November 24, 2011

Weeknight meal - Diced chicken, broccoli with whole wheat pasta

Weeknight meal - Diced chicken, broccoli with whole wheat pasta

For busy folks, I recommend baking up a large quantity of chicken breasts, one night of the week, and then using them up for weeknight meals. I do this at least once a month and that week will be "chicken monday, tuesday, wednesday and maybe thursday" nights :)

This was tonight's dinner. A quick and easy weeknight meal. I, personally, can sustain on sandwiches alone but the rest of the fam gets a little bored so I need to mix it up. Since I have been working more, I am noticing I'm boiling up pasta more often. I know pasta purists would only buy the white-flour based varieties but I am really loving the whole wheat version. If you were to compare how much more fiber there is in a serving size, you too would not go back to the white stuff for that reason alone. Makes me feel a bit "healthier".

Whole wheat rotini, broccoli & diced chicken breasts

I have also been making this bechamel sauce at least once a week this month. (Maybe not so much "healthier"). I probably "taste" half of it away before I even mix it in with the other ingredients because it is that good. Bonus part: it is ready in the same time your pasta is al dente.

Happy chicken & pasta week!

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Other easy weeknight chicken recipes by Shine Supper Club:

The Curious Country Cook: Lemon Pesto Pasta with Chicken
Feed Your Soul: Chicken Milanese Biscuit Sandwich
In My Element: Diced Chicken, Broccoli with Whole Wheat Pasta
Living Lou: Spicy Chicken Skewers
The Partial Ingredients: Lebanese Chicken Skewers
Sarah B. Weir: Chicken Braised in Tomato
Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom: Peanut Sesame Noodles with Chicken
Serena Bakes: Jalapeno Lime Chicken Alfredo with Cilantro
So says Sarah: Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders
Sushi and Stilettos: Easy Pesto Chicken Bake
Sweet 'n' Sourdough: Baked Mango Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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November 22, 2011

Banana Raspberry Yogurt Drink

Banana Raspberry Yogurt Drink

"Mom, I want one of those!" my son points at a yogurt drink in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

"That is yogurt you can drink and it costs more than I want to spend" I tell him as I continue on with my shopping.

Later, it had me thinking to myself: Why don't I make some at home? It would be a great after-school treat for my kids and would help their grumbling tummies last until dinnertime. With all the good bacteria from the yogurt and vitamins from the fruit, this is a healthy alternative to many possible after-school snacks.

Banana Raspberry Yogurt Drink

I have plenty of raspberries from my summer harvest in my freezer and who doesn't have bananas sitting on their counter? I really love simple recipes and with only 4 ingredients, I will definitely making this and other flavor variations more often.

I doubt my kids will be asking to buy the yogurt drinks at the store from now on!

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November 17, 2011

Not Your Kids' Hot Dog: Havarti cheese, pesto & banana peppers

Gourmet hot dogs

Sometimes, I go through some intense cravings.

Hot sauce. Yeah, I couldn't put that stuff on enough of my food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I would have put it on dessert if my taste buds were into that combo.

Lately, it has been banana peppers. A large jar at the grocery store caught my eye and I succumbed. I've been finding all sorts of meals to add them to.

Hot dog with havarti, pesto & banana peppers

Last week was a busy, harrowing type of week and I came home with hungry kids and no dinner plans.

"Hot dogs children... we're having hot dogs". Chicken hot dogs actually!

While my children are more than happy to have the basic ketchup and mustard combo, I thought a step up to a more adult gourmet version was in order. One with banana peppers of course.

Melted Havarti cheese, dollops of pesto and lots of banana peppers.

I think my banana pepper craving has been met and can be filed away for a short while. (Though, the large jar in my fridge is saying otherwise).

On to the next craving.

November 15, 2011

Honey Poached Pears

Honey Poached Pears

The onslaught of Halloween candy eating has left me feeling ill and repulsed. I sent half of the large container of chocolates to the hubby's work for other suckers folks to polish off.

While I have been doing a decent job of avoiding it, this has left me with withdrawal symptoms (ok, I can not tell a lie, I still have 1-2 pieces a day but compared to the 10-12 pieces before, the angel on my shoulder is singing the praises).

Sugar withdrawal, though, is a horrible thing. Symptoms include lethargy, agitation and undeniable determination to find the next hit.

Yes, some people would tell you that going "cold turkey" and suffering the withdrawal symptoms is the only way but I am not a "rip-the-bandaid-quickly" type of gal. There is only one way to counteract this and that would be looking for "healthier treats" to satisfy the sweet tooth.

Bosc Pears Stilllife

And what, my friend, is healthier than a piece of fruit? Sure, sure, it's poached in a delicious cinnamony-anise honey syrup but it's fruit. Nutrient-rich fruit with fiber! And honey is made by itty-bitty bees that bring good-for-you stuff from flowering plants back to their hives. Plants are good for us! Does a chocolate bar have vitamins and fiber? No, I didn't think so.

While I continue weening myself off of Halloween candy, I will enjoy my healthy fruit. (ok, I can not tell a lie. I ate the poached pears alongside vanilla ice cream).

Look, you just can't change some people. Especially non "rip-the-bandaid-quickly" type of gals.

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November 9, 2011

Baked Rigatoni Stuffed with Cream Cheese, Onion & Kale

Baked Rigatoni Stuffed with Cream Cheese, Onion & Kale

I really do love pasta but I don't make it often. My hubby is one of those "don't like high carb meals" type of guy and I can't tell you how many times I've fallen into the pasta coma after eating some. Ok, I will admit that since I do not eat pasta often, when I do, I gorge on it and then suddenly that pasta coma isn't really that big of a surprise, but more of a "what did I expect" moment. Know of any good Pastaholics Anonymous groups?

Alrighty.

On another note, if you happened to be around in the early part of summer on the ole blog, you might recall I had a large harvest of kale. Being as brilliant as I am, ahem, I froze a lot of that kale back then. And this my friends is where I came up with what to stuff my rigatoni with. (Oh, that sentence just sounded really funny, didn't it?) Alongside a 1/2 tub of cream cheese asking to be used before expiry and one of my pantry staples, the onion, I did a great job coming up with a tasty filling, if I do say so myself.

While my kids would not touch "the noodles with green stuff in it", the hubby and I enjoyed our "normal serving size" portions which in turn did not induce a pasta nap. Also, if you are a mom/dad who sometimes has to make 2 meals at dinner time: the adult dinner and the kid dinner (see "noodles with green stuff" comment above) then you are in luck here. Just save some of that tasty bechamel sauce and cover plain, unstuffed rigatoni and place in the oven to bake alongside the grown up version.

It's a win-win.

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November 7, 2011

Lego Birthday Cakes

Lego Cakes

I look forward to my children's birthdays each year, specifically, making the birthday cake. At least a month in advance, I start thinking about different themes and my kiddo's likes at the time and then follow up with asking him/her what they would like.

This year my boy agreed on lego and I am not surprised. I can't tell you how many times I've stepped on pieces in his playroom. I'm sure he dreams about all the different things he can construct out of lego every night when he goes to bed.

Lego mini muffin cake

I used mini loaf pans to construct the personal size lego cakes. Some cakes were left rectangular in shape and others I cut into half to make square lego cakes. I used my favorite marshmallow fondant recipe to cover the cakes.

Making individual cakes is labor-intensive in terms of covering each with fondant so you may choose to make larger cakes using a regular loaf size pan instead. I didn't get around to photographing it before the party but I made 3 larger lego cakes with regular size loaf pans to more easily feed the masses.

Selfishly, I hope my kids always want homemade birthday cakes because I love doing it.

November 3, 2011

Monte Cristo-esque sandwiches

Monte-Cristo-Sandwich

Made a couple of monte cristo-esque sandwichess for lunch this week. I believe traditional monte cristo sandwiches include ham and cheese but I decided to change it up. Mine included salami and smoked gouda with a spread of dijon mustard on one side.

What makes a monte cristo distinct from other sandwiches is that it is dipped in egg batter and pan fried, much like french toast. For 2 sandwiches, I mixed 2 eggs with 3-4 tbsp milk, dash of salt and pepper and then dipped each side of the sandwich into the mixture. Pop the sandwiches in a pan and fry until both sides are golden brown.

Monte-Cristo


My brother stopped by as I was prepping to photograph the above sandwiches. Apparently, I talk to my "models".

"No, that's not going to work."
"Oh yeah, this color works much better."
"Oh good, that looked excellent!"

"Are you talking to your sandwiches" he asks.

Pause.

"Maybe" I respond.

I've been told that good photographers must interact and have a good repertoire with their models so that they feel comfortable in front of the camera.

I'm sticking with that. :)

November 1, 2011

Soft Pretzels

Pretzels

Oktoberfest came and went and I forgot to mention our Beer and Bratwurst party! No, I did not make my own bratwurst (I don't think you can pay me to do that - squeamish anyone?) but I made some other German Oktoberfest treats! Soft Pretzels!

And who doesn't love a warm salted soft pretzel with some yellow mustard?

I made mine a bit smaller and thinner so that I could have a larger yield from the batch and they turned out fairly well. The hard part is getting the pretzels to maintain their shape whilst taking a boiling soda bath!

I am definitely going to give this another go and shape them a bit thicker and more doughy. I have plans of making a delicious sandwich with them.

Wouldn't that be fantastic?

Pretzel Sandwich.

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