Wow, I just discovered this amazing store in one of my favorite nearby towns that has the cutest little shops. According to the owner, this store has been there for 2 1/2 years so I am not quite sure how I missed it. They sell different flavored vinegars and olive oils (as well as regular) and have them on tap right in the store so you can taste everything. Using a good balsamic vinegar is extremely important in cooking (although I tend to use the cheaper versions for marinades) and I had just recently finished up the fancy $30 bottle Hubby & I picked up a few months back so I started looking around for somewhere more convenient than heading into the city, where I could get some good quality vinegar and came across the Tubby Olive. I tasted a few vinegars and made my choices and while I was there decided to try some of the olive oils…ended up with an Almond Olive Oil which I plan to use in baked goods…and then I came across the truffle infused oils! The black truffle oil was good, but the white truffle oil was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I could’ve literally drank a cup of it (of course, heart attack would likely follow!). The owners (who are a nice older couple) started telling me all the different ways they use it….I started throwing around my own ideas and we were like a bunch of junkies hyped about our drug of choice. I am so excited to use this stuff…that’s why I just had to share….and you can definitely look forward to some future posts using these awesome ingredients.
Like I’ve said before in past posts buying the best quality ingredients you can afford really makes a difference in cooking. This is not an original idea of course…I learned it from reading and hearing other chefs say it but until I actually started to look at cooking more as a “hobby” I never really listened to this. Now I buy better ingredients when I can and love to splurge on a special meal.
Can’t wait to make dinner tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well to say it’s been a while is pretty much an understatement. It has been almost exactly 6 months since I posted my last blog. I wish I could say that my life was so busy and amazing that I just didn’t have the time….but the truth is I just didn’t do it!
So I have no important life events or amazing news to share…but I can share that over these past few months I’ve been trying my best to work towards a healthier lifestyle. My focus now is to lose weight (hmmm….didn’t I say that before??), but overall I have come to a point in my life where I want to be healthy and stick around till I’m old and dyed blonde (no grey hair here!). To really make this lifestyle change I am approaching it with baby steps. I have adopted the attitude that every little thing helps….so even if it is just one little change it is still a change and that’s what matters. One of the first things I’ve started doing is trying to cut out as much processed food as possible (although I am starting to think I need a support group to break my Diet Coke addiction). Another step I’ve taken is to try different “health foods”. One of the foods I’ve fallen in love with is the now trendy “Quinoa”. It is very healthy and if you’d like to see why you can read it here…sorry I just don’t feel like going over why it is so good for you! I am overall a picky eater and have a lot of issues with food textures (where was Early Intervention when I was a kid??) so even though I kept seeing Quinoa recipes everywhere I turned, I was hesitant. I finally took the plunge and it’s a keeper. I use it in my salads, replace it for rice & pasta, and use it for breakfast foods like protein bars and “oatmeal” (quinoa in place of oats), etc.
Tonight I decided to modify my Creamy Chicken Piccata recipe and not only make it a “slimmed down version” but to replace the pasta with quinoa. It was so delicious…..I was inspired to sit down and get back to blogging!!!! Woohoo!!
So here it is….a slimmed down healthier version of, ironically my last post…and unfortunately since Hubby was working late I only made this for one person so the serving size is one, but you can easily alter the ingredients to make as much as you want.
Creamy Quinoa Chicken Piccata
For the chicken:
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4″ thick
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 -1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
For the Quinoa:
1/2 tbsp. light butter
1/2-1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fat free half & half
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tbsp. capers
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
Cook quinoa according to package directions.
To make the chicken, sprinkle both sides with the lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and add the garlic. Brown the garlic in the butter for 30 seconds to 1 minute and add the lemon juice.
Whisk in the half & half and bring to a slow boil, whisking frequently for about 5 minutes until heated through and slightly thickened (may take longer than 5 minutes).
Add the basil, salt & pepper.
Remove from heat and whisk in the parmesan cheese. At this point, if you want a thicker sauce, return to heat and simmer until slightly more thickened. You can also add more cheese if you like.
Stir in the quinoa and the capers. Serve on a pasta plate.
So like many bloggers…and many many women out there…I am obsessed with Pinterest. I have found such great ideas, recipes, clothes, tips, etc. Today’s post is for one of the very first recipes I found on Pinterest and tried out. Like any recipe it required some adjusting to get it just right, but last night when I made it Hubby & I both agreed that I had hit the mark! The original recipe, “Creamy Grilled Chicken Piccata”, calls for you to grill the chicken but since I didn’t plan ahead to make this I didn’t have a chance to marinade the chicken and thus I just decided to go ahead and make it in a pan. I used all fresh ingredients (no dried herbs, please!!!!) so if you do substitute dried you can just add the dry herbs (ex. basil, garlic powder) directly to the flour, rather than blending them like the directions below. I’ve also made a “slimmed down” version of this which tasted great, as well. Hubby didn’t even know it was “healthified”, which is my test for how good my “slimmed down sensations” really are (trust me, he usually can tell right away when I make it low-fat). Too make it healthier use whole wheat pasta, fat free half & half, light butter, and only 1/2 cup of cheese and you can use a non-stick pan to eliminate the need for olive oil, or you can grill your chicken like the original recipe calls for.
Make this for a quick and easy weeknight meal or for date night in with your Honey! You won’t be disappointed!!
Creamy Chicken Piccata
(Modified from Plain Chicken)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx. 8 oz. each)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters (or 1 egg)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh pasta, such as penne or gemelli (if you don’t want to make your own it is available in the dairy or deli refrigerated section of the grocery store)
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. capers, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup asiago cheese (or other cheese of your choice)
Wow, I can’t believe how much I’ve slacked off on my blogging! First I hadn’t been feeling well…even having to call out sick from work, which I haven’t done in over 2 years!! Then life just got busy with a party for Hubby’s Motor Cycle Club & a girl’s getaway to Atlantic City…the Blog had to take a back seat! Anyway, despite my illness, fatigue and busy schedule, I still managed to cook a few good meals and even snap a picture here and there.
So what’s the best kind of meal to make when you don’t feel like cooking?? A Crockpot /slow cooker meal, of course! My inspiration for this recipe is from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummand. The original recipe, Penne with Chicken Thighs, call for the thighs to be cooked in the oven for 1 ½ hours, so I figured why not just throw it in the Crockpot. Be careful with how long you cook this in the slow cooker, though. Even with the low heat of a slow cooker chicken can and will get dried out if left in too long. So, I wouldn’t recommend this as one of those that you start in the morning so it’s done when you return home. It will only take about 2 hours on high (or low if your crockpot runs a little hot…which mine does.) After 2-3 hours use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken has been cooked through. Remember cooking times are approximate and you can never be sure if meat is cooked thoroughly without taking the temperature. Serve the chicken thighs with any pasta that you like or have on hand. I recommend using my Marina Sauce, but you can use jar spaghetti/marinara if you want to.
Crockpot Chicken Thighs
4 bone-in chicken thighs
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
¼ cup parmesan cheese
At one of our recent trips to Whole Foods, I picked up a pack of Naan to serve as a side for our dinner. I was surprised how good it was…better than some restaurants I’ve even been to. Maybe it was because it was flavored with garlic & herbs. I’m not sure, but I fell in love. When I ran out and I didn’t want to go to the store to get more I hit the internet to see if Naan is hard to make. Of course, since I don’t have a traditional Indian Tandoori oven I knew it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but thought it was worth a shot. I found this recipe on the Budget Bytes Blog and thought it looked pretty simple, plus it called for all ingredients I had on hand. I modified it by adding some garlic & cheese so it would be like the kind I purchased at Whole Foods. I cooked it up on the grill and it tasted almost as good as if it had been made in the traditional way. I froze what we didn’t use and when I want to use it I just take out a piece or two at a time. It freezes really well so you can definitely make a big batch if you’re feeling ambitious. You can use it as a side to kabobs and rice or an accompaniment to any meal. You can also be creative and use it for sandwiches and pizza. For plain Naan, just omit the garlic and parmesan cheese.
(Makes 16 servings; 1 Naan = 2 servings)
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
½ cup water
3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (you can use either non-fat or low-fat)
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, mashed
Olive oil, for brushing (optional)
Typically I don’t really like to conform to the latest fad, but eventually I usually “jump on the bandwagon” if it is actually a good idea…like “meatless Mondays”. I have been planning our meals in advance for quite some time now and in an effort to get skinny and healthy again I’ve really tried to make sure we are limiting our red meat consumption, as well as try to have a variety of different foods, which can be challenging. I know Hubby doesn’t want to eat chicken 5 times a week! I guess another reason why I never considered a “meatless” day is because I love meat & so does Hubby. However, like I said I thought this would be a nice idea for a healthier me (& Hubby gets the benefits too!). I have to admit I was nervous that Hubby wouldn’t go for it, but so far (I’ve only done it two Mondays now) the meals have been a hit with him.
Last night I made 4 cheese stuffed shells with arugula. I know you’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound like a good meal to eat to achieve a skinnier body, but with a little tweaking and some fresh seasoning, this turned out to be one heck of a “Slimmed Down Sensation”! This recipe makes 3 servings (1 serving = 3 shells and approx. 2/3 cup of sauce) and one serving is only 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus. It is super tasty and better yet super filling! Usually I get pretty hungry again after dinner and before bed, but these bad boys filled me up for the whole night!
Can’t wait to try some more Meatless Monday Meals!!!
Slimmed Down Four Cheese Stuffed Shells with Arugula
(Makes 3 servings; 1 serving = 3 shells + 2/3 cup sauce = 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus)
9 jumbo pasta shells
1 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
½ oz. parmesan cheese, grated
1 oz. asiago cheese, shredded
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups arugula, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
I wanted to make fajitas the other night for dinner, but had no tortillas. I didn’t want to run to the store so I just did a quick search on the internet to see if I could make them. After reading a few recipes, it was quite clear that these are so EASY!!! They were easy, they were quick and tasted great. Why didn’t I ever try to make these before???!!! I will definitely never buy flour tortillas anymore! I froze the leftovers…and they reheat great in the microwave!
Flour Tortillas(Makes 12)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. vegetable shortening
3/4 cups water