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!