Thursday, April 29, 2010

Easy Chicken Alfredo

Chicken Alfredo is yet another one of those things that I love, but rarely order when we eat out because of the calorie content. I decided a couple months ago to try to make it on my own. When I was making it, I thought it seemed like too much cream cheese compared to other ingredients, but the recipe had such good reviews, I thought it'd turn out ok. When I tasted it, though, it tasted like biting into a block of cream cheese. Don't get me wrong, I like cream cheese and all, but I prefer it on bagels, not pasta. It was pretty awful.

Since then, I have shied away from making any more alfredo sauces...until today. Mr. Z and I were both home at lunch time today, so I searched for something quick and easy to make. I happened to stumble upon a new recipe for alfredo sauce and figured I'd give it another try. I am glad that first incident didn't stop me from trying again, because this one was worlds better than the first. Actually, Mr. Z and I both thought it was pretty great, especially since I made the saue in less time than it took to boil the pasta.

Easy Chicken Alfredo
sauce recipe from, written as I made it

1 lb. pasta (I used cellentani)
8 oz. cooked chicken, cut into strips
4 oz. cream cheese (I used light)
1/2 stick of butter
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. milk (I used skim)
1 tbsp. minced garlic

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. In a small pot over medium heat, add cream cheese and butter, stirring until melted completely. Add parmesan cheese, milk, and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour over cooked noodles; stir to mix well. Add chicken to top of pasta.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms: Two Ways

I think mushrooms are my favorite vegetable. They are so versatile. I eat them with steak, in scrambled eggs, or in soup. They're good in potstickers, in salads, or on pizza. But my absolute favorite way to eat mushrooms is stuffed. Stuffed mushrooms are one of those things that I have been making for several years now. For parties we go to that I'm asked to bring something, I make stuffed mushrooms. If we have people over for dinner, I make stuffed mushrooms. Or if we are sitting around watching American Idol and don't have anything else to make for dinner (which may or may not have been the case tonight), I make stuffed mushrooms.

When I make stuffed mushrooms, I decide on the stuffing according to what I have on hand. These two recipes are ones I came up with according to what sounded good at the time. I really liked the spinach and cheese ones, but I loved the crab stuffed ones. The opposite was true for Mr. Z. Both of these recipes are super quick and easy to make last minute. I had leftovers of both of the fillings- I think I could have probably doubled the number of mushrooms made with each of the them.

Right: "Crab" Stuffed Mushroom; Left: Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushroom

Stuffed Mushrooms: Two Ways
Original Recipes

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
1/2 lb. whole white mushrooms, stems removed
1 pkg. frozen T.G.I. Friday's Spinach and Artichoke Cheese Dip
1/4 c. plain panko
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave dip according to package. Mix in panko and parmesan cheese into the dip. Spoon mixture into each mushroom (a little more than enough to fill the cap). Bake for 20 minutes.

"Crab" Stuffed Mushrooms
1/2 lb. whole white mushrooms, stems removed
4 oz. imitation crab meat, chopped into small pieces
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
garlic salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crab, cream cheese, cheese, and garlic salt in a bowl. Spoon mixture into each mushrooms. Bake for 20 minutes.

Chicken Fried Rice

If I have not mentioned it before, Mr. Z and I LOVE Chinese food. Actually, truth be told, I may even be considered obsessed. It's really pretty bad. But it is definitely one of those things I can only eat every once in a while because of the insane amount of grease and calories. Luckily for me though, I am learning to make some things myself. That way, I get to eat it much more often! I have made Baked Egg Rolls, Beef with Broccoli, General Tso's Chicken, and Orange Chicken, although the latter three were prior to starting this blog.

Homemade Chinese food is still not the healthiest meal, but I am completely confident that my homemade versions of my take-out favorites have less than half the amount of calories than the real thing, while still being just (well, almost) as good. This recipe didn't come from just one place. When I first got married, I looked for a good fried rice recipe, but ended up mixing and matching to suit our taste.

Chicken Fried Rice
Original Recipe

3 c. cooked rice, cooled (I used white this time, but usually use brown)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen carrots
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 c. cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

Heat oil on medium-high heat. Saute rice for 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix well. Push rice aside. Scramble two eggs and mix into rice. Add peas, carrots, and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are hot.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Toasted Ravioli

I know, I know. It's been a little while. But we really have had so many things going on these past couple weeks that have prevented me from blogging, and even cooking. I think today was the first time in a week I've actually done anything that resembles cooking. Even so, I wasn't sure whether or not to post this 'recipe', because it is so easy I'm not sure it qualifies as a recipe. The other day I heard someone mention fried ravioli, and thought about these. These aren't fried, but they sure taste like it, minus all the extra calories. I've made these several times before, but this is the first time since I've started this blog.

Toasted Ravioli

Original Recipe

20 frozen cheese raviolis (I used them straight out of the freezer)
1 egg
1 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg in a shallow bowl. Pour breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. Dip raviolis in egg, a couple raviolis at a time. Let egg drip off a little and place in breadcrumbs. Cover well with breadcrumbs. Place on cookie sheet; spray top of raviolis with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve with marinara sauce.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lemon Pasta

It's a rare occasion that Mr. Z and I get to eat lunch together. On the slim chance that we do, it's usually something quick and easy like a sandwich. Today, Mr. Z had a pretty long morning, and I happened to be home at lunchtime, so I decided to make something a little more substantial than our normal sandwiches. I found this recipe a few days ago, and it sounded like a perfect dish for this time of year. Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand, which does not happen too often. It's not as heavy of a dish as most pastas are; it's more light and clean tasting. I loved it, but Mr. Z thought it was a little too lemony for his taste. Imagine that!

Lemon Pasta
from Telly's Tasty Tidbits, written as I made it

1 lb. spaghetti (I used fettucine)
2/3 c. olive oil
2/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, for garnish

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, mix olive oil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper until well blended. Drain pasta, reserving 1 c. of the pasta water. Pour lemon juice mixture over pasta, then toss well. Add a little pasta water at a time until desired consistency (I only used about 1/2 c.). Garnish with pasta.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Crockpot Corned Beef

Yes, I do realize that I'm about 3 1/2 weeks late on making corned beef. But after St. Patrick's Day, our grocery store had corned beef on sale, so I jumped on that offer and decided to make it for dinner two nights ago. Corned beef is something that I usually only eat once a year (on March 17th!), but without fail, I love it every time.

This is probably the simplest recipe to ever be posted on a cooking blog and there really is nothing to it, but it is so good. Actually, anything I make in my crockpot comes out good, so this was certainly no exception. Mr. Z did not grow up eating corned beef on St. Patrick's Day like I did, so I think this was probably only the third time he's eaten it, but he really liked it too. Though, as much as I'd like to say I'll make it again soon, I probably won't. It'll probably be next March 17th before corned beef shows up around here again.

Please forgive me. Corned beef does not photograph well, at all.

Crockpot Corned Beef
Original Recipe

Corned beef (mine was about 2 lbs.)
32 oz. of beef broth

Place corned beef in the crockpot. Rub with spice packet that comes with corned beef. Pour beef broth over corned beef, then cover the rest of the way with water. Cook on high for 1 hour, then low for 4 hours. Drain, then slice corned beef.