Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

Bacon Ranch Chicken pasta

I am always looking for ways to improve recipes I find.  Usually I avoid any recipe that says it’s “Lite” or “Skinny” or the notorious “Low Fat”.  I’m sorry but they always are lacking in taste.  If you watch your portion size you don’t have to trade taste for calories.  Just my opinion, but we only live once and everyone needs to live a little.  This is one “Skinny” recipe that I saw on Carlsbad Cravings.  Really like their site, they have some really good recipes.  I looked it over and liked the general way they were going, so had to get in the kitchen and make it mine.  For those of you not afraid of a little extra, I think you will like the changes.

1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup ranch dressing (use the regular, it much tastier)

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

zest from the lemon – should give you about 1 tablespoon

1/2 tsp coarse grain Dijon mustard

Mix everything together and place in zip lock bag, add chicken and place in refrigerator overnight.  The longer you marinade it , the better the flavor.

 

2 stalks broccoli, cut off florets and break down into small pieces

1 pound penne pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cup chicken broth (I use home made, but any really good brand would do)

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 tsp. coarse grain Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing seasoning mix

2 tsp. minced fresh basil

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

8 slices thick applewood bacon, fried and chopped

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli and cook 3-5 minutes.  Remove broccoli and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.  Place in a bowl and in the same pot add the penne.  Cook to al dente.  Drain and rinse with water.  In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and over medium heat, sauté the chicken and marinade and shallots.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Cook until chicken no longer looks pink, then add the bell pepper and garlic.  Cook about 2 minutes more.  Add to the bowl with the broccoli.  In the same skillet melt the butter and the other tablespoon of olive oil.  When butter is melted, whisk in the flour, cook the rue stirring the whole time for about 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.  Whisk in the chicken broth, the half and half, stirring till smooth.  Reduce heat to low and simmer.  Add mustard, ranch seasoning, basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Allow sauce to simmer until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  Add broccoli, chicken and penne and stir to coat.  Sprinkle the chopped bacon over the top and if desired, sprinkle with additional shredded cheese (it makes it even better)

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Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

Blueberry Cream Cheese French toast casserole

Since I am sharing some of my easy breakfast dishes, I have to share the one I made yesterday.  This is so good.  I serve it with my chunky blueberry syrup, but you can serve it with maple syrup if you choose.  So easy to throw together and so yummy.  It’s like having dessert for breakfast.

12 slices of challah bread (I use homemade.  The recipe is on my blog)

2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

12 large eggs

1 cup milk

1/3 cup honey (when I am out of honey, I use maple syrup)

Spray or butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Cut or tear bread into cubes and arrange in bottom of pan.  Cut up cream cheese into 1 inch cubes.  Drop these cubes over the top of the bread.  Sprinkle the blueberries over the top.  In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk and honey.  Pour egg mixture, a little at a time, over the bread until the mixture is soaked up but the bread is not soggy.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  When ready to bake, pull the pan from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter about 20 minutes to take the chill off.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the covered pan into the over and bake about 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown.  The center should be set.  While the casserole is baking, make the sauce.

Chunky Blueberry Sauce

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 tablespoon butter

Stir together the cornstarch and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Add water and stir until smooth.  Stir well and make sure all the cornstarch is broken down or it will be lumpy.  Heat to boiling and stir 2-3 minutes until thickened.  Add blueberries and simmer 8 minutes stirring occasionally until the berries begin to burst.  Do not let all of them burst.  Turn heat off and stir in butter gently.  Serve warm sauce over the casserole.

Hashbrown Bacon Breakfast Casserole

Hashbrown bacon breakfast casserole

I like easy dishes that I can make for breakfast.  This one I can throw together in just a few minutes.  You can use frozen hashbrowns if you prefer, or do what I do.  Grate some potatoes (I like to leave the skins on) rinse in salt water (this keeps them from turning grey) and then package them in serving amounts in freezer bags and freeze.  I use to do the whole process of blanching them, cooling them off and then packing them in freezer bags.  But one time when I was short on time, I tried this and it worked, so why spend all that extra time. All you have to do is pull them out when you need them and cook.  So much cheaper than those bags in the store and the flavor and texture is so much better.  Another time saver is to cook some extra pieces of bacon when you are cooking bacon for another meal.  Then allow those pieces to cool, wrap them in some parchment paper, slip that into a ziplock bag and put it into the refrigerator.  It will keep about a week.  Then when you need some chopped bacon, just pull it out, chop it up and you are good to go.

1 lb. bacon, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

6 eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups shredded potatoes

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I use the white, sharp cheddar when I have it)

1 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese

1 1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp.  Stir constantly or some of the pieces will burn.  Drain on paper towels.  In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, stir in bacon mixture.  Pour into a buttered 9×13 inch baking dish.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until set and bubbly.  Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Turkey Cutlets with Cream Sauce

turkey cutlets with cream sauce

I love turkey.  Any way I can get it is okay with me.  This is a simple dish that is good served over rice or mashed potatoes.  It has a simple pan seared turkey cutlet and a cream sauce that really compliments the turkey.  You can add sliced mushrooms to the sauce, which I do when my son is not at home for dinner.  He hates mushrooms.  Not sure where I went wrong on that one.  I love mushrooms.  This is a quick weekday dinner that can be whipped up in 30 minutes with little effort.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

3 pounds of turkey breast cutlets

2 tablespoons cooking oil

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup water

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice (if you have trouble finding the unsweetened kind, it is okay to use regular)

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 cups sour cream

1 pound sliced mushrooms (optional)

In a large skillet over medium heat cook turkey in oil and butter until golden brown and juices run clear.  Drain.  Place on plate and keep warm by covering with foil.  In the same skillet combine water and apple juice and bouillon cubes.  Stir to loosen all the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet and cook over medium heat until reduced by half.  Add pepper and reduce heat to low.  Whisk in the sour cream until well mixed and creamy.  If you want to add the mushrooms, first sauté them in a couple of tablespoons of butter till tender.  Add to cream sauce and mix in.  Serve cutlets over rice or mashed potatoes and spoon cream sauce over the top.  Makes about 6-8 servings.

Chicken and Pasta with corn in a Garlic Parmesan Sauce

Chicken, pasta and corn in a thyme garlic sauce

We love pasta in our family.  There are so many ways to fix it and so many different types of pasta.  I love to have a variety available at all times and especially love to make fresh pasta as much as I can.  There is just something so satisfying to making the dough, rolling it out, cutting it into the shape you want and making a dish completely from scratch. I could spend hours in the kitchen making food for those I love.  But as we all know, there is never enough time to do everything that we have to do now, so sometimes, I just have to settle for dried pasta.  This is an easy dish.  Very simple to put together.  You can grill the chicken the day before (or use left over chicken if you want).  Using the dried pasta saves a lot of time.  This simple dish is very tasty and easy to make.  I think after you try it, you will go back to it, time and time again.

4 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced thinly

1 pound of dried pasta (your choice – I change it up according to what I have in my pantry)

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

6 garlic cloves, minced (Yes, it’s okay to use some out of those little jars of minced garlic they sell in produce.  Just read the jar to find out how much equals a clove)

1 cup white wine

4 large sprigs thyme

2 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook, stirring often until the pasta is tender but firm.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté garlic and shallots for about 3 minutes.  Add wine and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Liquid will be reduced by about 3/4th.  Add corn and cream.  Reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes.  Add pasta and season to taste.  Add parmesan and chicken and stir until parmesan is well incorporated into the sauce.    Serve with additional grated Parmesan over the top. You can also top with fresh chopped parsley, or chives.  (I always have to try new things when cooking to see if I like them better)

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff and have a lot of different recipes for it.  Some are time-consuming, but the effort is worth it and others are good and easy. (I never keep a recipe that I don’t like.  I just start playing with it, till I get the outcome I want) You can make beef stroganoff with hamburger if you want or even stew meat, but I like the thinly sliced steak so much better.  This is a meal that my family likes in the fall and winter.  I serve it with a green vegetable or salad and hot rolls or garlic bread.  Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound of mushrooms, sliced

4 tablespoons chopped green onion

2 pounds of lean steak, sliced thinly (I sliced it when it is still slightly frozen.  Makes it so much easier to slice)

1 cup beef broth

1/2 cup white wine

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 sprig of fresh tarragon(pull leaves off of stem and discard stem)

1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

1/2 tsp. fresh parsley, minced

2 cups sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add halt the oil.  Saute the mushrooms briefly.  Add green onion and salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute, remove and reserve the mushrooms. Add the remaining butter and oil and cook the sliced meat a few pieces at a time, until browned.  Continue until all meat is cooked.  Remove meat and add broth and wine to the skillet.  Cook until the volume is reduced by half.  Add Worcestershire sauce and herbs.  Simmer for a few minutes and then add sour cream, beef, onions and mushrooms.  Cook over low heat

Chicken Spinach Casserole

Chicken spinach casserole

This dish is a good one to take to a potluck or to serve to company.  Easy to make.  Tastes wonderful.  What more could you ask?

 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 box Orzo noodles

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

1 cup milk

2 cups sour cream

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 package (10 ounce) frozen spinach, cooked and drained

1 (8 ounce) package of slice mushrooms

1 (8 ounce) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Cook chicken, reserving broth, and cut into bite sized pieces.  Cook Orzo and drain.  Melt butter and slowly stir in butter until blended.  Add milk and broth.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick.  Add all the rest of the ingredients except chicken, orzo and cheese.  Mix well.  Fold in orzo.  In large butter casserole dish layer 1/3 of vegetable/orzo mixture, then 1/2 chicken.  Repeat ending with remaining vegetable/orzo mixture.  Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Serves about 6-8.