8 ounce package, but I'm a little obsessed with getting every speck of dirt washed away).

I couldn't find my camera the day I made this (and I don't like taking pictures of leftovers, it never looks the same after it's sat in the fridge, you know?). This photo was taken with a cell phone which surprisingly took a pretty clear picture, but gave it a yellowish cast. I edited the coloring as best I could, but it still doesn't look quite natural. Oh well.

Mushroom Swiss Noodle Bake

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breast halves)
10 oz. uncooked medium egg noodles (about 5 cups dry)
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. onion, finely chopped
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed, halved, and sliced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream
2 c. Swiss cheese, shredded

In a large pot, boil the chicken until fully cooked. Remove chicken from pot (do not discard the water) and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and saute the onion, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same water used to cook chicken, boil the egg noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Stir in soups, sour cream, and cheese and stir gently until well combined. Stir in the chicken and mushroom/onion mixture. Bake in a greased 9x13 dish at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Yields about 6 servings.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Meal Plan 3/1 -3/7

Can't believe it's a new week already. I still need to post a recipe from last week and add a few photos to recipes already posted. My menu this week isn't very adventurous for me. The only new recipe is the pork roast, and since I've eaten it before, I pretty much know how it's going to turn out. But next week will be a little more exciting; I plan on trying another recipe from Food Network (love that site!). I even picked up some smoked paprika - something I've never used before - while I was shopping today to use in the recipe.

Monday - Leftover Mushroom Swiss Noodle Bake with Salad
Tuesday - Turkey Muffaletta with Salad
Wednesday - Creamy Broccoli Soup with Salad
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Cider Vinegar Pork Roast with Potatoes
Saturday - Dinner with family, bringing Lentil Rice Casserole
Sunday - Leftovers

I'll try to get all these recipes post by the end of the week!