Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Penne Pasta in a Zesty Tomato Cheese Sauce

Here are the ingredients in Hamburger Helper Zesty Italian Dinner:

Enriched Pasta (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Corn Starch, Dried Tomato, Sugar, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Dried Onion, Spice, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Dried Garlic, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Beet Powder Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Flour, Egg, Nonfat Milk

The nutrition label states that each  ⅓ cup serving has 710 mg of sodium which is 30% of the recommended intake for a day. That is just for ⅓ cup.

This is my recipe for Penne Pasta in a Zesty Tomato Cheese Sauce.  My recipe has less sodium and no dextrose, maltodextrin, or partially hydrogentated soybean oil.  You can control the amount of fat in my recipe by replacing the Italian sausage with low fat hamburger.  You can also use whole wheat pasta and low fat cheese.  I threw in a chopped up fresh tomato with the pasta.  You could also add some cooked broccoli with the cheese.   If you aren't into spicy food, just eliminate the pepper flakes.  This recipe is just as easy to make as hamburger helper, but much healthier and tastier.

Servings: 6-8
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, a can opener, a large pot or skillet with a lid, a wooden spoon,
Time:  Prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 20 minutes, rest: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-14 ounce can low sodium tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese
  1. Chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Heat the olive oil on medium high.
  3. Remove the sausage from its casing.  Cook and crumble the sausage with the onion and garlic.  This should take about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, broth, milk, Italian seasoning, cornstarch, and pepper flakes to the pot.  Stir and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
  5. Add the pasta and allow it to return to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and cover.  Cook for 11-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Stir in the cheese and remove from the heat.  Allow the pasta to rest for 5-7 minutes, uncovered.  The sauce should thicken while standing.




Serve with a Caesar salad. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 Ideas for Deli Chicken Tenders

I try to cook most of my food from scratch-better for our health, better for our wallet, and in-line with my food philosophy.  However, these past few weeks have been insanely busy for me as happens sometimes in life.  When I am completely out of time, I am tempted to grab a burger.  Instead I head to my grocers’ deli and grab some chicken tenders and a few other ingredients.  This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, healthy, but healthier than a burger and fries.  If you keep your kitchen stocked you should only need to grab fresh veggies to complete these complete meals.  None of these meals takes more than 10 minutes of active time.  And when you have more time, you can make all of these from scratch.






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Quick Chicken Parmesan

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes; Cooking:  15 minutes
Hardware: 11x7 baking dish, measuring cups

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 1 large jar spaghetti sauce
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • pre-washed green salad & Italian salad dressing
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Place the chicken tenders evenly spaced out into the pan.  Lay a slice of cheese onto each tender.  Pour the sauce into the pan, spreading it out evenly and covering the chicken.  Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the sauce.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  3. While the chicken is baking, prepare the spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Serve the chicken Parmesan over the spaghetti.  Open a pre-washed green salad.
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Greek Pita Pockets

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 4 pita pockets
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large tomato
  • ¼ cup olives
  • ¼ cup Greek salad dressing
  • 6 ounces feta cheese
  • hummus and pretzel chips
  1. Slice the tenders into bite size pieces.
  2. Peel and chop the cucumber.  Roughly chop the tomato.
  3. Divide the chicken and veggies equally among the pita pockets.  Top with salad dressing and cheese.
  4. Serve with a side of hummus and pretzel chips.
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 California Chicken Salad
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes,  Cook time: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, and a fork
California Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 slices of bacon*
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 green onions
  • ⅓ cup Ranch salad dressing
  • 4 flat breads
  1. Fry the bacon until it is crispy.  Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  2. While the bacon is frying, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  3. Roughly chop the veggies.
  4. Divide the chicken and veggies among the flat breads.
  5. Top the salad with salad dressing and crumbled bacon.

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Chicken Faust
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 5 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knife, measuring cups and spoons, 8x8 baking dish, a bowl, and a whisk

Ingredients:
  • 7 chicken tenders
  • ¼ cup pickled jalapeños
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  • Chicken Faust
  • pre-washed green salad & salad dressing
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.  
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Spread the chicken evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle with the cheese and then the pickled jalapeños.  Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  3. While the Faust is baking, microwave the rice according to package directions.
  4. Whisk the sour cream and milk together.
  5. Top the rice with the Faust and then with the sour cream sauce. 
  6. Serve with a pre-washed bagged side salad.

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Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes, Microwave time: 6 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a large mixing bowl

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup Buffalo sauce
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded cabbage (used to make slaw)
  • ¼ cup blue cheese salad dressing
  • 4 whole wheat wraps
  • 1 bag microwaveable whole kernel corn
  1. Microwave the corn according to package instructions
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with the Buffalo sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  3. Divide the chicken and cabbage evenly among the wraps. Top with salad dressing.
  4. Fold the bottom of the wrap up over the filling.   Fold one side over the bottom fold and then roll the wrap up.
  5. Serve immediately with a side of corn.
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BBQ Chicken Salad

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a large mixing bowl, a can opener, a bowl and a whisk

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup +¼ cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 bag pre-washed American salad greens
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 small bag pre-shredded carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 single serving size can of corn
  • ¼ cup Ranch salad dressing
  • ½ cup French fried onions (such as Durkee)
  • ¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with ½ cup of the BBQ sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  2. Drain the corn.
  3. Wash and chop the tomatoes.  Slice the onions.
  4. Toss the salad greens with the chicken, corn, tomatoes, carrots, and sliced onions. 
  5. Whisk together the Ranch dressing and remaining BBQ sauce. 
  6. Top the salad with the dressing, French fried onions, and shredded cheese.
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Chicken Nachos

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; Cooking: 5 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, a can opener, measuring cups, a baking sheet, foil, a large serving plate

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 1-14 ounce bag tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Cooking spray
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil.
  2. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces. 
  3. Drain and rinse the black beans.  Drain them again, thoroughly.
  4. Spread ½ the tortilla chips on the baking sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese evenly over the chips. Spread the chicken and the beans evenly over the chips.  Finally top the chicken with the remaining chips and cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  5. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
  6. Place the nachos onto the serving plate.  Top with the remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately. 
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Asian-Inspired Chicken Stir Fry
Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, microwave time: 7 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 package of microwavable Asian stir fried vegetables
  • ½ cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  1. Microwave the rice and vegetables according to package directions.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Toss the chicken with the teriyaki sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  3. To serve, top the rice with the veggies and then with the chicken and teriyaki sauce.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Chicken Tacos

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes; microwave time: 7 minutes
Hardware: a baking sheet, cutting board and knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl, a can opener

Ingredients:
  • 7 chicken tenders
  • ½ cup + ¼ cup taco sauce
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • 2 green onions
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 8 hard-shelled corn tacos
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can seasoned black beans
  • 1 package of microwavable ready rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
  1. Microwave the rice and beans according to package directions.
  2. Heat the shells according to package directions.
  3. Chop the chicken into small pieces.  Toss the chicken with ½ cup of the taco sauce in the mixing bowl. 
  4. Wash the veggies. Chop and seed the tomatoes. Slice the green onions.
  5. Divide the chicken among the taco shells.
  6. Divide the veggies evenly among the shells.
  7. Top the tacos with the remaining sauce, cheese, and sour cream.
  8. Serve with a side of black beans and rice.
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Chicken Club Sandwich

Servings: 4
Time:  Prep: 5 minutes, cook time: 10 minutes
Hardware: cutting board and knives, measuring spoons, a skillet, a paper towel covered plate, and a fork

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken tenders
  • 6 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon*
  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ bag pre-washed shredded lettuce
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • pretzel chips
  1. Cut the bacon strips in half.  Fry until it is crispy.  Drain it on the paper towel covered plate.
  2. Slice the tomato. Cut two of the chicken tenders in half.
  3. Spread the rolls with mustard.  Divide the chicken evenly among the rolls.  Top each sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and bacon halves.
  4. Serve with a side of pretzel chips.



*If you are too busy to cook bacon, you can substitute pre-cooked bacon or even bacon pieces that you can find with the salad dressings.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

I was going to make burgers for the 4th of July.  However, we have had rain and thunderstorms every day this week.  So, I am stuck inside.  I could have made hamburgers on the stove top, but with the thunderstorms come heat and humidity.  So, standing over the stove was out of the question.  Instead, I made Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches.  BBQ is a quintessential American meal.  Add some Mactastic Macaroni Salad, Spicy, Sweet Broccoli Slaw, slices of melon, and a Summer Cocktail and you have a fantastic Independence Day dinner. 

You can make the salad and slaw the day before. 

Servings:  4-6
Time:   Prep: 15 minutes Slow Cook:  6-8 hours, cook: 10 minutes
Hardware: knives & cutting board, measuring cups & spoons, a can opener, crock pot, wooden spoon, fine strainer, a small bowl, a sauce pot, and un-powdered latex gloves

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ - 3 pound butt pork roast
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ cups low sodium beef stock
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 dash liquid smoke (This is optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ⅛ cup cold water
  • Hamburger buns, pickles, sliced onions, mustard
BBQ Pulled Pork

  1. Roughly chop the onion and garlic.  Add them to the crock pot.
  2. Stir the stock, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, hot sauce, and smoke into the crock pot. 
  3. If your butcher tied the roast, remove the butcher’s twine. Add the roast fat side up to the crock pot, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. When the meat is fork tender remove it from the liquid.  Wearing the gloves, shred the pork.  Discard any fat or gristle.  Set the pork aside.
  5. Strain 2 cups of the liquid in the crock pot through the strainer into the sauce pot.  Turn the heat up to medium high and boil the liquid for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir the cornstarch and cold water together in the small bowl until there are no lumps. Add the cornstarch-y water to the boiling liquid and allow to boil for 5 minutes, stirring often.  It should thicken.
  7. Add the shredded pork to the sauce and remove from the heat.
  8. Serve the pork on the hamburger buns.  Offer your guests pickles, onions, and yellow mustard.