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Sunday Inspiration: Kitchen Disaster Edition

August 14, 2011

Sorry I haven’t been able to do much lately.  My kitchen has basically been a construction zone/disaster area all week.  Live and learn, people: do not let your need for a replacement garbage disposal suddenly morph into a new sink.

It’s not pretty, folks, not pretty at all.  Between the sawdust, the trash, and the fact that everything that used to live under the sink has now taken up residence on my counters, I’m feeling a little itchy.  But it will pass!

In the meantime, I’m ogling all these delicious recipes in the hopes that I’ll be able to get back in the kitchen soon and better than ever!

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Stay Out of the Kitchen Recipes

Cajun Bulgur Salad - A Couple Cooks

Grilled Honey Garlic Shrimp – Lauren’s Latest

My Garden Overrunneth

Zucchini Burgers – Finding Joy in My Kitchen.

These look very similar to my own Zucchini Grinders so I can’t wait to try them!

Egg Roll Soup – Gimme Some Oven

I Just Gotta Try This

Cheesy Garlic Sticks – Jam Hands

And the Spoonful of Laughter Sunday Special Award goes to…

Slow Cooker Hummus – This Chick Cooks

Because anything made in a slow cooker is amazing.  But maybe that’s just me. :)

Meatless Monday: Polenta Parmesan

August 8, 2011

The first time I made this dish, John literally turned up his nose and gave me that you’ve got to be kidding me look.

Just try it, I told him.

The rest is history.

I now keep a tube of polenta in the refrigerator for those nights where I want something meatless, something hearty, and something that I won’t spend two hours in the kitchen preparing.

Because I just don’t have that kind of time.

Ever.

I love the crunch of this dish once it’s been crusted and the cheese and mozzarella sauce really just top it off perfectly.  I’ve seen other recipes that call for sausage and vegetables with this and I’m anxious to try one of those as well.

One of these nights.

For now, I’ll stick with this dish since it’s tried, tested, and approved!

Polenta Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tube of polenta (any flavor will do.)
  • 1 Egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Tomato/pasta sauce
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  • Oil

Directions

1. Heat oil on the stovetop for frying.

2. Slice the polenta into rounds. Dredge in the egg wash and then into the breadcrumbs. Place in the oil. Turn once the bottom of the polenta round begins to heat. After the round has been entirely browned, place on a cookie sheet (mine was covered in foil with some baking spray.)

3. After all polenta is on the cookie sheet, top with a spoonful of pasta sauce and some cheese. Place under the broiler (on high) for a minute or two.

These are definitely best served warm.  Enjoy!

Linked to: Mangia Monday and A Southern Fairytale.

Stay Out of the Kitchen: Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Salads

July 22, 2011

One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Caesar Salad.  I will literally just crave it sometimes, until I’ve eaten my way through every Caesar Salad and Caesar Wrap within a 5 miles radius of my office

But I’ve never attempted my own Caesar dressing.  Partly because I find it intimidating and partly because I’ve already found an amazing Caesar dressing that John and I love.

So why mess with perfection?

In the past when I’ve made Caesar salads, it usually involves those Perdue Chicken Shortcuts and we all walk away feeling a little disappointed in the meal.  You know, that sense of it’s good, but it really could have been better?

This is better. Much better.

And this is just as easy.  Actually, it’s so easy it shouldn’t even be called a recipe.  But I will. :)

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Salads

Ingredients:

3 – 4 chicken breasts (I got about 3 salads worth out of this.)

1 cup Caesar dressing of choice. (Ken’s.  Yum!)

1 cup of water or chicken broth

2 small heads of Romaine

Parmesan cheese, croutons, other assorted toppings

Directions:

1. Place chicken breasts in 4-quart slow cooker.  They can be frozen or partially thawed and even if you use more chicken, they should fit in a crockpot this size.  But if you only have a larger one, feel free to use that too.

2. Add water/chicken broth and caesar dressing to the slow cooker.  Set to low heat for 6 – 8 hours.  I used 8 hours since I was at work all day while these cooked themselves into my dinner. :)

3. After the chicken is finished in the slow cooker, shred it using a fork.  It should easily come apart.  Chop up the romaine lettuce and add the chicken.  Parmesan cheese, croutons, and even a little more Caesar dressing can be added to the top along with anything else you can think of. 

The beauty of these is that they’re incredibly easy and you can have salads, wraps, or even add all the above to pasta and make some Chicken Caesar Pasta. It’s a great summertime meal because there’s little time in the kitchen and no oven!

And with temperatures climbing right now above 100, the oven and I have called a hiatus to our relationship.  Bring on the Caesar salads!

Linked to Mangia Monday.

Snack Time: Parmesan Roasted Edamame

July 21, 2011

Sometimes I have trouble thinking of great, portable snacks that I can put in Brenna’s lunch that are quick to throw together and healthier than something I could purchase in the store.

I don’t always have a lot of time, but I try to do what I can when I can.

And one of those things that I can always find time to do is to make Parmesan Roasted Edamame.

They are delicious, protein packed, and literally could not be easier to put together and throw in the oven to make a tasty snack.  I’ve also brought them to work functions and they’ve been a hit there as well.
Which, considering my office’s inability to try new things, is something that makes me glow with a little bit of pride.

It’s the little things, people.

I know what you’re thinking.  They’re green, they aren’t pretty, and I’m not even sure how to pronounce them.

(It’s Ed-Ah-Mommy)

But they’re delicious!  Just give them a shot.

Parmesan Roasted Edamame

Ingredients

16 oz. Package Frozen Edamame

Garlic Powder

Parmesan Cheese

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

Directions

 1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. On a baking sheet, place a small amount of oil.  Just enough to cover the edamame.  You can always add more later if it doesn’t look like enough.  Spread the edamame onto the baking sheet and use a spatula to mix the oil and edamame.

3. Sprinkle the edamame with a healthy amount of garlic powder and parmesan cheese.  Top with a touch of sea salt.

4. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  Serve warm or cold.  Yum!

Post linked to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Mondays.

Meatless Monday: Kale & Chickpea Stirfry

July 18, 2011

This is absolutely one of my favorite dishes.  And yet, it’s also the one that inspires the most comments when I tell people what it is.

I hate kale, they tell me.

I hate chickpeas, they tell me.

It’s delicious!  I repeat.

And yet, I still get the looks of disbelief.

So, you can either turn away right now knowing that this is basically kale and chickpeas and a few savory extras, or you can continue reading and realize that this recipe is one of the most delicious and amazing dishes that I have ever made.  And will continue to make because it’s ridiculously good.  You will too.

Let’s see – easy, vegetarian, and quick.  Sign me up!

Chickpea & Kale Stirfry

Ingredients:

1 15-oz. can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), drained

1 bunch kale, torn and stems removed

Lemon Juice

Crushed Red Pepper, Hots, or Sriracha, your choice.

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Directions:

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil to medium heat.  This is usually where I add the garlic powder.  I add quite a bit but it’s really up to your taste buds.

2. Once the olive oil has reached the proper temperature, add the chickpeas and saute until the chickpeas turn golden and crusty, usually about 8-10 minutes.  

3. Add the red pepper, sriracha, or hots and mix well. A friend of mine leaves this step out and says that it’s still delicious.  I prefer a little heat but if you like life a little less hot, just omit this step.

4. Add the kale and saute until still crisp but beginning to wilt. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and mix well. Season with sea salt. 

I have made this entree the night before bringing it into work and I would recommend heating before serving.  It’s definitely best warm, but I would eat it cold!

Then again, I’m the girl with an I Love Kale bumper sticker.  Notice how I saved that gem for last? :)

Adapted from Chickpea and Kale Stirfry. Linked to Midnight Maniac’s Meatless Monday and This Chick Cooks.

Sunday Sweetness: Blueberry Zucchini Bread

July 17, 2011

It seems like all I ever read anymore is about the amount of sugar in foods and the adverse affects on our health.

So when I ran across a recipe for blueberry zucchini bread on allrecipes.com, I was immediately intrigued and then quickly wondered why a bread recipe needs to have 2 1/2 cups of sugar in it.

My husband, who really is the baker in the family, tells me that it’s because it’s a baked goods.  Most baked goods have that kind of sugar in them.

*jaw drop*

(Of course, he also mentioned that those Dunkin Donuts iced coffees that I ask for with extra cream and extra sugar probably have those same amount in a small.  Thanks, John.)

But I decided to get a little creative.

Sugar ain’t the only way to get a little sweetness, baby!

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (I used Smart Balance oil.)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup white sugar

2 cups shredded zucchini

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoon cinnamon and sugar

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup skim milk

Directions:

Honestly, I could lie to you and tell you that I folded in the blueberries and I mixed all the dry ingredients first and did everything perfectly.

Ha!

I dumped it all in the kitchen aid mixer, saving the blueberries for last so the bread didn’t turn out purple.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes.  It made one large bread and 2 mini loaves as well.

And it’s not sugary sweet, but just that right amount of sweetness.

This post is linked to Mangia Monday at Delightfully Dowling, It’s a Keeper! and This Chick Cooks.

Celebrity Impersonations: Rachael Ray’s Spinach, Artichoke, and Tuna Ravioli Salad

July 14, 2011

I still haven’t decided if I quite like Rachael Ray’s recipes.  I watch her.  I read her cookbooks.  I enjoy her magazine.

Everything sounds good when she cooks it.  Looks easy and makes me think – I could do that.

Ummm, probably not.

But that’s okay.  I’ll stick to trying out her recipes in the hopes that something delicious will amaze my tastebuds and have me slathering for me.

This recipe didn’t quite do that, but it was pretty simple, pretty tasty, and I’d make it again.  That’s three checks in my book.

I was flipping through a recent edition of her magazine last night and came across this recipe. My first thought?  Sounds delicious.  My second thought?  I could do that for dinner tomorrow night.  Seems easy enough.

There were three strikes against me though:

1. The Tortellini. Of course, the tortellini was buried inside my freezer and I simply wasn’t in the mood to dig in, pull everything out, organize and put it all back in, when I could just grab the spinach and cheese ravioli on top and make it with that instead.

2. The Line Caught Tuna.  Yeah.  Not gonna happen.  But I had canned tuna!  Close enough.

3. No fresh thyme or shallots.  Hmmm.  But I had dried thyme and onion.  Again, close enough.

I am not a celebrity chef.  I do not believe I will ever be a celebrity chef.  But I do like cooking their dishes sometimes. :)

Rachael Ray’s Spinach, Artichoke, and Tuna Ravioli Salad

Ingredients

2 tbsp oil (I use Smart Balance.)

1 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach

1 pound cheese and/or spinach ravioli

2 6-oz. cans tuna

1 14-oz. can of artichokes

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

Dried Thyme

Directions

1. Defrost the spinach in the microwave.

2. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to package directions.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.  Add the artichokes and spinach and continue to cook for 3 – 5 minutes.

4.  In a large bowl, place the tuna and ravioli.  Add the thyme as well as the spinach and artichoke mixture and mix thoroughly. 

Feel free to dress with lemon juice. Or a little Caesar dressing.  We have an addiction to Ken’s caesar dressing and I bet it’s spectacular with this dish!

All in all, a good, quick, and nutritious weekday meal that I threw together pretty quickly and everybody liked.  Definitely will remember this one for those nights where I just have no idea what to make.

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