Thursday, March 12, 2015

Skinny Meatballs with Pasta

 
Pasta is one of those foods I could eat every day and probably not even notice it. Any sauce, any meat and I would not complain. It's easy, versitile and so, so delicious. 

It also allegedly makes you fat. 

Other than opting to wear elastic waistband pants at all times, the only other option is to change up what you serve it with. Obviously not eating pasta for me would just not work so this is a much better option.

These meatballs are a perfect way to make your pasta meal a bit easier on the scale. Many people think using ground chicken will make the meatballs dry and flavorless, but it couldn't be further from the truth. These meatballs are tender, juicy and so full of flavor.

Ingredients

1 pound of lean ground chicken
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 eggs
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (plain or seasoned)
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
24 ounces marinara sauce
13 ounces of pasta cooked



To begin, combine the first 10 ingredients. Depending on how moist the meat is to start with, you may need more or less bread crumbs. Add the least amount first, and then adjust from there. The role of the breadcrumb is really to bind the whole thing together, not to dry out the meat. If you add too many bread crumbs, the meatballs will not be as moist and tender. 


Preheat the biggest sauce pan you have over medium heat. Add in the vegetable oil. Using a spoon, ice cream scoop or cookie scoop, place 2 to 4 tablespoons of the meatball mixture into the pan carefully. This should sizzle slightly when the meat is added to the pan. 
 

Cook the meatballs for about 5 minutes or until the meat is browned. 


Flip the meatballs over gently to brown the other side. This will take you a few shifts to get all the meatballs browned on each side. Make sure you do not get impatient and crowd the pan; this prevents the meatballs from getting a tasty crust on the outside. 


When all the meatballs have been browned, add them all back to the pan. Pour in the sauce gently and stir to ensure all the meatballs are covered. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat with the lid on the pan.
 

After 20 minutes, add the meatballs to a bowl of pasta and pour the sauce over the top. This is really a delicious and healthy meal you will love!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hazlenut Tea Cookies



 

These cookies are one of the very first cookies I made all by myself. The recipe comes from an old Betty Crocker cookbook that is now being held together by duct tape. In the black and white picture, it shows a sweet little tea party for a few people with these as the center stage treat. As a kid it seemed like the coolest thing ever to have a tea party. According to Betty, these cookies were a requirement to even think about having a tea party. 

The cookies themselves really are delicious. Almost like a nutty shortbread, these buttery and sweet cookies are perfect any time. The crisp shortbread is flecked with tasty little hazelnuts that give the cookie something really special. You can easily substitute any nut you like for this. Pecans and walnuts work really well with the recipe.

As the name suggests these are just perfect to eat with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Regardless of what you have with these little gems, you will love them!

Ingredients
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup small chopped nuts

Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and butter together until there are no lumps in the batter. Add in the vanilla extract and stir until it is well combined. Add in the salt, flour and nuts. Mix only until combined. If you find the cookie dough is a bit dry, add a small splash of milk to help moisten the dough.

Form the dough into 2 tablespoon sized balls and place them onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. You will know the cookies are done when the tops are just lightly golden. 

Allow the cookies to fully cool. When the cookies have cooled completely, roll them in the remaining powdered sugar. I like to place all the cookies in a large Tupperware and pour the powdered sugar over. Close the Tupperware securely and give the whole thing a gently but thorough shake. 

 



Monday, March 2, 2015

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti

 

 When it comes to planning meals, I am usually on top of it. There's always a list of some kind and everything I need is on hand. However, when a snow storm hits and there is just no way I am going to the store a plan B must be made. 

That is how this really scrumptious chicken and spaghetti dish came together. I just took everything I had and threw it together. It was a fantastic plan B. The sauce is made with spicy green chile, diced tomatoes and a good helping of salty cheese. Combine that with crispy, tender chicken and it is a winning meal.

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of green chile
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound spaghetti, cooked



 Cut the chicken into nugget sized pieces. Then season them with a little salt and pepper.



Pour the bread crumbs into a plastic bag. This makes coating the chicken so much easier and cleaner. 
 

Slide the chicken into the bag and close the top securely. Toss the chicken around in the bread crumbs until all of the chicken is well coated. 
 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the coated chicken into the pan. The meat should sizzle, but not roar. 


Brown the chicken, making sure it is golden and crusty on each side. Once the chicken is done, take it out of the pan and keep it off to the side. I kept mine warm in the toaster oven. 
 

Once the chicken has left the pan, add in the onions, garlic, tomatoes and green chile.  Let this simmer for about ten minutes. 


Add the hot pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Turn off the heat and add in the Parmesan cheese. If it seems a little dry, add some water and a few extra shakes of salt and pepper. 
 

When serving, add the chicken right on top of the pasta to keep the crust nice and crispy. You and your family will love this spicy treat!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pear Calfoutis Coffee Cake


 

I do really love desserts and sweet things, but not as much in the morning. Pastries, doughnuts, and coffee cakes are things I adore, but not until about three in the afternoon. 

A special exception is made when I am making breakfast for other people. Other people really enjoy a sweet treat in the morning, so I do make things like this for others. This pear coffee cake is really delicious and not too sweet. It is still morning after all. 

Clafoutis is a French dessert traditionally made with cherries. It's really just an upside down cake that is a little less sweet. This is so perfect for a brunch or breakfast menu dessert. It's lightly sweet with a puffy cake layer and a bit of fruit over the top. You can top this with maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar or enjoy it as is.

Either way it is a delicious treat to end a morning meal or as an afternoon snack.

Ingredients

1 pear
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Add the milk and vinegar to a large bowl. Let this sit for about ten minutes or until the milk has curdled. Then add in the remaining ingredients. Make sure to mix the batter gently to not crush the bubbles out of the mixture.


Trace a 9 inch cake pan around the outside edge on parchment paper. Cut out the cake pan's shape. Spray the cake pan with cooking spray and place the parchment circle in the center of the pan. Spray the parchment as well

Slice the pear and fan the pieces out into a circular shape. They do not need to be perfect. If the pattern comes out ugly, you can always serve it with a heavy covering of powdered sugar.


Pour the batter over the fruit. Spread the batter out gently so the bubbles are not squished and the cake comes out extra fluffy.


Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick comes out of the center clean. As it cools, run a butter knife around the outside edge. Let the cake cool for about 15 to 20 minutes.


Once the cake has cooled for a bit, flip the pan onto a plate. Sprinkle the top with some powdered sugar or honey.


My husband, Tyler really loves to drizzle a bit of maple syrup over the top of this delicious cake. It's very similar to an upside down pancake we love at a favorite restaurant so it is a perfectly sweet topping. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spicy Egg Bake


 

 Brunch is one of the great trends my generation has going for it. It is the perfect time of day; not too early, not to late. The food is great and always includes the options of breakfast and lunch. One snowy morning, my husband and I both had the day off and we were so excited about going to brunch. We would most certainly get into those places with the long lines since it was a weekday. 

We called and called so many places. It seemed as though they had President's Day off as well. 

The only option was to make our own brunch.

We started with a super easy and delicious egg bake. These eggs are really simple to make and taste like they were a lot of work. Simply choose your favorite salsa to bake them in and you are on your way to a tasty start for the morning.

This is great for serving at a party or gathering since they do not require babysitting or turning. Just throw them into the oven before your guests arrive and they will be perfect with such little effort. This is so easy it feels silly even posting this, but people need to know about this egg baking method.

Ingredients

1/2 cup salsa (I used half green and red)
4 eggs
salt and pepper
tortillas for serving


Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray. Dump the salsa into the casserole.


Crack four eggs into the casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper over the top.


Bake the eggs and salsa for about 30 minutes. If you like your eggs a bit runny, the center should jiggle when you give a shake to the dish. If you like your eggs a bit more set, wiggle the pan every five minutes or so. 


Once the eggs have been cooked to your liking, serve them with some warm tortillas. This recipe is very easy to add more servings to with just a bit more salsa and another egg or two. 

Check back on Thursday for the end of our brunch meal



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I just love cookies. The chewy center, the crispy outside and all the yummy things you put in the dough to really make it special. Not to mention the dough itself. Yes, cookies really make my day. Especially if they have chocolate in them.  I like to eat these extra special cookies with a piping hot cup of coffee that melts the chocolate chips.

This recipe is from a beloved cookbook. Looking at the pages, you can see my love is definitely a verb. I have used to cookie page on my Martha Stewart Favorite Comfort Food so much it is about to fall out. I took the oatmeal raisin recipe from this book and edited it to fit my cookie needs one afternoon. 

The oatmeal adds a really nice texture to the already delicious cookie and  chocolate chips. You will love this easy and delicious recipe, I promise!

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
2 cups old fashioned oats
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

First, combine all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Set this off to the side. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy in texture and light yellow in color. Add in the vanilla, milk and eggs, beating well after each addition. 

Slowly add the dry ingredients in two parts. After the first half is combined, add in the oats and chocolate chips. Then add in the remaining dry ingredients. Martha says it helps all the ingredients distribute evenly. I don't pretend to know more than Martha, so I do what she says.

Chill this in the fridge for at least two hours or even over night. As you will notice, the dough will be terribly sticky and not ready for baking just yet. It feels like a long time, but you will make it through.

Once the dough has been chilled properly, drop Tablespoon sized balls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 12 to 14 minutes. You will know the cookies are done when the center is still puffy but the outside has a slight crispness.

Store these in an airtight container once they have cooled. 

Quick Tip: If you over bake your cookies and they are dried out, no worries! Add a piece of bread to the container you are keeping them in. In a few hours they will be soft and chewy again.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli



I have to admit, the slow cooker and I are becoming pretty good friends. Typically I have to have my act together a little more to plan ahead for dinner, but it is well worth it. Especially if you get to have something as tasty as this.

Don't get me wrong, I am by no means browning hamburger before work with a smile on my face. However, I have made progress towards actually really liking the slow cooker. 

This recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal. It is literally a dump and dial turn recipe. The beef is really flavorful and the broccoli is crisp with a delicious sauce. You and your family will love this super easy and healthy dinner idea. 

Ingredients

2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed
1/3 cup stir fry sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons siracha chili sauce
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed 
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-3 crowns of broccoli 
4 cups of cooked rice

First, season the beef with salt and pepper on each side. Then dump in the stir fry and soy sauce, siracha, garlic and orange juice and mix well. Add the beef in and turn it over once to coat. Cook this on low for about 10 hours or 4 to 6 hours on high. You will know it is ready until the meat is tender and falls apart. 

30 minutes before serving, add in the sesame oil and broccoli pieces. 

Once the broccoli is crisp tender, serve over white rice.

I hope you and your family love this easy recipe!