Saturday, June 30, 2012

Skillet Rice Dinner

I always hesitate to some of our simple quick dinners.  But I was pleasantly surprised at how popular my post for meat potatoes and green beans was.  So, maybe everyone else needs quick meals just as much as I do.  It is easy to keep ingredients for this dish on hand, as the meat can be stored in the freezer and everything else in the pantry.  Our kids eat this meal really well and it is another good first table food for older babies.  Oh . . . one more thing . . . it is very budget friendly!

Skillet Rice Dinner 
Adapted from Taste of Home June/July 2005 Spanish Rice Dinner

1 pound ground beef
1  14.5 oz can stewed Italian tomatoes, blended 1
1  14.5 oz can green beans, drained
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
2 t worcestershire sauce
1 t sugar
½ t prepared yellow mustard
¼ - ½ t freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t hot pepper sauce
½ c instant brown rice 2

Cook ground beef in a large skillet until no longer pink.  Drain.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Serves 4

1  The recipe calls for stewed tomatoes straight out of the can, leaving large chunks of tomato in your dish.  I have found that running them through my mini chopper significantly reduces the chunks making the dish more kid friendly. 

2  Regular long grain rice can be used but it will need to be cooked longer and may need a little additional liquid.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicken Pesto Pasta

I confess . . . I am a Pinterest junkie.  I find that I pin hundreds of things, but I only actually try a handful of them.  Of the few recipes I have actually tried, Chicken Pesto Pasta has by far been the best.  It is easy and really is "oh so yummy".  The original recipe can be found here.  I lightened it up slightly and made a few adjustments to the cooking method to make it a little faster and easier for me.

The original recipe called for pesto and heavy cream.  To cut back on some of the fat, I used half and half in place of the cream.  I still felt kind of guilty eating the still fairly rich pasta.  So the next time I make it, I will probably use fat-free half and half.  The original recipe uses previously cooked chicken and makes the sauce separately.  I cooked the chicken in a large skillet and dumped the rest of the ingredients on top of it.  It allowed me to start with raw chicken and saved me dirtying an extra pan.  I also added a little garlic. My family loved this dish! 

Chicken Pesto Pasta  
Adapted from Oh So Yummy, Chicken Pesto Pasta by Marie on April 14, 2010 on the make and takes website. 

1 pound uncooked chicken, cubed
1 T olive oil
1/2 t seasoned salt 
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c half and half
1/4 c pesto (I used Classico Basil Pesto)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
1/2 box pasta (I used rigatoni)

Cook pasta according to the package instructions.  While pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto chicken.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add chicken to skillet.  Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt and pepper.  Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.  Add garlic and cook until chicken starts to brown and garlic is golden.  Add the half and half and pesto.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.  Sprinkle with the 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted.  Add cooked pasta and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.  Serves 4

Gluten-free notes:  This dish can easily be made gluten-free.  Just replace the pasta with your favorite gluten-free variety.  According to the Heinz website (Heinz owns Classico), Classico Basil Pesto sold in the United States is gluten-free!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ranch Dressing {Egg-free}

When you are on an egg-free diet, ranch dressing can be tricky, as most recipes contain mayonnaise.  It pretty much has to be avoided when dining out.  While I have found a few brands that are egg-free, they just don't taste all that good.  So, I thought I would try making my own.  Before coming up with a recipe from scratch, I checked the dressing mix labels.  While most of the the dressing mixes contained egg or instructed you to add mayonnaise, most of the dip mixes didn't have egg and usually added sour cream.  So, why not use a dip mix and just thin it out?  This is exactly what I did!  I thinned it out with milk and added a little extra garlic and black pepper.  It turn out great! 

Ranch Dressing

16 oz light sour cream
2/3 c skim milk
1 t freshly ground black pepper
½ t garlic powder

Mix and refrigerate at least 4 hours prior to using.  

As written, this is A LOT of dressing.  I usually make a half recipe.  I think this would keep pretty well in the refrigerator for about a week.  If anyone thinks it stays fresh longer, let me know.  I also lightened it up a little with light sour cream and skim milk.  I am sure it would be great with regular or even fat free sour cream and regular or low-fat milk.  You may just have to adjust the amount of milk to get the desired consistency.

*Per the company website, this brand of dip mix is gluten-free.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bread Pudding with Butter Cream Sauce {Egg-free}

When my husband was diagnosed with his egg allergy, I initially thought that bread pudding would forever be off the menu.  But that didn't keep me from experimenting!  I have been so pleased with how this recipe turned out.  I cook the bread pudding with a little less pudding mixture to keep it from getting too soggy.  This causes the top to be a little crunchy (which I happen to like).  Immediately adding the butter cream sauce, softens it right up and the taste and texture is just like that you would taste at your favorite Cajun restaurant.  We enjoyed this delicious dessert over the weekend per my husband's request for his Father's Day meal.  It still tastes great the next day straight out of the refrigerator.

Recipe inspired by The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
Bread Pudding

1 lb loaf soft French bread
1 c half and half
1 c whipping cream
1 c sugar
½ c chopped pecans
½ T vanilla
1 t cinnamon
¼ c unsalted butter
1 ½ t powdered gelatin
1 T water

Tear the bread into pieces about ½ inch square.  Mix in pecans.  Melt margarine in a 13x9 baking pan.  Sprinkle gelatin over water to soften.  Set aside.  Mix half and half, cream and sugar.  Bring to a soft boil.  Remove from heat and add gelatin, stirring until dissolved.  Add vanilla.  Spread bread and pecan mixture in prepared pan.   Sprinkle bread mixture with cinnamon.  Pour cream mixture evenly over bread mixture allowing the cream to soak into the bread.  Bake 325o for 40-45 minutes.   

Butter Cream Sauce 

6 T unsalted butter
½ c half and half
1 c sugar

During the last 15 minutes of cook time for the bread pudding, prepare the butter cream sauce.  Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  While still warm, pour butter cream sauce over bread pudding allowing the sauce to soak into the top of the pudding.

Serves 12

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baked Chicken Strips {Egg-free}

My family loves chicken strips!  While we can find some egg-free frozen varieties, chicken strips pretty much have to be avoided when dining out unless the ingredients can be verified.  So, I came up with this egg-free and slightly healthier version.  If you like this recipe, you may also like my recipe for Baked Chicken Parmesan (EF).

Baked Chicken Strips

2-2 ½ pound boneless chicken breast tenders
1 stick margarine or non-dairy margarine
1 1/3 c bread crumbs*
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
½ t freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350o.  In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt and pepper.  In a separate shallow bowl, melt the margarine.  Dip each chicken tender in margarine, turning to coat.  Then place the chicken tender in bread crumbs turning to coat.  Place on baking sheet.  Cook at 350o for about 25 minutes, turning half way through cooking time.  Serves 8

* Be sure to check the bread crumb label to make sure they are egg-free and dairy-free, according to your dietary requirements.

Dairy-free notes:  I haven't tried to make these dairy-free.  One of my readers said it worked great with dairy-free margarine and dairy-free bread crumbs.  See her comments below.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken

This is one of my go to recipes that I have been making for years.  It is easy and delicious.  It is also simple enough that everyone likes it.  I often use this recipe when taking food to friends who have had some kind of health issue.  Last night, we had chicken teriyaki with mashed potatoes and sugar-kissed carrots.  I usually bake this recipe but before the end of the summer, I plan to try it on the grill.  I will let you know how it turns out!

Teriyaki Chicken

¾ c reduced-sodium soy sauce*
¼ c vegetable oil              
3 T brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
½ t ground ginger
6 boneless, skinless breasts (about 2-2 ½ pounds)

In a large gallon plastic bag, combine the first five ingredients.  Mix well.  Add chicken.  Refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning at least once.  Drain and discard marinade.  Place chicken on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375o for about 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  
Serves 6

* For those on a gluten-free diet, be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Honey Ginger Salmon

I got this recipe from my brother and his wife several years ago.  I am not sure where the recipe originated so I don't know who to give the credit to.  I did make a couple of minor adjustments but I certainly can't take credit for the recipe.  We have cooked it in the oven and on the grill.  It tastes great both ways.  In this picture, we cooked it on the grill.  I like to serve this with rice and a vegetable, such as roasted asparagus.

Honey Ginger Salmon

1 t ground ginger
1 t garlic powder
1/3 c  reduced-sodium soy sauce *
1/3 c orange juice
¼ c honey
1 small bunch green onion, chopped
1 ½ - 2 pounds salmon filet

In a large plastic bag, combine the first six ingredients.  Mix well.  Place salmon in bag and seal.  Refrigerate for several hours.  

Grill Instructions:
Preheat grill to medium.  Remove salmon from marinade and reserve marinade.  Grill 12-15 minutes per inch of thickness or until fish flakes easily with fork.  Brush with marinade during last 5 minutes.

Oven Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425o.  Place on a foil-lined 15”x10”x1” baking pan.  Bake, uncovered in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. 

Serves 6-8

* For those on a gluten-free diet, be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snickerdoodles {Egg-free}

Ah . . . snickerdoodles.  Every time we went to visit my Grandma, she always had a big batch waiting for us.  Snickerdoodles are still one of my all time favorite cookies.  They are just chewy, cinnamon sugar goodness!  I was nervous about trying to make an egg-free version.  I was worried that they wouldn't have that same delightful chewy texture.  Well, I was very pleasantly surprised that these chewy cinnamon sugar gems turned out so awesome on my very first attempt!


½ c unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c shortening
¾ c sugar
¾ c brown sugar
½ t pure vanilla
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
3 c flour
¼ c milk
3 T sugar
3 t cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 375o.  With an electric or stand mixer, cream together sugars, butter and shortening.   Add vanilla, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Gradually mix in flour until batter is crumbly in texture.  Mix in milk until soft dough forms.  Roll cookie dough into one inch balls.  Mix remaining 3 T sugar and 3 t cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll cookie dough balls in sugar mixture.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool for about two minutes on cookie sheet before removing.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.