Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chicken Legs and Brussel Sprouts - Dinner in one pan...and gluten free!

This dinner is quick and easy, with very few ingredients, just the kind of dinner I like.  Your ingredients are as follows:

Chicken legs
Brussel Sprouts (I used one bag)
Coconut oil (to cook the chicken in)
Olive oil (to coat the brussel sprouts)
juice of one lemon
¼ cup chicken stock
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
fresh Thyme
Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  The first step is to clean and cut up the sprouts.  Place them in a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.   Set aside.

Wash and thoroughly dry the chicken legs.  Sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder and brown in a pan with the coconut oil (approximately 2 tbs).  Let one side get nice and brown before turning.  You want the chicken to be nice and crispy.

 Once the chicken is nice and brown, add in the sprouts, as well as the chicken broth and lemon juice and mix well.  Place your pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

When you take it out of the oven, the chicken is so tender and the brussel sprouts are lightly browned.  Take a taste to see if you need to add more salt or pepper.   If you like, add the Parmesan cheese just before serving.  I served this with some rice so that it would soak up the delicious sauce.....

This is probably the best broccoli soup you will ever have!

Last night I really felt like having some broccoli soup, so I went on line to get some ideas...  I noticed that almost all of the recipes I found were very similar, broccoli with onion, celery, some sort of cream and cheese.  Now, don't get me wrong.  This type of broccoli soup is delicious, but not so good for my high cholesterol!  I stumbled across a recipe that called for things like white beans and sausage, along with broccoli and thought that sounded delicious.  I have to tell you....this soup came out amazing, and the best thing?  no cheese and no cream!  So here goes...

Begin by making the "broccoli" part of this soup:

Broccoli (I used half of a large "Costco" bag)
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive Oil
1 Box of chicken broth

In a heavy pan, I cooked the onion in a small amount of olive oil.  When it was almost done, I added the garlic.  After about 5 minutes, put in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.  

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is nice and tender.

Take off the heat and use either a hand blender or your food processor and thoroughly puree.  This part is done, and you can move on to the white bean and sausage part!

Here are your ingredients:

1 package of sausage, casings removed and broken up (I used sweet Italian)
1 bunch of kale (remove the stalks and chop)
mushrooms (I used about 5-6)
1 can of Cannelini beans, drained
2 thick slices of panchetta, diced and cooked (you could use bacon instead)
Salt and Pepper
fresh Thyme
Chopped onion
Crushed red pepper
fresh chopped parsley

In a large, heavy pan, cook the sausage.  After draining the fat, add your kale, season with some pepper, and cook until the kale is wilted.  Add your sliced mushrooms as well.  I don't like to cook the mushrooms separately because I find they get too over cooked by the time the soup is done.  I had some left over green beans, so I threw those in as well.  Feel free to add any other vegetable you would like, such as carrots or zucchini, or even cauliflower!

At this point, combine the broccoli soup with the sausage and kale, and add your white beans.  Your taste buds will have to take over now!  The measurements stop and the random sprinkling begins.  I found the soup needed more onion flavor, so I added some dried chopped onion. I also added more crushed red pepper than I thought I would.  As for the Thyme, I just kept adding more until I could get that wonderful fresh Thyme flavor.  Don't forget  the parsley!

This is the part I enjoy the most, customizing the soup to the way I like it!  It really gives you a chance to get creative.  Just remember to write down all that you add so that you can re-create your masterpiece!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cannoli Cheesecake......oh my!

Cheesecake that tastes like a cannoli?  What's not to love?  This was such an easy dessert to put together....

     For the crust:

1 ½ cups Vanilla Wafers Crushed
2 tbs granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Begin by taking two pieces of aluminum foil, and cover the bottom and sides of your 9" spring pan.  You do this because you are going to sit the pan in 1" of water while it cooks.  Mix these ingredients together and press into the bottom and up the sides of your pan.  Bake for 10 minutes, and allow to cool before pouring in your filling.

     For the Filling:

2 ½ large tubs of ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs vanilla
2 tsp freshly grated orange rind
7 eggs lightly beaten
miniature chocolate chips

Begin by combining the ricotta cheese and sugar in a mixer, and beat until smooth.  Add in the flour, vanilla, and orange rind and continue to beat until well mixed.  Now turn down the mixer to low and add the eggs, one at a time, only long enough to incorporate them.

Pour the batter into the spring pan and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the top.  Place the pan inside another pan and fill with about 1" of water.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for at least 75 minutes, or until the center is almost set, and the top has a nice golden color.

When the cake is done, remove the pan from the water and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Now, take the aluminum foil off and run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.  Let the cake remain in the pan for a good hour more.  At this time, remove the sides of the pan, sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Get ready for all of the oohs and ahhs....!

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

I have always loved plain old butternut squash soup, but I wanted to try to make it a little different this time.  The flavors I used made this so unique.  I hope you like it as much as I did.  Here are the ingredients:

1 whole butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 cups of carrots, cut up
1 medium sized Vidalia onion, diced
1-2 tbs of butter (or margarine)
1 box of chicken broth
Salt and Pepper
fresh thyme (about ½ tsp)
cumin (to taste)
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup of ½ and ½ (feel free to use fat free to cut calories)

In your soup pot, melt the butter and cook the onions, squash and carrots for about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (covered) for about 30 minutes.

Once the veggies are really tender, use either a stick blender or a food processor and puree the soup.

And now for the seasoning... add your salt and pepper, cumin, nutmeg, and thyme.  Let the flavors simmer together for another 5-10 minutes and take a taste.  Feel free to add whatever you need so that you can taste everything.

Last but not least, stir in your ½ and ½.

All that is left to do is eat it!  A great idea when serving is to toss a couple of salad croutons and a little Parmesan cheese on top...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Chicken Breasts stuffed with a BLT??? Absolutely!

I am always thinking about different ways to stuff a chicken breast.  I know that sounds weird, but I really don't like to be predictable, and making something over and over again gets boring!  So, one night I started to think of interesting, different things to use to stuff a chicken breast and came up with the idea of a BLT.  I thought anything tastes great when there is bacon in it, and I could use spinach leaves instead of lettuce.  What the heck....I've got nothing to lose and I won't know if it is any good unless I try it

I basically constructed this dinner as you would a BLT sandwich, except I used chicken instead of bread.  I pounded the chicken breasts nice and thin.

I then spread a little mayo on each one, and added a little salt and pepper.

Next step is to add the spinach leaves, followed by the cut up tomatoes and crumbled bacon.  Just before rolling it up, I added a little bit of Tarragon.

You might need to use a few toothpicks to keep them rolled up.

Spray each bundle with a little vegetable oil spray and roll in some seasoned bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes, add a slice of Muenster cheese on top.  As soon as the cheese is melted, take out of the oven and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  Slice and serve.

Everyone raved about this dinner!  There was just something about the flavors of the bacon, spinach and tomato that really worked!  This one is definitely a keeper....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yes, another Kale Soup

I know I have made kale soup before, but this one came out so unbelievably good and different.  The combination of the smokiness and heat of the chorizo, the wonderfully familiar flavor of sweet sausage, and the wine is what makes this one so delicious.  Here is what goes into it:

4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 new potatoes, diced
1 pkg chorizo, diced
3 sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and cooked
1 box baby kale, cut up
1 cup white wine
2 boxes chicken broth
1 can Cannelli beans

In a large soup pot, I begin by cooking the onion, potatoes, and garlic in a little butter.  In a separate pan, I break up the sausage and cook it.  After draining off the fat, I add it to the pot, along with the chorizo and kale.  Let all that cook together for 5-10 minutes.

Now add the chicken broth and white wine and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.  Once the kale has become tender, add your beans and heat through.  Salt and pepper to taste and maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and you're good to go.

Feel free to adjust any ingredients, adding more or less of whatever you would like.  I always keep extra chicken broth on hand, in case I need to increase the amount of soup! 

This blog is all about what I make for a meal each day.  It's not a traditional cooking blog where it is all about recipes, so you are going to find that I might make similar meals.  Hopefully whenever you see something I have made before, still check it out because there is probably a new twist on what I come up with!  Enjoy...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pasta with Spinach and's all about the Caesar Dressing!

This is another one of my one-pan creations with minimal ingredients, that came out really delicious!  It's a great meal to throw together when you are in a hurry.  If you don't have ham, you could use whatever you have on hand.   Here's what I used:

Diced ham
Diced Panchetta (or bacon if you have it)
Parmesan cheese
Caesar dressing
French's Fried Onions (if you've got them)
Salt and Pepper to taste

First I get the water on to cook the pasta.  While that is getting hot, I cut up my onion and panchetta and get them cooking. 

When the onion is tender, I add the ham and Edamame and turn off the stove.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain off the water and add the onion mixture and as much fresh spinach as you would like. 

As far as the dressing goes, I really didn't measure how much I added.  I just wanted enough to coat the pasta and give it the amazing flavor.  The only reason I added a little mayonnaise was to thicken the "sauce".  A final sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, some French's Fried Onions, and you're done. 

My daughter was so funny.  She took one bite of this and couldn't get over how delicious it was!  Simple but really delicious.

Eggwhite Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

I have always loved quiche and lately wondered how it would be if I used egg whites instead of whole eggs.  Well, I can honestly tell you that it was just as delicious.  And making the crust out of sweet potatoes was amazing! I decided to use broccoli and ham in this one, but honestly, you can use anything you have on hand.  Begin by making your crust:

About 2 cups of either shredded, cooked potatoes
(or frozen hash browns, defrosted, if you like)
1/4 cup egg whites
1 tbs flour
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Make sure to remove as much moisture from the potatoes as you can.  In a bowl, combine them with the above list of ingredients and press into the bottom and up the sides of your pan.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until it begins to brown at the edges.  

Now add the good stuff... I added a combination of 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese along with a little bit of Swiss cheese I had leftover, broccoli and some leftover ham and filled the crust.    I added some fresh thyme and parsley as well.

In a separate bowl, pour 1 1/2 cups of egg white, 2 scallions chopped, 3/4 cup of sour cream,  and your salt and pepper and whisk until it is well blended. 

Place the quiche on a cookie sheet and pour the egg white mixture into your crust.  Bake for approximately an hour, until the center is just set.

This was a nice, healthy dinner, especially when you use fat-free ingredients such as the cheese and sour cream!  I also love having something like this in the refrigerator.  How nice is it to be able to cut a piece, heat it up, and have a yummy meal in a minute.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Desserts gone mini...Apple Pie

Every year I have all good intentions to try something new for Thanksgiving dinner, but I always revert back to all the tried and true dishes that everyone looks forward to each year.  Then I thought what if I take a traditional dish and at least make it appear different.....say, mini apple pies vs. a huge pie?  Even though it sounds more difficult, it was actually a lot easier! 
 Begin by purchasing a box of pre-made pie crust, which contains 2 rolls.  Take one out and roll it out as thin as you can make it.  Then, find a glass or cup that will cut out a circle slightly larger than the mini cupcake cups.  Place one circle of crust in each cup, pressing down in.  Bake at 425 degrees for only 10 minutes, or until the crust just begins to cook.  Take them out and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. (I re-rolled the excess pie crust and cut out leaves.  Place them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake until they begin to brown....maybe 10 minutes,  just keep an eye on them).
Next, prepare the filling using the following:
1/4 cup of butter, melted
4 apples diced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all but the pecans in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the pecans and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

Spoon as much filling as you can into each crust.  Only one step left... the topping.


In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of rolled oats, 1 tbs of brown sugar, 1 tsp of flour, and 2 tbs of melted butter.  Using your fingers, crumble a small amount over the tops of the pies.

Pop these beauties into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, making sure the crust gets that nice golden color.
As soon as you take them out, place one leaf in each pie and voila!  This was a great idea and I honestly think people at more "pie" when they could just pop one at a time in their mouth instead of sitting down to a big dessert.  No left-over pie this year....