Monday, March 15, 2010

Parmesan Chicken French Bread Pizza

Thanks to Laura Larson, my mom, I can make pizza and salad in under 15 minutes for under $5! (Can you tell that she had 8 children?!) She never had time to make pizza dough and never had the money to buy the dough or Boboli crusts, so instead she made us french bread pizza. Maybe it was a favorite at your home too... I flavored it up a bit with a few things I found in my fridge, but I honestly only spent $2.50 at the store tonight, buying a loaf of french bread and mozzarella. That's it. So see what you have and create your own. It has always been one of my favorite "Mom Meals". Look at all the veggies you can pack into your family's diet. Enjoy!

1 loaf of french bread
1 small can of tomato or spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
1 chicken breast, grilled in garlic & olive oil, chopped
I used sun dried tomatoes, onion, red bell pepper, spinach, a little low fat ricotta cheese,
and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Cut the french bread loaf in half, lengthwise. Spread on the seasoned tomato sauce, sprinkle on the cheese, add the chicken & toppings, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Put it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese melts and the edges are golden. While the pizza cooks, chop vegetables & make your salad. Ta-Da! Dinner in a snap!

Thai Peanut Sauce

We love Thai food! Especially Thai food from our favorite resaruant in Orem, Bangok Grill. Mmmm... So GOOD! But now that we live in Salt Lake, we can't exactly stop by regularly, so on a very tired night, James made me this Pad Thai & Peanut Sauce with Rice. He made up the Pad Thai chicken off the cuff, but he did follow a recipe for the Peanut sauce. So here it is. I loved it and thought others should try it. I'm thankful for the great diversity of food and cultures around the world and for a wonderful husband who cooks well!

4 teaspoons canola oil,
1/2 cup minced red onion,
2 tablespoons minced garlic,
1/2 teaspoon hot chili pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar,
1/3 cup peanut butter,
1 cup of water

In a blender, combine oil, onion, garlic and hot chili pepper; blend for 1 minute. (James skipped that step because we like chunky texture.) Empty the mixture into a saucepan and place over low heat until the mixture starts releasing aroma. Add peanut butter and mix well over low heat. Add water and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in vinegar and sugar; continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar and sugar if the mixture does not have the sour and sweet taste.

Place sauce in a shallow plate for satay dipping or pour over fresh salad.

Honey Pear Crisp

I need to return my C is for Cooking book to the library tomorrow, so I thought, "Lets do one last Sesame Street recipe just for fun!" This Honey Pear Crisp is very yummy and inexpensive, but I'll tell you the honest truth... The crisp stuff on top of the apple or pear was the best part of it all. I could eat I pan of just that... but that would not be guilt free, now would it. Darn! If you like apples or pears, I think you'll really enjoy this recipe. Once again, it is a kids recipe so it's easy and fast and tastes great with Low fat cool whip or a titch of vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 peeled, ripe pears, halved & cored
(instead of pears, you can substitute apples)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Coat a 9 in pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well mixed. With your fingers, work in the butter until a crumbly mixture forms.
3. Place the pears in the pie plate, cut side up.
4. Sprinkle the pears with lemon juice. Drizzle with honey.
5. Crumble the oat topping all over the pears.
6. Bake until pears are softened and topping is crisp and lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Spoon into individual dessert bowls. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like.


After eating this little meal all I can say is, "More Mini Meatloaf!" These small meat loaves cook in muffin cups and are done in half the time. I enjoyed them so much. We had our friends, Tia & Merrick over for dinner and they too thought it was "tasty". Although they aren't the prettiest things you've ever seen, they are kid friendly. Of course, their recipe comes from the Sesame street C is for Cooking book. I think your little ones would especially enjoy them. They're so simple and fast that the kids can help and I believe the total cost was under $5 for this meal. Not bad. If you buy ground turkey or very lean beef, then pretty darn healthy too, thanks to the added oatmeal and grated carrot inside.

1 egg
1 pound ground meat
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 onion, grated
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Additonal ketchup for topping (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly coat 8 muffin cups with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
2. Crack the egg in the bowl. Then in the bowl, combine the meat, oatmeal, onion, carrot, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. With clean hands or a wooden spoon, mix until well-blended.
3. Divide the mixture up into 8 equal sized balls.
4. Place a ball of meat into each muffin cup and press down lightly. If you like, brush the top of each mini loaf with ketchup.
5. Bake until meat loaves are no longer pink in center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Crunchy Oriental Chicken Salad

Who doesn't love Ramen?! Ask any of my neices or nephews, they'll tell you it's awesome. This recipe comes from good ol' Betty Crocker. The salad is so fast and flavorful and best of all... cheap! The dressing is homemade and is much less fattening than most dressings, but I must admit, thanks to the Ramen, the sodium is a bit high. It has a very fresh, lite taste with just the right amount of crunch. True confession... One night after eating this for dinner, James and I were in the kitchen washing dishes. I went to clean the large glass serving bowl this salad was in, when I saw that there was some dressing left in it. Impulsively, I put the large bowl to my lips and chugged the last of the vinaigrette. James stared at me with shock in his eyes and a dropped jaw and said, "Did you really just do that?" We both started laughing so hard we could barely breath. Oh, lovely! That's how yummy it is!

2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 pkg. Oriental flavored Ramen noodles
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, if desired
4 medium green onions, sliced
1 bag coleslaw mix (or 16 oz. cabbage, sliced)
1 can mandarin orange segments, drained

1. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in seasoning packet from soup mix. Break block of noodles into bite size pieces over skillet; stir into butter mixture.
2. Cook noodles 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sesame seeds. (Unless you're like me and don't have any... it tasted great without them.) Cook about 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are golden brown; remove from heat.
3. In large bowl, mix sugar, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Add noodle mixture and remaining ingredients; toss. Serve immediately to preserve the crunch of the noodles.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Healthiest Happy Meal

Moms out there, this recipe is for you! I know your kids probably don't love some of the fancy, gourmet foods on this blog. They just want chicken nuggets and fries. So I went to my library and checked out the greatest cookbook for kids called C is for Cooking (created by Sesame Street & Food Network Chefs) The recipes are created or approved by a registered dietitian, so they're good for kids bodies. It's only 9 to 10 bucks on, which tempts me to buy it. The recipes are made for kids not only to eat, but to help cook. They didn't have a fry recipe, so I added in a Paula Dean recipe to complete the meal. I hope you like it. It was so easy and fun to make that even my 4 month old baby helped to crush up the saltines. So fun! I hope you love it too. It makes a lot!

Grover's Little & Adorable Chicken Nuggets

24 saltine crackers (I used whole wheat saltines)
1 lb. thin sliced chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp mayo.
1 egg white
2 tsp. honey mustard

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
2. (Kids) Place the crackers in a plastic ziplock bag and zip the bag. Now gently pound on the bag with your fists to crush the crackers into fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs onto a large plate. Set aside.
3. Cut the chicken breast into 1 1/2 in squares. Sprinkle evenly with salt.
4. (Kids) in a large bowl, stir together the mayo, egg white, and honey mustard until well mixed. Add the chicken to the mayo mixture and gently toss to coat the chicken pieces.
5. (Kids) Gently press each piece into the cracker crumbs until the nugget is covered all over. Transfer the nuggets to the greased cookie sheet.
6.Bake the nuggets until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
McDonald's chicken nuggets have 38 ingredients, many of which are synthetic. These have 6 ingredients and other than the 1 Tbsp of mayo and little salt, they're very good for you.

Paula Dean's Sweet Potato Fries:
2 to 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in long slices, then 1/4 in wide strips
Olive oil for tossing
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Line a tray with parchment. In a bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle on seasonings and toss again. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

*These are so much better for you than regular fries because you use sweet potatoes, which have tons more nutrients than potatoes, and because you bake them in small amounts of olive oil instead of deep fat frying them in oil that often contains trans or saturated fats.

Abby Cadabby's Magic Golden Zucchini Coins:
6 small, thin zucchini or yellow summer squash or a combination
Salt to taste
1/3 c. grated Parmesan Cheese

1. (Kids) Use a plastic knife to slice each zucchini into 1/4 in thick rounds.
2. In a large saucepan, steam or boil the zucchini until barely tender, 4 to 6 min. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool slightly.
3. Preheat the broiler.
4. (Kids) Place the zucchini in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle each "coin" with a tiny pinch of salt and some Parmesan cheese.
5. Broil the zucchini until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

*James, my husband, is a 27 year old kid and just loved these. They are so simple and fast and flavorful too!

Bert's Best Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

This recipe is sooo yummy. It comes from the C is for Cooking (sesame street cookbook) but is delicious enough for kids from 2 to 102! James, who doesn't love really sweet foods, says this dessert has just the right amount of sweetness. It has the appeal of an oatmeal cookie, but with a little something extra in a soft, crumbly bar form. You'll love it too... but beware, you could eat half the pan if you're not careful. Don't fret if you don't have blueberries. They were $5.99 so I had to decline. But the recipe says, "If fresh blueberries are unavailable, you can substitute 1 cup of dried blueberries, cherries, raisins or cranberries." We did half raisins, half cranberries and loved it! Let your kids help. They'll have so much fun. It's not exactly guilt free, but all the recipes in this book have been approved by child nutritionists, so there you go. But is definitely cheap!

1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c. uncooked oats
1 pint(2 c.) fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 in baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. (Kids) In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt until well mixed.
3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter until fluffy. Beat in the oil, eggs, and vanilla. With awooden spoon, mix in flow mixture until blended. Then Stir in the oats and blueberries.
4. (Kids) Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly into the pan.
5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean, 30 to 35 min. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Lift by the foil from the pan and cut into 25 bar cookies.

(Yes. Their's looked much prettier than mine, but I thought I should still post a picture of mine so you don't feel bad if yours don't turn out like their picture. They still taste great!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spinach Lasagna with Red Pepper Sauce

I went to the library and checked out a cookbook that claims "Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life." I thought to myself, I need to loose 10 to 15 lbs of baby weight, so this cookbook is for me! It's called The New American Plate. This recipe was a little too gourmet to be called "cheap" (although ricotta cheese was on sale for 1.50) but the recipe is definetly "guilt free". I enjoyed the flavors, but I honestly wanted more cheese and the comfort of the fatty lasagna my mom makes. But I'm never going to loose weight eating my mom's lasagna. So if you like a challenge & veggie lasagna, go ahead and give this recipe a try!

3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, one thinly sliced one chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 tbsp. dried crushed basil
1 can (28 oz) tomato sauce
1 c. water, divided
3 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I only used 2 and it was plenty)
1 container (15 oz) lowfat ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
12 sheets lasagna noodles
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese ( I used dried powdered b/c that's all I had.)

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Saute the sliced onion and half of the garlic for about 4 min, stirring often, until translucent. Add the peppers, basil, tomato sauce, and 1/2 c. of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 min. Cool slightly and then puree in a blender or food processor.
Preheat the oven to 350. Boil water & cook lasagna noodles, unless you purchase oven ready noodles. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the chopped onion and garlic for 4 min, stirring often. Add the spinach and remaining 1/2 c. water. Cook for 10 min, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates and the spinach and onion are tender. Meanwhile, combine the ricotta and mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
Spoon 1/4 of the pureed sauce to cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 in baking dish. Arrange 3 sheets of pasta over the sauce. Cover with 1/3 of the spinach. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the top . Sprinkle on 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese. Repeat this process twice, starting with the sauce. For the final (fourth) layer, arrange the remaining pasta over the cheese and top with the remaining sauce and Parmesan.
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 45 min. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let stand for 15 min before serving. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken Salad

Lindsay, one of my best friends & also one of the only people who reads this blog, emailed me and suggested that I try making this recipe. It is a Food Network recipe. She said, "Here is one we tried and really like. We eat it with rolls. It's scrumptious!" James and I really enjoyed it. The grapes add a perfect sweetness to the curry sauce. It leaves you feeling really healthy. It is guilt free and relatively quick to make (other than the way they cook their chicken). It wasn't super cheap because of the alnonds, yogurt, and grapes not being on sale... but if you see any of those items on sale, make this for your family because it is so good. It's worth a little splurge if they're not on sale because of the yummy flavors.

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, no more than 3/4-inch thick

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup halved red grapes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces mixed greens (about 5 cups lightly packed))

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add chicken to broth and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. Turn the heat off and let chicken stand in the cooking liquid, covered, until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and cool completely in the refrigerator. Cut into 1/4-inch dice. Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and beginning to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and curry powder. Fold in the chicken, grapes and cilantro and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the greens with the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the greens on 4 individual plates, top with a scoop of the chicken salad and sprinkle with the almonds.

Curried Sweet Potato and Apple Pilaf

When I checked this New American Plate cookbook out, the cute college age librarian said, "Oh, I love that cookbook. My favorite recipe was the Apple and Sweet Potato Recipe. It was so good!" So I thought to myself, I better make that one. She could have been referring to the honey-roasted parsnips with sweet potatoes and apples recipe that is in this book also, but I think she was talking about this one. It was really good and very affordable. The curry and tart apples balanced each other well. It left you with a healthy, good feeling. P.S. I added chicken because I felt like I couldn't eat a dinner vegetarian or vegan style. We thought the chicken was a good addition.

1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 c. instant brown rice
1 tbsp curry powder
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 c.)
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh kale or spinach, loosely packed
2 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
3 small tart apples (granny smith)
1/4 c. currants or raisins or craisins
*1 chicken breast (I added it & though it no longer was vegetarian, it was so good)
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 min, until golden. Add the rice and curry powder and saute for 3 min. Stir in the sweet potato and kale and saute for 2 min.
Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 min, until the rice and sweet potato are nearly tender and the liquid is almost absorbed. If the mixture becomes too dry, additional broth can be added.
Stir in the apples and currants (and cooked cubed chicken). Simmer about 5 min, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender and all the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Cranberry- Apple Lattice Pie

Mmm... apple pie with a little less guilt because it is whole wheat crust with no shortening and only 1 tbsp. butter and more natural sugars and fruits. It was so tasty to us. It may become a family favorite pie. I was nervous about such a healthy crust, but don't fear it. Embrace it! You'll love it. This recipe comes to you from a cookbook called The New American Plate Cookbook. Enjoy! (Note: I couldn't find fresh or frozen cranberries so I used dried craisins & I couldn't find the ginger and didn't have walnuts or cloves, but it still turned out delicious. So don't stress!)
1 bag (12 oz) fresh or frozen cranberries*
3 medium golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (5 cups)
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped candied or crystallized ginger*
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves*
1/3 c. apple cider or frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1/2 c. chopped walnuts*
4 tsp. cornstarch
canola oil spray
Dough for 1 (or 2 if you're like me) New American Plate Pie Crusts
Unbleached all purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c. sugar

In a deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid, combine the cranberries, apples, raisins, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Add 1/4 c. of juice and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered for about 5 min. or until some of the cranberries pop and the mixture is moist and bubbling. Stir well, cover, and cook for 5 min, until cranberries are soft. Mix in the walnuts. In a small bowl, combine remaining juice and cornstarch and mix into the cranberry mixture. Cook for 2 min, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Lightly coat 9 in pie plate with canola spray and turn the filling into the pie plate (or put down 1 pie crust into plate and then put in filling if you love crust like I do!) Let filling come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On wax paper roll dough into a 6 by 10 in rectangle. Cut into 12 half inch strips. Place 6 strips one way over the pie and then carefully weave the other 6 strips one by one into the first strips at a 90 degree angle to them. Trim and border the rim with the remnants. Crimp the dges. Brush the crust with egg and then spprinkle with sugar.
Set the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 10 min. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake 25 to 30 min more, until golden. Cool the pie 20 min before serving.

New American Plate Pie Crust:
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. flour
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 to 2 tbsp. ice water or cold apple juice
Combine the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and oil. Cut in or pulse in a food processor until resembles crumbs (pea size). Add 1 tbsp of water at a time until the dough starts to come together. Gather dough into a ball and let rest a few minutes.
Press the dough into a flattened disk in wax paper with rolling pin into a 12 in circle. The dough can be covered and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped and frozen up to a month or baked immediately.

Kat's Slow Chicken

This recipe comes to you from my Rival Crock Pot Slow Cooker Recipes. I choose it because I had all the ingredients on hand, it has little to no fat, lots of vegetables, was cheap, and so easy because it is a crock pot recipe. We liked it, but it needed more salt. James put seasoning salt on it and liked it so much more. Give it a try and adapt it to your own family's tastes.

4 to 6 boneless skinless breasts or 1 cut up whole chicken (3 lbs)
1 jar (26 oz) pasta sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
4 carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp to 1/4 c. water, divided
1 to 2 tbsp. cornstarch
Prepared mashed potatoes or hot cooked noodles (optional)
Combine all ingredients, except water, cornstarch and mashed potatoes in slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Before serving, combine 2 tbsp. water and 1 tbsp cornstarch in small bowl. Stir until mixture is smooth. Add to slow cooker. Cook on high an additional 15 minutes or until mixture thickens. If mixture needs additional thickening, add remaining water and cornstarch. Serve chicken and vegetables over mashed potatoes if desired.