Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chicken & Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

This is one of my recipe staples. It's so easy and tastes yummy. This week, I had a pasta craving, so I decided to cook half a box of whole wheat penne pasta and save it in the fridge to throw into whatever I was making. I also pre-cooked some chicken breast to make dinners for the week too. Rotisserie chicken would be great in this recipe as well. I'm usually cooking for one, but this recipe serves two.

2/3 cup Marinara Sauce
2/3 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup chopped Olives
3 tbsp Light Cream Cheese
3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
2 Chicken Breasts (pre-cooked, diced)
1 cup Pasta (pre-cooked)

In medium sized saucepan, combine marinara and stock and heat to medium. When it starts simmering, add cream cheese and parmesan. Stir until all the cheese has melted. Let simmer for a couple minutes, until sauce thickens to your liking. Next, add chicken, olives and pasta. Continue to cook until everything is heated through. Then serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Morningstar Chik'n with Peppers

I had never tried any of the Morningstar products before, but my sister kept insisting that the Chik'n Patties were really good. I decided to give them a shot and I was impressed. It almost tastes like a fried chicken patty (tastes better when heated in the oven). The first few patties I tried, I made into a sandwich with mustard on a whole wheat bun. But I decided to mix it up, and use some frozen peppers which I have been eating a lot of lately. It tasted good and is pretty filling so I'll definitely be making it again.

1 clove Garlic, minced
1 cup Red & Green Peppers, sliced (I used frozen)
1/4 cup canned Black Beans, drained
1/4 cup Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock)
1 Morningstar Chik'n Patty
1 dollop Dijon Mustard (or whichever mustard you prefer)

Preheat oven to 375. When it's ready, put Chik'n Patty in, cooking for 16 minutes, flipping once. In the meantime, heat skillet to medium and spray with cooking spray, when it's heated, add peppers and garlic. Sauté for a couple minutes then add chicken stock and black beans. Continue to cook until peppers are cooked through and liquid has evaporated. Place pepper mix on a plate, then top with Chik'n Patty. Spoon dijon onto patty for extra flavor. Then enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Favorite Coffee

I was fortunate enough to visit Costa Rica last year. What a beautiful country! There is so much to do, whether you like hiking in the rainforest or relaxing on the beach. While I was there, we visited the Cafe Britt factory. They have amazing coffee. My favorite blend is Poas. I brought a few bags of coffee back with me, and I'm sad to say I just finished the last bit of it this morning. The coffee has a wonderful full flavor and the beans are perfectly roasted. The coffee never tastes burnt or bitter. I buy whole beans and grind them in a burr mill and use a french press. It is definitely the best way to drink coffee.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I'm trying to get more complex carbohydrates in my diet lately, and sweet potatoes are a great source of carbs and are very good for you. This is how I like to cook them. It's super simple and brings out their great flavor.

1 Sweet Potato (Peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
1 tsp EVOO
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp + a few dashes Salt (Kosher Salt is what I use)

Preheat Oven to 400. Combine all the ingredients in a big ziploc bag and shake it up, making sure all the spices and olive oil are evenly distributed. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. They're really good on their own or with some honey mustard to dip them in.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dill Tuna Salad (Healthy)

So I have been getting the Hungry Girl newsletter for a while now and one of the latest ones was someone asking about good substitutes for mayo for mayo-based salads. On her site, she talks about how great Fage 0% yogurt is, so I did end up buying it. So far I have used it for fruit and smoothies only. I decided to take the plunge and use it for Tuna( with a little light mayo to give it some fat), and it was good!

Dill Tuna Salad
1 6 oz can Tuna
1/2 tsp chopped fresh (or dried) Dill
1 tbsp low fat mayo
1 tbsp Fat Free Plain Yogurt (Fage is the best!)
1 1/2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
A few dashes Hot Sauce (optional)

Drain the Tuna, then combine with all the other ingredients and serve. Great on salad, with crackers, or on a wrap.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pillsbury Bake-Off: Day 3

Even though the competition was over, my nerves were still going. Who is going to win? At this point, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be me, but I was just excited to be there. Breakfast was at 6:15 am (Why are they waking us up SO early??). Then time to line up...I was at the beginning of the Entertaining Appetizer line. Then it was time to go, the music & lights were going full force again as we walked into the midst of the applause. I was trying to savor my last minute of "fame". I was also lucky enough to get a front row seat at the awards show. Then the announcement of the winners begins. I was genuinely happy for all the winners, they were so excited. Click Here for the list. When the grand prize was announced I was must have been the best peanut butter cookie ever! At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Sandra Lee came out and I got a chance to meet her. She was SO nice & very humble. Then I gave my family hugs and thanked them for supporting me. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I hope I get to do it all again in 2010.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pillsbury Bake-Off: Day 2

Day 2 was the big competition day! They had us starting really early, 6:15 am, for breakfast. They had a nice buffet set up. At 7:30 am it was time to line up for the Grand exciting! We were all waiting outside the ballroom and all the sudden the music was pumping and the lights were flashing. All of us went rushing through the cameras into the ballroom and to our ranges. Then exactly at 8:00 am we started. I was a little nervous at first, but once I started cooking the nervousness melted away. The media came in at around 8:15 am and it got crazy. There were cameras everywhere! I had a couple of short interviews with the Food Network and Pillsbury. My first pizza was done at 9:00 am (it usually doesn't take that long but I was trying to be extra careful). It didn't come out exactly how I wanted so I used it for pictures. My second pizza came out better, and I took it to the judges at 11:00 am. But now that I think about it...I was being so anal about the top of the pizza looking good, I barely even looked at the bottom (which was a little underdone I think). I took a little break after that and tasted some recipes. One of my favorites was the Caramel Latte Crunch Cups. Sandra Lee was also tasting a few things, but she didn't make it to my range. I decided to make a 3rd pizza for fun, and after that one I was starting to get tired so I checked out of the Bake-Off floor and went to lunch.

That night was the celebration dinner at Eddie Deen's Ranch. It was so fun! They passed hors d'oeuvres, had a Margarita Bar and had food stations with all kinds of food from Quesadillas, to stuffed Avocados, to Filet Mignon. A great band was playing and they taught us all kinds of line dances. It was a blast! Then it was time to go home and catch up on some sleep to wake up for the Awards Ceremony.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pillsbury Bake-Off: Day 1

I got back from the Pillsbury Bake-Off last night. I'm still coming down from all the excitement. I have a lot to write about so I'll do separate posts for each day.

Day 1: Sunday
The Fairmont Dallas is a beautiful hotel! The staff is so helpful. Before registration, we decided to order room service for a treat. I had yummy Brioche French Toast with Berry Compote. Then it was off to registration. They had big posters with all the recipes and the Pillsbury Doughboy was there taking pictures with everyone. I got a huge goody bag with all kinds of stuff...aprons, spatulas, a stuffed doughboy. Then we had time to relax before orientation.

During Orientation they went over all the logistics of how the contest would work and introduced us to the people who would be helping us. Then after that was the welcome dinner which was really nice. The Pillsbury folks gave speeches and the dinner was delicious, Filet Mignon & Sea Bass. Then it was time to call it a night and get ready for the big Bake-Off day!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting Excited!

I'll be heading to Dallas on Saturday for the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I am starting to get nervous. Sunday is orientation day. Monday is the big day when all of us will be cooking our dishes, each of us in our own mini kitchen. I'm lucky my Blue Cheesy Prosciutto Appetizer Pizza is very easy to make and I should be done before the 5 hours we have are up. Tuesday is the big awards ceremony, where the million dollar winner will be announced. It would be great to be a millionaire! I'll be posting all about my experience when I get back home.

Well...I think my 2 minutes of fame are almost up. Click Here to read the article that came out today in my local newspaper about my recipe. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Skinny Cow Ice Cream Cones

I've been having a major sweet tooth lately. I started to roam the aisles at Publix and caught myself staring at all the ice creams I shouldn't have. Then my eyes stopped on the brand new Skinny Cow cones. The Chocolate was calling for me. Plus, each cone has only 150 calories. Before I ate it I was trying not to get my hopes up too high (and also hoping it had that yummy chocolate at the bottom like Drumsticks). Last night I tried one. I lucked out! It was really good AND it had the little bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone, my favorite part. These are going to be my new sweet tooth time I'm going for the Mint Chocolate if I can find it (they also have Vanilla Caramel).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Banana Pancakes (Healthy)

So it's my last week to prep for all the media action at the Pillsbury Bake-Off, so I'm trying to eat healthy and exercise my butt off. I scoured the Internet for a healthy pancake recipe and found one which I tweaked. They aren't quite as good as regular pancakes, but it's nice to have something sweet for breakfast that's good for me too. I ate 3 of these little pancakes for breakfast today plus 2 links of this great Chicken & Apple Sausage. I topped the pancakes with fat free spray butter and this yummy sugar free maple syrup I discovered at Whole Foods (the brand is Joseph's, see pic). This recipe makes 12 small pancakes, which you can freeze as well.

3/4 cup Plain Nonfat Yogurt
1 cup Oats (I used McCann's Steel Cut)
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Ground Flax seeds (usually found in baking section or health section)
1 Banana
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (optional)
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until very smooth! If it's too thick, add another tbsp of water. Heat a griddle to medium and pour batter, when edges look pretty dry, flip them over and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Then top off the warm pancakes with some butter spray and sugar free syrup.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chicken & Pepper Enchiladas (Healthy)

I was really in the mood to cook last night, and wanted to keep it healthy since I wasn't so healthy over the weekend. It's also a yummy way to incorporate my least favorite food group...vegetables. Here is what I came up with, it came out good! I'm glad I'm going to be eating it for 2 more nights.

1 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp finely diced garlic
1 cup of Birds Eye Pepper Stir Fry (in the frozen section, it has onions & peppers)
1/2 can diced tomatoes (I used Hunts Fire Roasted)
1 cup rotisserie chicken
2 cups salsa ( I used tomatillo salsa)
4 tbsp light sour cream
6 small whole wheat tortillas
1/2 cup light shredded cheese ( I used Kraft 2% Cheddar)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375. In a skillet, heat EVOO over medium heat, then add veggies. When the veggies start softening, add garlic, then saute a couple minutes. Then add tomatoes, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the salsa. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, then add 2 tbsp of sour cream and the chicken, and simmer for another 5 minutes. While it's simmering, mix remaining salsa and sour cream, and spread a very thin layer of it on the bottom of a baking dish, then set remaining salsa aside. When chicken/pepper filling has cooled for a couple minutes, start assembly. Place the filling in the center of the tortilla, then roll up each side. Place them seam side down on the baking dish. When all tortillas are filled, pour remaining salsa mixture on top and then sprinkle the cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Makes 3 servings. It's great to serve with a small salad for a healthy dinner.