please leave your comments, criticisms, recipe ratings & requests or input for future posts! comment or email me at with any of the above.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

recipe of the week: three cheese spinach and chicken stuffed shells

mmm.... these were soooo yummy! i was really in the mood for manicotti but my husband requested stuffed shells instead. we all loved them - even emery couldn't keep her hands off of the pre-cooked filling. she kept unstuffing my shells! cute little stinker.

i often find stuffed pasta too rich and heavy, so the addition of spinach and chicken in these made them perfect!

random side note - there is usually egg in the filling of stuffed pasta like this. i accidentally forgot the eggs, but they turned out fabulous! why add the calories if you don't need them, right?

three cheese spinach and chicken stuffed shells
8 servings

1 12 oz box jumbo shell pasta
2 chicken breast, cut into small pieces and cooked sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper
1 bunch spinach, steamed
8 0z part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt (i used lawry's)
salt and pepper to taste (i used a good amount of both)
your favorite pasta sauce

1. cook pasta according to directions. lay out shells on tin foil to keep them from sticking together.
2. combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and spices. add chicken and spinach and mix well, breaking up spinach as you stir. taste and add extra salt and pepper as needed.
3. stuff each shell with a large spoonful of cheese/chicken/spinach mixture.
4. i used a 9x13 and an 8x8 baking dish. spread a thin layer of sauce in baking dishes. lay shells across sauce. top with more sauce as desired.
5. bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until bubbling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

sneaky meatballs

i love to sneak things into meatballs because you can't even taste it and then you're getting a delicious extra veggie. try these! one my mom used to make and one of the only homemade meals i made when i was single in college. ha!

porcupine meatballs
i used spinach in the sauce this time and actually didn't like it! just put it inside the meatballs.

1 lb ground turkey (or lean ground beef)
1/3 cup uncooked white rice (add a small extra handful if you're using ground turkey to help it stick together better
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
a few dashes of pepper
some grated zucchini or finely chopped spinach (how much depends on you!)
2 cans condensed tomato soup
1 cup water
chili powder, garlic salt and cumin to taste

1. combine turkey, rice, onion, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper. mix well. add spinach or zucchini and mix again.
2. shape this mixture into 1 inch meatballs. you should have 15 to 20.
3. combine tomato soup, 1 cup water and seasonings to taste in a large pot.
4. add meatballs to pot. bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer (covered or almost covered - depends on if covering it makes it crazy boil for you like it sometimes does for me) for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. serve over a yummy grain - i like to serve it over rice, but it would probably be yummy over egg noddles as well.

Monday, April 13, 2009

recipe of the week: white chicken chili

just whipped this one up tonight! it tasted great with a jack and corn tortilla quesadilla on the side. husband loved it and even emery ate it! i posted a thicker, all bean great northern white chili in the past, but you know, i think i like this thinner version even better.

and can i just say it's great to be wanting soup again. i really didn't want soup with the 1st trimester nausea for some reason and its great to be back. i love soup.

white chicken chili
6 servings

1 chicken breast, cup into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 very small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a splash of olive oil
8 cups chicken broth
6 teaspoons cumin (+ or - depending on what tastes good to you!)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (+ more if you want it a little spicier)
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 4 oz can green chilis
a few handfuls baby spinach
monterrey jack cheese and fat free sour cream for topping

1. combine chicken, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large pot. saute until chicken is done and onions are soft.
2. add broth, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, vinegar, beans, corn and green chilis. simmer 30 minutes. add spinach and simmer until spinach is soft.
3. top with monterrey jack cheese and a dollop of fat free sour cream. mmm.....

Monday, April 6, 2009

confession and a quick weeknight meal

so i have a confession - i'm pregnant! we're super excited to welcome another baby to our little family in october.

the reason it is a confession is because it is an explanation for my highly marginal food blogging the last 3 months. it has been hard to figure out things i want to eat, much less mustering up the desire to cook them. i'm feeling better now, so hopefully my blogging will get a little bit better.

when i made the pasta e fagioli last week i bought a $1 loaf of french bread to go with it. it was super yummy with the soup, but i always hate wasting half a loaf since fresh french bread gets stale so fast! and then i remembered something my mom used to do - so here's a quick weeknight fix great for leftover, day-old french bread.

french bread pizza

1. cut a loaf of french bread in half (as shown in pics above). top with favorite pizza toppings.
2. bake in oven at 400 degrees just until cheese is melted (since if you cook it longer it makes your french bread harder). yum!!

serve with a yummy side salad for a healthier meal!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

recipe of the week: pasta e fagioli

i totally love this soup. i never loved olive garden's version so i thought i didn't like it at all. i was oh so wrong. yummm..... and i do it meatless too, so it's crazy cheap!! :)

pasta e fagioli
modified from here
8+ servings

1/2 an onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, cut into small pieces
2 large cloves garlic, minced
a dash of olive oil
6 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if you're vegetarian)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons white sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 16 oz package ditalini or small shell pasta
parmesan cheese for topping

1. in a large pot, saute onions, carrots and garlic in a splash of olive oil.
2. add broth, tomatoes, beans, parsley, basil, cayenne pepper, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. simmer for 1 hour.
3. cook pasta in a separate pot according to package directions. serve soup and add desired amount of pasta to each bowl. top with parmesan cheese.

serve with a crusty bread and yummy green salad! mmm.....

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!