Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta and Tomato Spinach Cream Sauce

Monday, May 24, 2010

This is a filling, healthy and romantic meal -- plus easy! Get someone to pick up the kids and have date night, Italian Style!

First, don't let the "Cream" in the name of this recipe scare you! It's not what you think (a la Alfredo from last week!) Also, don't let me fool you, this recipe is my sisters' delicious concoction. It. Is. So. Good! I used organic whole wheat spaghetti noodles. Always. My new cooking hero,Teresa Giudice from the New Jersey Housewives, says real Italian pasta is made with a hard wheat called durum that's coarsely ground to a flour called semolina. Italian pasta is slow-digesting and could be considered a whole grain! (From her book, Skinny Italian)

I looked at the "ingredient" on my package of pasta and it said: 100 percent organic durum wheat. Yay for me! Check yours, what does it say?
Another thing I learned from Teresa's book Skinny Italian is NOT to rinse your pasta after it's boiled. She says the starch on the noodles helps "grab" the sauce, instead of being slippery and letting it run off onto your plate, or worse ... your cute white pants for summer!! So, tonight, I did not rinse my pasta and I'll tell ya, it did make a difference. Teresa is the real deal. Grandma Errico and my Mom would agree ;)

Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta and Tomato Spinach Cream Sauce
Olive Oil
2 breasts of chicken
Salt, pepper
Chicken broth (1-2 Cups)
Juice of 1 lemon
3-4 cloves of garlic
Red Pepper Flakes
Medium Onion, diced
1 C Milk
Chicken Broth
1 Can (16oz) diced tomatoes (Don't drain)
2 C Spinach
Parmesan Cheese
Angel Hair Pasta
1. Heat Olive Oil in pan on medium/high heat. Cube chicken, season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and cook chicken until done. Set aside.
2. Put diced onions in pan and add chicken broth, scraping bits off the bottom of the pan and simmer. Add enough chicken broth to submerge onions. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes at a boil. Add garlic, Parsley, Red Pepper and lemon juice.
3. Add milk to 2-3 TBSP Wondra in small cup and whisk. Add to chicken broth and onion stirring constantly for smooth texture.
4. Taste and adjust spices as needed. Add tomatoes to cream sauce. Stir to heat. Add chicken. Grab a handful of spinach and tear in half, place in the pot. Toss with tongs to cover spinach with pasta and sauce. Place lid on pan long enough for spinach to wilt. It doesn't take long.

Sprinkle a little bit of cheese and enjoy!

A few things about this recipe that I will adapt for next time. Picky Pants likes spicy food, but doesn't love it. I apparently made it spicy tonight. I loved it, go figure. He also doesn't like tomatoes and picked every one out. So, next time I think I'll chop a zucchini and use the juice of the diced tomatoes and reserve the diced tomatoes for something else. It would be fun to see what else you come up with ... mushrooms, pine nuts ... I could probably think of other stuff to stick in there too. Let me know if you do something else.

If you're like me, you don't like to waste food. Well, this recipe only calls for one to two cups of chicken broth. So, you have quite a bit leftover. Remember you can stick it in a Tupperware and save it for the next night when you're boiling quinoa, rice, macaroni, or any vegetable you want steamed. It actually gives anything you're boiling or steaming a better flavor. And, that way, you're not wasting anything!

Picky Pants has a sweet tooth! One of his favorite healthy desserts is a whole, sliced banana and mini chocolate chips. Stick it in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes. It's kind of like a frozen Popsicle with chocolate. Eat with a spoon and enjoy!

Let me know what you think about this one, I think the pics turned out great! Mangi! Mangi!

Avocado on the Go!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To me, there's nothing better than an avocado. I had a commercial shoot for IGA in Jasper, Indiana last week Wednesday - Friday. It was fun but exhausting and I had no time to prepare healthy food for myself on the road. So, the first thing I did once arriving in Jasper is to check out the IGA. A sea of colorful produce greeted me and I went straight for the alligator textured green avocados. They looked great. (Pictures to come.) I picked up two avocados, a package of black berries and cheese. I have been trying to eat half an avocado a day. Whether or not I smash it with a fork and spread it on my sandwiches or chop it up in salads I have been trying to get half in. Sometimes, I slice one open and eat the green, buttery goodness with a spoon! In fact, that's what I had to do while in Jasper. For those of you who don't pick out avocados at the store, make sure you get one that's ripe! Place it in your hand and squeeze gently to see if it's soft, but not squishy. That means you need to eat it pretty soon. Do not even try to slice open a rock-hard avocado! Run the knife around the avocado, not through, and twist open. One side will have a huge pit and the other side won't. Take out the pit and run a spoon around the edges of the avocado to loosen it from the sides.
Besides being the "good" fat we should have in our diet, avocados are also filling and a great addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, dips and more! I wanted to share the nutritional information with you from The Amazing Avocado
Did you know eating avocados help your body absorb essential vitamins and minerals, make teeth and bones strong, enhance cardiovascular activity, support immune health and give elasticity to the skin?
Yumo! Look good, feel good, eat an avocado!
Today, I am going to lunch with a friend, I am bringing half an avocado to cut into my salad. I know it's strange, but the place she chose isn't famous for healthy salads... join me this summer as I try to eat half an avocado each day! Mangi!Mangi!

Fettuccine Alfredo in a pinch

Monday, May 17, 2010

This post should be titled "Not Meant to Make Macaroons." The Macaroon has made a comeback. Yes, while some strive to be fashion forward, I try to be food forward. So, in case you haven't heard, the Macaroon is the new cupcake. I made some beautiful golden Macaroons with cherries nestled in the center and a drizzle of chocolate on top. However, I forgot to spray the parchment paper and now my Macaroons are stuck. I tried to save them, but couldn't salvage any of my Macaroons. Did I bite off the top part and were they good, absolutely! So there. I promised to tell you about my victories and my blunders. There's one. I was sad after ruining my Macaroons, so I just threw together some dinner with what I saw in the refrigerator: Heavy Whipping Cream, Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Zucchini,IGA Roasted Chicken, garlic and some spices. Oh yes babies, I made the most fattening dish of all and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Jillian Michaels workout tomorrow morning, here I come!

Fettuccine Alfredo in a pinch
serves 3-4 (depending on how much pasta you make)

What you need:
1 small carton Heavy Whipping Cream
5 oz tub of Grated Parmesan
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp minced garlic (from a jar)
Dash Crushed Red Pepper
1. In a medium sauce pan, boil Pasta as directed on the box, once boiled, stick in a colander and run cold water over it to keep from sticking together. Put pasta back into the sauce pan.
2. In a small sauce pan, heat butter and garlic on medium or medium low until melted. Pour in heavy whipping cream and cheese. Stir constantly, turn heat down to simmer. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
3. Simmer for at least 10 minutes to let sauce thicken.
4. Pour over pasta and serve with fresh parsley.
* I chopped up one zucchini and took an IGA roasted chicken, shredded it and stuck it into the sauce pan

If you have leftovers, warm up Fettuccine Alfredo with a little milk in a saucepan on the stove.
Mangi! Mangi!

Squash Pizza Dough

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Making your own pizza crust can be fun, healthy and a great way to spend time in the kitchen with your family!
This recipe for squash pizza dough came to life last summer after our neighbor brought over a whole bag full of yellow summer squash.
Yum! I perused recipes online and stumbled across a healthy concoction for pizza dough. For the life of me, I don't remember where I found it. Oops! I'm not taking credit for this recipe, someone else made it, posted it and I'm just re-posting it with pictures because I think it's excellent. A few things to know before starting the dough: it's a bit time consuming but the outcome is fabulous and healthy. Last year I did not have a food processor, so I shredded the squash by hand with a cheese grater. It. Took. Forever. Now, I have a handy Food Processor which cut down the time quite a bit. The second thing to know is that you have to wring out the squash. You can do this by sitting it in a colander with a heavy bowl on top of it to "push" the water out for an hour or two or grab it with your hands and squeeze, baby squeeze! If you're in a hurry, get squeezing! Lastly, if you salt the squash a little bit it will force the water to drain out, a process called "weeping." So salt it, but not too much!

Things you'll need:
Grater or Food Processor
4 medium Finely shredded squash
3/4 C All-Purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour this go-round)
3/4 C grated Parm Cheese
1/2 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp Pepper
Salt to taste
2 9 inch round cake pans
olive oil
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Shred the squash with a grater or a food processor. The squash will be quite wet. Place in a colander, put a heavy bowl on top and put two large cans in the bowl to give it some weight. Let it sit for a few hours. Or, place in colander, have a bowl handy and squeeze the squash with your hands and stick the 'dry' squash in the bowl.
2. In a medium mixing bowl combine squash, flour, cheeses, eggs, pepper and salt.
3. Divide dough and work around two 9 inch sprayed and floured cake pans. You can make the dough as thin or as thick as you like.
4. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
5. Take the pans out of the oven, run a knife around the sides to loosen. Use a spatula to flip the dough. Baste the bottom part of the dough (that is now on top) with olive oil and sprinkle of garlic salt. Broil at 500 for 5 minutes or until desired crispyness.
6. Do the same to the other side.

K-baby and I like to make a high protein, high fiber pizza using minced garlic, shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese. There is no sauce for this recipe. Just mix as much ricotta and garlic together to cover your pizza. Top with shredded chicken and mozzarella cheese. Delish and healthy.

Mangia! Mangia!
Mangia! Mangia!

Harvey Wallbanger

Saturday, May 15, 2010

*Let me preface this entire post by saying how sorry I am for the people in Nashville who lost everything from the flood. My heart goes out to you and you are in my prayers.*
While celebrating a friends' birthday in Vegas the week of the flood we learned our house, too, had been hit. Our finished basement flooded four feet and luckily we called friends just in time to help. They saved Christmas decorations, pictures, memorabilia and even our plasma TV's off the walls! How can I possibly thank them? With a cake, of course!!! I don't normally use box cakes in any of my baking, but since I had to make so many at a time, I did! Shhh!

A classic Harvey Wallbanger is light enough to eat for breakfast and delicious enough to make it a family favorite! You can enjoy a piece with a Harvey Wallbanger drink if you'd like ;)

1 oz vodka
1/2 oz Galliano (A sweet Italian liqueur)
4 oz OJ
Pour Vodka and OJ in a collins-type glass with ice. Pour Galliano on top to 'float.'

Okay, onto the recipe:

1 IGA Classic Yellow cake mix (You can use orange cake mix too!)
1 pkg. (Small) Vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1 C veg. oil
1/2 C orange juice
1/4 C Vodka
Mix all ingredients and pour into a Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool, remove cake to serving platter and dust with powdered sugar.

It's so simple why not spend a little time on a fun glaze? If you're into glazes, and I am, here's an awesome one for this cake.

1 Cup sifted powdered sugar
1 TBSP Orange Juice
1 TBSP Vodka
1 TBSP Galliano

Whisk the liquid ingredients first, then sift the powdered sugar over the liquid. Once you're done sifting, whisk the sugar into liquid ingredients to make a glaze. It will be runny, but sticky. It's just a thin layer of glaze to drizzle over the cake. I poke holes into my cakes with a fork before I glaze them. That way, the glaze soaks through the cake, making it so moist!

Thanks to all who helped save our stuff!

Tonight, it's just me! Mango Avocado Salad with Grapefruit twist

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's raining and muggy outside. Picky Pants has plans to golf and I'm happily snuggled up with my computer. I rooted through my refrigerator for some salad toppings and got kind of creative. There were two grapefruits sitting in my fridge I hadn't touched in a week. Eek! Time to use them up! I cut one in half, saved the other half for breakfast and squeezed the juice ontop of my salad for a refreshing dressing!

1/2 Hass Avacado
1/2 Grapefruit
1 Mango (I took off the peeling with a potato peeler)
Sprinkle of blue cheese
Dusting of chopped red onion
Handful shredded carrott
1 TBSP homemade hummus (or store bought, of course!)
Spinach leaves

Slice the Avacado in half long-ways. Quickly wrap the half you're not using with plastic. Might want to squirt some lemon juice in it too, to keep it from getting brown. Use a spoon to loosen the avacado from the shell or peeling. Slice it any way you want. I like to 'chunk' it.
Take the Mango and peel it with a potato peeler. There's a hard core inside a mango, just like an apple. So, slice it like you would an apple with a knife. You can slice in long pieces or chunks. You're preference.
Chop just a bit of red onion. (or skip it if it's too strong!)
Assemble your salad with the spinach on the bottom of the bowl. (I always like to shred my spinach once, just so leaves aren't hanging from my mouth when I take a bite) Place the Mango, Avacado, Carrot, Blue Cheese, Homemade Hummus and onion ontop of the spinach. Make it pretty =)
Squeeze half of the grapefruit (be careful of seeds!) onto your salad. You can even scrape out parts of the pulp and stick it on top of your salad. You can also add just a bit of splenda, honey or agave to sweeten it up a bit, but I don't think you need it!
The flavors are awesome. The sour grapefruit mixes well with the nutty avacado and sweet mango. It's delicious with a kick of spicy hummus and tangy red onion.
Mangi! Mangi!

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