Thursday, July 30, 2009

Greek Chicken & Pasta Salad

Another weekend is here & after a long work week nothing pleases me more. I made this salad last weekend & enjoyed it for lunch many days after. I originally enjoyed this at my girlfriend Tammy's house & knew I had to make it. It's not so fattening for today's Not So Fat Friday.

1 pkg Carved Chicken Breast, Original Roasted
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 6oz jar marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained & coarsely chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded & cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained & halved
1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground pepper for garnish

For the pasta:
6 ounces (2 cups) penne pasta

For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumber, olives, onion & feta cheese. When the pasta is done, drain well. Rinse with cool water; drain again. Add to the salad mixture & toss. Taste & adjust the seasoning.

{Food for Thought}

I don't like using already packaged cooked meat because of the sodium levels so I used rotisserie chicken instead. To make this even healthier, using whole grain pasta is ideal.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I also want to share some before & after photos of the master bathroom that we have been renovating for the past 2 weeks. There were 16 tracking lights above the mirror, the kind that you see in theatre makeup rooms. They not only gave off so much heat but they were a pain to clean. Who needs that many. So, I am thrilled to have gotten rid of them as well as the old gold trim mirror.

We had taken down the old gold trim shower door a long time ago & temporarily put in a curtain.

The shower tiles were also re-done & we're currently waiting on our frameless shower door to arrive. I see my oasis awaiting after I get out of the kitchen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Wonton Wrappers

It seems like I was in only 2 places this weekend ~ the pool & the kitchen. But it was awesome! My normally cautious 5yr old son who hasn't had swimming lessons yet decided to take off his life vest & just start swimming. He started out by just going a few feet but by the next day my angel was all over the pool, going the entire length with me close by. You can imagine how proud we were.

As for kitchen duty, I was just on a roll. There were a few recipes I was dying to make, these being one of them. I served them both days for our parents who came to see all the work we're having done in our bathroom, hence, the reason for us staying close to home this weekend. These were not only fun to make but pretty to look at as well as delicious. We all enjoyed them, including the nice gentlemen working on our bathroom!!!!

AND for all of my pork hater friends, I think these could go well with an Asian chicken mixture.

1 pound bulk spicy pork sausage
2 medium carrots, finely shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
36 wonton wrappers
1 tblsp butter, melted
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Sliced cherry tomatoes, optional

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine the sausage, carrots, onion, peppers, cheeses, sour cream, garlic & lemon-pepper.

Press wonton wrappers into miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Spray wontons lightly with more cooking spray. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake at 350° for 8 to 8 1/2 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spoon sausage mixture into cups. Bake 5-6 longer or until heated through. Garnish with tomatoes if desired. Yield: 3 dozen.

{My Thoughts}

The filling made a lot more than 36. I had halved this recipe & still got 36. I saved leftover filling for the next day & made them again. Just to freshen up the batch, I threw in a tad more onion & lemon pepper. Also, instead of brushing the edges with melted butter on the 2nd day batch, I sprayed lightly with cooking spray & sprinkled with garlic powder, around the edges and inside. They were even better!!!!!

Also, the wonton wrappers can be made ahead of time & stored tightly in a container. How easy is that?!

{Click Here to Print Recipe}
~~ For more TMTT recipes, please visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace ~~

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wine & Cheese Please

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you may know two of my favorite things are appetizers & cocktails. Put them together, along with friends & family, & I am just a very happy girl.

When my BF Tam came over to kick off the 4th I concocted this cocktail because it would be nice to sip by the pool. Straight wine in the sun just doesn't do it for me & I wanted something a little snazzier than beer.

I started cutting my wine with club soda a long time ago to cut down on calories & it became a habit but it's nice to use something other than club now & again. The addition of a green tea gives me antioxidants I don't get from white wine, only red.

White Wine Green Tea Spritzer

White wine
Diet Green Tea
Diet Ginger Ale, diet 7up or club soda for a little extra bubbly

The ratio on the wine, tea & soda is about 3 to 1 to 1. Combine & serve cold.

{Food for Thought}

I used Canada Dry's new Sparkling Ginger Ale with Green Tea "loaded with antioxidants" but what they don't tell you is how much sugar is in it. So, until they come out with a diet version I am sticking with other diet green teas. Another idea is to buy some peach green tea bags, steep, let cool, then add to the wine.

Lastly, this appetizer was quick to make & a lighter alternative for when you're spending an afternoon by the pool. A little blue cheese goes a long way so not much is needed, therefore, not a lot of fat. The catch is I don't remember the exact measurements. Just play with it & have fun. We all agreed when I made this for my parents that you can only eat a few & they're not something you want to keep munching on.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Pears Wrapped in Prosciutto

Pears, cored & sliced
Small container crumbled Blue cheese (won't use all)
Non-fat yogurt (8oz but won't use all)
Prosciutto, sliced thin, cut into strips

Combine blue cheese & yogurt. Should be thick enough to smear onto the pear slices. Wrap with a slice of prosciutto. Serve immediately.

Click Here for Recipes

{Happy Weekend Everyone!}

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Margarita Chicken

Don't let the bad photos fool you, this chicken was great!!!!! I had just cleaned out my grill earlier in the day so it was hotter than I expected & "seared" my chicken just a tad too much. But the flavors from the marinade really infused the chicken nicely. Bone-in chicken breasts aren't my favorite so I am really looking forward to trying this again with thighs, legs & even boneless chicken breasts.

Perfect for a summer eve's dinner, perhaps with a real margarita on the side!

4 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 10oz can frozen margarita mix, thawed
2/3 cup tequila
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tblspn chicken seasoning (McCormick Grill Mates)

Rinse chicken with water & pat dry. For marinade, combine margarita mix, tequila, cilantro & chicken seasoning. Pour over chicken in a zip-top bag. Squeeze air out of bag & seal. Gently massage bag to coat chicken. Marinate in fridge for 1-2 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge & let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes Heat grill to 350-400. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Grill chicken for about 18 minutes on each side.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

I also wanted to share a photo of the pantry after we had the bifold door braced, making it open like a regular door, & shelves put up on the back of it for extra space. If you have a small pantry with bifold doors, contact your handyman, even if he's your hubs. This is easily done & totally makes life easier.

For more Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, please visit Blessed with Grace!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wok Seared Chicken with Asparagus

The weekend is here & that's a beautiful thing. I hope everyone enjoys theirs. For me, there will be sunning & swimming on the homefront with a few meals thrown in as well as a minor home renovation I am very excited about.

We have one of those bi-fold pantry doors & the pantry is not very large. When the door is open it feels like it's taking up half the space to access the closet. So, we have someone coming in to brace the door, making it like a regular one. Then we'll also be able to put shelves on the door to create more space. Hey, sometimes it's the little things that make me happy.

Onto something else that made me pleased. I found this East meets West dish on Eating Well's site. It's delicious & really satisfies the craving for pasta without feeling guilty as well as fill the protein & veggie need.

1 tblsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
4 scallions, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tblsp minced fresh ginger
1 tblsp oyster-flavored sauce
1 tsp chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add asparagus; cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes, depending on how soft you like your asparagus. Add chicken; cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Stir in scallions, ginger, oyster sauce & chile-garlic sauce; cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir in pistachios & serve immediately. Makes 4 servings

{Food for Thought}

Regular sesame oil as opposed to toasted works just fine. I also did not use fresh ginger so I sprinkled it a few times. No exact measurement. I served this over whole grain thin spaghetti & once I added the pasta to the hot pan I also added just a little pasta water to help bind it all together.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Have a great weekend everyone!!!!! I'll be coming around to cath with you for sure.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stephanie's Shrimp & Feta Pasta

I have been MIA, I know. Last week's priority was getting ready for a weekend trip to Ft. Lauderdale to visit my sister. Tristan & I had a great time!!!! Today I come to you with a dish I am in love with. The best part is ~ I created it last week while trying to get rid of a few things & it ended up being so delicious, even restaurant quality, that I made it again the next night.

If you love olives, feta & pasta but want something light, this is the dish for you. I pat myself on the back for adding pasta water which creates a nice sauce along with just a little of the pesto, olives & feta, without a lot of fat. I can eat this dish & feel like I am indulging without actually doing so.

8 oz whole grain rotini or penne pasta
1 tblsp olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
20 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1-2 tblsp Classico Sundried Tomato Pesto
1 heaping tblsp kalamata olives, chopped
1 heaping tblsp crumbled feta cheese with basil & tomato
1/3 cup pasta water
Parmesan cheese
Basil, optional
Cook pasta according to directions. Make sure to reserve about 1/3 cup pasta water. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic & cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp. Cook & stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato pesto, olives, crumbled feta cheese & reserved pasta water. Stir until a sauce develops & cheese melts, about 1 minute.

Garnish with parmesan cheese & basil.

{Food for Thought}

The above measurements are for about 2 large servings. I was making it just for myself so I had leftovers for lunch after having more than I should the 1st time around. So, use your judgment. I loved the rotini more than the penne because it captured the sauce better, especially since there is not an abundance of it to begin with.

Visit Blessed with Grace for more TMTT

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baked French Toast Cups

I kicked off the July 4th weekend with a little visit from my best friend Tam & her kids. They came over to hang by the pool & while the kids played, well, we played. Let's just say that the Beaujolais was not the only thing chilling.

{LOVE my bucket. Comes in handy}

We had such a good time that I convinced Tam to bring her kids back over to spend the night while she relaxed with her hubs. I made this yummy treat for breakfast the next morning. So much fun to make, adorable on the plate, & a healthier alternative too! The kids enjoyed it as did Tam when she came to get the kids in the morning.

4 slices whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (I used fat free)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg
For the apples:
1 large apple of your choice, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium skillet, saute apples with butter & cinnamon for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg until well combined. Add bread cubes & mix together until all the bread is saturated. Add the apples & mix until well distributed. Using a regular size muffin tin, scoop bread evenly into 6 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until set & lightly golden brown.

{Just before going into the oven}

{Just fresh out of the oven}
{Food for Thought}

The original recipe, here, had drizzled icing over them but I opted for regular light syrup instead. As with any french toast or pancakes, in my opinion, alone they could be a bit sweeter but with the syrup alongside or the icing, if you prefer, it's just the right amount.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spinach Casserole

What an awesome 4th of July weekend. I hope everyone's was fantastic. I will write more & show pics in the next few days but it was a perfect combination of a little girlfriend time by the pool, & BBQ time with family.

{My Pool Boy}

I brought this super yummy dish to my parents for a BBQ & it went over well with everyone. It's so easy to make & a little unique in its flavor thanks to the combo of cheeses. I have Deanna to thank for this one. It went perfectly with grilled skirt steaks & the fried rice I brought, just without the roast pork this time.

2 boxes frozen spinach, drained & thawed
16 oz cottage cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup American cheese, shredded
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
11/2 cups croutons
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss croutons in melted butter. Mix all ingredients, except 1/2 cup croutons, in a large bowl. Pour into a greased casserole dish; sprinkle with remaining croutons. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

{Food for Thought}

I used more onions, about 1/4 cup or a 1/4 of an onion. I also was only able to find the larger sized herb seasoned croutons. I just broke them up some but the taste of them was perfect for the dish.

Visit Blessed with Grace for More Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Baked Ziti with Chicken & Spinach

This may not be fat free but it’s definitely a lighter version of most cheesy baked ziti dishes & without all the labor involved. I picked a recipe from my sidebar where I keep fellow bloggers’ recipes but I decided to re-vamp it a bit. I still really like the idea of hers, where she purees artichoke hearts & adds it to the sauce so I may try that next time. See here for the original. As for my version, it needs just a tad improvement but I wanted to catalog it since it really satisifies a craving for baked ziti without all the guilt.

8-16 ounces whole grain penne with fiber
1 tblsp olive oil
2 large boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz bag fresh baby spinach
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup 1% milk
3 tblsp Classico tomato pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Crushed red pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta, drain & set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute chicken pieces a few minutes & then add onion & garlic. Cook for a few minutes until almost cooked through. Add spinach & cook until wilted. Place mixture in bowl & set aside.

In the same skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour until golden. Add milk & whisk until smooth. Add the pesto & blend until smooth. In a large mixing bowl toss the pasta, chicken mixture & sauce mixture with the Parmesan cheese & mix well. Pour into a greased 9x9 casserole. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve with a little crushed red pepper & parmesan cheese.

{Food for Thought}

While I really enjoyed this, I would have liked a little more of a saucy feel but without the fat. So doubling the butter & flour is not an option. Maybe adding some chicken broth flavored with roasted garlic may do the trick next time or adding the pureed artichoke hearts from the original recipe. This was nice served with some whole wheat bread, brushed with a little olive oil, garlic powder & Tuscan seasonings then broiled for about 3 minutes.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th! If you're looking for a great dessert to make, check out these mini cheesecake tarts from Paula Deen. I make them whenever I can. Lined alternately on a plate with cherry & blueberry filling, they will be perfect for the holiday.