Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken & Spinach Bake

Looking for an easy, healthy dinner (and low-carb, may I add)?  Look no further.  I made this meal last night and we'll just say it was such a hit with my husband that there weren't any leftovers. :)  This recipe combines lean chicken breasts with nutrient-dense spinach and gives it flavor with Parmesan and Italian-flavored seasonings.  I used Panko crumbs, which are lighter and healthier than regular breadcrumbs.  

1 12-16 oz. Bag Frozen Cut Spinach, Thawed and Drained
1 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Milk
1/4 Cup Parmesan and 1/3 Cup Parmesan, divided
1 lb. Chicken Breast Fillets, Thawed
1/2 Cup Panko Crumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Basil
Dash of Black Pepper and Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  On the stovetop over medium-low heat, combine the spinach, butter, milk, and 1/4 Cup Parmesan.  Stir, about 5 minutes, or until butter is melted and mixture is well-combined.
3.  Combine the Panko crumbs, 1/3 Cup Parmesan, oregano, basil, black pepper, and sea salt in a small bowl.
4.  Spread the spinach mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.
5.  Spread extra-virgin olive oil on the chicken breast pieces.  Coat in Panko mixture and place on top of spinach mix.
6.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Looking for a yummy cookie?  Try a twist on a traditional chocolate chip by using pudding.  Adding pudding mix gives the cookies a lot of texture and form (look great aesthetically), in addition, great flavor.  My Mom makes A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies, and here is my version of them.  We are going to some friends' house tomorrow night and I needed a dessert option that can sit in the car all day, because I don't have time to come home (in a cooler though, just in case it gets super-hot).  Cookies are a perfect solution...and who doesn't love a good cookie?  I hope you enjoy them!

1 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Organic Flour
3/4 Cup Whole-Wheat Organic Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Cup Organic Butter, Softened (2 Sticks)
1/4 Cup White Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Pkg. (4 oz) Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1 Pkg. (12 oz.) Chocolate Chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Combine flours, soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3.  Using your kitchenaid, or another mixer, beat together the butter, sugars, and vanilla pudding until fluffy.  Mix in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
4.  Slowly beat in the flour mixture, just until well-combined.
5.  By hand, stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts, if you choose to).
6.  Drop by heaping teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool and Enjoy!

Blueberry-Banana Smoothie

A few months ago, I bought an immersion blender and have been loving it!  It's so great for making quick smoothies, blended drinks (ie margaritas), pasta sauces (ie my Healthy Tomato Pasta Sauce), soups, mashed potatoes, whipped cream, and ok...the list goes on and you get it by now.   A perfect breakfast or snack on a hot, summer day is a smoothie.  In this recipe, I used anti-oxidant-loaded blueberries and potassium-rich bananas for a sweet, creamy, delicious, healthy drink.

1 Small Banana, Sliced
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries (Organic)
1/2-3/4 Cup Skim Organic Milk (or Soy Milk if you prefer)
1-2 tsp. (Organic) Agave Nectar, optional (as a sweetener--I used 1 tsp and it was perfect)

1.  Put all ingredients in your immersion blender's mixing cup (or you can use a regular blender) and mix until fairly smooth and well-combined.  Serve immediately!

Feel free to mix it up by adding Stevia (another natural sweetener, this one no-calorie), honey, or some Flax Seeds (for adding brain-boosting omegas).  For a thicker smoothie, add a little bit of nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt.


Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

I love a meal with the spicy, exciting, flavorful tastes of Mexican and Spanish cuisine.  This recipe combines traditional Mexican flavors of lime, cilantro, black beans, tomatoes, and green chilies in a heart-healthy way.  Serve with some Spanish rice, or as a meal by itself.

Ingredients (serves 4):
Lime Chicken:
Juice of 1 Lime (Roughly 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 tsp. Dried Cilantro (or 3 Tbsp. Fresh)
Black Pepper and Sea Salt, to taste
1 lb. Chicken Breasts, Thawed

Black Bean Sauce:
1 Can (15.5 oz) Black Beans (Organic)
1 Small Can Green Chilies
1 Can (15.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes (Organic)
1 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
3 tsp. Dried Cilantro (or 3 Tbsp. Fresh)
1/4 Cup Light Mexican-blend Shredded Cheese

1.  In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, lime juice, cilantro
2.  Place chicken breasts in 9x9 baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray).  Pour lime marinade over the top and let sit for about an hour or two (could let sit overnight in refrigerator if you'd like).
3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Put chicken in oven for 30 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, over medium heat in a large saucepan, stir together the black beans, green chilies, tomatoes, and minced garlic.  Stir to combine flavors for 15 minutes.
5.  Reduce heat to low.  Add in the cilantro and shredded cheese to the black bean mixture.  Stir occasionally for 10 minutes.
6. Either using a masher, or a blender (immersion or regular), lightly puree the black bean mixture.  Don't over-mix, just a short minute to slightly puree the mixture (but you still want some big chunks of beans, etc).
7.  Remove chicken from oven.  Place chicken breast on plate and top with heaping spoonful of black bean sauce.  Serve immediately with a fresh lime quarter to squeeze over chicken.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cucumber Dill Salad

Looking for a healthy, quick summer salad?  This cucumber salad just takes a few minutes, is super easy, healthy, and delicious.  Serve it as a healthy side dish (and alternative to potato salad or coleslaw) for summer grilling and BBQ.  Yuumm.

1 English Cucumber, Cut into thin slices
1/2 tsp. Sugar (or Substitute, I used Stevia)
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. White Vinegar (or Cider Vinegar)
1 tsp. Dill Weed
Optional: Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir or toss well to coat.  Let sit for a few minutes and serve cold.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Shells

    When we were in our first days of being home with our newborn son, we had some amazing friends stop by with a prepared meal of Stuffed Shells for us to eat (aside: that friend was Lindsay of Hoosier Baker; she knows her way around a kitchen, yum).  It was so delicious and a deviation from the typical lasagnas and casseroles (although ANYTHING is appreciated when you just have a baby), that I wanted to make this dish for some other friends of ours who just had a baby.  I looked at a number of recipes before coming up with my own version below.  This meal is great served with some Italian Parmesan Cheese Bread (like my Crusty Cheese Bread, but use Mozzarella for this meal) and/or a fresh mixed green salad with oil and vinegar. 

      • Ingredients:
        • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano 
        • 1 tsp. Dried Parsley (or 1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh)
      • (28-ounce) Can Crushed Tomatoes (Organic)
      • (10-ounce) Can Tomato Sauce (No-Salt, Organic)
      • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, Divided in two
      • 1 Cup Crumbled  Feta Cheese (reduced-fat), Divided in two
      • 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese (reduced, or non-fat)
      • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan or Romano (or blend)
      • 1 Egg (or substitute)
      • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
      • (14-ounce) Can Artichoke Hearts, Chopped
      • (12-16 ounce) Package Frozen Chopped Spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry)
      • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
      • 35-40 Cooked Jumbo Pasta Shells (12 ounce package)

      • Directions:
      1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
      2.  Cook Pasta Shells according to package directions. 
      3.  Combine oregano, parsley, tomatoes, and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat; 10-13 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; set aside.
      4.  Combine 1/4 Cup Mozzarella, 1/2 Cup Feta, and the next 7 ingredients (all minus pasta shells) in a medium bowl. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pasta shell; place stuffed shells in a 9"x13" baking dish coated with cooking spray.
      5. Spoon tomato mixture over shells. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 Cup Mozzarella and 1/2 Cup Feta cheese.
      6.  Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.