Time for some recipes. No-brainer cooking 4.06.14

So… I realized that I have quite a bit to post about (as usual), but I thought I’d start with some recipes. Because I cook every week, and when I don’t post to you about them, I not only fall way behind, I also forget what I have made! Perhaps this will be a post of four misses (or, recipes I would change in order to make again), followed by four hits. Yes, I think that’ll do.

egginablanket   When looking at what recipes I love, most of them are chicken based. I could really title a book, “Cooking with Chicken.” I won’t go into detail about how to make the miss-ishes, because you can pretty much follow the recipes from the links and use your own creativity to improve them. I’ll explain what happened, and what I would do differently.

Here are the four miss-ishes:

piccata1) Mushroom chicken piccata: This is a 3/5. I added too much lemon, essentially, and got a very sour dish. I quickly googled, “What do I do if my recipe is too sour?” and the genius (if obvious) answer was, “add sugar.” I did this, which made the dish less sour, but it still lacked overall pizzazz. Kinda bland. And I think I would double the sauce.

ranch chicken2) Blue cheese chicken: I probably would’ve done a lot better had I actually stuck to the recipe as it reads, “Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs.” I made the chicken in a skillet, only marinated it for 45 minutes, substituted ranch dressing with blue cheese, and used rosemary that was about a week old. The result: pretty plain. I thought it tasted like I hadn’t marinated it. Also, the rosemary was tough; I should’ve chopped it into smaller pieces. And I think grilling is key here. I might try this again and actually follow the recipe (and marinate overnight), but it seems to need a lot more seasonings.

pork53) Slow cooker Pork Roast: I ate this at a friend’s house and it was delicious, so I decided to try it. Result: TOUGH, DRY pork, a 2/5. I’m not sure how her’s tasted so delicious? I have a few ideas: first, marinate the pork roast first. Second, use a good, expensive pork shoulder, not the cheap cut I bought at our market. Third, don’t cook it for very long at all, or use a meat thermometer (mine is broken and I haven’t replaced it yet). I think our slow cooker is very hot and often overcooks meat.

squash4) Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash: I am actually giving this a 4/5. The problem was, my husband didn’t like it, and it seemed to make WAY more than 6 servings, so I had to eat it all by myself, every night, for a week. It seems like it would also be better as a side dish than as a main dish. Use fresh feta: I think the smell of the cheese was too strong for my husband. I’ve tried two spaghetti squash recipes (this one and a lasagna, both of which I liked a lot), but I had a lot of trouble getting the spaghetti squash to cook thoroughly. I tried baking, boiling, and microwaving… it just seemed to stay crunchy. Any suggestions?

Alrighty, enough with the miss-ishes. Here are some dishes I’ve made over the past six months that we just can’t get enough of because they are so amazingly delicious, healthy, and easy:

The Menu

  1. Black-Bean-Soup1 “Souper” healthy Black bean soup
  2. Paula Deen’s basil sliders with roasted red pepper salad. (Note: please don’t go all crazy on me here and shout things like, “Paula Deen uses way too much mayonnaise!” “Paula Deen is racist!” I am not here to condone unhealthy food nor prejudiced opinions. I am simply referring to a recipe that I found and modified into a pretty healthy, darn good burger.)
  3. divan Chicken divan with rice
  4. uglies “Uglies” – BBQ muffin cups with salad and zucchini fries

Your grocery list

  • 1 medium sweet potato, rinsed, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, rinsed and sliced into bite size rounds
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced (or about 1/2 bag of baby carrots, chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery, rinsed and diced (since you’ll end up with a lot of leftover celery, you could dice it up and throw it into all of the recipes. You could use more in the soup too if you like celery).
  • 1 medium onion, diced and divided in 2 (will use in 2 recipes)
  • 4 cups baby spinach or kale, loosely packed, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 colored peppers, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 large zucchini, peeled and sliced* (this is to make zucchini fries. You could also buy a bag of frozen sweet potato fries and these are great and easier)
  • 4-5 fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (if you have it, but it’s not necessary)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chopped broccoli (2 heads steamed and chopped, or 2 packages frozen)
  • salad fixings: package of spring mix, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese… whatever you like for salad
  • One 1-ounce package fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (optional, the beans are for added protein so choose beans you like)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium (or water, whatever you have)
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans reduced fat condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup (I use reduced fat cream of mushroom)
  • 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce (I like Stubbs original, but whatever you like. This will make or break the dish, so go good)
  • 6 eggs
  • one pound ground turkey or chicken
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkey, chicken or lean beef
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken meat (approx. 1/2 lb. chicken breast, cooked and shredded)
  • 1/4 cup lite mayonnaise + mustard mixture (or use only mayonnaise or mustard if you dislike one of them)
  • 1 8 oz. (or 16 oz., depending on how much you like cheese) bag of part-skim shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 package refrigerated biscuit dough (8 biscuits)
  • 1 cup rice (your choice. I like brown rice or wild rice)

Things you should have in your pantry:

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • minced garlic, 1 clove and 3 cloves approx (or 1 tsp. and 1 Tbs., to use for 2 different recipes)
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional, don’t go out and buy it. maybe try some cumin or cinnamon if you have that)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons paprika
  • 1-3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt*

*These are all for zucchini fries. So if you omit the zucchini fries and make something else, you can omit these ingredients. I like to buy a frozen bag of sweet potato fries and make them because they are easy and pretty healthy.


A. First boil your chicken:

  1. Cook your chicken breast (bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add whole chicken breast, boil about 10-15 minutes. You’ll be baking this chicken so it can be a little bit pink in the middle.)
  2. This water can be used for the black bean soup if you want a little extra chicken flavor.

Black-Bean-Soup1B. Prepare your “Souper” healthy Black Bean Soup:

  1. Combine your 1 clove (1 tsp) minced garlic, chopped sweet potato, medium zucchini, carrots, celery, 1/2 onion (diced), beans, vegetable broth (or water or chicken broth from part A), can of diced tomatoes, paprika, allspice (if you have it, otherwise, try some cumin or cinnamon), bay leaves, salt and pepper (to taste) into a large dutch oven. Make sure all the vegetables are mostly covered with liquid (add water if needed). Turn on the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil (approx. 2o minutes). Reduce heat to simmer, allow to simmer an additional 30 minutes. Add kale or spinach for the final 5 minutes, simmer. When serving, remove bay leaves.

divanC. While your soup is cooking, begin preparing your Chicken Divan:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Grease a 3-quart casserole dish (I think that’s 11″ x 17″) by spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Take your boiled chicken and shred, using two forks.
  3. Arrange cooked broccoli (steamed fresh or frozen) in prepared baking dish. Arrange chicken over broccoli. Add mushrooms (optional).
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cans reduced fat cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup, 1 tsp. lemon juice and 1 Tbs. curry powder. Mix together and pour sauce mixture over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle approx. 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese on top and bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. When ready to eat, prepare rice according to package and serve over rice.

ugliesD. While the soup is simmering and the Chicken Divan is baking, begin making your Uglies (isn’t that fun to say?):

  1. In a large skillet or frying pan, cook the 3/4 lb. ground chicken/turkey/beef (whichever you chose) with the 1/2 diced onion and 1 tsp. garlic powder until evenly cooked (approx. 7 minutes); drain off the grease. Stir in the barbeque sauce and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  3. Open the biscuit dough. These 8 biscuits will become 12, so rip off approx. 1/3 of every biscuit. Put two 1/3rds together to make one biscuit. Smooth out the 2/3 remaining into approximately a circular biscuit.
  4. Put each biscuit in the muffin tin and fold up sides to create a cup shape. Fill each biscuit fill almost to the top with the meat mixture; top with cheddar cheese.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (if the chicken divan is still baking, this will make it bake more quickly so be prepared to pull out the Chicken Divan early).
  6. Bake in preheated oven until biscuits are baked, cheese is melted and tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

PB1107H_basil-turkey-sliders_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni18colE. Your soup is probably cooling off, so make sure it’s moved to a back burner. Your Chicken Divan is or soon will be coming out of the oven. Your Uglies are baking. It’s time to make Paula Deen’s Basil Sliders:

  1. Get a large skillet or grill pan ready (this might involve cleaning the one you just used. But I would use a grill pan if it were up to me). Grease the pan by spraying with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the 1 lb. ground chicken (or turkey), basil, 3 cloves or 1 Tbs. minced garlic, salt and pepper. Add the 1/4 c. mayonnaise/mustard mixture (I make this by putting some mayonnaise and mustard into a 1/4 measuring cup, and stirring). Stir ingredients to combine. Shape the mixture into patties (this works best when they are relatively flat, and I’ve found that it makes 8-10 patties).
  3. Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the turkey sliders in batches, and cook until done all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  4. When ready to eat, reheat patties along with sauteed peppers/onions (which we will saute soon). I like to serve this over salad, and top with a fried egg.

zucchini friesF. The finishing touches: time for some sauteed peppers and onions, and zucchini fries:

  1. Take your two sliced colored peppers and one small sliced onion. place them all into a bowl or a one gallon ziploc bag. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1 Tbs), balsamic vinegar (about 2 Tbs), salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Coat thoroughly and allow to sit together for a few minutes to marinate.
  2. While marinating the peppers, peel the zucchini.
  3. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil lightly greased with cooking spray. (Remember, if your uglies are still baking, this heat increase will again cause them to bake more quickly, so keep your eye out!)
  4. Cut the peeled zucchini in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice the zucchini ito 1/2 x 1/2 x 4 inch pieces.
  5. Combine the 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and 1 tsp seasoned salt in a gallon bag or large bowl.
  6. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a shallow bowl. Dip the zucchini fries into the olive oil, then press into bread crumbs. Gently toss between your hands so any bread crumbs that haven’t stuck can fall away. Place the breaded zucchini onto the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake the zucchini in the preheated oven until the fries are golden and tender, about 15 minutes.
  8. While zucchini are baking, prepare a small frying pan by heating over medium-high heat. Once hot (will fizzle when flicked with water), spray the pan with cooking spray. add the sauteed peppers and onions and cook about 10-15 minutes, flipping the peppers about halfway through cooking.

There you have it! You will have about a weeks worth of food for a family of four, I think. We definitely did not finish eating all of this with just the two of us, but it was very good!


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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