Finally! Another no-brainer cooking: 5.8.13

Well! After a brief hiatus where a) I was swamped at work, and b) my computer wouldn’t let me post (and I have no idea why), I am back. I may be pictureless. I’m not sure if the computer has agreed to that level of commitment yet. Still, for those of you who long for recipe inspiration, here goes:

This week’s menu:

  1. Chicken Pasta Primavera
  2. Chicken Parmesan Mini-meatloafs
  3. Skillet enchiladas
  4. Curry lentil soup

I love this menu because you literally can’t go wrong. Pasta primavera is a mix of any vegetables you have/want; I give examples, but they’re nothing like the recipe I adapted it from, and it doesn’t have to be the same for you. The mini-meatloafs are adorable AND delicious. Curry lentil soup: how does such a healthy soup taste so good? It’s spring, the mix of cold/warm days. So we have cold and warm day recipes here.

The shopping list:

  • 1 bunch skinny asparagus, rinsed and chopped into 1/3rds
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into rounds
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 3.5 onions, one thinly sliced, 2.5 chopped and divided (1 + 1 + 0.5)
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • 1 bag spinach, trimmed, washed and dried, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces OR 1 lb. Italian chicken or turkey sausage
  • 1 ½ lbs raw ground chicken breast (if you have trouble finding ground chicken that is breast meat only, do what I do and throw the same weight of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the food processor and run until ground)
  • 3-4 cups (12-16 oz) cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 1 generous cup grated Parmesan (will divide for recipes)
  • ¾ cup 2% reduced fat shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (8 oz) package lowfat mexican blend cheese
  • 1 (8 oz.) container plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 (16 oz) package small pasta (bowtie, penne, etc. Really, any pasta will work)
  • ¾ cup pasta sauce
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes & green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (8 oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 (10 oz. can) enchilada sauce: I substitute this with 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce, 1 cup water, and 1 package enchilada seasoning because I like the taste better
  • 1 1/2 cup red, yellow or green lentils
  • 12 corn or flour tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock-in-a-box: I substitute this with water and add salt to taste

Optional:

  • dried parsley, oregano or basil to garnish the mini-meatloafs
  • balsamic vinegar to drizzle over roasted vegetables
  • Naan bread or rolls (to go with soup)
  • avocado, chips & salsa, sour cream, cilantro (to compliment enchiladas)
  • salad & garlic bread (to eat with pasta)

Things you should have in your pantry:

  • No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • extra-virgin olive oil (approx. 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (for Naan bread)
  • 2 palm-fuls (approx 3-4 Tbs.) curry seasoning
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
  • 1 Tb. flour
  • 6 Tbs. dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 to 3 cups water

1) Start with the Curry Lentil Soup

  • Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add scant 1/4 c.  extra-virgin olive oil, 5 cloves minced garlic, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped chile and 1 small chopped onion.
  • Cook until the mixture softens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lentils and toss to coat in the oil, season with salt, to taste and curry seasoning. Add the 1 qt. box of stock and 2-3 cups water to the soup and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Add spinach when reheating soup to eat. Serve with bread & butter.
2) Next, prepare the chicken pasta primavera:
(This can be done while the soup is cooking)
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • On a large heavy baking sheet (I cover mine with foil and spray with cooking spray), toss all of the chopped/sliced vegetables: head of broccoli, bunch of asparagus, sliced onion, 1 sliced zucchini, cherry tomatoes – with 2-3 Tbs. olive oil, salt, pepper, and 2-3 Tbs. Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence to coat.
  • Arrange vegetables evenly in one layer over the baking sheet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if desired. Bake until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Saute 2-3 minced cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan. If you have not already done so, cook 1 lb. of bite-size chicken or sausage to cook. Add the container of greek yogurt with 1 Tbs. flour, scant 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 2-3 Tbs. olive oil. Add additional seasonings (Italian seasoning or Herbs du Provence) to taste, approx. 1 Tbs.
  • Cover, simmer sauce on low heat. Add pasta liquid as necessary to thin.
  • Toss the pasta, chicken and sauce with the vegetable mixture in a large bowl to combine. Add enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with additional parmesan before serving.

3) Prepare the Chicken Parmesan Mini-Meatloafs

  • After removing the roasted vegetables (from pasta primavera), reduce oven to 350. Lightly mist a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the 1 1/2 lb. ground chicken, 1/2 c. egg whites, 6 Tbs. breadcrumbs, 3-4 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 chopped onion, and 1 tsp-1 Tbs of each: dried basil, thyme, oregano. Add salt and pepper (approx 1/2 tsp each) and generous 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Lightly mix together. Do not over handle.
  • Form the meat mixture evenly into the 12 cups of your prepared muffin tin. Spread the 1/2 cup pasta sauce evenly over the tops of each muffin. Bake for 30-40 minutes and remove from the oven. Top each muffin with about a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese and then return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish if desired.

4) Last, make the skillet chicken enchiladas:

  • Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add tortilla pieces and 1 lb. chopped or shredded cooked chicken; mix well. Cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until hot, stirring frequently.
  • Pour can of undrained tomatoes, diced green chilis, enchilada sauce and tomato sauce over chicken mixture in skillet. Mix well. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Mexican cheese over chicken mixture. Cover skillet; cook 5 minutes or until hot, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Serve immediately.
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About wordlytraveler

I am a simply a girl with a head full of ideas. I love reading blogs. I love traveling. Cooking. The beach. Stuff Kids say. Speech Therapy. Running. Yoga. God. DIY Projects. Painting. Books, especially children's books. You will find all of this and more on my blog. I hope to write every week, at least September-May. I welcome your feedback. Thanks for reading!
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