Dinner


I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to post such an amazing recipe. Risotto, yum! This Bacon and Wild Mushroom Risotto with Baby Spinach has a ton of flavor and is pretty healthy, too.

This recipe comes from the May 2010 edition of Cooking Light. Just looking at the photo made me drool my mouth water. I finally cooked this risotto up a few weeks ago and it did not dissapoint.

Risotto is a fancy name for a rice dish. There are a lot of varieties (from seafood to butternut squash) and normally arborio rice is used. I have used arborio rice in the past which is great, but this time I used a whole grain rice mixture for this recipe. I also used all natual bacon from Trader Joe’s and because you cook the bacon first, there is no added oil or fat.

You may have heard that risotto is difficult to make or it takes to long. While I wouldn’t call this recipe difficult, it does take some time but it’s so worth it. Just turn on some good music and prepare to be in your kitchen for about 30-45 minutes. Between cutting vegetables and stirring the risotto often, this recipe does take a bit of patience. But, the recipe is very straightforward and it’s a great risotto to make for guests – they will  surely be impressed!

A warm risotto dish is great for the fall. Interested in other risotto recipes? Check out my Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto here.

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What a heat wave we’re having on the East Coast! It’s so hot in my apartment, I can’t even think of cooking. But, last week, when it was a bit cooler, I cooked up some Honey Soy Chicken Kabobs – in my oven!

Kabobs are so versatile – and such a summer staple. They are easy to prepare and grill – or roast, in my case. I do have an indoor grill but sometimes it’s just easier to use my oven. Call it laziness, I guess! 🙂

I created this recipe from one I read online a while ago. I had a bunch of the ingredients I remembered so I just went with it. This chicken turned out moist and the sweetness of the veggies paired perfectly.  Now we can have kabobs all year long!

Here’s my recipe:

Honey Soy Chicken Kabobs

Makes 4 kabobs

Ingredients:

2 – 3 chicken breasts, cut in cubes

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 sweet onion, cubed

1 red pepper, cubed

Four wooden skewers

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Mix oil, honey, soy sauce, garlic and a little salt and pepper in a bowl to create marinade.
  3. Put chopped chicken in a plastic Ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken.
  4. Refrigerate chicken and marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  5. When ready, add chicken and vegetables to wooden skewer – alternating between chicken, onion and red pepper.
  6. Put skewers on baking sheet and roast in over for 12-15 minutes or until juices from chicken run clear.
  7. Enjoy (with a side of brown rice)!

I’m back! I have been traveling a bit for work which means little time for cooking. I don’t know about you but I never eat as healthy when I’m traveling vs. cooking at home. The meeting I was at had endless amounts of chips, candy, and cookies. Luckily, there was fruit available too but of course I had a few treats. 😉

During the week, I did have a chance to make Chicken Parmesan Burgers.

I love chicken parm but since it’s not the healthiest meal, I decided to recreate it into a burger. It turned out great and I didn’t even miss the fried chicken. For me, it’s all about the marinara sauce and cheese anyway!

This is a great meal for a weeknight because it’s quick to prepare. I served the burger with a garden salad and the meal was filing and flavorful! (I had a burger leftover from the recipe so I froze it for another easy dinner.)

 

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. ground chicken breast

1 egg

1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese

1 tsp. ground oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil

1 tsp. butter

1/2 c. marinara sauce

1/2 c. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

2 whole grain burger buns

Preparation:

1. Combine ground chicken, egg, parmesan cheese, oregano and basil.

2. Create two burgers and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a grill pan over medium heat.

4. When butter is melted, add burgers to pan. Using a spatula, flip the burgers after about 5 minutes.

5. Continue cooking burgers until they are browned and no longer pink.

6. Preheat the oven at 350*. 

7. Transfer burgers to a piece of foil set on a baking sheet. Top each burger with a 1/4 c. marinara sauce and a 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella.

8. Heat the burgers for 5 minutes. Next, set the oven to the broil function and broil until cheese is lightly browned.

9. Add burgers to bun bottoms and top with bun tops. Serve immediately!

It’s Tuesday and the first day we’ve seen sun in Boston in about four days. The rain over the weekend was unbelievable! The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on Sunday in South Boston. The weather really put a damper on the day but my friends and I still managed to have fun!

As you know, St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. While I am about 75% Irish, I have not cooked a lot of Irish dishes in my time. Growing up, we only ate corned beef and cabbage once or twice a year. But, one dish that I am very familiar with (and enjoyed more often in my childhood) is shepherd’s pie.

Depending on the recipe, shepherd’s pie can contain bacon, lamb and a variety of spices but my family keeps in pretty simple. I didn’t have my mom’s exact recipe on hand but I developed a similar dish fit for my lifestyle…mini shepherd’s pies.

Mini Shepherd’s Pies

Serves: 2                                                                                     

Ingredients:

2 baking potatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ white onion, chopped

1 c. mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (I used frozen peas, carrots and corn)

½ lb. lean ground beef (I used 95% lean)

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. light sour cream

2 Tbsp. skim milk

1 Tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook for about five minutes.
  2. While the onions are cooking, cook the potatoes in the microwave. (First, stab potatoes several times with a knife. Lightly wrap the potatoes in a paper towel and heat in microwave for 6-10 minutes, until soft.)
  3. Once onions are soft, add mixed vegetables to saute pan to heat through and soften.
  4. At the same time, in another saute pan, heat another Tbsp. of olive oil and add the ground beef. Break beef up in pan and cook until no longer pink. Add Worcestershire sauce and a bit of salt and pepper to beef.
  5. Once the potatoes are done, mash them in a medium bowl. First, cut the potatoes open and scoop out the potatoes. Add sour cream, milk and butter to the potatoes and mix well. I used a hand mixer to make the potatoes creamy.
  6. In two mini casserole dishes, add equal amounts of beef. On top of the beef, add a layer of of the onion/veggie mixture. Top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
  7. Cook mini casseroles at 400* F for 15 minutes then broil for another five minutes until the potato topping is lightly browned.
  8. Enjoy!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year?

How’s your week going? We’re more than half way to Friday. Woohoo! I’m excited that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. The parade in South Boston, which is happening on Sunday, is always a lot of fun (think green beer and a lot of people in a festive mood). Next week, I’m planning to post a Irish-themed recipe or two. I have to represent, right? Check back. 🙂

Back to today’s recipe. As you might remember, I am part of the Craving Ellie in My Belly (CEiMB) cooking group. Sadly, I haven’t posted recipes from Ellie’s group lately. I’m blaming it on my busy schedule and my wimpiness (a few week’s ago, the chocolate mousse recipe contained tofu and I’m just plain scared of it).

Anywho, I’m back with this week’s recipe , which comes from Ellie’s first book titled The Food You Crave. I just couldn’t pass up making this Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. Doesn’t it sound delicious? It was…and easy too. I always expect soups and stews to be more difficult to make then they actually are. Soups, especially Ellie’s, are great for a healthy dinner – or lunch! This filling meal was on the table in less than 30 minutes…great for a weeknight!

As for the taste of this lemon chicken soup, it was just right. I wasn’t so sure about adding an egg to the soup but it made for the perfect consistency. And, the lemon flavor was fantastic, in my opinion. Not too lemony, a great flavor. Rounding out the soup was delicious veggies, protein from the chicken and fiber and carbohydrates from the whole wheat orzo. Yum!

Have a great rest of your week! What’s up for your weekend?

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already and this is my first post of the week! Things have been a bit chaotic lately as I prepare for my new job and wrap things up at my current company. Lots to do, I tell you!

I haven’t had much time to cook lately but I have a few things up my sleeve for this week that I think you’ll enjoy. First of all, here’s a quick and easy weeknight dinner. I actually make this dish about once a month (it’s that easy, and that good!) but this time there’s a twist.

Last week, I mentioned the Eggland’s Best eggs I given the opportunity to try through Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker Program. Yum, yum! Well,  at the end of last week, I received a box to try more products.

Bertolli sent me two of their new pasta sauces. I am a huge fan of Italian food and, really, anything with red sauce, so I was excited. I have made my own pasta sauce a few times (my Grandmother’s recipe!) but I have nothing against using a jarred pasta sauce to save time.

Having a marketing and PR background, I love creative packaging and advertisements. As I opened the box from Bertolli, I immediately noticed their creative packaging which was designed like a fancy menu. Loved it!

Inside the box were two jars of Bertolli’s new sauces, Spicy Arrabbiata (red sauce) and  Four Cheese Rosa (alfredo sauce). I always choose tomato sauce over cream sauces so I decided to first incorporate the Arrabbiata sauce into my Italian dish. To give the sauce a proper review, however, I first tasted the sauce on it’s own. It had a nice traditional tomato sauce flavor with the perfect amount of spiciness for me. I’m a mild-to-medium salsa girl, if that helps you understand the level of spice! I enjoyed the flavor because it tasted clean and natural with little added sweetness.

I incorporated the sauce into a Pasta & Chicken Sausage Bake. It’s a great healthy recipe that I almost always have the ingredients on hand for. The spicy tomato sauce was a nice addition. I know you’ll enjoy it, too!

   

 Pasta & Chicken Sausage Bake

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

2 c. whole wheat pasta

2 links cooked chicken sausage, cut into rounds (I used Al Fresco Sweet Italian Style – a favorite of mine!)

1 c. spinach (I used frozen)

1 c. tomato sauce (I used Bertolli’s Spicy Arrabbiata)

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400*.

2. Cook pasta according to directions. (If using frozen spinach, add it in the last two minutes of cooking pasta to thaw a bit).

3. Drain pasta (and spinach, if applicable).

4. In a casserole dish, add pasta, spinach, chicken sausage, tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Toss with a spoon until well combined.

5. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

6. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

7. Remove from oven, remove foil, and return to oven for an additional five minutes until cheese is bubbly.

8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

How has your week been going so far? I hope it’s flying by for you! Beside things at work, I was able to run 3.5 miles yesterday without pain! Let’s hope I continue on that route.

And looking ahead to this weekend, it’s supposed to be in the high 40’s in Boston! Spring is coming, spring is coming!

Friday is here! And, surprisingly, the sun is shining in Boston. It’s going to be short-lived as the clouds and rain will come back later today but it’s sure nice to see the sun. Due to the rain storm last night, my gym lost power and of course I didn’t know it until I arrived at 6:30 am! I was forced to change my plans and run outside today but it was a nice break from the treadmill. I hadn’t run outside in months until today. Spring is on its way!

Anyway, I meant to post this yesterday but the day got away from me. On Wednesday, I mentioned a dinner party I was having with a little cooking club I’m a part of. This month’s theme was mediterranean food and we had quite the spread!

Our group went all out making pizza, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, olive tapenade, barley salad, shrimp and feta pasta, gnocchi, homemade red sauce, rice, and Greek salad. Everything was delicious!

I did my part by making homemade hummus, which was super easy, and a spanakopita (or spinach pie). For the hummus, I followed a recipe from allrecipes.com (love that website!). I doubled the recipe which resulted in about 2.5 cups of hummus. If you have a blender or food processor, the hummus is so quick to throw together. (One tip: after draining the chick peas, I reserved the juice to help thin out the hummus when pureeing it. It worked out great.) I highly recommend this recipe.

The spanakopita recipe came from another favorite resource of mine, Cooking Light. This dish is typically made with spinach but this recipe called for swiss chard which is a heartier green. I really liked this recipe and it was also an easy one! One change I would make in the future is actually doubling the filling. I loved the flavor combination of swiss chard, feta and parmesan cheese and think the recipe would work even better with more of it. I’ll be making this again for sure.

What are your weekend plans? I am taking a cake decorating class tomorrow in Boston and also celebrating my friend Karen’s 30th birthday this weekend! Should be FUN!

Happy weekend!

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