Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Best Chicken Salad Sandwich

Warning! This recipe is for one. Warning! This chicken salad is sooooo good. Exactly what I like in a chicken salad - slightly sweet, slightly tangy, slightly crunchy. If you like a more savory salad, move along.

  • 1 heaping cup of shredded chicken (I use rotisserie)
  • 3 tablespoons light mayo
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • Dash salt
  • Handful craisins
  • Handful slivered almonds
  • Handful diced grapes or celery (I used green grapes I had in the fridge)

Mix the mayo, sugar, milk, vinegar and salt together to create the dressing. Mix together with remaining ingredients, and voila! Chicken salad. Serve on some hearty wheat bread and you've got one delicious lunch or dinner.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Healthy Weeknight Broccoli Mac N Cheese

My cravings for mac n' cheese lately are out of hand.  I really wanted it last week for dinner, but felt like I should eat something a tad more nutritious than the Kraft version (though I loooove the Kraft version).  So,  I made a few substitutions and wound up with a very tasty mac n' cheese that does offer some nutritional value. I kept it pretty cheesy because I needed it to be, but if you wanted to trim that down you could cut back on calories there. My husband loved this!

  • 3 cups dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash dry mustard
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar
  • 2/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli

Cook pasta according to directions in generously salted water. Meanwhile, steam broccoli (you want 2 cups AFTER the broccoli is cooked).

In another pot, bring 1 1/2 cups of the milk to a simmer. Whisk the corn starch in the remaining milk, and stir into the simmering milk until thickened. Add salt and seasonings. Turn off heat, and add in the cheddar and cottage cheese.

Drain pasta and mix with sauce and broccoli.  Place in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Taco Dip

I loooove dip. I love the chips, I love the endless options, I love appetizers, and I love the act of dipping. This dip is a combination of all the things I've loved about various taco dips throughout my life. It's MY perfect taco dip, and my husband's I supposed too because he's in love. And, it's super easy!

  • 2 cans Fritos bean dip
  • 8 oz light sour cream
  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/2 envelope taco seasoning
  • Taco sauce
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 diced roma tomatoes

Spread the bean dip in the serving dish of your choice (I halved the recipe and used a 9 inch pan). Heat in the microwave until warm or bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning together. Layer over the warm bean dip. Drizzle with taco sauce (amount up to you...I did a generous drizzle), then top with cheese, lettuce (enough to get a little crunch in each bite, but don't over do it), and tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Now that my pregnancy nausea has sort of ceased (I'm convinced it will never totally go away), the best thing has been very distinct cravings. Like I never just want a salad, or a sandwich,  I want an oriental salad with sesame dressing and wonton strips or a turkey sandwich with pickle and honey mustard.  This casserole was a product of that. I wanted a creamy chicken casserole with wild rice and teeny tiny chopped vegetables. Done.

  • 1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice (small box - 6 oz I think)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (I got a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 cups chopped/small frozen vegetables (I used peas, carrots, and chopped broccoli)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, diced
  • salt (at least 1/2 tsp, more to taste)
  • pepper

Cook the rice according to instructions.  In a separate pan, cook the onion and celery in 1 tablespoon butter for about 5-10 minutes until tender. In a bowl, combine the cooked rice, chicken, soup, half & half, onion mixture, and S&P.  Pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake at 300 for 30 minutes (or until warm). You could serve this with a salad, but preferred a warm, buttery, crusty piece of bread.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Baby Shower

I'm back! Sorry for the looooong hiatus. I have an excuse. I am pregnant with twins and despite being over halfway in my pregnancy these little nuggets still insist on reminding me they're in there each day with a nice dose of nausea. I hope this isn't an indication of future behavior, because if it is these are DEVIL CHILDREN.

Anyway, cooking? No way. I've been lucky if I can stomach a PB sandwich.  I'm starting to turn the corner (I think) stay tuned for some recipes in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to post about a baby shower I held for my great friend Annie.  We have been friends since pretty much the very moment I moved to Dallas (we picked each other up at a bar - how romantic is that?), and it's been such a joy seeing her transition from our days at dance clubs and pool parties to baby bellies and bottles.  ...did I just say 'it's been such a joy'?? It's happening already! I'm a mom!

Anyway, I had her baby shower all the way back in September but am just getting around to posting it now. Hopefully this helps you with ideas for future showers on food, decor, flowers, and most importantly - dessert. (yes that's a separate category from food).

First, the flowers.  Bright yellow flowers to symbolize new life and opportunities (just kidding, gender-neutral shower and the yellow flowers were the prettiest)
More yellow flowers in a lemon-lined vase (super easy and pretty!). Also, a clothesline of sweet little baby onesies and stuffed animals over the fireplace.
And more beautiful yellow floating flowers on the patio. And some mums in the back that my husband insisted on.
A cute little 'Sweet Baby Banner' over the other fireplace
Now, the drinks. Champagne! Lots of champagne for everyone but the mom-to-be.
And mini champagnes for everyone to take with them (with a tag that reads 'ready to pop')
Now for the food! I often make this Wild Rice Chicken Salad for gatherings such as these. Always a hit, easy to make ahead, always pretty. Especially in my beautiful punch bowl courtesy of my MIL.
Next, caramelized onion and goat cheese flatbreads (and some with roasted red pepper). Guess I haven't posted about these before, but they're AMAZING. Naan bread, drizzled with olive oil, topped with onions that you've caramelized with a touch of sugar and butter, and sliced goat cheese. And roasted red pepper if you want some color. Oh and a sprinkle of fresh basil.
A colorful Kale Salad. I added fresh raspberries on this one for a pretty pop of pink.
And one of my all-time favorite appetizers, Bacon Wrapped Dates.  Hint - these are super easy if you buy a balsamic glaze instead of make your own, ditch the apricot jelly (don't need it with the sweet glaze), and assemble up to a day ahead so all you have to do is pop them in the oven.
Lots of fun, easy food.
And finally, the drum roll please....the dessert table. My favorite cake of all time, decorated with light yellow icing and yellow sprinkles (I wanted to keep it classy rather than top it with everything in the chocolate candy aisle like I typically do- we're moms now), cupcakes from Society bakery, and of course - cake balls.
Hopefully this gives you ideas if you have a shower looming in front of you, but most importantly this post will remind me what I did next time I host another shower so I don't have to spend another 462 hours making decisions (there's so many good recipes out there! and pinterest! and blogs! and food network!!).  

Happy Spring! Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Beef Stew in a Pumpkin

Do you like how I always post holiday recipes after the relevant holiday? A truly savvy blogger would post the recipes PRIOR to the holiday to ensure all of their readers could put them to use.  You won't be able to make beef stew in a pumpkin for a whole year now, and by then you'll forget about it. Sorry. I simply don't have the time or forethought to do it ahead of time.

This is actually easier than I was anticipating. The hardest part BY FAR was carrying the pumpkin to the register and then out to my car. And for some reason I had a very strong urge to smash my own pumpkin. I didn't, but I kept thinking in my head how fun it would be to hold it over my head and just throw it down as hard as I could.

As for the stew recipe, it is kind of beef bourguignon meets beef stew. I didn't take exact measurements, but that's the beauty of stew - you can follow a very loose recipe and it's sure to turn out delicious.

  • 1 very large pumpkin
  • 2 lb stew meat, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 onion
  • Minced garlic
  • 3/4 can tomato paste (6 oz can)
  • 1/2 bottle Guiness
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 3-4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Oregano
  • Dash paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 tablespoons corn starch, whisked with 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Carrots (probably about 3 cups, chopped into 1-inch pieces)
  • Turnips, chopped (3)
  • Mushrooms, halved (1 container)

Preheat the oven to 375.  First get the stew going, then you will put the pumpkin in the oven to pre-bake.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Generously salt the meat, then add to the pan and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook through - adding more olive oil if necessary.  Stir in the tomato paste and a pinch more salt. Pour in the beer and wine, and simmer until slightly reduced - about 10 minutes.  Add the meat back into the pan, along with enough broth to almost cover the meat, the Worcestershire, sugar, Oregano, paprika, bay leaf and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, then stir in the corn starch mixture to thicken the gravy.  Simmer on low-medium for 1.5 hours. While that cooks, you can prepare the pumpkin and rest of the vegetables.

Cut the top off the pumpkin, and scrape out and discard all the seeds and excess flesh.  Brush the pumpkin with a couple tablespoons of melted butter (inside and out), then place on a baking sheet and into the oven for 40 minutes (with lid on).

After the stew has cooked on low for 1.5 hours, add in the vegetables.  If there is excess fat on the surface you can scrape it off, and add more beef broth (or water) if you need more liquid.  Cook for 15 minutes, then transfer the stew to the pumpkin (place lid back on), and put it all in the oven for another 15-20 minutes or so. Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving (with lots of crusty bread for the gravy).  

While I was carrying this to the table I thought how even more fun it would be to smash my own pumpkin now with 76 pounds of beef stew in it.  I'm glad I didn't though because it was delicious and we gave much of the leftovers to a very happy neighbor.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Real Deal Sloppy Joe

I've posted about sloppy joe's before, but neither of them are the ones I really make regularly.  The first time I was trying to be fancy, and the second time I was trying to be healthy.  But, on any given Sunday when I really make sloppy joe's, these are the real deal. And quite frankly I never posted about them because I never knew how much of anything I used. I just start squirting things into the pan until they taste like my sloppy joe's.  

Well this past week, I used measuring cups. So here ya go.

**side note: this is my husband's MOST requested dinner.  Chicken Parm is a close second.

  • 2 lbs ground beef (80-90%..80=extra sloppy, 90=healthier)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • ~ 1/2 cup water plus drizzle of olive oil, if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire (I like 2)
  • 1-2 teaspoons Yellow Mustard (I like 2)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • Squirt BBQ sauce (optional)
Start browning the meat (I typically use 90% so that we can eat the leftovers all week without feeling guilty, but 80% does create a sloppier joe. Another option is to get the 80%, and drain a little of the fat).  Add the onions and cook for several minutes until meat is browned and onions are cooked. Add water and oil if necessary (90% meat will need some added moisture).  Mix in the remaining ingredients and simmer for several minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Have fun eating these! I like mine with pickles.