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.


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!

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.

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!