My first Vlog entry: Easy Pasta Salad!

You may not know this, but in real life, I’m a fairly shy person. I love blogging because my voice comes across in my writing, however, the subject of vlogging has always made me nervous.

I will say, though, I really do love watching vlogs from bloggers I’ve followed for a while. I always have an idea in my head about how people’s voices sound, and usually I’m wrong. It’s always a fun surprise to actually hear a blogger for the first time, you know?

Well, I definitely had to bite the bullet when Foodbuzz informed me that a recipe idea I submitted for their Tastemaker’s Program was accepted! The criteria was to make a vlog featuring my simple (30 minute or less) recipe that uses Newman’s Own products. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the package at my door!! It included quite a few salad dressings, pasta sauces, and ::gasp:: a FLIP CAMERA!! So, thank you so much Foodbuzz and Newman’s Own for this amazing opportunity. You helped me take the giant leap into vlogging. :-)

Hope y’all don’t laugh at me too much. I stumbled on my words a few times, but I think I actually want to do this again!

FTC disclosure: I was supplied Newman’s Own products and a Flip camera for free, but my opinions of this recipe are completely my own.

Light Chicken Parmesan

Light Chicken Parm

It’s very rare that we go out for Italian food. While I absolutely LOVE Italian cuisine, the hubs isn’t a really huge fan and totally has to be in the right mood for it. When I was thinking of a new recipe to try in the house, I thought, well, why not make the hubs’ favorite dish: chicken parmesan?

However, I really despise frying. Everytime I try to fry something, I can’t quite control the oil and it either ends up undercooked or burnt. Plus, I end up burnt too from the oil splatters..it’s a crappy situation. Oh yeah, and since I’m trying to lose weight, well, frying isn’t in my vocabulary for the moment.

So, I found a Cooks Illustrated recipe, which really has never steered me wrong when it comes to baking food dishes that are traditionally fried, and I tried this. It really didn’t take that long to throw together, and the hubs really enjoyed it. Yay!

Lighter Chicken Parmesan
Source: Cooks Illustrated 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
  • 2 cups tomato sauce , warmed (see below)
  • 3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
  • Table salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside. Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until needed.
  2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
  3. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.
  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.
  5. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Rosemary Lemon Chicken with Ravioli

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

My husband and I aren’t wine drinkers. There, I said it. My palate is not sophisticated enough to distinguish different wines, nor am I able to just enjoy a good wine event. I’m not at all drawn to the taste of it, but I sort of wish I was. The only time I buy wine is when I have a recipe to cook with, and even then I’m clueless on the wine aisle. I need the exact type spelled out for me or else, I’m calling on one of my wine expert friends.

My friend and her mom came to visit on Saturday night, and we ordered pizza. She offered to bring wine and beer, but all I wanted was Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m fully aware of my drinking immaturity, but I do embrace it. Diet Dr. Pepper, after all, is zero calories. ;)

She brought some Pinot Grigio for her mom, and there was quite a bit leftover. So, her mom offered up a simple way to fix chicken so we could use it up, since she didn’t want to bring it home with her. Wow, was this chicken moist and flavorful and really simple to put together.

Since today’s Foodbuzz Daily Special product is this skillet, I wanted to feature an easy and tasty weeknight meal to make in a skillet. Personally, we just use a non-stick skillet pan, like this one, to make this recipe.

I fixed up a side of Buitoni’s ravioli, which I received complimentary of Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker program. It was absolutely delicious.

Buitoni Ravioli

Rosemary Lemon Chicken
Source: My friend’s Mom

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bottle Pinot Grigio
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness.
  2. Add salt and pepper to the chicken on each side and sear on each side on medium-high for a couple of minutes.
  3. Set the heat to low, and add the wine, rosemary sprigs, garlic and lemon juice.
  4. Cover the skillet and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs

Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs w/ Roasted Vegetables

I love the idea of food on a stick. It’s so amazingly convenient to not get your hands or utensils dirty. Popsicles, corn dogs, roasted marshmallows…and now, kabobs. I’ve never had a kabob before, and it’s not because I was intimidated, it’s just something I don’t think much about. I’m more of a comfort food gal.

Nowadays though, my husband and I have a friendly bet going on. We’re challenging ourselves to lose as much weight as we can in 6 months. The motivation? A $300 prize. We each put in $150 of our own “fun” money for this, and now it’s time to bring on the competition. So, because of the bet (and the need to eat healthier), we are looking for better food options to help with the weight loss. Bye bye comfort food!

I saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, and knew this would be a good dinner to cook since it’s light, involves garlic and is something new to try (kabobs). This chicken turned out flavorful and moist. The marinade is so simple to put together too! I think this would be a great weeknight dinner, especially for the summer. I served the chicken with onion/bell pepper kabobs too as a side, although, for next time, I’m gonna need a better, more filling side dish. If anyone has suggestions, please give me some ideas!

Garlic Lemon Chicken Kabobs
Source: Annie’s Eats (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch pieces

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix to coat with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
  2. Prepare a medium fire in a grill.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before use.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and discard the excess marinade.  Lightly oil the grill grates.  Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking.  Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Chicken Enchiladas

Ok, so I’m gonna give you all a crawfish break today. I just HAD to share this recipe ASAP, because it’s just awesome.

This is a different recipe than the enchiladas I am used to (the ones with red sauce), but I had some leftover crockpot chicken that we used for tacos the night before (which I didn’t photograph, but I will share the recipe) and wanted to make sure that I used up the leftovers. I found this recipe on AllRecipes and thought that it sounded pretty interesting. So, I decided to give it a try!

This recipe is very easy to put together, and was so yummy. My husband absolutely loved these, so I’m definitely going to have to make them again!

Chicken Enchiladas
Source: AllRecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast meat (used shredded leftover chicken taco meat. Recipe below)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 6 (12 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the green onion until tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the garlic powder, then stir in the green chiles, cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Mix well. Reserve 3/4 of this sauce and set aside. To the remaining 1/4 of the sauce in the saucepan, add the chicken and 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese. Stir together.
  3. Fill each flour tortilla with the chicken mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.

 

Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Source: The Nest (Houston Nesties board)

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken taco seasoning packet
  • 2-3 frozen chicken breasts
  • Fresh pico de gallo (12-16 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the seasoning packet all over the bottom of the crockpot. Lay the frozen chicken breasts on top.
  2. Pour the pico de gallo on top and add the olive oil and water. Do not stir!
  3. Allow the chicken to cook in the crockpot for 4-6 hours on low. Remove chicken and shred with a fork, then add back in the crockpot, stir the sauce and let it cook for 30 more minutes on low.
  4. In a small bowl combine the reserved 3/4 of the sauce with the milk. Spoon this mixture over the rolled tortillas and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast

Since my husband and I are trying to eat healthier, I thought a simple roasted chicken would work well for dinner. I didn’t really follow a recipe at all this time, so I guess you could say this is an original. It does involve butter, but hey, it’s not that much really. The skin does come out super crispy, but I opted not to eat mine. This is for two people, but this can easily be doubled, tripled, whatever. It’s a really flexible recipe and easy to do!

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. butter (Edit: The second time, I used canola oil instead since butter seemed to smoke up the house. It worked MUCH better.)
  • 3 tbsp. freshly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry chicken in the sink. Add salt/pepper under and over the skin of the chicken.
  3. Knead the butter in your hands until it is fairly soft. Add in the basil, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add herbed butter to the chicken under and over the skin of the chicken
  5. Bake for 1 hr or until juices run clear on the chicken.

The Skinny (with skin/no skin) – per serving, serves 2:
Calories: 262.9/191.3
Fat: 19.7 g/12.5 g
Fiber 0.5 g/ 0.5 g

Kung Fu Chicken

Kung Fu Chicken…. sounds like an extreme dish to me. Well, when rapper Coolio writes a cookbook, you should expect it to be extreme. That’s right children of the 90s, Coolio wrote a cookbook. I didn’t see it coming, but apparently he’s been a foodie for quite sometime now.

When I saw that a fellow foodie received an email for food bloggers to review this cookbook, I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t very interested. I’d like to remember Coolio as a “Gangsta’s Paradise” type of guy. However, when I mentioned it to my husband, he seemed anxious to get his hand on this book and try a recipe. So, I emailed the publisher and requested to review the book.

Upon receiving it, my husband and I skimmed through the book, laughing at how he wrote the book. It’s almost like he’s talking to you, without censors, and spices are measured in “dime bags” and “nickel bags” vs. teaspoons and tablespoons. There are recipes like Backyard Grass Salad, Bro-ghetti, Pimp my Shrimp and Jarez Make-It-Rain Peanut Butter Cookies.

So, how did we choose Kung Fu Chicken? Easy…we were looking for a simple, weeknight meal that was healthy and well, this fit the bill.

Upon tasting it, it really wasn’t anything Asian as we expected. This dish, however, had a striking similarity to a Louisiana dish called Sauce Piquant. We had no problem with that though, since this dish was rather tasty!

Kung Fu Chicken
Source: Cookin’ with Coolio

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 “dime bag” (or tbsp.) salt
  • 1 “dime bag” (or tbsp.) pepper
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. asian sweet chili sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp. soy sauce

Directions (straight from the book, to get an idea of how he wrote it):

  1. Take your chicken and chop suey it up into quarter-size pieces.
  2. Kung Fu grip your knife and chop up your half of a white onion.
  3. Get out your garlic. If you already got it minced, you’re ready to go.
  4. Warm up a large skillet over medium heat and toss in your olive oil, onion and garlic. Sneak it into that pan like a ninja with a plan. Saute that up for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Throw in your chopped chicken, along with salt and pepper to taste, and let that cook for 8-10 more minutes.
  6. Crack your cans of tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and pour them into your large skillet, covering up all that chickeny-garlicky onion-ness.
  7. Add in the red chili sauce and the soy sauce, and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cover the skillet between stirs.
  8. Let all that cook up and coagulate together for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Take it all out and serve it up with some brown or white rice.

The Skinny - per serving, serves 4 (not including rice)

Calories: 212.5
Fat: 11.0 g
Fiber: 5.0 g

Cheddar Chicken Chowder

chickenchowder

I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween! I can’t believe we are already less than a month away from Thanksgiving. Since the weather’s changing, I asked my husband if he was up for a soup. I already had a recipe in mind, after seeing it on Dinner Delish. It sounded like a new way to use up chicken, besides grilling or baking it, and it was, most importantly, SKINNY!

This soup definitely did not taste skinny, and my husband and I gobbled it up! It was delicious and not too hard to put together either!

Cheddar Chicken Chowder
Source: Cooking Light (originally found on Dinner Delish)

Ingredients:

  • 2  bacon slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  pound  skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  diced red bell pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 1/2  cups  fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 3/4  cups  diced peeled red potatoes
  • 2 1/4  cups  frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  2% low-fat milk
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Crumble; set aside.
  2. Add chicken, onion, bell pepper, and garlic to bacon fat in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add corn; stir well.
  3. Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; add to soup. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon.

The Skinny – serves 6, Serving Size is 1.5 cups

Calories: 306
Fat: 7.5 g
Fiber: 2.9 g

40 Cloves and a Chicken

chickengarlic

I’ve been reading so many great reviews about 40 cloves chicken. That is chicken baked/cooked with 40 (yes, 40) cloves of garlic!

There are so many recipes out there, however, so I decided to rely on my tried and true recipe maven, Alton Brown. In reading some of the reviews from the Food Network site, people recommended that I watch him make this. So, I did!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAGtkAoVBCU]

You’ll have to fast forward a little to get to the part where he makes the chicken.

Of course, as you might know, Alton Brown’s show contains characters that add a little humor to the episode. Sorry if vampires aren’t your thing…hehe…vampires, garlic? Ok, maybe too obvious. It made me chuckle.

I ended up making this in a stainless steel shallow pot as well, and it came out beautifully. Very simple too! The flavor was definitely garlic, but not overwhelming. I also took Alton’s  suggestion to make garlic french bread with the spreadable garlic and leftover oil. Simply yummy!

The next day, I shredded the leftover chicken to put in some cajun jambalaya. Yum yum yum!

40 Cloves and a Chicken
Source: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (broiler/fryer) cut into 8 pieces (we used 3 bone-in chicken breasts..cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 40 peeled cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with a 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown on both sides in a wide fry pan or skillet over high heat. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, carve, and serve.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

generaltso

My husband’s favorite chinese dish is General Tso’s chicken. Unfortunately, the restaurant near our house makes the most unhealthy version possibly available, so it’s an indulgence for him to have it. A few months ago, however, I starred a recipe from Proceed with Caution, but like every recipe I star, I forget about it rather quickly.

I have been in a chicken slump, looking for new ideas, so I went through my starred entries, and I was so glad to find this recipe all over again. I decided to make it last night, and wow! This was very flavorful and good. It’s not exactly the General Tso’s chicken that I’ve tasted, but it’s still good!

I also made some “fried” rice with this to add more veggies to the meal, rather than just plain rice. This fried rice is really simple to make, and I used less sodium soy sauce to flavor the dish.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken
Source: Proceed with Caution, originally from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
Directions:  
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).
  4. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.
The Skinny - per serving, Serves 4
Calories 179.6
Fat 7.1 g
Fiber 1.2 g  

Fried Rice
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups enriched white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2/3 cup chopped baby carrots (used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • soy sauce to taste  (I used 1/2 cup, less sodium)
  • sesame oil, to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine rice and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, boil carrots in water about 3 to 5 minutes. Drop peas into boiling water, and drain.
  3. Heat wok over high heat. Pour in oil, then stir in carrots and peas; cook about 30 seconds. Crack in eggs, stirring quickly to scramble eggs with vegetables. Stir in cooked rice. Shake in soy sauce, and toss rice to coat. Drizzle with sesame oil, and toss again.

The Skinny – per serving, Serves 8
Calories – 170.9
Fat – 4.9 g
Fiber – 1.1 g

Note: You can add more vegetables to your rice, which is what I did, to fill your plate more!