Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicken Gyros

A few weeks ago I started my menu plan like I always do.  Asking Jason for his opinion.  95% of the time this gets me the same results.  Spaghetti, something on a sandwich.  Or in a pita bread.  Every.Single.Week.  This particular week, though, I was shocked to hear him say "gyros."  To which I had to (unfortunately) reply A) I don't like lamb and B) we have a freezer full of beef.  So, no.

I filed it away, though, thinking I would maybe try lamb again.  Instead, I came across this recipe for Chicken Gyros and knew it would be a winner.  This also came together pretty quickly, so that meets my weeknight meal requirement!

Greek Chicken Gyros adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 T fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.  Reserve 2 tablespoons, and stir in the yogurt.  Toss the chicken into the mixture, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat the grill to a medium heat and cook the chicken until well browned, tossing the leftover marinade.  Remove from the grill and cover with foil, set aside.

  • 1/2 cucumber, unpeeled & shredded
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 7oz fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pepper
Place the shredded cucumber into a strainer set over a bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to drain.  Place the cucumber into a towel and squeeze dry.  In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber & remaining ingredients.

For the topping, thinly slice 1/2 of an onion (yellow or red).  Toss with the 2 tablespoons of marinade and set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes before serving.  For additional toppings, slice the remaining half of the cucumber, quarter 1 cup grape tomatoes, and crumble Feta cheese.  Serve the chicken, tzatziki & toppings with warm pita bread.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

A few weeks ago I saw this recipe pop up on the weekly menu post on a message board I frequent.  I clicked over to the recipe and couldn't figure out why I missed it the first time it was posted!  I knew we would love this and it met all of my "weeknight" requirements.  I filed it away knowing it would come up on our rotation soon.  Sure enough, a short work week following vacation was the perfect time.

I used my lazy crockpot recipe for the chicken filling, since I wanted to have extra chicken for lunches and even used some on a Mexican pizza one night.  But the chicken isn't what makes this dish.  It is the sauce.  The sauce...was just fantastic.  I used light sour cream, so I didn't feel quite as bad about wanting to lick the spoon.  Fortunately, half of the sauce went into the freezer meaning I'll be making these again soon.

Baked Chicken Chimichangas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce adapted from So Tasty, So Yummy
  • 2 lbs chicken tenders
  • 2 packages taco seasoning
  • 2 cans Ro-Tel
  • burrito size flour tortillas
  • shredded Mexican style cheese (about 1/2 cup per serving needed)
  • 1 28oz can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 t cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T cliantro, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded & diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1 cup light sour cream
In a crockpot, combine the chicken, taco seasoning & Ro-Tel (you may need to add an additional can of water).  Cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 on low.  Shred the chicken and stir until combined.

Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chicken on to each tortilla.  Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and roll up, burrito style.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place the burrito on the sheet & spray with cooking spray.  Bake in a 425 degree oven, for about 20 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, combine the tomatillos, broth, garlic, cliantro, jalapeno, lime juice & spices.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  Return to a low heat and stir in the sour cream.

Serve each chimichanga with about 1/3 cup of tomatillo sauce.

Italian Sausage Ravioli

Ever since my first attempt at making pasta I knew I wanted to get my hands on a pasta roller.  Rolling it by hand is hard work!  And it never really got thin enough.  Fortunately, my mom gave me a pasta roller for my birthday and I knew ravioli was on the menu.  Jason requested ravioli with meat in the filling.  I couldn't really find a recipe I loved, but I knew starting with one from Annie's Eats would be the way to go.

I made this recipe a few months ago, minus the mushrooms.  I took a gamble and swapped out the mushrooms for some sweet Italian sausage.  We were really happy with the end result and even more thrilled that we put half in the freezer!  My only issue at this point is trying to figure out a perfect pasta to filling ratio.  I had a little bit of filling left, but solved the problem by mixing it with some penne and baking it for Cooper's dinner.

Italian Sausage Ravioli in a Spinach Cream Sauce adapted from Annie's Eats


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 pound Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casings
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup part skim ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 t dried basil
  • 1/4 t dried oregano
  • 5oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 5oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • salt & pepper
Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer and make a well in the center.  Add the eggs, and mix using the dough hook.  Begin mixing on low, increasing speed until the dough is well blended.  On a floured surface, continue kneading the dough until it is no longer tacky.  Divide the dough into smaller pieces, keeping it covered with a damp cloth.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, then run the pieces through the pasta roller until it is barely translucent.  Keep under a damp towel until used.

Cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat, until browned.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  In a large bowl, combine the cheeses & eggs stirring well.  Add in the spices, spinach & sausage, mixing well.

On a floured surface, lay out the pasta one sheet at a time.  Use a pasta stamp or cookie cutter to create indentations to use as a guide.  Spoon a few teaspoons into each space, and place another sheet of pasta on the top.  Stretch the top sheet to completely cover the filling, pressing out the air before sealing.  Cut the ravioli & place on a floured cookie sheet to dry for about 30-60 minutes.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for about 3 to 5 minutes, drain well.

In a medium size sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour until incorporated.  Add the garlic and continue whisking until the mixture reaches a golden-brown color.  Whisk in the cream & milk, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to bubble.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese & spinach.  Gently toss the pasta with the sauce before serving.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beef Fajitas & Grilled Corn Salsa

The three of us are huge fans of corn on the cob.  I get giddy when I start seeing it in the grocery store - especially at the super low price we get around here.  A few weeks ago, though, Bridget brought some "real" corn - fresh and juicy.  As much as I love the corn on the cob from the grocery store, this was night & day different.  I decided to grill the corn and make some salsa to go with fajitas.  Frankly, I could eat fajitas on a weekly basis.  Now that we're in the dead middle of summer, I feel like this recipe will come around again and again at our house.

Beef Fajitas adapted from Southern Living

  • 2 sirloin steaks, removed from the bone & fat trimmed, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • zest of one lime
  • 2 1/2 T lime juice
  • 2 T Worchesterchire sauce
  • 1 1/2 t ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 14oz can beef broth
  • 1 handful of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and rough chopped
  • onion, sliced
  • bell pepper, sliced
In a large zip-lock bag, mix the olive oil and next 10 ingredients (through the jalapeno).  Add the steak and marinate for 4 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.  Turn the bag occasionally.

Grill the fajitas, onions & bell peppers over a medium-high heat.  Serve with corn or flour tortillas, grilled corn salsa & sour cream.

Grilled Corn Salsa
  • 5-6 ears of corn, shucked
  • 3-4 large tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeded & diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 t olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Grill the corn over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until done.  Cut the corn from the cob.  Mix in remaining ingredients & season to taste.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dessert for a Year: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I've realized that although Jason is getting to enjoy his Dessert for a Year gift, I'm pushing my hand a little more in the decision making process.  For June he asked for a pie.  That three letter word makes me shudder.  I've just never had a lot of success when I comes to pies, but I'm willing to try.  In July. 

See, our A/C has been having a heck of a time keeping up with the house.  I mean, it is only 103 outside on a good day, so I have no idea what the issue is.  But the bottom line is that there was no way I wanted to turn on the oven and bake a pie when the house is hot enough already.  I convinced him to pick ice cream instead.  ((side note: I think I found the recipe, but he approved.  And I think we may have helped the a/c issue so stay tuned for pie in July))

Jason's parents were in for the weekend to help cut back on my calorie consumption, and everyone approved the ice cream.  Well, except Cooper but he was asleep so I guess that doesn't count...  Either way, this turned out to be a rich & creamy ice cream, but not overpowering.  It didn't quite have the cheesecake flavor I thought it would - I thought it had more of the creamy cheesecake texture.  I think next time I may change the fruit to strawberries, just to try something different.  Plus, the grocery store was completely out of blueberries that day so I went for frozen ones.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 3oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, rough chopped
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
In a medium bowl, combine the first three ingredients and beat with an electric mixer.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk & half-and-half to a boil.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk into the cheese mixture.  Return it to the sauce pan and heat to 160, stirring constantly.  Place the pan into and ice-filled bowl and chill completely, stirring occasionally.

In a small sauce pan, combine the blueberries, powdered sugar & water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Stir the blueberry mixture & milk mixture together and pour into an ice cream freezer.  Freeze according the the directions for the ice cream maker, pour into a freezer-safe bowl and freeze for an hour, or until firm.

Lazy Lasagna

I have a love/hate relationship with Rachael Ray and her recipes.  Most of them look pretty good and so easy (hello, 30 Minutes!) but I usually end up an hour and a half later, without a completed dinner, and a hungry baby helping me curse her name.  They aren't every really 30 Minute Meals.

This one, though, came close.  I'd say 45 minutes...and it might have taken less time had I turned the broiler on high and not low!  It was another magazine tear out and turned out to be a keeper.  I usually shy away from anything that calls for a bechamel sauce because I have a hard time getting it thick enough.  Or really, I'm not sure how think it should I think I end up overcooking it.  This time I used skim milk and I'm pretty sure that was a bad idea.  The sauce was very thin and I ended up only using half of it, but the end result was still a winner!

I'm pretty sure this will be our new go-to lasagna recipe.

Lazy Lasagna adapted from Rachael Ray
  • 1 lb whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 1-2 yellow squash, diced into small pieces
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped fine
  • ground cloves, to taste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef stock (note: you can sub in 1 cup white wine...but I didn't want to give mine up)
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 rounded T flour
  • 2 cups milk (I suggest using whole since my sauce never really thickened the way it should)
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • shredded mozzarella & parmesan cheese
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente.  Drain and set aside.  In a large Dutch Oven, heat 1-2 T of olive oil.  Brown the ground beef & add the onion, veggies, rosemary, garlic, cloves & salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for another minute.  Add in the broth and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes longer. 

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and then milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and season with nutmeg, salt & pepper.

Stir the cooked pasta with the beef mixture and pour into a greased 9*13 dish.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle with the cheeses.  Broil in the oven until the cheeses have melted and browned.