30 Minute Meal: Pecan Crusted Chicken

I’ve recently developed an adoration for Greek yogurt.  A friend of mine said to me the other day: did you know you can cook with it too?  Really? in actual food and not “baking”?  Bring on the challenge.  I found this recipe in an old Betty Crocker booklet my neighbor passed on to me.  I modified it to my liking and…voila!  A delicious dinner in under 30 minutes.

Prep: 15min  Total time: 30min  Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 3  to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
  • 3/4  cup Italian style panko crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/2  cup chopped pecans
  • 2TB brown sugar (optional)
  • 2  tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 1  container (6 oz) Greek plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter

Directions:

  1. Between pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper, place each chicken breast smooth side down; gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. In shallow dish, mix bread crumbs, brown sugar, pecans and parsley.
  3. In another shallow dish, place yogurt. Dip chicken into yogurt, then coat with crumb mixture.
  4. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Cook chicken in oil 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and coating is golden brown.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Lemon-Basil Chicken Pasta Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have been eating “salads” galore.  Eventually, the green salads have not become very filling and I also ran out of ideas; not to mention, my refrigerator is not a 50 ingredient salad bar!  Anyhow, I’ve been experimenting with healthier recipes that could be served hot or cold.  This delicious lemon-basil chicken pasta salad is one of them.  I might make it for dinner and eat leftovers cold the next day.  Now, that’s thinking ahead!

Serves 4.  Prep time: 25min.  Total time: warm: 25min  cold: 1hr 25min (for cooling)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2   teaspoon salt (for cooking pasta), if desired
  • 2  cups uncooked rotini or rotelle (spiral) pasta (6 oz)
  • 10 asparagus stalks (about 8 oz)
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 oz cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2  cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Directions:

  1. Fill a 4-quart Dutch oven about half full of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt if desired. Cover with lid; heat over high heat until water is boiling rapidly. Add the pasta. Heat to boiling again. Boil uncovered 9 to 11 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but not mushy. While water is heating and pasta is cooking, continue with recipe.
  2. Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus stalks where they snap easily; wash asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces to measure 2 cups. Add asparagus to the pasta during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking.
  3. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes to measure about 2 cups. Tear the basil leaves lengthwise into narrow strips.
  4. Place strainer or colander in the sink. Pour pasta and asparagus in the strainer to drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  5. If you are going to eat it warm: pour pasta back in the pot after draining, throw in remaining ingredients, toss and serve.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
  6. Cold: In a large glass or plastic bowl, toss pasta, asparagus and chicken. Stir in garlic, basil, cheese, oil and lemon peel. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until chilled.

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce

It’s the end of the summer and you are bbq’d out.  You’ve fired up that grill more times the past 2 months than you do all year round.  Wait! There is one more recipe you must try!  This one is light, fresh and vibrant.  The herbs in this recipe’s chimichurri sauce -mint, basil, and parsley- add tang to any grilled dish.  Add this delicious sauce to shrimp and you have a fabulous meal to share with family and friends.

Ingredients: Serves 8-10

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds large shrimp, peeled, tail left on if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • chimichurri sauce
  • grilled peppers and tomatoes (1 lb cherry tomatoes, 8-10 orange/red peppers)

Chimichurri sauce:

    • 1/3 cup chopped basil
    • 1/4 cup chives
    • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
    • 2 TB chopped dill
    • 2 TB chopped mint
    • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil.
    • salt pepper to taste.

Grilled Peppers and Tomatoes:

  • 1 TB Kosher salt
  • 10-20 Summer tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes

Directions:

For Sauce:

  1. Mix together all ingredients in food processor until well combined.  Do not over mix (don’t let it become a paste).

For Grilled Peppers and Tomatoes: These can be made 1-3 days ahead of time.

  1. Boil a pot of water and add kosher salt. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Boil summer peppers (1 to 2 per skewer) until tender, 1 to 33 minutes. Drain. Thread onto skewers with cherry tomatoes (about 3 per skewer).
  2. Grill over high heat until charred and tomatoes just begin to burst, 6 to 8 minutes, turning often.

For Shrimp Skewers:

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Heat grill to high.
  2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Thread onto skewers. Grill over high heat, turning once, until curled and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Brush and serve with chimichurri and grilled peppers and tomatoes.

Enjoy!

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BLT Pasta Salad: A Summer Favorite

I’ve been on a salad kick this entire summer.  Not because I am trying to lose weight, but because salads are all my pregnancy hormones crave.  There are only so many “green” salads this pregnant woman can take, so I have begun to try any recipe my heart desires.  This week’s favorite: BLT Pasta Salad.  My children are not salad eaters, but,  this they ate! I cut the lettuce really small and mixed it in with the pasta. They barely noticed!  I hope this is as successful in your home as it was in mine.

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 12 ounces corkscrew-shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 ounces lean bacon
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
  • 5 heads Bibb lettuce quartered, or 5 cups chopped romaine hearts

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish.  Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.

 

Photo credit: FoodNetwork.com

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Chicken Tenders the Entire Family Will Love!

It’s back to school time and my kids are ready for quick-to-eat dinners that won’t let them fall asleep on the table.  They are still young (3 &5) and dinnertime is their least favorite time; they are tired, they are whiny and they just want to get to bed!  This recipe is one of their favorite things to eat.  Is it the parmesan cheese?  The hint of garlic?  I’ll never know.  But it’s a winner every time!

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or, 1 cup milk + 1tsp vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 quart oil for frying

Directions 

Just a little oil in the pan - no need to submerge

  1. In the morning, place chicken strips into a large, resealable plastic bag. In a small bowl, mix the egg, buttermilk and garlic powder. Pour mixture into bag with chicken. Seal, and refrigerate at least 4 hours (I leave them in there all day).
  2. In another large, resealable plastic bag, mix together the flour, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and baking powder. Remove chicken from refrigerator, and drain, discarding buttermilk mixture. Place chicken in flour mixture bag. Seal, and shake to coat.
  3. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Carefully place coated chicken in hot oil. Fry until golden brown and juices run clear. Drain on paper towels.

PS: yes, you know I rarely fry, but baked chicken strips are just not the same for my family.  Serve with a side of vegetables.

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Kid’s Favorite: Easy Pizza Rolls

Simple 30 Minute Lunch Box Recipe

 

I posted these this week in the MOMable’s Facebook page.  They are a HUGE hit in my house and I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting creative filling these with the toppings your family loves.  If you are in a hurry, I even give you the store-bought dough option.  This is a great recipe for lunch your kids will love in their lunchbox.  Try serving it with some nuts or fruit to  fill them up with great nutrition and energy.  You can make these ahead of time for dinner, and save leftovers for lunch!

Prep time: 7min   Cook time: 20-30  Yields: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 TB butter, cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cup of milk (or non dairy substitute)
  • plain flour
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup of ham chopped
  • 1 can of pineapple pieces, drained
  • Alternatives: cut veggies, pepperoni, olives, or any other favorite pizza topping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 210 degrees and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl, add salt. Cut butter into the flour with a knife.
  3. Begin to add milk slowly, mix/knead.
  4. Mix/knead until the dough starts to stick to itself, put on a floured surface.
  5. Kneed the dough until smooth, then use a floured rolling pin to roll into a rectangle.
  6. Spread the pizza sauce onto the dough, sprinkle cheese, ham, and pineapple.
  7. On the long side start rolling up the dough into a log.
  8. Brush the edges with some milk to help it stick.
  9. Cut the log into 12 pieces equally.
  10. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven to cool. Will keep for 2 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Under 5min option: purchase store bought pizza dough. Roll out. Follow steps 5-8 then bake according to manufacturer.

 

 

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Easy Brunch: Ham & Cheese Muffins

This week, I am at the beach with my kids in a condo with a full kitchen.  We are having lazy mornings where breakfast happens around 10:30-11am (right before we head down to the beach and eat a late lunch).  I brought some handy Biscuit mix with me because there are many quick and easy things I can make that are kid friendly and portable.  Yes, I am not a big fan of ‘mixes’ but we are on vacation!  I made these ham and cheese muffins for brunch yesterday and will be serving them with a salad for lunch today!  Can you say fast and deeeeeelicious!

Prep time: 10 min.  Total time: 30min   Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 TB vegetable oil/melted butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped fully cooked ham

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottoms and sides of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. (Spray will work better than greasing or using paper muffin liners.)
  • Beat eggs slightly in medium bowl with fork. Stir in Bisquick mix, milk and oil just until moistened. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese and the ham. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese evenly over tops of muffins.
  • Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm. Wrap and refrigerate any remaining muffins.

 

   
   


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Perfect for Summer: Light Taco Salad

You know it’s summertime when you get back from the pool with the kids around 5 o’clock and the thought of making dinner is… exhausting.  Don’t call pizza delivery or pick up Chinese take out! This light taco salad recipe makes a delicious and nutritious quick weeknight dinner (or lunch!).  This is the time of the year we rely on friends and family for extra help in the kitchen, right?  I saw this recipe over at The Nourishing Home, tweaked it, and made it my own.

You’ll be done making this dish in 15min or less and will have an easy family meal everyone will love.  I mean, who doesn’t like making their own salad? Or, lay out flour tortillas and make individual wraps.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or substitute with grass-fed ground beef)
  • 1 TB  Mexican/Taco seasoning 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (only if seasoning above is salt free)
  • 1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
  • 2 tbsp cultured sour cream
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut into pieces/shredded almost (about 8 cups)
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans (15oz can drained)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • whole wheat tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of olive, oil, the ground turkey, Mexican/taco seasoning and salt. Cook, breaking the meat up, until no longer pink, about 5 to 6 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid. Stir in 1/2 cup of the salsa, 1 cup of corn and cook until heated through, about one minute.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and remaining 1/2 cup of salsa to create the taco salad dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place the lettuce, turkey mixture, beans, avocado, cheese and olives into separate bowls. Serve buffet-style so your family can make their own salad. Top with the taco salad dressing.
  4. Serve with whole wheat tortilla chips.  These also make great wraps!

(Photo credit: Real Simple. Recipe adapted from www.realsimple.com)

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Banana Split with a (Watermelon) Twist

Here I come again with another watermelon recipe!  If you missed last week’s watermelon cupcakes, you should click on over and try them.  They are really good!  Since we are still in the middle of summer, the heat is plentiful and watermelon is our favorite light dessert… here is a light twist on the banana split.

Ingredients:

  • Bananas (1 per person)
  • Watermelon
  • Toppings: granola, whipped cream or whipped topping, berries, chocolate syrup to drizzle.
Instructions:
  1. Cut bananas in half lengthwise and place the halves on plates.
  2. Top with watermelon balls formed with an ice-cream scoop.
  3. Add dollops of whipped cream, then sprinkle on berries and chopped nuts or granola.

 

Serve and enjoy!

 

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Photo credit: Disney Family Fun

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Summer Dessert: Watermelon Cupcakes

Living in the South, I’ve become a big fan of cool desserts in the summer.  After attending many summer barbecues and picnics, I’ve noticed that someone always brings the famous frozen watermelon to alleviate some of the heat.

Here is my spin on a classic summer dessert that will satisfy the entire family.  I urge you to make these ahead of time and place them in the freezer inside a cupcake tin for at least 2hrs.  Although not necessary, they will become that much more refreshing!

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cupcake Liners
  • 8 Cupcake sized pieces of seedless watermelon (see below)
  • 2 Cups Cool Whip
  • Sprinkles for decoration

Directions:

Place the liners in an 8-cup cupcake tin. Cut 3-inch thick slices of seedless watermelon. Cut round cupcake sized pieces from the slices. Put a watermelon ‘cupcake’ in each liner. Place a dollop of Cool Whip on each cupcake. Decorate as desired with sprinkles. Makes 8 cupcakes.

NOTE: freezing them makes them more portable and cooler for dessert, specially if they are being transported or going to be left outdoors for an extended period of time.

Enjoy!


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