Thursday, January 28, 2010

Farfalle with Portobellos & Shrimp

I've always had a weird thing about textures & food. There is a laundry list of things I won't eat because the texture just grosses me out. Oatmeal, pork chops, apple sauce & scallops are just a few. ALL mushrooms used to be on that list until I finally tried portobellos. (Granted, the first time I tried them they were, breaded, fried & dipped in ranch dressing). Their texture is quite different than that of other mushrooms. They have a meaty texture and (to put it bluntly) they aren't slimy. Now I use portobellos frequently to mix with grilled veggies or saute in other dishes.

My Farfalle with Portobellos & Shrimp recipe was one of my "kitchen experiments". I came across a similar recipe on a food blog, used it as a starting point & changed it up a bit to suit my taste.

• 1/4 box of farfalle (bow tie pasta)
• 1/2 - 3/4 lb. shrimp, shelled & deveined
• 2 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned & chopped*
• 1 bunch green onion, finely chopped
• 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 c. white wine
• 1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
• 1/3 c. fresh basil, finely chopped
• salt
• pepper

1. Boil salted water, and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is boiling, heat butter in large saute pan. Add green onions and saute about a minute.

3. Salt raw shrimp, and add to pan. Saute shrimp with butter & green onions for about 2 minutes.

4. Add mushrooms, tomatoes & wine. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

5. Stir in cream and continue to cook (but not boil) until mushrooms are cooked through, but shrimp isn’t over cooked. Add salt & pepper to taste. (I add quite a bit of salt).

6. Remove from heat. Mix pasta and sauce together in a large bowl, and top with fresh basil.

My Tid-Bits:

*Sorry for the lack of photos. The Hubs came in the kitchen to talk to me while I was cooking & I forgot to take pics of each step.

*How to Clean Portobellos: DO NOT put them under running water. Simply get a damp cloth & wipe off the tops. Then use a spoon to scrape the gills out of the underside. You can leave the gills in, but it will give your sauce a brownish tint.

*Chicken can be used instead of shrimp. Cut raw chicken breast into 1 in. cubes, season with salt & pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes (instead of 2 min.) before adding other ingredients.

*This is one of The Hubs new favorites. He told me MANY times last night, while going back for seconds AND thirds, that he really liked this dish & I should make it more often. Wife tested, husband approved.

*This recipe makes 4 average size servings. It is very easy to double or even triple if you're hosting a large crowd. I recommend serving it with some French bread to sop up the extra sauce.

*Despite the fact that this dish contains pasta & cream, it's still low calorie. Each serving has about 220 calories.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eat More Chicken

I am not ashamed to admit that I have a love affair with Chick-fil-a. Honestly, I could eat there everyday and be completely okay with it. All I ask for is a #1, wheat bun, no butter, diet coke & 13 ketchup packets. (Yes, you read that right 13 ketchup packets. Don't judge. My sister uses just as many. We are a sight to see when we go to CFA together and ask for ketchup).

Now that I'm trying to eat more healthy, I've reduced my Chick-fil-a intake significantly. As in, once every other week or so. My close friends know this is a huge accomplishment. And I now get the fruit cup instead of fries (sometimes).

However, my new eating habits did not stop me from putting the Chick-fil-a Calendar on my Christmas wish list. Have y'all seen this thing? It has coupons every month for all kinds of free tasty CFA treats.

The Hubs laughed at me when he saw it on my Christmas list, but knew I was dead serious because I put it on my list last year and was bummed when I didn't get it. So being the loving, wonderful hubby that he is, he bought it for me this year!

The point of this blog isn't a marketing pitch for Chick-fil-a, but rather to share with you all one of my most favorite items from Chick-fil-a that many aren't aware of. And it just so happened to be the January coupon on my calendar:

A Free Chicken Biscuit for Breakfast

This is pure yumminess! It is like a Chick-fil-a sandwich, only smaller and with a fluffy biscuit instead of a bun. My sister introduced me to these when I was in college and I have been hooked ever since. (And yes, we eat them with ketchup, but they only require 2-3 packets).

I'm always amazed when I hear people say they've never had one. I feel it is my civic duty to make sure everyone knows of this tasty treat. If YOU haven't had one, you are missing out! Go get one tomorrow morning on your way to work. Your taste buds will thank you.

Oh, and I never said these were healthy by any means. They're not. But something that tasty is worth the extra 20 minutes on the elliptical, no doubt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Morsel from Mom

Chicken with Carrots & Onions

My momma is a fabulous cook! There is no doubt that my siblings & I get our love of being in the kitchen from her. Growing up, my Mom cooked pretty much every night of the week and twice on Sundays. I don't quite live up to that standard, but I'm trying.

A couple of years ago, mom compiled many of our favorite recipes and shared them with her 4 children. She said she wanted to make sure we all had them for keepsake reasons. Personally, I think she was just tired of us constantly calling and asking "Can you tell me how to make such-and-such again?" All of these recipes are now in my recipe book, covered with flour & who-knows-what-else from being used over & over again. (I think the recipe cards being covered in "ingredients" gives them character; the Hubs thinks their just dirty).

One of the Hubs favorite recipes from my momma's collection is Chicken with Carrots & Onions. I also like this dish a lot for 2 reasons: 1. It's yummy. 2. It is easy & fast. It makes the perfect dinner for a week night. And on top of that, it's on the healthy side. Needless to say, this one is in my regular rotation of meals.


* 1/3 cup Flour
* 1 tsp Salt
* 1 tsp Paprika
* 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
* 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage
* 3 Chicken Breasts (boneless,skinless)
* 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
* 1 medium Onion, sliced thin
* 1 cup Carrots, chopped
* 2 cup Water
* 2 tsp Chicken Granulated Bouillon


1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl.

2. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness & cut in half (or if you're like me & only have chicken tenders on this particular night, those work, too).

3. Heat oil in a pan on the stove. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides (2-3 minutes per side is plenty - the chicken will finish cooking later). Remove chicken, set aside on a plate & cover with foil.

4. Add 2 Tablespoons of remaining flour mixture to the pan. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the pan drippings for 2 minutes to create a roux.

5. Add water & chicken granules. Stir well with whisk. Then add onion, carrots & lemon juice.

6. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover & simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

7. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

My Tid-Bits

* To be completely honest, I had never had this dish with rice before tonight. I didn't have any potatoes on hand, so I subbed in the rice & it was excellent!

* For those who don't like onions, try this anyway. I hated onions when I was a kid (still don't care for them raw) and loved this dish anyway.

* I'm not really a fan of eating left overs. I'm very picky about what I will reheat to eat the next day. This, however, is one of the few things I will gladly eat for lunch the next day.

* This recipe makes about 4 servings, each with approximately 325 calories (not including potatoes or rice).

Oh, and while I was cooking dinner, The Hubs pulled these out of the pantry for a snack:

So much for a healthy dinner!

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

I recently started subscribing to Rachel Ray Everyday magazine. Now, I'm not always a huge Rachel Ray fan. Some of her 30-minute stuff on TV just doesn't look appealing (and who could really make it in 30 minutes, anyway?). However, her magazine always has TONS of recipes & I always find several that I'd like to try. The first recipe from the February edition that I opted to make was the Toasted Chicken Orzo Pasta.

I made this recipe for The Hubs & I last week and it was a good base, but could stand to have a little more flavor. Below is the original recipe. The parts in parenthesis & italics are what I would add next time to give it a little more flavor.


* One 32-ounce container chicken stock (+ 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules)
* 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces or tenders
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup orzo pasta
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
* 1 small zucchini, finely chopped (make that a large zucchini or 2 small)
* 1 carrot, finely chopped (2 carrots)
* 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (1 whole large bell pepper)
* 2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 cloves garlic)
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup frozen peas (could sub green beans)
* 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (could exchange for cilantro - it has more flavor)
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (reduce to 1 tsp - too lemony)
* Could also add: 1 cup frozen corn and/or chopped celery


1. In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for 12 minutes.

2. Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until deeply toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the EVOO to the dutch oven. Add the zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Return the orzo to the pot.

4. Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim and discard the fat from the stock; transfer the stock to the dutch oven. Chop, dice or shred the chicken and add to the soup with 2 cups water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat; stir in the parsley and lemon peel. Serve immediately.

Here is how mine turned out:

My Tid-Bits:

* Mine looks a little less colorful because I used green bell pepper instead of red. Green are less than 1/2 the price of red!

* The toasted orzo is very tasty! However, if you don't have orzo, you could sub in another small pasta. It will just change the flavor a bit. Cook that pasta according to directions on box, leaving the pasta a bit more firm than usual. Add to soup when you add the chicken.

* The recipe, in it's original form, makes about 6 servings & has 350 calories per serving.

* Overall Review: This recipe is very easy to make & doesn't require a lot of time. With the changes I mentioned above, I would make this recipe again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Praline Pull Apart Bread

When I saw this...

in the December issue of Southern Living, I HAD to make it.

The Hubs & I went to our lake house for the New Year's weekend and I decided the Praline Pull Apart Bread would make a perfect New Year's Day breakfast.


* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
* 1 (2-lb.) package frozen bread roll dough
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 1 cup chopped pecans
* 3/4 cup whipping cream
* 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar


1. Stir together granulated sugar and 3 tsp. cinnamon. Coat each roll in butter; dredge rolls in sugar mixture. Arrange in a lightly greased 10-inch tube pan; sprinkle with pecans. Cover and chill 8 to 18 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 325°. Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; stir in brown sugar and remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon. Pour mixture over dough. Place pan on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes; invert onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any remaining glaze in pan.

Hands-on Time: 15 min.
Total Time: 9 hr., 25 min.

My Tid-Bits:

* Be sure to place a baking sheet or foil under the pan when baking. There is a good chance this will over flow.

* The recipe calls for a tube pan; I used a bundt pan. It overflowed, but in the end it was okay. Next time, I might use a few less or smaller rolls...or just buy a tube pan.

* Don't skip the quick step of whipping the cream before stirring in the brown sugar—that's the secret to the smooth texture of the caramel-flavored sauce. Just don't whip it too much or it won't spread over the rolls.

* The Praline Pull Apart Bread holds up well over a couple of days. The Hubs & I had it for breakfast (and snacks) for a couple of days.

Here is what my version looked like:

And it was AMAZINGLY tasty. I will definitely be making this one again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New Blog For New Food

Those who know me know that I love to cook! I'm constantly look for new recipes to try out or creating new dishes based on the items in my pantry & refrigerator. (Bless my husband, D, for putting up with my kitchen experiments).

But I also work...sometimes LONG hours (especially during baseball season) and occasionally travel out of town. For those times, I need good meals that I can prepare quickly or make ahead of time so the hubs doesn't starve while I'm gone.

I'm also a firm believer that good recipes should be shared amongst friends. So, I decided to create this blog for just that purpose - to share recipes.

Some will be new; some will be old favorites.

Some will be fast & easy; others may be a bit more complicated & time consuming.

I'll share recipes that are healthy & others that are indulgent.

And I'm sure I will occasionally share those "kitchen experiments" that don't go quite like I planned. (We'll just hope those are few & far between).

So, I hope you find this blog helpful & can discover some new recipes to add to your recipe box.