Monday, February 28, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Chili)

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup) - to save time, just chop
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans w/liquid
  • 1 15 oz. can great northern beans w/ liquid
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 12 oz. can of V-8 juice
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t oregano 
  • 1 t basil
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 pound (8 oz.) ditali pasta
  • dash of hot sauce or cayene pepper
  • fresh parmesan cheese 

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat.  Drain off most of the fat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except pasta and parmesan cheese, and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. About 50 minutes into simmer time, add in the uncooked pasta and continue simmering for the final 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese for topping.
  6. Serves 8
This is a very slightly modified version of a recipe I got from my mother-in-law.  It's very hearty, healthy, and despite what seems like a long ingredient list, very easy to make.  I think it tastes best made with fresh herbs, but really... what doesn't.  This freezes very well too, just leave the pasta out.  I've also made a day in advance (minus the pasta) and reheated for large gatherings - it's easy to double.  Enjoy!

Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Penne

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 1 lb. asparagus (I've also used broccoli)
  • 4 T toasted sesame seeds (reserve one for topping)
  • Sauce ingredients:
    • 1 T brown sugar
    • 1/4 c soy sauce
    • 4 T sesame oil
    • 3/4 T hot chili sesame oil
    • 1 T red wine vinegar
    • 3 T chunky peanut butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Toppings: 
    • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
    • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  1. Boil chicken breasts until cooked through.  Let chicken cool before shredding.  You can pick it apart with your hands or use two forks for this.  Put chicken in large bowl.
  2. Cook penne noodles as directed.  Drain.  Toss with a tiny bit of extra sesame oil to keep noodles from sticking.  Add to large bowl with chicken.
  3. Snap ends off of asparagus and put spears in boiling water for 1 minute.  Remove from water, let cool slightly and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Add to large bowl.
  4. In a blender, combine all the sauce ingredients until well blended.  Pour over the penne, chicken and asparagus.  Add 3 T toasted sesame seeds.  Stir until well-coated.
  5. Serve either warm or chilled.  Topped with 1 T sesame seeds, cucumber and green onions.  Serves 4.
Man, I love this dish!  Like I mentioned in the ingredient list, I've also made this with broccoli which is also very tasty (although asparagus is my favorite).  If you wanted more kick to it, you could beef up the hot chili oil.  Since I make this for my whole family, I usually scale back on the hot chili oil (to 1/2 T) - then Roger and I add extra hot chili pepper flakes to add the heat, while Emma can have a less spicy version.  I've also frozen this dinner (minus the toppings) and thawed later - it worked surprisingly well.  Easy to make in bulk too, it would also be a great pasta "salad" to take to any kind of potluck/event.  Thanks to Stacy Ferney who shared a recipe with me that inspired this one!

Tomato, Red Onion, and Basil Bruschetta

  • 3 cups assorted cherry, grape, and teardrop tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for brushing 
  • 3 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 large loaf focaccia, halved horizontally 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, halved  
  • Optional: fresh parmesean, grated
  1. Combine tomatoes, finely chopped onion, 3 tablespoons olive oil, chopped fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar in medium bowl; season tomato topping with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Topping can be made 2 hours ahead. 
  2. Cover and let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally.  Preheat broiler. Place focaccia half, cut side up, on baking sheet; brush bread with olive oil. Toast bread in broiler until top is golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes.
  3. Immediately rub cut side of bread all over with halved garlic, then cut focaccia into equal pieces.  Top toasted focaccia with tomato mixture, parmesean and serve.  NOTE: if you are not serving immediately, I would recommend letting people top their own bread, this will keep the bread from getting soggy.

***Note: I didn't have any large garlic cloves, so I used some minced garlic and mixed it with the olive oil to brush the focaccia with.  Also, I cashed out on the more expensive cherry tomatoes because there isn't much tomato variety in the middle of winter and it turned out great - I wouldn't skimp here.  Also made the two hours in advance and recommend that as well.  This recipe is one I adapted from Bon App├ętit.

I made this as an appetizer for my book club and it was a big hit - not a drop left over!  I really loved the balsamic vinegar in it too.  Will definitely make this one again, and can't wait to use a variety of tomatoes when they are in season.  It was very easy to do and more "special" than something I could buy at a store.  For me, that's a perfect appetizer!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

A foodie friend of mine once told me that the best salads have four main ingredients: greens, fruit, cheese & nut.  The following recipe may not be new to you, but it's a very tasty go-to salad.  It pairs beautifully with the Maple-Glazed Salmon.

10-14 oz. baby spinach
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
4 oz. feta cheese
6 oz. can of Mandarin oranges (optional)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
low-fat poppy seed dressing

     So simple!  Just prepare all ingredients through Mandarin oranges as indicated.   Right before serving the salad, add in slivered almonds and dressing and toss well.  Delicious and nutritious!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Protein Smoothies

Often we have to fuel fast after a tough training session, or just need breakfast in a jiffy. So, we like to make smoothies that can be quickly created, consumed or carried. There are FAR too many variations to list, especially considering seasonal fruit supplies - but you'll get the gist of making smoothies here.

You can make smoothies in a blender or the Magic Bullet.

Nat's Favorite
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice
1 tablespoon almond butter
1-2 large bananas
1 tablespoon milled flaxseed


1 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 large banana
1 tablespoon milled flaxseed

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Greg's favorite
1 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate milk
5 large strawberries
1 large banana
Blend well!

Triple Berry

1 cup frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries (from Costco)
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice
1-2 teaspoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon milled flaxseed

Papaya Coconut Almond
1 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen papaya
1/4 cup frozen lemonade
1/2 cup coconut water
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon agave syrup
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
Blend well!

The possibilities are obviously endless! If you want to make your smoothie "to-go" for a fast and healthy breakfast: just blend it up the night before, pour it in a water bottle, freeze it overnight and take the bottle out of your freezer when you wake in the morning to thaw. Voila!

Fiesta Chicken

  • 3 cans of Rotel tomatoes (these are in with the canned tomatoes
  • 1 can sliced olives (3 oz. can), drained
  • 4 sliced green onions, sliced thin
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed to bite-sized pieces
  • Toppings: fresh cilantro, sour cream/plain yogurt, grated cheese, jalapenos, fresh diced tomatoes, etc.
  1. In a large pan, cook/brown cubed chicken until cooked through.
  2. In a stockpot, combine Rotel tomatoes, olives, and green onions on medium heat.
  3. Add chicken to stockpot and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve tomato/chicken mixture over yellow rice and top with your choice of toppings.
This recipe is very healthy and easy to make for a large group.  Also fun to have some options for different toppings that people can choose from.   This would also be very good with black beans added into the tomato mixture or fixed as a side dish.  It does have a little "kick" to it, so Emma usually picks the chicken chunks out and eats that over rice with her favorite toppings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Manicotti

*cooking spray
*8 oz Pasta, manicotti, semolina, dry (1 box)
*1 tsp olive oil
*1 cup fresh chopped onion
*1 cup chopped tomato , chopped (I buy petite diced tomatoes and drain the juice)
*1 cup medium green bell peppers , chopped
*2 medium garlic cloves , minced
*12 oz cooked chicken breast, diced (I boil mine and then shred it)
*2 cups Italian cheese blend
*1 egg, lightly beaten
*3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese , divided
*1/2 cup pesto
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/8 tsp black pepper
*26 oz marinara sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. Cook manicotti 7 minutes, or according to package directions; rinse with cold water and drain. It's easier to work with if you leave it a bit al dente.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, tomato, green pepper ,and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring often, or until vegetables are softened.

3. In a large bowl, mix vegetables, chicken, 1 cup Italian cheese blend, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pesto, salt, and pepper until mixed. Fill each manicotti noodle carefully.

4. Pour 1/2 of the marinara sauce into prepared baking pan. Arrange filled manicotti over sauce and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and Italian cheese blend. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until manicotti is heated through and sauce is bubbling.

This meal is a bit time consuming, especially if you're cooking for a crowd, but it's SO worth the time! I recommend a partner to help with stuffing the manicotti. It definitely makes things go much faster!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maple-Glazed Salmon

From Cooking Light Magazine

1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder or ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 – 6 oz. Alaskan salmon filets
cooking spray
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1.     Preheat broiler.
2.     Combine first 6 ingredients through salt; rub spice mixture evenly over one side of filets.  Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 8-10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
3.     Remove filets from oven and brush filets evenly with maple syrup; broil 2-3 minutes.

Note:  The salmon could also be grilled on your bar-be-que instead of broiling. 

Ginger-Peanut Chicken Salad Wraps

  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breasts
  • 1  cup  chopped peeled cucumber
  • 3/4  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, crushed & minced
  • 1/4  cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2  tablespoons  water
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8  (8-inch) low-fat whole wheat tortillas
  • 2  cups  chopped cabbage


     Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 10-12 minutes on each side or until done. Remove the chicken from pan; cool. Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Place chicken, cucumber, bell pepper, and scallions in a large bowl; mix together and set aside.
     Place sugar and the next 6 ingredients (sugar through garlic) in your Kitchenaide mixer, and mix until smooth. Add peanut butter and water; again mix until smooth, scraping sides. Add peanut butter mixture to chicken mixture; stir well. Add cilantro, and toss well. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla; top each serving with 1/3 cup shredded cabbage, and roll up.

Notes:  The original recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.  Only a few adaptations were made and just because I know what my people like :).  As a side dish, I served Jasmine rice with lime juice and optional toppings of toasted coconut and fresh cilantro.  We also had a fresh pineapple at home - so we sliced it up and added it in the wrap as well...delicious!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Banana Banana Bread

  • 2 c flour (I use 1c whole wheat and 1c all purpose)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 c mashed overripe bananas *Depending on size, this is about 6 bananas. Mashing only takes about 30 seconds in a Kitchen Aid mixer - I like to leave it a little on the lumpy side.
  • Optional fixins: 1/2 c chocolate chips, 1/2 c chopped walnuts, or 1/2 c blueberries (I often add frozen ones, just go to upper end of bake time)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x5 loaf pan
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.
  4. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture, stir just to moisten. Gently stir in an optional ingredients: chocolate chips, walnuts or berries.  Pour batter into prepared loaf ban.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.  Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

I really enjoy banana bread, but let me clarify... MOIST bread.  Dry banana bread is a travesty in my humble opinion.  That's why I love this recipe (only mildly adapted from one I found on  I am obsessed with how moist it is and I love the ridiculous amount of banana flavor.  Most banana bread recipes call for 2-3 ripe bananas. This one is double that... and I believe double the banana flavor.  I love keeping the mashed bananas a little on the lumpy side because I love the added texture.  You could easily put the bananas in a blender as well if you wanted a more uniform texture.  Emma is a huge fan of the chocolate chip banana bread (as is Eric :), and I prefer a little more traditional with walnuts or blueberries if I'm eating it for breakfast. Enjoy my family's favorite banana banana bread!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Breakfast Cookies

  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 4 c flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 T baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c prune baby food (this is 2 "stage 1" containers)
  • 4 T water
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c raisins
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer), stir together the brown sugar, oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil, prune puree, water, egg whites, and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.  This will give you a great arm workout if you're not using a Kitchen Aid mixer! Stir in the raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut last.
  4. Scoop cookies with an ice cream scoop or roll into golf-ball sized balls.  Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets and flatten to 1/2 inch tall with wet hands (dough is sticky, so wet hands is the key to working with it).  These cookies do not flatten much while baking.
  5. Bake 8 minutes for chewy cookies and 10-12 minutes for more crisper cookies (I usually cook mine for 8-9 minutes).  Cookies will not get crisp.  Let set for a few minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool.  Makes 24.
***These cookies did not turn out as well when I tried cooking them on a cooking stone, a regular cookie sheet worked better.

Roger LOVES these cookies for breakfast as well as fuel during long bike workouts. They also make a great snack! This recipe was inspired by the ever delicious (and much more expensive) Baker's Breakfast Cookie and is something I have tweaked over the last 5 or 6 years.  I highly recommend using the Kitchen Aid mixer for an easy and speedy recipe!

Lemon Pepper Chicken

  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup  (I use the 98% fat free version)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I use the 98% fat free version)
  • 2 cans (use can from above as measurement) of Sour Cream (I use fat-free plain yogurt)
  • 6 - 7 chicken breasts, uncooked
  • Lemon Pepper
  • 1/2 c sliced of each: fresh zuchinni, broccoli, mushrooms (or other veggies you enjoy or have on hand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together soup and sour cream. 
  3. Put a small amount of sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 casserole dish, just so it covers bottom of dish.
  4. Place chicken breasts in the dish.  Sprinkle veggies over chicken.
  5. Spread remaining sauce over top of chicken and veggies.
  6. Liberally sprinkle lemon pepper on top of sauce.
  7. Cook for 45 minutes uncovered
  8. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or noodles.
This is the dish Emma always asks for seconds of, and specifically requested it this week as she's been sick.  Definitely more of a comfort food.  The first time I had this dish was at my in-laws about 15 years ago.  I was really pleasantly surprised to find out how ridiculously easy this dish is to make.  Like 5 minutes of hands-on cooking time!  Even better than being sooooo easy, is the fact that everyone seems to enjoy it.  In my book, that's a recipe that's definitely worth repeating!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lime Spiked Black Bean Dip


  • 2  (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  grated carrot
  • 1/2  cup  fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper


Place beans in a food processor, and pulse until almost smooth. Combine the beans, carrot, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes. Serve with baked tortilla chips. Makes 5 cups.

This recipe, from Cooking Light, is a great appetizer that is very easy to do and also shows that you put some additional time and energy into an appetizer beyond just purchasing it from a store.  We brought this along with different colored tortilla chips to one of the music festival evenings up at Arborcrest Winery as our contribution to an appetizer potluck.  Delicious and healthy... a hit with the group!

Citrus Herb Shrimp


2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp, tails on
6 T chopped fresh mint
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c fresh lime juice
2 T peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add shrimp, cook 5 minutes until shrimp are done. Drain. Rinse under cold running water.
2. Place shrimp in a large bowl and chill.
3. Combine all remaining ingredients.  Add to shrimp, toss well to combine.
4. Chill 1 hour, serves 10.


We took this appetizer to one of the music nights up at the Arborcrest Winery this summer.  It was definitely a hit with the group, and when someone recently asked for the recipe, I thought it would be a great time to post it.  It wasn't difficult to make at all, but needs a bit of pre-planning for the chill time.  It is a recipe only slightly adapted from one I got from a Cooking Light cookbook.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

White Chicken Chili

Disclaimer:  This dish is "semi-homemade."  I first tasted this chili when my good buddy, Nate made it for us.  I have adapted and made several additions to the recipe since then to make it work for dinner club.

2 Schilling's White Chicken Chili spice packets
3 cups water
2 - 10 oz. cans of small white beans, undrained
1 pound of chicken breast tenders, cubed
non-stick cooking spray
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
8 oz. frozen sweet petite yellow corn
1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/2 cup light or non-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
Greg's addition: Fritos scooper chips


Heat skillet to medium-high, spray with non-stick cooking oil and brown both sides of the chicken breast tenders, approximately 5-7 minutes on each side.  After chicken is browned, remove from heat, cut into cubes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, mix together contents of spice packets, water and undrained white beans.  Heat saucepan to medium-high and bring contents to a slow boil, add chicken, corn, onions, and bell peppers.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

I serve the chili in a bowl topped with sliced, fresh avocado, a dollop of sour cream and shredded colby-jack cheese.  Greg likes it with the Frito scoops and lots of sour cream.  As a side, I always bake corn bread muffins, which pairs nicely with the spicy chili.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexican Turkey Burgers


1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
1/2 cup salsa
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chipotle-flavored hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
non-stick cooking spray
1 large ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
romaine lettuce leaves
5 slices cheddar or colby-jack cheese
5 whole wheat hamburger buns

Thoroughly mix ground turkey, salsa, red onion, hot sauce, cumin, salt and pepper in large bowl.  Shape turkey mixture into five 3 inch-diameter patties.

Coat large skillet or grill with non-stick cooking spray and heat to medium-high.  Add burgers, cooking on each side for 7-10 minutes depending on desired doneness.  With only two minutes remaining cook time, top each patty with slice of cheese and melt.

Heat buns on grill or in oven on broil until toasted.  Place romaine leaves, sliced avocado and tomato on hamburger bun.

Notes:  Originally I found a recipe similar to this on, but after reading the reviews, I had to adapt the recipe A LOT and add the burger accompaniments.  So, now it's my own - and this is how we enjoyed the burgers...the only condiment I added to the burger's bun was a splash more of the chipotle hot sauce and it was PERFECT!  This burger definitely tastes Tex-Mex, so mainstream condiments like ketchup and mustard would take away from that taste.  We had a side of baked sweet potato fries with our burgers, but it would go really well with tortilla chips and salsa/guacamole, or a light side salad, because the burger is super filling.  I hope you love it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chicken/Shrimp Osaka

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken cut into bite-sized pieces OR 1 1/2 lbs shrimp peeled and cleaned
  • 1 T oil (I use olive oil)
  • 2-3 slices ginger
  • 3 slices of fresh lemon
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 2 t ground dry mustard (in the spice section of the grocery store)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 1/4 c oil (I use olive oil)
  • 2 t cornstarch
  • 1/4 c milk
  1. Heat large frying pan, add oil.  When oil is hot, add shrimp/chicken, ginger, and lemon slices.  Stir fry on medium heat until chicken/shrimp is cooked through.  Drain any remaining liquid and remove/discard lemon and ginger slices.
  2. Blend soy sauce, lemon juice, dry mustard, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, and oil until smooth. Add to chicken/shrimp.  Continue cooking on medium heat for 1 minute.
  3. In a small bowl, stir and dissolve cornstarch in the milk so there are no lumps.  Add to the chicken/shrimp and sauce.  Continue cooking on medium for another 3-5 minutes until sauce thickens.
  4. Serve over rice.  Serves 4.
If you've ever tried this at the Mustard Seed and enjoyed it, you will L.O.V.E. this recipe and also flip-out at how easy it is to make.  When I make this for dinner club or a large crowd, I actually cook chicken/lemon/ginger slices in an 8 qt stockpot so there's plenty of room.  This is a huge hit in my family - Emma loves it too!  Try serving with this thai cucumber salad - delicious!

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 T Taste of Thai Garlic Chili Pepper Sauce
  • 1 t salt
  • 2-3 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/4 c sliced red onion
  • garnish: chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, water, chili pepper sauce and salt.  Stir, cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add cucumbers to onion in an appropriately sized dish that will allow all the cucumber mixture to be covered with the marinade.
  3. Pour vinegar mixture over the vegetables and let marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. You can either serve with a slotted spoon to remove from marinade (what I do) or serve in small bowls with the marinade.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.
We love this recipe, although it does has some kick.  You can either use less chili pepper sauce or strain out the chili peppers/seeds when you pour the vinegar on the cucumbers to lessen the spice.  I strain the marinade for Emma's cucumbers, but she absolutely loves this salad!  You can also put cucumbers and onions in a tupperware with a good-sealing lid and shake marinade around if you don't have a shallow dish.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chicken Spinach Lasagna


*9 lasagna noodles
*1/2 c butter (I used EVOO instead)
*1 onion, chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1/2 c all-purpose flour
*1 tsp salt
*2 c chicken broth
*1 1/2 c milk
*4 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
*1 c grated Parmesan cheese, divided
*1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
*1 tsp dried basil
*1 tsp dried oregano
*1/2 tsp ground black pepper
*2 c ricotta cheese
*2 c cubed, cooked chicken breasts (I shredded mine to make them easier to distribute)
*2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
*1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
*1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese for topping
**For the cheeses, I just used an Italian mix as well as some Parmesan.


1. Pre heat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Melt the butter (or heat the EVOO) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt, and simmer until bubbly. Mix in the broth and milk, and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 2 c mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c Parmesan cheese. Season with the basil, oregano, and ground black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles, ricotta, chicken, and sliced mushrooms. Arranged 1/3 of the noodles over the chicken and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, spinach, and the remaining 2 c mozzarella and 1/2 c Parmesan cheese. Arrange remaining noodles over cheese, and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and 1/4 c Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.