Friday, April 30, 2010

Grilled Chicken Alfredo

Okay, so my photos seriously need to improve. I'm pining for a DSLR but that's not gonna happen for a long time. So sorry for the crappy pictures that don't make the food look appetizing!

I used the Guiltless Alfredo Sauce from the Best Bites site. Highly recommended! Again, you want to use shredded Parmesan cheese so that it will melt into the sauce without making it grainy.


1+ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to an even thickness
3-4 Tbsp. Italian dressing
1 lb. box penne rigate pasta

from Our Best Bites

2 cups low-fat milk (not skim)
1/3 cup (3 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (or neufchatel)
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (+ a little more for garnish)

Place chicken in gallon-size Ziploc bag with Italian dressing. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes in fridge.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Rinse and drain.

Meanwhile, preheat grill to med-high heat.

Combine milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender; process until smooth and set aside. In a non-stick saucepan, melt butter over med-high heat; saute garlic for about 30 seconds. Add milk mixture to pan and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes, just until it comes to a simmer. Keep stirring a let cook a few minutes more, until thickened. Remove pan from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

Grill chicken 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Cut breasts into strips.

Stir sauce and toss with pasta in a large bowl. Serve with chicken on top and sprinkle with a little more Parmesan cheese.

When reheating leftovers, add milk to thin out sauce - as it thickens when it cools.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fruited Chicken Salad

This chicken salad was introduced to me by a mother I used to babysit for. She's also the one responsible for Whole Wheat Muffins and Sweet Potato Casserole. You can serve it on whole wheat or scoop it on lettuce leaves.


3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1/2 tsp. curry powder
dash of salt
1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
1 (11 0z) can mandarin oranges, thoroughly drained
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds

In a large bowl, stir together mayo, curry, and salt. Fold in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cheesy Beans and Rice

This is a great side dish for taco night. Use your favorite beans (I used pinto) and either white rice or brown rice.

adapted from

2 cups cooked rice
1 (16 oz) can beans (kidney, black, or pinto), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until tender. Add tomatoes, water, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine rice and beans. Stir in tomato mixture. Spread half into 2 qt. casserole dish; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

White Chili

Thanks to my sister, Lisa, for reminding me about this recipe! I found it in the Betty Crocker cookbook years ago. My other sister, Heather, actually won an award at a chili cook-off with this recipe. It's different, in a good way.

The photo above is with all the fixin's as they say down south. Here is what it looks like normally:

Not as pretty, but it still tastes good. I didn't have white corn, so I just used regular ol' yellow. I serve the chili as-is or offer a bunch of toppings:

Diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, crushed tortilla chips, chopped fresh cilantro, guacamole (just mashed avocado + lime juice), sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Not necessary, but fun.

adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cans white beans (ex: navy or great northern), rinsed and drained
1 can white corn, drained
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
1 tsp. salt (and more, to taste)
2-3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

In a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until onions are tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.  Add remaining ingredients (except lime juice and cilantro) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Just before serving, add lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Taste, and add more salt if needed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strawberry Upside Down Cake

This dessert is great for strawberry season (typically April - June). It lacks, somewhat, for presentation. As it bakes, the top gets very brown (which does not affect the taste) and when you turn it over after it cools, it can be a little drippy. This is a cake best for family get togethers where no one will judge you by the look of your cake. :o)

I increased the amount of strawberries because, to me, that is the whole point of this cake. Also, when I made this I decided to thinly slice my strawberries because I thought it would look better. Totally not worth it! The strawberries cook and don't stay pretty, so you might as well crush them up.

adapted from Fresh Strawberry Upside Down Cake on

4 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1 (6 0z) or 2 (3 0z) boxes strawberry jello
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (18 oz) pkg yellow cake mix, batter prepared as stated on package
whipped cream or Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, crush berries. Stir in jello. Pour into baking dish and spread to cover. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Pour batter over all.

Bake for 40-50 minutes (top will brown significantly) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

If desired, run a knife around the cake and invert onto a large serving platter. Otherwise, serve from dish. Can be served at room temperature or refrigerated before serving. Top individual slices with Cool Whip.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Basil Cream Chicken

This is delicious, but by no means a quick fix. Nor is it super healthy, but you have to live a little sometimes, right? You can always buy fat-free half-and-half (Land o' Lakes makes it). And I used Panko bread crumbs because they give an extra crunch, but you can use regular or Italian-style bread crumbs too.

Make sure you don't do what I did and let the sauce boil after adding the Parmesan. Duh. It gets curdled that way. Still tastes awesome but loses something in presentation. I had too many irons in the fire while making this. I need a nap!


adapted from

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Put flour and 1 tsp. garlic powder in quart-size Ziploc. Mix breadcrumbs and 1 tsp. garlic powder in a shallow dish.

Heat butter and olive oil in skillet on medium heat. One at a time, shake breasts first in flour, then dip in egg, then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Place in skillet and cook for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove breasts to foil-lined baking sheet and put in oven to keep warm.

Reduce heat of skillet to low. Slowly add half-and-half and chicken broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and basil.

Remove chicken from oven and serve with sauce over top. Garnish with more Parmesan, if desired.

Banana Oatmeal Chip Muffins

These are probably my favorite muffins. Or at the very least one of my favorites. And they are healthy too! I found the recipe a few years ago in one of those cooking magazines. This recipe makes one dozen muffins.


1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar. Beat in bananas, egg, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chips.

Line muffin cups; fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack. Best served warm.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

I discovered this recipe by Dana on MADE (she has a much better photo) and tried it for the first time today. Success! This cake is DELICIOUS! Best. Chocolate. Cake. Ever. Even if you don't like chocolate cake, you will like this.

Luckily I had my little nephew handy to do a test run:

"Hmm...soft texture, moist yet not mushy, chocolatey but not too rich..."

The verdict?

"Thumbs up!"

Now go make one of your own!


1 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.

Bring some water to a boil and keep it simmering while you make the batter.* In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.

Add the 1 cup boiling water and carefully stir until the water is mixed in; beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Pour the batter into the pan (batter will be thin).

Bake for 35-38 minutes or just until the top springs back when lightly touched.

Make the frosting while the cake is baking. When the cake is done, pour the warm frosting over the hot cake.


1/2 cup butter
6 Tbsp. buttermilk (or use 6 Tbsp. milk mixed with 1 tsp. vinegar)
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 (16 oz) box (or 3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups marshmallows (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, buttermilk and cocoa. Cook, stirring constantly, just until it comes to a boil; remove from heat.

Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer or wire whisk until the frosting is smooth (stir every few minutes while the cake finishes baking).

Add the marshmallows, then pour the warm frosting over the hot cake, gently spreading until it covers the cake evenly. Cool to room temperature before serving.

* I just microwaved a cup of water after beating the cake batter for the first 30 seconds.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Caprese Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Caprese salad is a traditional Italian salad made of tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and ground black pepper. For these sandwiches, I'm switching Parmesan for the mozzarella since it has a more distinct flavor.

I used shredded Parmesan instead of grated:

You could use grated Parmesan, but the texture of the chicken salad will be different. It might be drier.

Using left over meat from a rotisserie chicken will probably give you the best flavor, but I just used chicken that had been boiled. We're not fancy around here.

These got two thumbs up from the hubby and the kid, although the kid made me take out the tomatoes.


3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
heaping 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (or more to taste)
4-6 croissants (depending on size), split

In a food processor (or blender if you're desperate like me), combine mayo, basil, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic, and black pepper. Pulse until thoroughly blended.

In a medium bowl, combine mayo mixture with chicken, tomatoes, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Spread salad on croissants. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Honey-Garlic Glazed Meatballs

These are similar to the other meatball recipe I have on this site, but still very tasty. I used the full amount of garlic suggested in the recipe and there wasn't much of a garlic flavor - the ketchup can overpower it. So I'm recommending you use more garlic.

To save on clean-up, I lined my pan with foil and then sprayed the foil with cooking spray.

Following some reviews, I doubled the sauce. Totally unnecessary! Unless you want your meatballs drowning in sauce.

adapted from

2 eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup breadcrumbs (Italian style is fine)
1 Tbsp minced dried onion
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 lbs. ground beef

4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup ketcup
1/2 cup honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine eggs and milk. Add the bread crumbs, onion, salt, and garlic powder. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on greased jelly-roll pan and bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter until tender. Stir in the ketchup, honey, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain meatballs, if necessary; add to sauce. Carefully stir to evenly coat. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carrot Cake

My mother-in-law loves carrot cake and I intended to make some for her birthday in February, but I didn't ... can't remember why. I think we already had a cake? Anyway, what goes better with Easter than carrot cake? I made this yesterday and divided it into two round cake pans: one with nuts, one without. The one with nuts is in the background of the photo - I put chopped walnuts on top to distinguish it from the other. I used the cream cheese frosting from The Best Cupcakes Ever.

adapted from Carrot Cake III on

4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 or two round cake pans.*

In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in carrots and pecans, if using. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If using a 9x13, cool in pan. If using round cake pans, cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make frosting: In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Frost cooled cake. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. Store in the fridge.

*If you are using round cake pans, I have a tip for making it easier to get the cakes to come out. Grease the pans, then, using a pencil, trace the bottom of the pans onto waxed paper. Cut the circles out and place them in the bottom of the pans. Pour batter in and bake as usual. When it's time to take the cake out of the pan, run a knife around the edges and turn the pan upside down. The cake should fall out easily. Gently remove the wax paper and discard. Cool cake on a wire rack.