The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicken with Bacon Cheese

I've needed some quick and easy meals recently. It's just how life has been for us lately. So this was actually really easy and really didn't take too long to make. Win win! (Ok, so I totally just got several TV clips in my head...)

This recipe is also very easy to adapt to however many people you need to feed. Only two people? Just make two chicken breasts. Four? Make four. Just adjust the amount of bacon and cheese you have on hand. Hope you find this as quick and easy, while still tasty, and we did!

-Chicken breasts (enough to feed everyone)
-approx. 1/4 cup cheese per chicken breast
-approx. 2 tablespoons bacon crumbles per chicken breast, divided
-a starch to serve it with (I used rice)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, lay out the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with about a third of the bacon crumbles
and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Turn the chicken over. Sprinkle with a few more bacon crumbles,
then the shredded cheese,
and finally, the rest of the bacon crumbles.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
Serve over a starch and/or with some veggies, and enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taco Dip

Can I just say that some days, I just want to snack all day? Meals are no fun, and I just want to munch. That was why this ended up on the menu. However, it is full of such great stuff it could totally make a meal. Haha. My husband and I were totally satisfied eating this for dinner. Cause we're cool like that.

This would also be a great dish to take to a party, or to have at your own. It's super easy, and it's great cold or room temperature, so no worrying about keeping it warm. So I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

-1 can refried beans
-1 lb ground beef
-1/2 cup water
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2-3/4 cup red enchilada sauce
-1.5 cups guacamole* (homemade recipe below)
-1.5 cups sour cream
-1 cup shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack)
-tortilla chips, for dipping

Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium/high heat until no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet. Add the water, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to incorporate well.
Reduce heat to medium. Let the water start to simmer, and stir occasionally. When the water has mostly evaporated and the meat has absorbed most of the flavor of the spices, it's done. Set aside.

In a square baking dish (approximately 9 by 9 inches), spread the refried beans in an even layer.
Add the ground beef as the next layer. Spoon the enchilada sauce over the beef in as even a layer as possible.
It won't be perfect, but that's ok.

Next, spread the guacamole* over the other three layers.
The next layer will be the sour cream,
and then the shredded cheese.
And you're done!
Serve with tortilla chips for dipping and dig in!

*Homemade guacamole:
-2 avocados
-1 lime
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

Cut around the pit of each avodaco. Gently twist the two halves apart. One half should contain the pit. Insert your knife blade into the pit, and gently turn it. If you do it right and you have a good avocado, it should twist right out. Discard the pit. Using a spoon, gently remove the avocado from the skin. Rough chop the avocado and place in a food processor, or a large mixing bowl.
Sprinkle with the juice of one lime. This will help to keep the avocado from oxidizing and turning brown, as well as adding a fresh flavor to the guacamole. Pulse the avocado (or mash with a fork if you don't have a food processor) until it reaches the desired consistency. For me, that's pretty smooth with few chunks, but feel free to leave it a little chunkier if that's your thing. Add the spices and pulse or mash to combine and incorporate well.
Once that's done, your guacamole is ready for consumption. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes you need a hardy breakfast. Or breakfast for dinner. :)

This is a very filling breakfast casserole, full of eggs, cheese, hashbrowns, and sausage. It's a whole big breakfast in casserole form. Yesssssss. Super easy to put together, this is a wonderful option for breakfast. It does take a little time to bake, so keep that in mind, but it's still awesome. Enjoy!

-12 eggs
-1 package (approximately 6 cups) hashbrown potatoes
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-1 lb of breakfast sausage
-1 cup heavy cream
-salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium/high heat until cooked through.
Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk (like you would for scrambled eggs).
Whisk in the cream.
Add salt and pepper and stir to incorporate. Set aside.

In a large glass baking dish (13 by 9 or so), pour the sausage,
and cheese,
reserving about 1/2 cup of the cheese to sprinkle over the top later. Mix together so ingredients are evenly distributed.
Pour the egg mixture over the hashbrowns, sausage, and cheese. If the eggs aren't evenly distributed, you can mix everything together in the baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the entire dish. Cook in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until the eggs have set up and a knife inserted at the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shells and broccoli in Garlic Butter Sauce

Ok, so I've been trying really hard to add more veggies to my diet. I just need to. So this pasta dish got some broccoli. :) Go me. Haha. I also try to use up what's in my cabinets. I happened to have some shell pasta left from another pasta dish recently, so I wanted to use it up. Hence the shells. You could really use any pasta for this. This is pretty simple, so I think most people could manage it.

Don't be afraid to try making sauce from scratch. I know it sounds intimidating at first, but after you've done it a couple times, you'll be amazed at how easily you can do it. Just give it a try. Trust me. :)

-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-1 .5 cup heavy cream
-1.5 tablespoons garlic powder
-pasta shells
-broccoli, about 1.5 cups florets

Boil large pot of water. Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain and set aside.

Steam broccoli florets until crisp tender. Set aside.

Heat butter in sauce pan over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour to make a roux.
Cook roux for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and whisk to incorporate. Reduce heat to medium/low. Stir frequently. Add in the garlic powder and stir to combine.
Continue cooking another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened and everything is hot and well incorporated.

Toss pasta and broccoli in sauce until well coated.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trail Mix

Have you noticed that trail mix can be rather expensive when you buy it from the store? It seems like I'm not getting much for my money. And, well...there's usually something in those pre-made versions that I don't particularly care for. You know me...I'm pernickety. So I make my own. Occasionally.

I sometimes get into cycles, or phases, if you will. Sometimes I want nothing but crackers as snacks for a while. Then I'll move on to chips of some sort, or something sweeter. I went through a rice cake phase for a while. It all kinda comes and goes. So right now, apparently, is my semi-healthy sweet and salty snack phase. So I made trail mix. Haha.

Trail mix is really good, though, to satisfy both salty and sweet cravings. And it's not terrible for you since it has decent ingredients. long as you're not gorging yourself on it, it's not all that bad. Which is better than, say...eating half a bag of potato chips in one sitting. Not that I've done that...recently. Nope. Not this gal. Anyway...

This is ridiculously easy. And you can mix together pretty much anything you want to. My favorite mix is below, but feel free to change it up a bit. For instance...I like peanuts, but they're not the healthiest nut out there. Almonds are much better, but I'm not a big fan of them. Dried fruit is never really all bad, but perhaps you don't like craisins and would rather dried apricots or something. Go for it. Not a fan of chocolate? You can buy all kinds of candy chips these days...caramel, white chocolate, etc. My point is, you can mix and match all kinds of sweet and salty bits to make trail mix, and it will be just as lovely as my blend below. So have fun and be creative!

-1 lb bag pretzels (minis or bite size are best)
-1 bag chocolate candies (approximately 10 oz)
-2 cups(ish) peanuts
-1 1/2 cups raisins
-1 1/2 cups craisins (dried cranberries)

In a large zip-top bag or mixing bowl, combine all ingredients; Pretzels,
and raisins.
Gently toss to incorporate all ingredients.
Store in an air-tight container.

For quick snacks on the go, you can portion out 1/2 cup or so into individual servings, in plastic sandwich baggies or small storage containers. Send these in lunches to school or work, snack during the day with portion control, or take them with you wherever you happen to be going that day. Easy cheesy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chicken Caesar Salad

I made a salad. I know...Shocker. But this was pretty tasty. I got the idea when we had dinner with some friends. They made a chicken caesar salad, and it made me want to make one myself. So this is what resulted.

Super easy, super fast, super tasty. And during the summer, it's always nice to have something cool to eat. So put this all together, and enjoy!

-1 package of Romaine hearts, or 1 head of green leafy lettuce
-1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped
-1/2-3/4 cup caesar dressing
-1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-1 cup croutons

Rough chop the lettuce/romaine and add to a large mixing bowl.
Add the chopped chicken.
Toss in the parmesan cheese.
Add in the caesar dressing.
Using tongs, toss the salad ingredients together to coat the lettuce and incorporate everything well.
Finally, top it all off with some yummy croutons.
Scoop up a little of everything and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Garlic Parmesan Orzo and Broccoli

I've never cooked orzo before, and I wasn't really sure how it would turn out, but this was pretty good. For those of you who don't know, orzo is actually a pasta, but it's shaped a lot like rice. It really looks a lot like long-grain rice, actually. I was intrigued.

I knew I wanted to try orzo, but I knew that, unlike a lot of my pasta dishes, this would probably need to be a side dish. So I determined that making grilled chicken to accompany it would work out just fine. :) I used a Lemon Pepper spice blend I already had in my pantry to make it yummy without being overpowering. I think the two dishes made a good meal together. I also added broccoli to the orzo to get my veggie in there. Go me. Haha.

I hope you enjoy! This made plenty orzo for the two of us, with at least one serving left over, so you could probably feed four people with this recipe. Have fun!

-chicken breasts (enough to feed everyone)
-olive oil, for coating chicken
-about 1 teaspoon of a lemon pepper spice blend per chicken breast

-approximately 1 cup uncooked orzo
-2 tablespoons butter
-approximately 1 cup heavy cream
-about 2 tablespoons garlic powder
-about 1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-two small heads of broccoli, cut into florets (about 2 cups), steamed

In a plastic bag, pour in enough olive oil to coat the chicken breasts. Add in the spice mix and the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the oil and spices into the chicken and let rest to marinate for a few minutes.
Grill the chicken until no longer pink in the center.
I used my countertop grill.

In a large pot, cook the orzo in boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, reducing heat to medium. Add the butter and garlic powder and stir until it's melted. Add the cream and parmesan and stir until incorporated. Add the broccoli and continue stirring until everything is hot and yummy.
Serve immediately with the chicken and enjoy!