Friday, March 23, 2012

Southwestern Egg Muffins

I had a bunch of stuff leftover from random recipes and needed to use it up, so I threw it all together last night and made myself a good take-to-work breakfast for a few days. I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before, although I'm sure if I looked around others have similar recipes. It's a great way to use up veggies and have a hearty breakfast without having to cook in the morning.

Southwestern Egg Muffins
serves 6 (2 muffins per serving)

8 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup black beans
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup corn
2/3 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying all the cups thoroughly. 

In a large bowl, combine eggs and stir until yolks are evenly mixed. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into muffin cups until nearly full, then bake 20-25 minutes until the muffins are just slightly browned and firm on the top.

Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the tins gently, using a knife to loosen the sides. Serve warm and enjoy!

*For leftovers, let cool completely and keep in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

Do you ever make a recipe, try it, and want to yell out loud, "I AM SUCH A GOOD COOK!" Sometimes I do. Really, I think my talent is in picking other people's recipes that have everything I love. This one was a major hit with me. Pretty simple, high-protein, and full of yummy/healthy stuff.

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad
serves 4

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz cooked, shredded chicken
1/4 cup plus 2-4 Tbsp of your favorite BBQ sauce, divided
1 small avocado, chopped (about 4 oz)
2-4 Tbsp shredded Mexican-style cheese
2 scallions, chopped
Cilantro for garnish

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine shredded chicken with 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and set aside to marinate for a few minutes.*

When quinoa is done, put in a large bowl and toss with the corn, black beans, chicken, and avocado. Top with a few tablespoons of barbecue sauce, cheese, and scallions. Serve garnished with cilantro if desired.

*The creator of the recipe suggests actually cooking the chicken in your crockpot with the barbecue sauce and some chopped yellow onion, but I like to make large batches of shredded chicken for a bunch of different recipes, so I added the sauce after.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Greek Pasta Salad

Since I've started getting Bountiful Baskets again, I'm reminded of how fun it is to cook with fresh foods you might otherwise not buy. Getting a huge cucumber inspired me to make something Greek, and this pasta salad fit the bill! It is such a delicious, light lunch that gives me hope summer is coming!

Greek Pasta Salad
serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4-5 as a side

For pasta:
4 oz uncooked pasta (I used orzo)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onions
2 Tbsp capers (or kalamata olives)

For Vinaigrette:
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 oz feta cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil

Before serving:
1/2 cup fresh diced roma tomatoes (or halved grape tomatoes)
1/2 cup diced cucumber
4 tsp parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. While still warm, transfer to a large bowl and stir in teaspoon of olive oil, peppers, onions, and capers. 

In another small bowl, combine red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and feta cheese. With a fork, mash the feta until it creams a big, leaving some small bits intact. Whisk in the olive oil. Stir the vinaigrette into the pasta mixture and refrigerate, covered, for about an hour.

Before serving, stir in the tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese

This was way easier than I thought it would be...and it gave me a good idea of how to use fresh broccoli up when I'm sick to death of eating it as a steamed side dish.

Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese
serves 4

Cooking spray
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large head fresh broccoli, small florets only
2 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan, divided
1 cup skim milk
2 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 oz whole wheat penne or pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions, adding broccoli to the water about 3 minutes before pasta will be done. Drain pasta and broccoli and return to the pot. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan covered with cooking spray over medium heat, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until light golden (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer crumbs to a small bowl; stir in 1 Tbsp of Parmesan and set aside. 

In the same saucepan (wiped clean), whisk together milk and flour until blended. Add onion and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Pour over cooked, drained pasta and broccoli. Toss to mix and coat. 

Transfer to prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top evenly with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbly at edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. Divide into 4 servings and serve hot. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

I am on a total roll lately. This chicken salad is to die for! Sweet, tangy, delicious, and good for you. Seriously - perfection on a sandwich thin or romaine leaves. In my opinion.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

2 Tbsp light mayo (I used the kind made with olive oil)
3 Tbsp plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp minced green onions - white ends only
3 Tbsp chopped pecans
3 Tbsp Craisins
1/4 Granny Smith apple, diced into small pieces
10 oz cooked, shredded chicken breast

Cook your chicken breast as desired and shred (as always, I used my crock pot). Set aside and let cool.

Combine mayo, Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and rosemary in a large bowl and mix well. Add the pecans, onion, Craisins, apple, and chicken. Stir/toss to coat everything evenly. Chill overnight or at least an hour and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Blondies with Chocolate Chips

Wow. Seriously, wow. These were so incredibly delicious - I made these for Sunday dessert as my whole family was about to venture into an 8 week weight-loss challenge involving 6 sugar-free days a week. These blondies were an appropriate sendoff, if I do say so myself. I found the main recipe here and tweaked it just a bit...naturally no dessert is a real dessert without chocolate and extra cinnamon (at least according to the McDonald family). They were awesome served warm with vanilla ice cream, but my roommates also raved about them a few days old.

Cinnamon Swirl Blondies with Chocolate Chips

for the blondies:
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

for the cinnamon swirl:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking pan. 

In a small saucepan, melt the 2/3 cup butter and let it cook until golden brown on medium heat (around 10 minutes, maybe longer). Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the vanilla, eggs, and lemon juice and mix well. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

in the same pan you used to melt the butter for the batter melt the 1/4 cup butter for the cinnamon swirl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Drizzle the hot cinnamon sauce over the batter and use a butter knife to swirl it. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving. 

Enjoy! I know I did. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Penne with Asparagus, Bacon, and Tomatoes

This recipe may have a few more steps than is really convenient, but let me tell you - it's probably worth it. It just may be my new favorite asparagus recipe. The flavors are incredible, and it's definitely doable for any cook, as long as you are good at multitasking. It also makes for a huge and filling serving for relatively low calories.

Penne with Asparagus, Bacon, and Tomatoes

1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
6 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta
2 slices uncooked Center-Cut bacon
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for 2 minutes until bright green. Remove with a slotted spoon; immediately submerge into cold water to stop them from cooking. Drain cold water and set aside.

Using the same pot and boiling water you just cooked the asparagus in, cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done, drain but reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine tomatoes, parsley, and vinegar. Set aside. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon to desired doneness. Remove with a slotted spoon and chop, set aside. In remaining bacon drippings, add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cooked pasta to skillet, toss to coat thoroughly and turn heat to low.

Add lightly beaten egg, salt, and pepper to pan; toss well. Stir in sour cream and about 1/4 cup pasta water. Add asparagus pieces, bacon, tomato mixture, and cheese. Gently toss so the sauce and cheese are well distributed. Make sure the dish is heated evenly and serve. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars

This is basically just a recipe for chewier baked oatmeal...and I'm a fan! I've now made it twice. It's such a great on-the-go breakfast, and since this semester requires a lot more early mornings I appreciate a pre-made, healthy breakfast that isn't cereal, with around 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Pair it with a glass of milk and you're good to go!

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Squares
modified a bit from here
makes 6 servings

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten (or 1/4 cup Egg Beaters)
1 large mashed banana
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together the quick cooking oats, baking powder, kosher salt and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.

In another bowl, combine the vanilla extract, milk, egg, brown sugar, banana, and peanut butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breakfast Egg Tartlettes

Happy February! I'm excited to start a fresh month and can be much happier now that my life is hopefully settling down a bit. I have some yummy recipes in the arsenal coming up soon!

These little things are SO yummy! They take some time to make and are only really great fresh, but it's worth it. Just have all the ingredients ready the night before and it's a super filling, healthy and delicious breakfast - you'll feel like you've pampered yourself.

Breakfast Egg Tartlettes
serves 4 (2 per person)

8 wonton wrappers
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions
4 slices center-cut bacon or turkey bacon, pre-cooked and crumbled
1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. In a muffin tin, thoroughly spray 8 cups with cooking spray (preferably butter-flavored). Press wonton wrappers into cups and spray the insides with cooking spray. Bake in oven for about 7 minutes, until slightly golden and crispy. Don't turn the oven off or remove the wrappers when finished, just set aside.

While wrappers are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat (pre-sprayed with cooking spray). Put the chopped bell pepper into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, then add chopped spinach and green onions and cook for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Add beaten eggs and stir. Cook for a few minutes, scraping the pan to evenly cook the egg. With about a minute left, add the cheese wedge and crumbled bacon, making sure to distribute both evenly. Season mixture with salt and pepper as desired.

Evenly portion the egg mixture among the cooked wonton wrappers while still in the muffin tin. Put the muffin tin back in the oven for 1-2 minutes. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and take the tartlettes out carefully using a fork. Enjoy warm!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

January is National Soup Month. I had no idea of it when I decided to make this recipe, but I was glad to hear that it's a good time to give soup a shout-out.  This is a really hearty soup for not a lot of calories, and I used even more veggies than the recipe calls for - it just depends on how brothy or chunky you like your soups. You can also use different kinds of pasta and veggies to shake it up. It is really delicious - way better than the canned kind, if I do say so myself!

Healthy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
modified from here
serves 6 generously

12 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
6 cups (1 quart) chicken stock
20 sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz uncooked orzo pasta (or small pasta of choice)
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Start by trimming any fat off the chicken breasts, then place in a crock pot with about a ½ cup of lightly salted water on high for about 3 hours, until just cooked through (don’t let it overcook, or it will be really tough!). When done, cut the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces or shred.

In a large stock pot, bring chicken broth to a low boil and add the carrots, celery, onion, oregano, salt, black pepper, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, until veggies are soft. Add the chicken meat and stir to combine. Simmer an additional 20 minutes. In the meantime, cook pasta to al dente.
Stir in cooked pasta and peas. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli

There's good news and bad news about this dish. Good news: it is YUMMY. Bad news: it does not really make for good leftovers, and it's a bit tricky. More good news: it's worth it. The pumpkin is really the star - usually I'm only automatically on the bandwagon if it's made into something sweet, but this dish is really delicious with the cheese, and it's pretty low-calorie. Plus, pumpkin is on the list, remember?

Very few ingredients and good for you. What are you waiting for?

Please forgive the mediocre pictures lately. Utah winter time doesn't make it easy to shoot in natural light unless you're cooking around 4pm.

Pumpkin Ravioli
recipe from here
serves 4 (6 ravioli per serving)

1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil (will change the flavor)
Chopped or dried parsley 

Combine first 4 ingredients and mix well. Place about 2 teaspoons of pumpkin mixture in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with water and bring the opposite sides together to form a triangle. Pinch the edges together firmly to seal.

Place ravioli in a large saucepan of boiling water with a pinch of salt, cook 7 minutes and drain in a colander. Put the chicken broth and butter in a separate saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I know that I usually say that all my recipes are delicious - I only post the ones I really like. But this one...this one is special. This is one of those super healthy dishes that I actually crave. Big time. It is so filling and somehow tastes better as leftovers after the flavors marinate for a day or so. Super easy, too - don't be intimidated by quinoa! It's magical!

This dish is really similar to my stuffed pepper recipe, but a bit more friendly to those with less time to cook on their hands. It's great as a side or as a vegetarian main dish.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
serves 4 (about 1 cup per serving)

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp dried parsley
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan; stir in the quinoa. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the water evaporates, about 12-15 minutes; drain.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the quinoa; heat through. Remove from the heat. Gently fold in the feta cheese and parsley. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mexican Rice and Chicken Bake

This recipe came out of my head. Translation: this recipe includes a bunch of flavors and ingredients that I love thrown together, so naturally I loved it. The flavors are complex - you get a tangy hit from the Greek yogurt and sour cream but a little bit of heat from the chili powder and cumin. Chock-full of really good things for your body and your taste buds. Seriously.

Mexican Rice and Chicken Bake
Serves 6

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz can green chili peppers
1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
6 oz pre-cooked and shredded chicken breast
2 cups cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat oil in a skillet and saute the onion and bell peppers a few minutes until just crisp-tender.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except 1/4 cup cheese and mix thoroughly to combine. Make sure the yogurt, sour cream, and cheese are stirred in throughout the entire bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. Enjoy!

Also...happy 2012! Hopefully my life will allow me to be better about cooking and posting recipes. Here's to another year of trying many new things!