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Friday, February 20, 2009

recipe of the week: mom's broccoli and cream cheese sauce

here's something delicious my mom used to make. i don't love broccoli all by itself (unfortunately) but i do love it smothered in this! confession: i also love to eat this sauce all by itself, on a spoon. mmmm.... enjoy!

broccoli and cream cheese sauce

steamed broccoli

1 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese (or fat free if you prefer), softened
1/4 + 2 tablespoons low fat (or fat free) mayo
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
garlic salt to taste (lots if you're me)

mash softened cream cheese with a fork. add all other sauce ingredients and mix until combined and flavor is to your liking. put on top of steamed broccoli.

p.s. broccoli isn't always the cheapest vegetable, so wait for it to go on sale. no binge buying. :) i got broccoli florets (no bulky, heavy stems that run up your price) for 50 cents/lb this week. that would explain why i've eaten the above 3 times in the last 15 hours.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

perfect shredded chicken

i've always had problems making shredded chicken. no matter what i've tried (with a few crockpotting exceptions) it is always dry and dry chicken isn't good in much of anything. then i found this cool trick for mexican shredded chicken (here) and have since adapted it to be able to use it in anything! give it a try if you have trouble with shredded chicken too.

perfect shredded chicken
(can double/triple as needed)

1 chicken breast, cut into 3 pieces
enough chicken broth to just barely cover the breasts in a pan
whatever seasonings you'd like (whatever goes with your meal! - garlic, onions, bay leaf, soy sauce, chili powder, etc, etc, etc.)
1. combine chicken, broth and seasonings into a non-stick pan. bring to a boil; turn down and simmer, uncovered, until your chicken is done in the middle.
2. turn off stove, but leave on hot burner. cover with a tight lid and let it sit for 7 minutes (or longer if you have time).
3. you can shred it right then or leave it in pieces to shred later. either way, store the chicken in the broth in your fridge.

use it for any recipe that calls for shredded chicken and adjust your spices for whatever type of taste you'd like.

and here's a yummy recipe to try. i made these salads last week and they were awesome. i thought the bbq sauce was too zingy, until i put it on the salad and then it was perfect! the zing gave it that perfect salad dressing tang. mmmm..... enjoy!

priscilla from priscilla bakes posted a similar salad last week and i laughed when i saw it, knowing i was going to post this. her's looks great too!!!

barbeque chicken salad

bbq sauce (from "cooking with the crazy lady")
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. store in the refrigerator.

romaine lettuce, chopped
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (according to above)
canned (drained) or frozen (cooked and chilled) corn
black beans (rinsed and drained)
tomatoes, chopped
your favorite low-fat ranch dressing
shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and crumbled tortilla chips (optional)
anything else you'd like on here (hearts of palm sounded good to me!)

1. make bbq sauce and chicken (both above). coat shredded chicken with bbq sauce.
2. top a bed of lettuce with bbq chicken, corn, beans, tomatoes, your extras and ranch dressing. drizzle a little bit of extra bbq sauce over the top.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

recipe of the week: dad's easy salsa pasta

my dad used to make this super yummy pasta when i was a teenager and i still crave it sometimes. if you like salsa, you'll love this! best part? it's crazy easy.

dad's easy salsa pasta
4 servings

1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked (i like this dish best with penne)
16 oz fresh salsa or pico de gallo (my friend mary did it with bottled the other day and said it was still yummy though!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro (optional - add when cooking salsa or at the end as a topping!)
parmesan cheese (optional)

1. let garlic simmer in non-stick skillet with oil for a few minutes on low heat. add salsa and let simmer on low heat 10-20 minutes (you want the salsa to simmer down until all the veggies are mushy and kind of the same consistency instead of super chunky like it started out).
2. add pasta to skillet and stir until evenly coated. add salt and black pepper to taste. add parmesan cheese if desired. enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

what i wish i wanted to eat for dinner tonight...

my daughter has the stomach flu. poor girl! being a barf bag isn't my most glam mom job to date, but she's been super cuddly and sweet, so it's entirely worth it! despite that, my appetite is entirely gone. :(

i do love quick weeknight meals, so here is one of my favorites. soooo easy it should be illegal and you can put whatever sounds yummy in them! they take minutes to fix and then just toss them in the oven! they are also super picky eater-friendly and kid friendly too. mine loved them!

chicken roll-ups
16 roll-ups

2 packages reduced-fat cresent rolls (yes, they have to be the reduced fat ones and promise me you won't buy them unless you find them for less than $1)
1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 cooked, shredded chicken breast
garlic salt, to taste
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
water or milk (to thin the soup)

1. chicken, cream cheese and garlic salt. put a heaping spoonful in the middle of each cresent roll (so you're trying to pinch the sides to keep it all in!) and roll them up.
2. bake according to cresent roll package directions (same oven temp and time).
3. combine cream of chicken soup and water/milk in small saucepan until hot and desired consistency.
4. pour sauce over chicken roll-ups and enjoy!

other fun fillers to try:
meatballs (cut up), marinara and cheese
chicken pockets by sharon at culinary adventures of a new wife
asian style - chicken, rice, diced veggies and some sort of asian dressing or soy sauce
bbq chicken - chicken, bbq sauce, cheese

what are your fav fillers for these?

p.s. my bff maggi taught me how to make these on a girls' trip we had to california when we were 16 and we made them all the time in college. she had her baby last week so i thought i'd post these in her honor!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

recipe of the week: oat bran muffins

i was looking for a good fiber-ful muffin once and came across these. i love them! that's all i have to say! mmm.....

oat bran muffins
modified from "oat bran muffins" at
12 muffins
wouldn't it be fun to wake up to muffins on your windowsill?

1/2 cup brown sugar (or a little less)
1 1/2 cups oat bran (it's a hot cereal, red box, it was hard to find the first time!)
a little less than 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup chilled unsweetened applesauce
4 tablespoons fat free yogurt (i usually use plain or vanilla, but anything should work!)
a dash of cinnamon (optional)

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees f. grease 12 muffin cups.
2. blend together brown sugar, oat bran, flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. add eggs, chilled applesauce, and yogurt. mix until well-blended. spoon batter into muffin cups. let stand 10 minutes.
3. bake at 400 degrees f for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!