Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chicken Parmesan Bake

Chicken Parmesan Bake

This isn't your traditional chicken parmesan. By omitting the frying this dish is more healthful and very easy to throw together. If you are in a hurry you could use jarred sauce rather than making your own and save 15 minutes. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
-1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
-1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
-(optional) basil or parsley to sprinkle as a garnish

Heat oil in medium pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes-red pepper flakes and simmer 10 minutes, stirring regularly. In a medium sized greased casserole dish combine sauce and chicken, stirring to coat. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. top with cheeses and bake 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with garnish, if using and serve with you favorite cooked pasta.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie

To make this authentic Shepherd's Pie you would actually need to use lamb instead of beef, with beef it is technically Cottage Pie, but I grew up calling it Shepherd's Pie so that's what I call it even if it is a tad inaccurate. I double the recipe when I want to make an entire 9x13 pan to feed a crowd, As is this recipe should feed 4-6 people. Sometimes I'll add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices to the filling when I feel like it. For a different variation, use ground turkey instead of the beef, chicken broth instead of the beef broth and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb ground beef
-1 onion, diced
-1 small package mushrooms, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp flour
-1 cup beef broth
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-4 Tbsp ketchup
-1 small package mixed frozen vegetables (I like the combination of peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
-2 large russet potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until tender
-1/4 c milk
-4 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-paprika and/ or parsley for sprinkling as a garnish (if desired)

Heat oil in medium to large pot, over medium heat. Add onion and beef, stirring intermittently and breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon. Once beef is mostly brown drain off the fat and add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes, drain the entire mixture using a strainer and set aside. Return pan to heat and melt butter. Once butter is melted sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in broth. Add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and ketchup. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Add vegetables, stir, and spread into a medium sized, greased baking dish. Mash potatoes with the milk, butter, salt and pepper and spread over top of the beef mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley for garnish if desired. Serve.

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Quinoa dishes are my go to when I need a quick and easy vegan or vegetarian meal. They are easy to throw together- usually dump and stir- and packed with nutrition. They are also versatile and you can easily change up the veggies and seasonings to use up what you have on hand. I take a short cut to cook my quinoa and do it in the rice cooker using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. This can be a vegetarian main dish or a side dish to accompany your favorite meat- it would be amazing with kebabs.

-juice and zest of 1 lemon
-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp dried dill
-1 tsp dried oregano
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1 (16 oz) pack frozen spinach thawed and moisture squeezed out using a kitchen towel
-1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
-1 cup chopped roasted red peppers and/ or artichoke hearts
-1 cup feta cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dill, oregano and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into a medium sized greased baking dish. Top with an additional sprinkling of feta, if desired. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spinach Mushroom Ramel Bowl

Spinach Mushroom Ramen Bowl

Omit the egg and this dish is vegan. Substitute rice noodles and it is also gluten free. I like to prepare the broth in the morning, refrigerate all day, then heat back up to cook the noodles and wilt the spinach just before serving.

-2 Tbsp canola, vegetable or sesame oil
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1/2-1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
-1 Tbsp honey or sugar
-1 (8 oz) pack mushrooms, sliced
-a few handfuls of baby spinach
-2 packages instant ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
-sliced scallions for garnish
-4 soft boiled eggs (simmered for 7 minutes)

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, sriracha and sugar, simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, simmer 5 more minutes. Add noodles, simmer for 3 minutes, stirring with a fork to break noodles apart. Turn off heat, stir in spinach and let sit for 5 minutes or until it wilts. Spoon noodles and broth into serving bowls, top with green onions and float two halves of a soft boiled egg on top.

(To soft boil an egg bring a small pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, with the support of a spoon add the eggs, continue to simmer 7 minutes. Plunge eggs into an ice bath for 2 minutes, then peel)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sweet Chili Chicken

Sweet Chili Chicken

As a shortcut you can use bottle sweet chili sauce instead of the homemade to make this a super quick and easy dish to throw together. I like to mix the chicken with the sauce in the baking pan the morning of, then refrigerate and just pop in the oven in the evening. Serve with rice and your favorite steamed or roasted veggies.

-1/2 cup warm water
-1/2 cup honey or sugar
-1/4 cup rice vinegar
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tsp Sriracha
-1 tsp salt
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite sized chunks
-green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Whisk together water through salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Once thickened, remove from heat and cool.

Pour cooled sauce into a greased medium sized baking dish. Add chicken, stir to coat with the sauce. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes then broil for 3 minutes to add a little color. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions and serve.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Favorite Ways to Use Shredded Chicken

At least once a month (sometimes weekly) I buy a giant bulk pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook them up in my slow cooker to use throughout the week/ month in other meals. Thanks to the help of my slow cooker and stand mixer all of this requires almost no effort on my part to have a head start on many days of dinners. Cooked shredded chicken is a great time saver that allows me to assemble many dinners in less than 30 minutes.

To cook the chicken I grease a slow cooker, add my cooking ingredients, place the chicken breasts on top, spooning some of the sauce over them and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the breasts easily shred when pulled with a fork. Do not overcook the chicken or it will become dry. Then I shred the chicken using the paddle attachment on my stand mixer (or you can use 2 forks if you don't have a stand mixer). Once the chicken is shredded I refrigerate and freeze it in 2 cup portions based on when I'm going to be using the chicken.

My sauces for cooking the chicken vary depending on how I'm going to use it. My go to is simply 1-2 cups of jarred salsa in the slow cooker. If I want a more versatile chicken then I'll do some combination of lemon juice, white wine, garlic and/ or dijon mustard. Or for an Asian twist I'll do soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger and garlic.

Click the links below to see my favorite ways to use up the cooked, shredded chicken once I have it on hand.

White Chicken Chili

Chicken Tortilla Soup

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Thai Chicken Pizza

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


Chicken Enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Tacos/ Burrito Bowls

Guacamole Chicken Salad

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Chicken Noodle Soup

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Char Siu Seasoned Chicken (make a sauce like I did with the pork and combine with shredded chicken and serve over rice)

Fried Rice

Black Beans Corn and Rice Casserole (with added chicken)

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

-4 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1/4 flour
-3 cups chicken broth
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
-2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
-1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 egg, beaten

Melt butter in a medium to large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and cook, while whisking 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the turmeric through frozen vegetables and stir well. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.

Roll the pastry to fit the top (or you can cut it up and do a lattice pattern on top). Place the pastry over the filling and brush the top with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is brown and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.



I'm picky about the type of canned chickpeas that I'll use for hummus. I've used some brands that resulted in gritty hummus. I either recommend using Goya chickpeas straight out of the can, or if you're using another brand I recommend boiling them in their liquid for 10 minutes before starting to ensure that you are working with soft chickpeas. This hummus is a good blank slate, then you can customize by adding specialty ingredients like pesto, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, jalapeno etc. as desired.

-1 clove garlic
-1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained with 1/4 cup of liquid reserved
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp tahini
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1/2 tsp salt

Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and finely chop. Add remaining ingredients and puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Serve immediately, or chill until serving and return to room temperature before eating. For a pretty presentation drizzle some olive oil over your bowl of hummus and sprinkle with fresh parsley or ground paprika before serving.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

White rice can be used instead of brown in this recipe, but you will need to reduce the water by 1/2- 1 cup and reduce the cooking time.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb andioulle sausage, sliced
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes
-5 cups chicken broth
-2 tsp cajun seasoning
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2-6 Tbsp hot sauce
-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
-2 cups brown rice
-chopped parsley or green onions for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to set sausage aside. Add onion and bell pepper to the pot, saute 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute. Add diced tomatoes, broth, cajun seasoning, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and hot sauce, bring to a boil. Add reserved sausage, chicken and brown rice, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked (45-60 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed until rice is tender. Serve with desired garnishes.

Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake

Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake

I use the term King Cake very loosely in this recipe. Usually a king cake is made with a yeasty cinnamon roll-like dough that has to rise and ends up sort of dry and bread like before it is topped with lots of colored sugar. This is not something we are huge fans of around here- although living in New Orleans and rejecting king cake is almost sacrilegious. Recently I had a chocolate king cake that had almost a croissant like dough that I really enjoyed, so this is my quick and easy attempt to duplicate that.

-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
-3 Tbsp cinnamon
-4 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 cup chocolate chips
-2-4 Tbsp milk
-1/4 cup caramel sauce (store bought or homemade)
-1/2 tsp sea salt for sprinkling
-1 eggs, beaten

Place the shorter end of one piece of puff pastry on a floured surface against the shorter end of another piece and press the edges together. Roll the dough into one long, thin rectangle.

Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangle.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or by microwaving and stirring at 30 second intervals, Adding a tablespoon of milk at a time once melted to thin out the chocolate. Spread or drizzle the chocolate onto the puff pastry.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the chocolate. Sprinkle the salt over the caramel.

Starting with one of the long ends of the rectangle start rolling the dough over itself to form one long strip of dough that has been rolled and rolled until all of the filling is on the inside. Place this long tube on a baking sheet covered with parchment and form it into a circle or oval, pressing the ends together. Brush the dough with the egg. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until pastry is brown and puffy. Cool at least 10 minutes prior to serving.

(I usually bake mine a day ahead and heat the individual pieces in the microwave for 10 seconds prior to serving so that the chocolate is warm and melted)

Pumpkin Cobbler

Pumpkin Cobbler

This is one of our favorite desserts. It bakes up with a warm pumpkin pudding/ sauce on the bottom and a cake-like pumpkin layer on top. Serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

-1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
-1 1/2 cups hot water

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin, milk, melted butter and vanilla together to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to form a thick batter. Pour into mixture into a greased 8 or 9 inch square casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, stir sugar, brown sugar and nuts together. Sprinkle the sugar/ nut mixture over the top of the batter evenly. Pour hot water over the entire thing. Do not stir. Bake for 40 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Indian Spiced Lentil Stew

Indian Spiced Lentil Stew

Serve this hearty stew over brown rice (if desired) and with lots of fresh cilantro and scallions for topping.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion. diced
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (15 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
-4 cups vegetable broth
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 c red lentils, rinsed
-1 lemon, thickly sliced
-fresh chopped cilantro and green onions for toppings

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 additional minute. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, cumin, cayenne, lentils and lemon. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft. Serve warm, over rice if desired, and topped with LOTS of fresh cilantro and green onions.

Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake

Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake

-16 eggs
-1/4 c milk or heavy cream
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out in a kitchen towel
-1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
-1 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
-1/4 c shredded parmesan

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk/ cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Stir in the spinach, using a fork to separate it and break it up. Stir in the artichoke hearts and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Pour egg mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and the parmesan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.