Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Homemade and Healthy Chicken Pad Thai

Um, yes, this is so good. Like, three weeks in a row, good. Or, take-this-to-the-next-friend-who-has-a-baby-good. Or, straight from my husband's mouth, "Wow, the flavors are so good"-good.

This tasty Chicken Pad Thai has obviously made it into our regular rotation. If you have 10 minutes earlier in the day, chop your veggies and shred your chicken, stick them both back in the fridge covered, and this meal will take less than 30 minutes to put together.

Chicken Pad Thai (Katie Newell, Feeding Our Families)
For the pad thai:
8 ounces rice noodles
1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken)
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots
1 small red onion
2 cups bean sprouts

For the peanut-honey pad thai sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (I use just rice vinegar, not seasoned)
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp honey
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp organic sugar
1/2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (I don't add this; just never have it)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I don't add this; trying to keep "heat" at bay for kids)

2 green onions
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup roasted peanuts (I don't add, though feel free!)
Lime wedges, for squeezing

Slicing and dicing: Peel and coarsely chop 3 cloves garlic and a 1" thick piece of ginger. Thinly slice 1 red onion. Core, seed and thinly slice 1 red bell pepper. Peel and matchstick (or julienne) 2 carrots. thinly slice 2 green onions.

Prepare the peanut-honey pad thai sauce: In a mini food processor, blender, or with the good ol' whisk, blend all ingredients together under "peanut-honey pad thai sauce." Blend well.

Cook rice noodles: Cook according to package directions, then drain and rinse in cold water to stop noodles from cooking.

Make your pad thai: Heat a large deep skillet (or wok) over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and heat about 30 seconds, until shimmering. Add onions, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add bell pepper, and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in bean sprouts, cooked shredded chicken, cooked rice noodles, and pad thai sauce. Toss until chicken and noodles are warm, and to distribute sauce throughout. Transfer contents of skillet to serving dish, and garnish with green onions, cilantro, peanuts (if using), and squeeze with lime wedges. Serve and enjoy!

Delicious White Chicken Chilli

Every spring has a cold day here or there. So this spring, put this white chicken chili on the list! Warm spices, tender chicken, white beans of your choice, corn, topped with cilantro (my fav), green onions (my other fav), and sharp cheddar cheese (an everyday essential, of course).

It's so easy to put together, especially if you cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken for the meat.

White Chicken Chilli (Katie Newell,

Ingredients (Serves six, leftovers are fantastic):

For the chilli:
3     cups cooked shredded chicken, about 1 pound
3     cups prepared white beans, or two 15-ounce cans
1½  cups frozen corn kernels
4     ounce can diced green chilies (mild)
1     large yellow onion, or 2 small
4     cloves garlic
2     tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1     quart chicken broth
½    cup sour cream, or more to taste
3     green onions
¼    cup flat-leaf parsley  
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese for topping 
For the seasonings:
1    tbsp ground cumin
1    tsp ground coriander
1    tsp dried oregano
1    tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne

Instructions (1 hour, 20 minutes, 20 minutes active):

Prepare your ingredients:  Dice 1 large or 2 small yellow onions.  Mince 4 cloves garlic.  Thinly slice 3 green onions.  Coarsely chop ¼ cup flat leaf parsley. If necessary, drain and rinse white beans. 

In a small bowl or ramekin, combine all ingredients listed under “for the seasonings”. 

Prepare your white chicken chili:  Heat a 4-quart or larger stockpot over medium heat for about 5 minutes. While pot heats, use a hand held blender or mini food processor to puree 1½ cups beans with 1 cup of the chicken broth (this will help thicken the soup). When pot is hot, add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and heat an additional 30 seconds, until oil shimmers. Add diced onion and garlic and saute for about 6 minutes. Add combined seasonings and stir continuously for 2 minutes, being mindful not to let the spices burn. Add remaining chicken broth, shredded chicken, whole beans, pureed beans, frozen corn, and green chilies to pot. Increase heat to bring just to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour.  Remove from heat. Stir in green onions, parsley, and ½ cup or so of sour cream. 

Getting it in the table: Ladle soup into bowls. Top with cheddar cheese. Serve with your favorite whole grain crackers, fruit, or cut up veggies and dip. Enjoy!

Notes: This is a very flavorful soup, but has very little heat. This makes it super kid-friendly. Our entire family looks forward to this simple dinner. Vegetarians, omit the chicken and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. This dish is naturally nut-free and gluten-free. If you choose to double the recipe to freeze for a future dinner, freeze the second batch of soup before you stir in the sour cream (to prevent the cream from curdling when reheated). If you forget and add the sour cream, reheat the soup at just over medium low, no higher.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spinach Meatballs with Homemade Marinara

Don't you love when you can sneak veggies into a delicious meal? This recipe uses an entire bag/carton of fresh spinach! My family loves this dish. It also makes enough for another night's dinner...or freeze the meatballs and use next week...or make meatball many options!

Thanks again to my friend, Sabrina, for sending me this recipe. She has a big family as well, so she knows how to cook for them!

Spinach Meatballs (slightly adapted from

1 lb ground beef
5 oz fresh spinach (one bag/carton)
2 slices bread (I use older sourdough, any can do)
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

1. Give entire 5 oz of fresh spinach a rough chop. Steam spinach in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes until it is warm and slightly wilted.
2. Add to mixing bowl: ground beef, wilted spinach, beaten egg, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, healthy dose of salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp of each). Barely wet bread with water, squeeze out excess water over sink, and crumble bread into mixing bowl. Mix all with hands until thoroughly combined.
3. Using tablespoon, scoop out meat, and form small meatballs (each is about one tablespoon in size, possibly slightly bigger).
4. In large skillet or nonstick pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add as many meatballs as you can without them touching each other. Allow meatballs to cook and get a nice sear, then turn to other side. Continue to turn meatballs every 3-5 minutes until all sides are browned and centers are pretty much cooked through.
5. Place meatballs on paper-towel lined plate. Freeze half if you want. Save the rest to cook for 15-20 minutes in the below homemade marinara sauce.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion (or one small onion), chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 package of angel hair pasta (or full package if feeding a crowd)

1. Heat olive oil in skillet (skillet needs to have a lid or cover). Add chopped onion and allow to cook until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes (don't let garlic burn!). Season with a little salt and pepper (if you have a little red wine, deglaze pan with about 1/4 cup red wine, and allow alcohol to cook off).
2. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, dried basil, chicken broth, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. After 10 minutes, add meatballs, simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, bring pasta water to a boil, and cook angel hair noodles as directed.
5. Finish marinara by adding in remaining 1 tbsp fresh basil. Remove bay leaf.

Serve all together and enjoy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pumpkin (Butternut Squash) Lasagna

I am a huge fan of this cookbook, Feeding Our Families, by Katie Boyer Newell. She spoke at my mom's church MOPs group a couple years ago. She strives to feed her family healthy, whole foods. And, everything I have made from her cookbook has been a WINNER. This is the first recipe of many...

This lasagna adds another veggie - butternut squash - into your normal lasagna, which is absolutely delicious with Italian turkey sausage and sage. Yum! I can make THREE meals out of this recipe. One 9x13" pan (which equates to two nights in my house) and then a 8x8" pan to freeze.

This is part of our regular rotation - my husband and kids love it!
Pumpkin (Butternut Squash) Lasagna
(Katie Boyer Newell, )

2 lbs Italian sausage (I use mild Italian turkey sausage)
1 red onion
4 cloves galic
⅔ cup gorgonzola
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 cups pureed pumpkin or butternut squash (or one can) I chop up butternut squash, roast with olive oil, salt and pepper, and puree
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ tsp nutmeg

24 – 25 oz jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce (Barilla basil and tomato)
15-ounce can tomato sauce (or homemade)

12 lasagna noodles
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Instructions (90 minutes, 30 minutes active.):
Preparations: Dice 1 red onion and 4 cloves garlic. Set aside. Stir together 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce with 1 can of tomato sauce. Set this aside as well. In a large mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs. Add 2 cups pureed pumpkin and 1 cup ricotta cheese. When well combined, stir in 1 cup shredded mozzarella, ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ½ tsp nutmeg.

Brown your sausage: Heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes. When hot, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and heat an additional 30 seconds, until oil shimmers. Add sausage, onion, and garlic to skillet. Season with 1 tsp dried thyme, and ½ tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Brown sausage for 5 – 7 minutes, breaking into crumbles as it cooks. When sausage is no longer pink, turn off heat. Stir in ⅔ cups gorgonzola cheese just until melted.

Cook lasagna noodles: Per package directions. Rinse with cold water to stop noodles from cooking.

Assemble your lasagnas: Pour ¼ – ½ cup tomato sauce on the bottom of baking dish(es). (I can make one 9x13" and one 8x8" dish). Place lasagna noodles on the bottom of each dish. Layer ¼ of the sausage mixture (eyeball it), ¼ of the pumpkin and cheese mixture, and ¼ of the sauce in each dish. Repeat with another layer of noodles, sausage, pumpkin and cheese mixture, and sauce. Add one more layer of noodles, and then top each dish with an additional ½ cup mozzarella, 2 tbsp torn sage leaves, 2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ¼ tsp black pepper. (If you have enough, add one more layer, I usually do!) Cover tonight’s dinner with foil and refrigerate. Transfer disposable 8 x 8 to a labeled and dated freezer bag, and freeze. (If making just one 13 x 9, please double the amounts used in each layer.)

To bake your lasagna: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When oven is hot, place foil covered lasagna in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is hot and bubbly. Let lasagna rest for 5 – 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy! (When baking your lasagna from frozen, please allow an extra 30 – 40 minutes covered baking time.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Homemade Energy Bites

Well, a year has come and gone since my last recipe post. It was a big year. A year full of a new baby, a three month rotation in Florida, adjusting to three kids, and more preschool and activities. A year full of JOY. That's what it was.

Now that we are extra busy, I have been trying to cook every night of the week, and have snacks (like this one), ready for when my hungry girls get home from school. The weeknight recipes will be posted at some point...there have been some real winners (think pumpkin lasagna, maple-Dijon chicken, and pork carnitas, to name a few).

But let's keep it simple today -- a simple snack, that lasts a long time.

Thanks to my friend, Sabrina, for introducing these to our family!

Homemade Energy Bites (From
2 cups quick oats
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
2 cups coconut flakes, wheat germ, sesame seeds or rice krispie cereal (or a combination of any of them, I usually do coconut flakes, wheat germ and rice krispies)
1 cup ground (milled) flaxseed
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients together. Roll into balls.
2. To freeze: Place balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for one to two hours. Remove from cookie sheet and place in an airtight ziplock freezer bag/container.
3. Can be eaten frozen or thawed at room temp for 30 minutes, or warmed in microwave for 5-10 seconds.

Makes around 3 dozen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snickers Icebox Pie

This delish recipe has been in the que for's 'bout time it gets the attention it deserves.
Who wouldn't like an oreo crust, layered with melted chocolate, caramel and finely chopped peanuts, then a peanut butter-caramel marshmallow cream topping? And it tastes exactly like a Snickers bar...only better. It takes longer to eat. Translate: it allows for more time to savor. This is the best pie I've eaten, but it does have many steps for the layers, so allow a few hours. It is soooo worth it!
Because we are in a stage of life where we are on a strict budget, one of my favorites things to do is invite a small group of friends and their families over for dessert (rather than a full-on dinner). We let the kids play while we socialize, and enjoy a yummy dessert. It's a great time for the wives to try out new desserts, I served this one time and it seemed perfect for the occasion.
This recipe comes from one of my favorite trusted cooking kitchens - America's Test Kitchen (on PBS). When I saw their recent cooking magazine in my favorite local bakery titled, "The Absolute Best Chocolate Recipes Ever" I couldn't resist.

Snickers Icebox Pie (Cooks Country, "Chocolate Desserts" edition)
16 Oreo cookies, broken into rough pieces (not the double stuffed Oreos, the original)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme (try Jet-Puffed or Marshmallow Fluff)
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
7 ounces (about 26) soft caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
Bittersweet chocolate bar for shavings (again, Ghiradelli is my fav)
1. For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse cookies in food processor until coarsly ground, about 15 pulses, then continue to process until fine, even crumbs, about 15 seconds longer. Sprinkle butter over crumbs and pulse to incorporate.
2. Transfer crumbs to 9" pie plate. Use bottom of a spoon to press crumbs into even layer on bottom and up the sides of pie plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and set, about 10-15 minutes.
3. For the Filling: Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over hot crust and let sit until softened but not fully melted, about 5 minutes. Smooth softened chocolate into even layer with rubber spatula. Refrigerate crust until chocolate is set, 20-25 minutes.
4. Using standing mixer fitted with whisk, beat marshmallow creme, cream cheese, heavy cream, peanut butter, and butter together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Cook caramels and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted and smooth, 8-10 minutes. Stir 1 tablespoon caramel into marshmallow creme mixture. Spread remaining hot caramel evenly over chocolate layer in chilled pie crust. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and refrigerate until caramel is just set, about 10 minutes.
6. Dollop marshmallow creme mixture on top of caramel and spread into even layer. Refrigerate pie, uncovered, until chilled and set, about 2 hours.
7. Create chocolate shavings by using a vegetable peeler on bittersweet chocolate bar, sprinkle over top of pie. Serve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Terriyaki Flank Steak

Steak. That's all I've been craving lately. Juicy, tasty steak. And so, I've been over-the-moon every couple weeks when we make this flank steak with terriyaki marinade.

Flank steak is a tougher meat. It's recommended that you marinade it before cooking...24 hours is ideal, but 3-6 hours works for this recipe. Another tip with flank steak is do not overcook it. Like, don't cook it to well done. Medium is the preferred doneness, otherwise, it gets too tough and loses it's juiciness. I have made this mistake and served my husband leather for dinner - not pleasant! So keep an eye on your steak as you cook. You can always put it back on the grill or in the pan if it's not done enough.
This marinade is so easy. You can whip it together in 15 minutes a few hours before dinner and you'll have one of the tastiest steaks awaiting you that night.
Terriyaki Flank Steak (Allrecipes)
1 Flank Steak around 1.5 lbs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Worchestchire sauce
1 tablespoon seedy Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together briskly. 
2. Put flank steak in a sealed, gallon plastic bag, pour in marinade, and let rest in refrigerator for 3-6 hours, or up to 24 hours before cooking. I always flip the bag over on the other side halfway through the marinading process to allow the entire steak the opportunity to soak up as much as possible.
3. Grill, or pan sear steak on a hot grill/pan; about 5-7 minutes on each side depending on thickness. Cook to medium or medium-well.
4. Allow steak to rest on a plate loosely covered in foil for at least 5 minutes (if you cut steak immediately, all the juices will end up on the plate, instead of inside the meat, so let it rest!). Slice meat into thin strips and serve.