Taco Pasta Toss

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taco Pasta Toss by Rachel Ray
Salt and Pepper
1lb penne rigate pasta, regular or whole wheat
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1lb ground beef sirloin
1 large onion, chopped, divided
1 large jalapeno, halved, seeded if desred and thinly sliced crosswise
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsps chili powder
1 1/2 tsps ground cumin
1  ground coriander
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bottle of beer or 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack or any Mexican semi-soft cheese
2 small plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 head iceberg lettuce or 1/2 small heart of romain lettuce chopped

Directions:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain and return to the pot.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add three-quarters o teh onion, the jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander; season with salt ad pepper.  Cook until the onion is softened, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the beer.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss.  Spoonnto a serving dish, top with the cheese and tent with foil to melt the cheese, about 1 minute.  Top with the remaining onion, tomatoes and lettuce.

-I used whole wheat pasta.
-I used 1 half of a regular sized tomato.

Here's what I started with:

Here's how I did it:

#1 I put a pot of water on to boil and added my box of whole wheat pasta to the boiling water.  While that was going, I chopped up 1 onion, 4 garlic cloves and 1 jalapeno. 

#2 I browned some ground beef and then added in the 3/4 of the onion, the garlic, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt and pepper.

#3 Once everything had cooked for about 10 minutes, I added in 1/4 cup of tomato paste.  I let it cook for about 1 minute.

#4 I added in the chicken stock and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

#5 I drained the pasta and added it to the sauce.  Then, I covered it with cheese, tomatoes, the rest of the onion and some lettuce.

The Finished Product:


This dish was different than other pasta dishes that we've tried.  The flavors were good and it was really easy to make but I almost felt like I was eating a Hamburger Helper meal.  I loved the lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese on top of the dish--I actually think this made the dish better than without them--but even with the strong flavors of the seasonings, I feel like I could have just opened up a taco seasoning package and had the same taste.

I didn't tent the dish to melt the cheese.  It melted just fine by adding it to the dish while it was still hot. 

Hope you enjoy!

***(3 Stars)--This dish was ok.

Crockpot Chicken Pizza

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crockpot Chicken Pizza  from About.com Busy Cooks
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups pasta or pizza sauce
1 cup shredded pizza cheese

Directions:  Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and place in a 4-5 quart crockpot. Top with onions, garlic, and bell peppers and pour pasta or pizza sauce over all. Cover crockpot and cook on low 4-6 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Stir well, then sprinkle with cheese and let stand 5 minutes to melt cheese. Serve over hot cooked pasta or rice. 8 servings

-I used 4 chicken breasts.
-I used 4 garlic cloves.
-I only used 1 green bell pepper.
-I used about 6 or 7 fresh mushrooms.

Here's what I started with:

Here's what I do:

#1 I just put everything in the crockpot and cooked it on low for 4 hours.


This chicken had really good flavor.  Since I used spaghetti sauce, the Italian seasoning and bail that I added just added to the flavor of the sauce. 

I was surprised, though, that the chicken was actually kind of dry.  There was plenty of sauce/juice but it just didn't make its way into the chicken.  I did leave the chicken breasts whole and didn't shred it up so I'm thinking that may have been a mistake.

This wasn't a bad dish.  I think with a change or two it would be pretty good.

Hope you enjoy!

Summer Bean Salad

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Bean Salad from The Real Mom Kitchen
1 (15.5 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5 oz) can of cennelllini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5 oz) can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 (4 oz) can of green chilies
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 Tbsps, cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cumin

Directions:  Combine dressing ingredients in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.  While dressing cools, prepare the rest of the ingredients and place in a large bowl.  Pour cooled dressing over bean mixture and toss to coat.  Makes 6-8 servings.

-I did not have the green chilies
-I forgot to boil the dressing.
-I left out the celery
-I finely chopped up 1 jalapeno and added it.

Here's what I started with:

Here's how I did it:

#1 I drained and rinsed the beans.

#2 Cut up red onion, green pepper and red pepper and add them to the beans.

#3 Finely chop the cilantro and add to the beans.

#4 Whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sugar, garlic powder and cumin.  You are supposed to boil it but I forgot this step.

#5 Pour it over the beans.

The Finished Product:


I loved the combination of the different beans, peppers and onions.  The dressing was a sweeter dressing but with the kick of the red onion and jalapeno it wasn't overpowering.  I think, though, that next time I will cut back the sugar to maybe just 1 1/2T since it is already being made with rice wine vinegar.

Low Fat Mock-a-Mole

Low Fat Mock-A-Mole by Bethenny Frankel
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed
1 cup cooked green peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Directions:  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips, whole grain crackers, and raw vegetables.

Use any of these variations, or mix and match them according to your tastes
•Variation 1: Instead of cooked peas, try an additional avocado.
•Variation 2: Instead of tomato, try chopped pear, grape, or cherry tomatoes.
•Variation 3: Instead of cilantro, try doubling the amount of parsley.
•Variation 4: Instead of red onion, try: Any other onion -- scallions, white parts and some of green -- chives.
•Variation 5: Instead of fresh parsley, try adding 1 extra tablespoon fresh cilantro.
•Variation 6: Instead of fresh lime juice, try other citrus juice.
•Variation 7: Instead of Worcestershire sauce, try soy sauce (including tamari or shoyu).
•Variation 8: Instead of garlic salt, try: 1 clove garlic, minced, plus ¾ teaspoon regular or seasoned salt.
•Variation 9: Instead of Tabasco sauce, try: any other hot sauce -- 1 dash cayenne pepper -- 1 pinch red pepper flakes

-I used 3 avocados
-I used 1/2 of a tomato
-I did not use cooked green peas
-I added a garlic clove

Here's what I started with:

Here's how I did it:

#1 I cut up 3 avocados.

#2 1/2 of tomato

#3 1/4 of a red onion

#4 1 garlic clove

#5 some finely chopped cilantro

#6 finely chopped parsley

#7 2 squeezed limes

#8 some Tabasco

#9 Worcestershire sauce

The Finished Product:


What's to say?  Loved it!  I put a little extra Tabasco in to give it a extra kick.  Quick and easy to make.  I made this today for a playdate and we gobbled it up.  I finished it off with some kosher salt.

Fresh Mozzarella & Pesto Pasta

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fresh Mozzarella & Pesto Pasta from the Schnuck's Cooks Kitchen
1 box (12 oz) Culiaria fusilli pasta
1 package (6 oz) Cib Naturals refrigerated classic basil pesto
1 package (8oz) BelGioioso fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
2 medium tomatoes (about 8oz each), coarsely chopped
salt (optional)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, grilled and sliced (optional)

Directions:  Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling over high heat.  Add fusilli and cook as label directs.  Remove 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

In same saucepot, stir pasta cooking water with pesto.  Add pasta and toss until well coated with sauce.  Stir in mozzarella, tomatoes and salt to taste.  If desired, arrange chicken over pasta to serve.  Makes about 8 cups.

-The Cibo Naturals basil pesto was not available so I used a jarred basil pesto.  The chef at the station told me that a packaged pesto would also work (the ones where you add water and oil).
-I sauteed my chicken on the stovetop with various seasonings instead of grilling.
-I substituted a whole grain rotini for the fusilli.

Here's what I started with:

Here's how I did it:

#1 I cut up 2 chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  I then sauteed the chicken in olive oil with Italian seasoning, garlic salt, 1 garlic clove and some pepper.

#2 I chopped up a couple of tomatoes.

#3 I poured a box of pasta into boiling water and let it cook.  Since it was whole grain pasta, I let it cook for about 15 minutes as I normally don't like the texture of whole grain pasta when it is cooked only 8-10 minutes.

Once the pasta was close to being finished, I ladeled some of the pasta juice into a sauce pan and then emptied the bottle of basil pesto in with it and warmed it up.

#4 I drained the pasta.

#5 Then poured the basil pesto over the pasta.

#6 I then added the tomatoes, mozzarella balls and chicken.

#7 Finally, I topped it with some parmesan cheese.

The Finished Product:


Yummy is all I can say!  While I was shopping at Schnuck's last week, this dish was being offered at their demonstration table.  They served it with some double cheese bread and it was delicious.

I tried to make it a little healthier by substituting whole grain pasta and I served it with garlic toast and a garden salad.  Usually when I use the whole grain pasta Scott says that he can tell but with this dish I was the one who told him, afterwards, that it was whole grain.  I'm not sure if it was the extra cooking time or if it was the hearty, herb flavoring that "masked" it for him.  Either way, Scott really liked this dish.

The basil pesto was really good and had a good herbed garlicy flavor.  I did think that it was lacking salt so I did salt the dish.  I also thought the pesto would be great to just use as a dipping sauce for some crusty bread.

My only complaint is that 1 jar of the basil pesto is really not enough for a whole box of pasta.  I made the whole box so there would be leftovers for lunch tomorrow and I probably could have used at least 1 1/2 jars of the pesto.

Kanin loved this dish and actually gave it a "2 thumbs up", which if you read his blog you know that it doesn't happen very often.  LOL