January 26, 2011

Baked Penne with Chicken and Broccoli

This recipe was on Mel's Kitchen Cafe a few days ago, and I immediately bookmarked it. We had it tonight and LOVED it. I had to make a few changes as I went. For example, I could not for the life of me find smoked mozzarella. Same with sun-dried tomatoes in a jar. Maybe it was just the grocery store I was at. Still, this was really, really amazing. Creamy and cheesy and heavenly! And the breadcrumb topping is what sends it over the top, so don't omit it!

*My notes are in bold

3/4 cup bread crumbs (store-bought or make your own) (I used panko)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
I added:
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese (like from the green can)
Mrs. Dash garlic & herb (1/2 tsp.)

1 bunch broccoli (about 1 ½ pounds), stalks cut off, florets trimmed into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (I didn't use, so I added seasonings to the bread crumbs)
6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press (same)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (same)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used 2 tsp. chicken granules + 2 c. hot water)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3), trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (I used a rotisserie chicken from Costco- so good!)
3 ounces smoked mozzarella, shredded (I used 1 c. fresh grated mozzarella)
8 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped into pieces (couldn't find)

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter and set aside. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and make sure the oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven. In a large pot, bring the water for the pasta to a boil. Stir in one tablespoon salt and the broccoli. The broccoli cooks quickly so stay close! Cook the broccoli for 1 minute, until it is bright green. Quickly remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1-2 minutes less than how you would eat it normally (it will cook a bit more in the oven while baking). Drain the pasta in a colander and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Leave it in the colander and set it aside.

(Because I used already cooked chicken, I skipped ahead to the flour+broth+cream. )Wipe the pot dry. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and cream; bring to a simmer, whisking often. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella.

Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce; stir to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

*The casserole can be prepared in advance with the following steps: after the broccoli is removed from the boiling water, plunge it into a bowl of ice water and cool completely. Assemble the casserole following the directions in the recipe. After the casserole is spread in the prepared baking pan, let it cool for 5-10 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating for up to 8 hours. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

January 22, 2011

Blueberry Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake

I had a bunch of blueberries I had frozen a while ago that I wanted to use, and was hoping to find a yummy smoothie or shake to use them in.
This proved to be SUCH a tasty way to start the day! Adding protein powder or flax seed would be great as well.  Enjoy! :)

6oz Vanilla yogurt
6oz milk
ice cubes
About 1 1/2 T chunky peanut butter (could use creamy)
1 very ripe banana (I used a frozen one)
Blueberries (I imagine any berry would be tasty) :)

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until desired consistency.  Makes one very full tall glass, or two medium/small ones.

January 21, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

This recipe took food bloggers by a storm last year. Do you remember seeing it everywhere? I finally got around to trying it out. It was really, really yummy. It's different, and has more of a definite Indian/curry flavor (probably because that's exactly the type of dish it is). I don't know that it's one I'll make over and over, but that's not because it wasn't good. It's creamy and flavorful and really great. Just not an everyday meal.

(My notes are in bold)

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I used about 1/2 tsp. paprika instead)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (I didn’t have this on hand so I left it out)
1 teaspoon salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except chicken. Pour sauce over chicken and refrigerate for one hour. Grill or cook chicken in frying pan. Discard marinade.

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped (I omitted this)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (I just shook a little in because 2 tsp. seemed really strong)
2 teaspoons paprika (I omitted this since I had added it to the marinade)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for one minute. Season with cumin, paprika and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve over hot rice.

January 17, 2011

Nois Chicken

Chicken breast or Chicken tenderloins
Corn starch
Soy Sauce

Coat chicken in corn starch and fry in pan on stove.  When chicken is cooked thoroughly coat chicken in equal parts soy sauce to sugar mix.  Serve over rice.
Use remaining soy sauce/sugar mix as sauce to pour over top.
Serve warm.

Oat {Oatmeal} Bread

Oatmeal Bread
Yield: 2 Loaves
1 cups oats
2 cups water
2/3 cups brown sugar, heaping firmly packed
3 tablespoons oil
2 packages yeast (or about 2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup warm water
pinch of sugar
2 teaspoon salt
5 cups flour
Boil water and pour over oats.  Let cool.  Add brown sugar and oil.  Dissolve yeast in 1/3 C water.   Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.  Let raise and add to rest of mixture.  Stir in salt, add flour, and knead till dough is smooth.  Leave dough in same bowl, cover with a towel, and let raise for 1 hour.  Divide dough and form into two loaves.  Grease bread pans and sprinkle with oats.  Place loaves into pans. Let raise again for 1 hour and then bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.  Butter tops when cooked.

January 14, 2011

Chocolate Orange Swirl Muffins

These muffins were on Mel's Kitchen Cafe during her holiday "Sugar Rush." I've had them bookmarked since then and finally made them today. We all LOVED them. I can't decide if they are really a muffin- or a cupcake masquerading as one. Either way, they're good. Really good. Here is her exact recipe with a few of my notes in bold:

*Makes about 12 muffins

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup canola oil or melted butter (I used veg. oil)
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one medium orange (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini-sized (I used mini)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (for dark, nonstick pans) or 350 degrees for regular muffin tins. Line tins with cupcake liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a separate medium-size bowl beat together the egg, oil or butter, buttermilk, orange juice, vanilla and orange zest. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix together just until moistened. Don’t over mix! You may even see some small dry spots – as long as the mixture is evenly moistened without being overmixed, it will be fine.

Into two bowls, divide the batter in half. Sift the cocoa powder in to one of the bowls and fold in half of the chocolate chips. Fold the remaining chocolate chips into the other “white” bowl of batter.

Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the prepared muffin tins, alternating the orange and chocolate batters. Fill the cups 2/3 full. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 or 17-18 minutes at 325 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the muffins for five minutes in the tins. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

January 12, 2011

White Chocolate Popcorn

*Updated with a fun Valentine treat idea! I used valentine m&m's and this mix just became my favorite snack. Enjoy! Original post below:

If you're like me, the words "white chocolate" translate into "well, I won't be making that." I just don't like it. But for some reason, I love this popcorn. It tastes like candy! It's soooo good!

1 bag popcorn, popped (I use homestyle)
1 c. white chocolate chips

1/4 c. (or so) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, melted

Melt white chocolate chips in microwave, taking out and stirring about every 30 seconds or so to prevent burning. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat. If adding m&m's, add now and mix in. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you didn't add m&m's, melt other chocolate chips and drizzle over top of white chocolate popcorn. Leave out to harden a bit. If it's taking too long, you can stick it in the fridge. Addicting!

January 7, 2011

Gyoza or Eggrolls

1 pkg egg roll or gyoza wraps (gyoza are the round wraps - NOT wonton wraps)
1/2 lbs sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/2 head cabbage
1/2 C shredded carrots
1/2 onion, finely shredded or 1/2 bunch green onion, chopped  ***I prefer regular onion***
Garlic minced ***optional, I cook it with my onion***
6 - 8 mushrooms, chopped
1 can chopped water chestnuts
1/2 C bean sprouts, coursely cut  ***I do not use bean sprouts ***

Sesame and vegetable oil for frying

Mix together and set aside:
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C water
2 T sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/2 t ginger
1 T sesame oil

Cook garlic and onion in fry pan.
Brown the sausage in a separate LARGE frying pan.
Add garlic, onion and remaining vegetables to the pan with sausage.
Cover and simmer 5 minutes and then add sauce*. Stir until thickened.
Place 1 T into gyoza wraps or 2 T into eggroll wraps. Rub water on sides of wraps and roll and seal. Fry in small amout of oil {mix 1 - 2 t sesame oil with regular vegetable oil}.
When browned, place a T of water in same hot pan with gyoza and immediately cover with lid to steam them.
Remove and keep warm.

I would NOT recommend gyoza without a gyoza press.  It's possible.  Just harder :)
I double this recipe and it usually fills 3 gyoza (round wrap) packages.
Each gyoza package has approx 50-60 wraps.
This is what the gyoza wraps look like that you'd get from your regular grocery store (Target, Smiths, Harmons, etc)

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