Monday, January 31, 2011

Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Veggies

Adapted from Eating Well

Both of us love pad thai but neither of us have the time this week to go all out and make the full-fledged dish. Instead, we searched for one that was similar but feasible to make on our schedule - and without having to buy too many ingredients. When I found this recipe, it seemed simple enough. We ended up loving it!

  • 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp hoisin
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 oz. linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 12-ounce bag steam fresh vegetables; we used carrots, broccoli, snow peas, and water chestnuts

Boil a large pot of salted water for pasta.

While water is heating up, put chicken in a medium saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce to low heat, simmering until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Once cool, shred chicken into bite-size pieces.

Stir peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, hoisin sauce and ginger in a large bowl.

Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, about 1 minute less than instructions on package. Steam veggies in the microwave and then add to the pasta until both are tender, about one more minute. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Stir the reserved pasta water into the peanut sauce; add the pasta, veggies, and chicken; toss well to fully coat with sauce.

Yield: 3 servings

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Molten Lava Cake

Adapted from Clean Eating

One night last week Lauren was about to make a decadent pie (see recipe below) for a dessert party that we were having later in the week. This meant that it would be sitting in our fridge, staring at me for three whole days. My solution? Sift through my favorite cooking blogs in search of a quick and easy recipe that could satisfy my sweet tooth that night. I stumbled upon this one for molten lava cake. It allowed us to have single servings of chocolatey goodness... yum!

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup 100% cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar, or natural sweetener of choice
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps splenda or extra sugar, optional
  • Strawberries and cool whip, optional (for topping)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 4 small ramekins with cooking spray.

Combine cocoa powder and sugar in a medium bowl, then stir in applesauce and olive oil. In a small bowl, whisk egg and egg white. Add eggs to cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth.

Stir in flour and vanilla until flour is combined completely but be careful to not over mix. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins. Optional: sprinkle a little splenda or sugar on each cake - the cocoa is too bitter for me so I like to sweeten it a little more. Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Centers should be soft but sides firm.

Flip cups over onto serving plates. Leave for a few minutes before removing cups. Optional: Garnish each cake with fruit slices and cool whip.

Yield: 4 small cakes

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

You need a hand mixer to make this pie, but other than that the ingredients are common and the recipe easy. This pie was a hit among our friends and adds variety to the typical dessert party.

  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips


In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Add the cup of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.

In another mixing bowl, beat whipping cream and 2 tbsp. powdered sugar. Slowly add whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and mix. Then add chocolate chips and mix well. Spoon into crust and chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Francese

Adapted from Skinny Taste

This meal was perfect for us tonight. We didn't have a lot of time to cook since we were having friends from our program over for dessert (recipes to come!). So, we had just enough time to prepare and enjoy this chicken francese! It was easy to make, appealing to the eye, and it tasted as good as it looked! The batter from the egg whites and flour really made this different from our usual dishes. The white wine and lemon were pretty great for flavor, too! We served this with some leftover veggies (from our vegetable pizza), which we steamed while cooking the chicken.

  • 2 chicken breast halves, thinly sliced in 3 (6 cutlets total)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of
  • 1/4 lemon, sliced thin
  • 1/6 cup white wine
  • 1/2 can chicken broth
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp butter

Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Pour flour in one small bowl and beaten egg whites in another. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with cooking spray.
Flour the chicken on both sides, then dip in egg whites and add to the heated pan. Sauté chicken a few minutes on each side. Once cooked through and golden brown, place on a plate and set aside.
Pour the chicken broth in the bowl with the leftover flour and stir. Add to the pan along with the lemon juice and slices, wine, parsley and butter. Simmer for a couple minutes until it reduces and thickens. Turn off the heat and return chicken to the pan. Combine with sauce and serve!

Yield: 2 servings

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baked Garlic Lemon Tilapia

Adapted from The Skinny Taste

This has been one of our most favorite meals recently- extremely easy and so delicious! The hardest part is mixing together the butter and lemon sauce. We also don't bake many of our meals, but after this one we plan to do so more often. This dish does need some side items, so we'd suggest cooked okra and red potatoes.

  • 2 4 oz. tilapia fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter on medium-low heat in a small sauce pan. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add the lemon juice then remove from heat.

Spray baking dish lightly with cooking spray. Place fish in dish and season with salt and pepper. Pour the lemon butter mixture on the fish and sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Stew

We were excited to make our first meal in our new crock pot today! It was so nice to come home from a long day of class and our dinner be ready (and our apartment smell wonderful!). Crock pot meals might become our new thing, so be on the look out! This one is delicious and tastes just like good 'ole southern brunswick stew (except with chicken, not pork).

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (approx. 3 chicken breasts)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 large red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen okra, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (our favorite is Sweet Baby Ray's)


Combine chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, and onion in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Add corn, ketchup, and barbeque sauce. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

Adapted from The Food Network

Shrimp scampi is one of my favorite meals, especially from South Beach Grill at Wrightsville Beach. We've made a lot of meals with shrimp, but hadn't tried shrimp scampi until tonight. If you haven't noticed we love garlic and onion, so as expected another perfect meal!

  • 4 oz. linguine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 3 tsps. fresh parsley
  • 30 medium cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • optional 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (for a little kick)

Prepare linguine according to package directions. In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onion, shallots, parsley, and red pepper if desired. Saute until soft. Add shrimp and cook until firm, about 5 minutes. Add wine to skillet and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with sauce.

Yield: 2 servings

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vegetable Pizza

Adapted from Mama Kim’s Kitchen.

This was not a memorable meal from my childhood but instead one I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve begun to actually like things like broccoli and cauliflower. It was, however, always a favorite for the rest of my family growing up – it really is tasty with the Pillsbury dough, ranch mix, and cheeses. The raw veggies aren’t too bad anymore either! This veggie pizza is great for leftovers, too, as it can be eaten cold or warmed in the microwave.

  • 2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls
  • 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1½ cups cauliflower florets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup 2% cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press rolls into a 10x15” baking sheet or pan. Seal edges. Bake for 15 minutes; set aside while it cools.

Soften cream cheese; add mayo and ranch dressing mix. Spread onto baked dough.
Sprinkle with broccoli, cauliflower, and cheese. Enjoy at any temperature!

Yield: 5 servings

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa

Adapted from BigOven.

So far the only dish we've cooked using quinoa was Greek-inspired. Thanks to my Aunt Jane for sharing this recipe with me, we have now cooked another successful meal using quinoa - this time southwestern-themed with black beans, corn, and cilantro. This is a quick meal that could easily be enjoyed with chips and salsa, or made into a side dish with tacos or quesadillas.

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; saute until lightly browned.

Pour quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to medium heat. Simmer 20 minutes.

Stir in the frozen corn and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Orange Basil Scallop and Shrimp Pasta

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

You might not think orange juice and basil go well with seafood, but this dish will prove you wrong! We keep individual servings of frozen seafood (Ocean Eclipse purchased at our local grocery) in our freezer, which allow this meal to be quick and easy. A few ingredients combine for a deliciously citrus meal!

  • 4 oz. scallops
  • 4 oz. shrimp
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 1/2 cup dry pasta


Combine orange juice, mustard, and basil together in small bowl and set aside. Coat scallops and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook scallops and shrimp in a skillet over medium heat until they start to brown (approx. 6 min.). Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet, add the orange juice mixture and let it boil for about a minute. Then add butter to the mixture and let it cook for another minute.

Cook pasta according to package directions. We used mini pasta shells, also known as orecchiette (and that's /orɛkjɛteɪ/), but anything in your pantry will work just fine. Mix juice mixture with pasta and serve with scallops and shrimp on top. Steamed snow peas make a great side.

Yield: 2 servings

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Diet Soda Funfetti Cake

Adapted from The Skinny Taste.

In honor of our friend's birthday tonight, we decided to try out this diet soda cake. You can use any cake mix of your choice as well as any flavored diet soft drink. We used Pillsbury Funfetti and Sprite Zero, but you can get creative with any combo! The cool whip icing was also a hit.

  • 1 box funfetti cake mix
  • 10 oz Sprite Zero
  • 2 egg whites
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven according to package directions. Coat 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
Beat cake mix, sprite, and egg whites for 2 minutes. Pour into pan.
Bake for as long as directed on box, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
Wait 10-15 minutes before cutting to allow cake to cool. Top with cool whip for a light topping.

Yield: 12 servings, or 24 cupcakes

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fettuccine alla Carbonara

Adapted from Love and Olive Oil.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a typical Italian dish known for its rich taste. It actually contains no cream, but the flavor comes from the combination of eggs and Italian cheeses. This is a modified version of the traditional carbonara, substituting diced ham for the usual guanciale and a jar of Parmesan-Romano blend instead of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. Unfortunately, you can't find all of your desired gourmet ingredients at the local Food Lion, but even with these substitutions you will surprise yourself with the results of this meal. It is so good!

  • 5 oz pancetta, diced (or pre-diced ham)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb fettuccine (or pasta of choice)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Romano blend, finely grated (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 oz bag sweet peas, steamed (about 2 cups)

Cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add onion until slightly browned, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Pour in wine and boil for 1-2 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together eggs, Parmesan blend, pepper, and salt.

Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss over medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in egg mixture and then the peas, tossing to combine well.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chicken Stir-Fry

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

This is a quick meal once you make the stir fry sauce if you're willing to use a bag of frozen vegetables. The sauce requires quite a few ingredients, but they are mostly pantry staples. If you don't choose to use frozen vegetables, you can adapt this meal to your liking by using vegaetables and a meat (or no meat) of your choice.

  • 3 chicken breasts dethawed and cut into bite size pieces (can substitute meat of your choice or exclude meat)
  • 3 tbsp. orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables (or any vegetables of your choice)
  • 2 cups cooked rice


For the sauce, in a bowl mix together orange juice, soy sauce, water, hoisin sauce, ginger, cornstarch, sugar, garlic, and if desired, crushed red pepper. Set sauce aside.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and vegetables over medium-high heat. Cook vegetables until tender (approx. 8 min.). Remove vegetables from skillet.

In the same skillet, cook meat (for chicken, cook for approx. 6 min.). Once meat is cooked, push meat to outer edges of skillet and pour the sauce into the middle of the skillet. Let the sauce cook while stirring until it starts to bubble and thicken. Then return vegetables to skillet and mix all ingredients together until everything is heated and coated with sauce.

Serve over rice.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chana Masala

Adapted from Cooking Light.

In Chapel Hill there is a wonderful woman from Bombay named Vimala who used to host weekly community dinners out of her home. I only had the opportunity to go a couple of times during my senior year there, but it was enough for me to fall in love with her Indian cooking. She has since opened up her own restaurant called Curryblossom Cafe on Franklin St. where I am dying to go to soon! This recipe is a fairly simple adaptation to a traditional Indian dish that filled up our kitchen with exotic aromas. We served ours over brown rice with plain Greek yogurt on the side.

  • 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 tsps. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (less or more depending on desired spiciness)
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 tsp. garam masala

Pour chickpeas into a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic to pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, cumin, and pepper. Cook for another minute. Pour in chickpeas, broth, and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes or until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and garam masala.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pasta Primavera

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

Pasta primavera is a pasta dish that focuses as much on the vegetables as it does the pasta. The carrots and zucchini were our favorite part of this meal, and the almonds add a nice crunch. We're bookmarking this recipe to replicate in the spring when we'll be able to use more fresh ingredients from our local farmer's market, but even with the veggies from the store it turned out to be a great meal!

  • 1¾ cups bow-tie pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 8 oz. baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. green beans
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 tsp. dried basil (or 2 tbsp. fresh, chopped)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Stir in carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add green beans, onion, chicken broth, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in zucchini. Continue simmering for 5 minutes or until vegetables and tender and crisp, stirring occasionally.

Combine pasta with veggies, basil, and salt and toss. Sprinkle almonds, parmesan, and pepper over the pasta.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fish over Spinach with Balsamic Vinegar

I received the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for Christmas which is where this recipe came from. We are excited to have a new source of wonderful recipes! This cookbook is highly recommended as it includes many recipes that all look delicious, plus basic cooking tips.

  • 2 fillets of fish of your choice (we used tilapia and salmon)
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 pepper cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper for taste


In a skillet cook onion in 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil until tender and golden (approx. 6 min.). Then add the pepper and continue cooking on medium heat until pepper is also tender. Remove from heat, mix onion and pepper with the spinach, and set aside. In the same skillet, cook fish fillets in 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until fish starts to flake (approx. 7 min.). Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper to taste. Once fish is cooked serve over the spinach, onion, and pepper mixture. Mix balsamic vinegar and honey together in a bowl then drizzle over the dish when ready to serve.

Yield: 2 servings