Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lemon-Herb Chicken and Acorn Squash

Both of us have heard so much rave about acorn squash lately, so we decided to try it tonight. The taste was a lot like a butternut squash but the texture was a little strange. Next time we want to see if it turns out differently by taking the slower (but possibly better) route of roasting it in the oven instead. The spices and taste of the squash was great and definitely worth trying again. With minimal preparation and ingredients, the chicken was simple and quick. If you have these spices in your kitchen then all you'll need is a lemon to whip up this tasty chicken.

  • 1 acorn squash
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • Tsp of butter or zero-cal butter spray
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Cooking spray, olive oil (or canola if it's all you have)
  • 1 lemon
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried parsley
  • Dried basil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out seeds and extra flesh. Place in a small dish and microwave for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly spray a skillet and turn to medium heat. Squeeze juice of the lemon into the skillet. Add a dash of oregano, parsley, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken breasts on the skillet and cook through on medium-high heat.

Remove acorn squash from the microwave. Spritz or spread butter over the flesh. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar over the two halves. Return to microwave for another 2 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shrimp and Broccoli Linguine

Adapted from Simply Recipes.

This is a pretty quick meal that can easily be adapted to suit the ingredients in your pantry or your taste buds. The broccoli and sun dried tomatoes could be substituted for other vegetables and more garlic and/or pepper could be added.

  • 4 oz. of linguine (or serving size on box)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 lb. peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets cooked
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • Dried parsley flakes to season


Combine cream, garlic, pepper, and wine in skillet on high heat. Once simmering reduce to medium heat and continue to simmer for 7-10 minutes or until sauce thickens. While sauce is cooking, boil linguine. Add shrimp to sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then add broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. Serve over linguine and season with parsley.

Yield: 2 servings

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chicken and Butternut Squash Risotto

Adapted from This Week for Dinner.

Risotto can be intimidating, but it really just takes time and patience – so grab a friend or two, pour yourself the wine left over from the recipe, and make an evening out of preparing this dish! Along with our butternut squash risotto, we made a delicious salad with spring mix, pomegranate seeds, toasted walnuts, and caramelized pears. For the dressing we tossed the leaves in balsamic vinegar. This particular spread was specially chosen for a small dinner party at our place last weekend, celebrating the reunion of three travel companions. It was a wonderful meal for friends, fun, and fall.

  • 1 small-medium butternut squash
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 cups chicken broth (may need the extra when cooking the Arborio rice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (we grated it ourselves, but you can take a shortcut and use Kraft Parm!)
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme leaves

Season chicken with salt and pepper; either boil until tender (about 45 minutes) and shred, or sauté on a large skillet with olive oil and cut and shred into small pieces.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise into halves. Remove the seeds and pulp by scooping them out with a spoon. Peel the squash and then cut it into small chunks. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and roast in oven for about 45 minutes to soften the squash. Before moving on, make sure the chicken is shredded and the squash is cut up and roasted.

Pour the chicken broth and 2 cups of water into a large saucepan and turn stove to medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn to a simmer.

Heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When it starts to ripple, add in the onion and garlic and stir occasionally for about 2 minutes. Pour in the rice and stir occasionally for 3 minutes. Finally, stir in the wine and continue stirring until it’s fairly evaporated, about another 3 minutes.

Add 4 ladles of the heated chicken broth to the rice, stirring until the liquid evaporates. Pour in the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring and watching to see that the stock is absorbed before adding more. Overall this should end up taking around 20 minutes, and if the rice isn’t continuing to soften then pour in a little of the extra broth.

When the rice only needs a few minutes more to cook, stir in the squash. Season with a dash of nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Cut the heat and stir in the cheese and butter.

Yield: 8 servings

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple and Balsamic-Glazed Pork

Our goal for tonight’s meal was to avoid a trip to the grocery store before Thanksgiving break (and of course to cook and enjoy a wonderful dinner!). We had a Gala apple, fresh thyme left over from a weekend meal, and just enough pork tenderloin for two in the freezer. We crossed our fingers and hoped this combination would be good. While we were cooking, the smells reassured us that it would be! A bit to our surprise, the blend of flavors was nearly perfect.

  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz pork tenderloin
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Cut pork into 6 equal slices. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn slices over and cook about 2 minutes more or until slightly pink. Remove the pork from the pan.

Add onion and thyme to the skillet. Once onions are golden brown, add the apples and sauté for two minutes. Stir in the orange juice.

Place the pork back in the skillet. Reduce to medium-low heat and cook until the apples have softened, about 5-7 minutes. Pour balsamic vinegar evenly over the pork slices.

Yield: 2 servings

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

We made these extremely easy pumpkin muffins for our Bible study's Thanksgiving Feast this week. Who knew two ingredients could make such delicious muffins- great for dessert, breakfast, or a snack anytime!

  • 1 box (18.25 oz.) of spice cake mix
  • 1 large can (29 oz.) of pumpkin pie mix (we used Libby's brand)


Mix cake mix and pumpkin mix together in large bowl. Pour into cupcake pan and bake according to directions on spice cake mix box (approx. 18 minutes at 350 degrees).

Yield: 18-24 muffins depending on size

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moo Shu Chicken Wraps

Adapted from food.com.

This is one of our all time favorites because it's quick and delicious! The hardest part is cooking the chicken since you can buy cole slaw mix in a bag. It's great left over for lunch the next day and can be paired with any steamed veggie.

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 (10 oz.) bag of cole slaw mix
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. hoisin sauce


Cook chicken on medium heat. Shred once cooked and set aside. Heat vegetable oil in skillet then add cole slaw mix. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until mix is soft and browned. Add chicken to cole slaw mix and cook for another minute or two. Stir in soy and hoisin sauces. Mix well and remove from heat. Microwave tortillas for 30 seconds if desired then put 1/4 of the mixture on each tortilla. Fold tortillas into a wrap and they're ready to eat!

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicken Panzanella

Adapted from The Skinny Taste.

An Italian Tuscan salad, panzanella is probably enjoyed best in the summer but we think it's great year-round! We added parsley-seasoned chicken to make it more substantial as a main course, and we'll consider putting mozzarella in the mix next time, too.

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 oz several days-old French or Italian bread, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, basil, and olive oil in a large bowl. Generously season mixture with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to broil. Spray bread with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Place bread slices on a cooking sheet and put in the oven, toasting each side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Watch bread closely, as it doesn't take long to brown. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes, which will be added in the final step.

Cut chicken breast into 1-inch cubes. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Lightly spray a medium skillet. Cook chicken on medium heat. Once cooked through, remove from heat and set aside.

After the flavors of the vegetables and olive oil have blended for about 30 minutes, combine with the bread and chicken cubes. Mix well and serve in separate bowls.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sundried Tomato & Goat Cheese Quinoa

Adapted from thewwchick.

Quinoa, /kinwa/ not /kwɪnoʊə/, is not only hard to pronounce but hard to find. We could only find one brand, which is Ancient Harvest - in the organic section at Food Lion or (a little less expensive) in the rice section at Harris Teeter. This might just be the new and delicious healthy grain, or it may just be new to us. Either way we enjoyed a little something different. And who doesn't love sundried tomatoes and goat cheese? You will not be disappointed with this meal!

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed!)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of roasted garlic, minced
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil!), chopped
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • Salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add oil, onion, garlic, and quinoa to pan. Reduce to low heat and cover for 20 minutes. After quinoa has simmered and spiraled out, add goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Leave uncovered on low heat until tomatoes have softened and cheese has melted, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings (or 4 if served as a side dish)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Garlic & Lime Pork Medallions

Adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes.

This is another citrusy pork entree that we enjoy. The spices are much different than the orange basil pork we recently cooked, and the lime adds a real kick. Since we had the whole lime we went ahead and used all of the lime zest. We also sliced up the other half of the lime for extra refreshment in our water. To accompany our garlic and lime pork we made mashed potatoes (2 small new potatoes per serving), which served as a great side for this meal.

  • 8 oz pork tenderloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ lime, for juice and zest
  • Salt and black ground pepper

Cut pork tenderloin into 4 slices, about 3/4-inch thick each. Season with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, lime zest, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice over meat. Let it sit, marinating for at least 20 minutes.

Line broiler pan with foil. If you do not have a broiler pan (we do not), simply line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and make sure to constantly check on the pork while it cooks. Place medallions on the pan and broil for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and browned.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, November 8, 2010

Italian Spinach Meatballs with Farfalle

Adapted from The Skinny Taste.

Cooking these meatballs was a bit of a feat for us; we were pleased with how they turned out. If you have the patience, you can whip up this great meal, too! Since we were only cooking for two, we'll have meatballs left over for the rest of the week.

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • Salt and pepper

  • 12 oz farfalle or pasta of choice
  • Cook al dente, according to package directions

Moisten bread and mash with hands. In a large bowl, combine bread with beef, spinach, egg, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well. Scoop 1/4 cup of meat from bowl and split into two, making two small balls.

Heat olive oil on medium in a large pot. Once warm add garlic, heat until golden brown. Then add tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and reduce to low heat.

While the sauce is cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on low in large skillet. Once warm, place meatballs on the skillet and cook on low until browned. Make sure they cook all the way through. When meatballs are cooked, roll on a paper towel to absorb extra oil. Place these meatballs into pot with sauce, and do the same for the rest of the meatballs. Once you have placed all of the meatballs into the sauce, leave on low heat for another 20 minutes. Cut onion into quarters and serve with meatballs over pasta.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Squash-ta with Pesto and Tomatoes

Spaghetti squash is a unique vegetable that transforms into spaghetti-like strands when heated and combed through with a fork, hence its familiar nickname "squash-ta." Spaghetti squash can add flavor and mix things up a bit from your traditional pasta dish. Tonight we used pesto and tomatoes as our toppings, but we will definitely make meals with it in the future and experiment with other combinations.

  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise into equal halves. Remove the seeds and pulp by scooping them out with a spoon. In a covered dish, microwave squash for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the microwave. Using a fork, scrape the flesh so that the fibers come out in spaghetti-like strands. Comb out the strands and place in a serving dish.

In the serving dish, combine squash and tomatoes. Stir in the pesto. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brie & Apple Pizza

This pizza is simple and tasty. As we were eating it, we both agreed it might be better with a little something else, though we couldn't quite figure out what's missing. Our thoughts were substituting the brown sugar with balsamic vinegar after it cooks, or... any suggestions are welcome!


Spread the pizza dough out on a greased baking sheet. Arrange brie and apple over the dough. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over pizza.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or according to pizza dough instructions.

Remove from the oven, slice, and enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings