Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lemon Gravy Chicken

There are some recipes that you just always have in the back of your mind to re-create. This is one of those recipes. When I was a teen I worked at a little Italian restaurant in Durham called Pasta Bella. On the menu was this chicken and fresh pasta dish with a lemon sauce that was really more like a gravy than a sauce. It was my favorite thing on the menu. My version is a bit lower fat and minus the indulgence of homemade pasta. Serve this sauce over mashed potatoes instead of pasta if desired.

Sarah's Lemon Gravy Chicken:
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs fresh chopped tarragon
zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbs flour
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs EVOO
salt to taste and heavy on the fresh ground pepper
1/2 c fat free half and half

For the chicken:
4 lean portions boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper

Pound and dredge the chicken and saute in a small amount of EVOO.

Remove from pan and set aside. Add butter and EVOO, tarragon, garlic, and lemon zest and flour.

 Stir with whisk and cook about a minute. Add broth and carefully whisk and cook until low boil.

Add Fat Free Half and half and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes. Whisk in Lemon juice and you are ready to serve over pasta, chicken, mashed potatoes or whatever you love with gravy!

My spin on the best frozen meal I've found- Mayan Harvest Bake by Kashi

I found a frozen meal that I absolutely love! It's Kashi's Mayan Harvest Bake and it is the best, most homemade tasting frozen meal out there. It has loads of fiber and protein, spice and sweet plantains. It's so good that I wanted to see if I could come up with my own version. The best part of this dish is that it's a totally healthy and COMFORTING dish that is perfect for all seasons. Try making a batch and dividing it into individual servings in the freezer to save money. I served it to my hubby with salmon with the Mole sauce and a bit of feta but trust me, this is a very filling and satisfying meal all by itself.

There are many steps but trust me, it is SO worth it!

Sarah's Harvest Bake:

For the Potatoes-
4 sweet potatoes, cut in fours and sliced (pieces should be about 1" big)
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
a good drizzle of EVOO (just enough to coat the potatoes).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients and toss. Roast in a large cookie sheet for about 20 minutes, flipping at 10 minutes.

For the Plantains-
Slice three VERY ripe plantains at an angle. (I like to use plantains that are almost black, atleast spotted with black).
Drizzle plantains with EVOO and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast along with the potatoes for about 20 minutes, turning at 10. Make sure to keep an eye on the plantains because they are high in sugar they will burn easily.

For the Kale/bean mixture:
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 cans low sodium black beans
1 tbs EVOO
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup Archer Farms Cocoa Chile Mole Sauce

Heat EVOO over medium heat. Add garlic and kale. Saute for about 3-5 minutes. Add black beans and Sauce. Reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes more.

For Polenta:
4 cups chicken stock
1 c polenta
1/4 c millet
1/4 c quinoa
1/4 c bulger wheat

Heat stock to a boil. Add ingredients, turn heat down to medium and cook stirring frequently about 20 minutes.

To prepaire the dish, pour polenta mixutre into a large baking dish. Top with black bean/kale mixture, then roasted potatoes, then plantains. Pour about 1 cup of Archer Farms Cocoa Chile Mole Sauce over the whole thing and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and sprinkle with pepitos (roasted pumpkin seeds).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mango BBQ Chicken

This recipe is one of the best "fruit" recipes for chicken I've tried. It was yummy, spicy, sweet, tangy and full of flavor. Mangos are so good for you and give this marinade one of a kind texture. You'll love this dish! I served it up with my own recipe of Peanut-y Thai Rice and Roasted Green Beans in a ginger dressing.

Mango BBQ Chicken

4 Chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs (or half and half)

2 fresh ripe mangoes

3 Tbs. fish sauce

2 Tbs. Thai chili garlic sauce

2 Tbs. brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

4 Tbs. coconut milk

1 Tbs. lime juice and lime zest

1/4 tsp turmeric

Puree Mango, and all other ingredients besides the chicken. Score the chicken breasts or thighs in a criss cross pattern and pour 1/2 of the sauce over the chicken. Marinade and chill for up to 24 hours. Grill the chicken on the BBQ or grill pan. Serve with rice and Roasted Green Beans. Warm remaining sauce and serve over the chicken and rice.

Back To School!

Today was the first day of class both for me and for my son who is in VPK this year. It was a typical first day. We stayed up a tad bit later than we wanted to, got a few less things finished when we needed to but Michael enjoyed his first day of school and I found my classroom and sat through my first lecture of the semester.
My class is The History of Education in the US which I find very interesting to learn about as I get ready to be in the world of education both because my children are entering school and because I want to be an educator.
I know as this week goes on the pattern of school/college/mommy-hood and housekeeping with begin to flow better but today I am trying to think up some easy solutions to my busy life. One of the things I plan on doing is making my meal plans this week as easy, fast and comforting as possible. I may even do some "double up" dinners to help out with nights that I am just too tired or have too much to study.
One of the things I did getting ready for today was make muffins and mini quiches the night before so that I would have breakfast fast and ready at 6:30 when I was trying to wake myself up!

Here is the quiche recipe that I came up with and it was yummy!

Roasted Quinoa Crusted Mini Veggie Quiche:
1 1/2 cup egg beaters
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
1 pkg frozen spinach (thawed and all liquid sqeezed out)
1 small onion, grated
3 cloves garlic chopped or grated
pinch of paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup quinoa roasted in EVOO in sautee pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Roast quinoa, carefully spoon about 1/2 tsp into well greased mini muffin pan sections. Combine all remaining ingredients and carefully spoon over quinoa just enough to fill cavity without overflowing. Bake quiches @350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack and store in refridgerator in an air-tight container or freeze on rack and then store in the freezer in Ziplock or Tupperware. To serve in the morning (from the fridge) heat up to 3 for about 30 seconds.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Seeing our daughter by ourselves for the first time.
Michael meeting his new sister.
Sophia sleeping in her favorite spot. Such a Snuggle Bunny like her Momma.

Tony holding our son for the first time.
Getting ready to take our son home!
I was in love at first sight.
It's amazing that in that moment I became a mom.

It seems like yesterday I was meeting my son for the very first time. I had waited to be a mom for several painful years and I was never happier than in that moment when I first saw his face and realized that he was my son. Now he is getting ready for his first days of school and I am in awe of how quickly the time is going by. These are the moments that make life. When I tire of the normal activities of my day, when I get stressed out and worry about my future, when I am down...all it takes is looking through these pictures to make me feel like the luckiest most blessed woman in the world. My children were in my heart far before they were in my life, but that first moment of holding, seeing, feeling their breath...I will cherish those moments forever.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home-Made (Easy) Mac N' Cheese

I was really craving Mac N' Cheese the other day and I wanted to make it light enough to not feel guilty eating it. I've also been looking for ways to throw Tumeric into foods and I thought that the color would blend well and the flavor is subtle and nice. Here is what I came up with!

1 box elbo noodles (whole wheat if you have it)
1 can evaporated milk
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs dried minced onion
1 tsp Tumeric
about 1 tsp kosher salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded.

Cook noodles in salted water according to package directions. Drain. Melt butter in the pan and add the garlic. Give it a stir and add the milk and seasonings. Add the noodles back to the sauce and add the cheese. Stir over low heat until it is creamy and cheese is melted. Be careful to not over heat the bottom of the pan or you will have a sticky and burnt mess. Serve with grilled veggies, a salad or with some fresh peppers and carrots along side.

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 11 Meal Plan

August 11 meal plan

This weeks meal plan was fun to make. I found some wonderful blueberry recipes to try while Foodgawking! Brie was BOGO last week at Publix and I ended up getting a rain check because the store didn't have any. This is great because I have been wanting to do crepes with brie and I love fruit and cheese salads. If you don't care for brie or don't want to spend the money, blue cheese or even smoked gouda would be lovely in these recipes. Please let me know if you try any of the recipes and if you have ideas for future menus! Enjoy.


#1 Grilled Tilapia with Cherry Salsa served with Couscous and Sugar Snap Peas
#2 Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) served with Plantanos and Cuban Bread.

#3 Turkey, Brie and Cranberry Crepes served with Arugala Salad with Grabes and Herb Dressing

#5 Easy Homemade Mac N' Cheese served with Roasted Veggies

#6 Mixed Green Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Sliced Apples and Brie served with Sauteed Mushrooms and Toasted Baguette.


I have fast become a foodgawker! Thanks to Rachel I am now obsessed with looking at the pretty pictures and reading through the very unique recipes. I kept finding amazing blueberry recipes today so I thought I'd do a post with some of the recipes. I will be including the Rum Scented Blueberry Pork Tenderloin recipe in this weeks meal plan! Enjoy...

Blueberry Thyme Compote
Rum Scented Blueberry Pork Tenderloin
Baked Salmon with Blueberry Sauce Served over Spinach
Chipotle and Blueberry Pulled Chicken Sliders
Blueberry Maple Pecan Cinnamon Buns

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Rice)

This is one of my favorite Cuban dishes and it's super affordable. The great thing is that you can stretch this meal out and have two dinners for a family of four or just eat left-overs for lunches. I have sort of mixed bits of that recipe, and bits of this recipe to come up with one that is full of flavor, more on the gourmet side and has lovely color and spice. Serve this dish with a garden salad and fresh Cuban bread. Flan makes an excellent dessert if making this for a dinner party.

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Rice)

3 lbs. chicken (I usually use halved chicken breasts and thighs)
1 tbs. achiote powder or annato seed that has been ground (Goya brand can be found at Publix).
1 tbs. ground cumin
1/2 tbs. ground coriander
1 tsp. tumeric
10 cloves chopped garlic
2 tbs. EVOO
about 2 cups of chopped onion
1 (15 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes
1 green bell pepper diced
1 yellow pepper diced
1 cup of beer or white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 cups of short grain white rice (usually found in the latin foods isle at Publix)
1 cup frozen pigeon peas (found in the latin frozen section) or 1 cup regular frozen peas if preferred.
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced green olives with pimiento
Crystals Sauce for serving.
Plantanos Maduros (recipe below) for serving.
Mix the spices and garlic together and give the chicken a good rub down. Heat oil in heavy bottom pan and sear the chicken pieces on each side. Add the onions, tomatoes, peppers and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the wine or beer, oregano and bay leaves and cook for another 20 minutes stirring frequently. Add the broth, rice and peas and mix well and cover the pot. Turn your pot down to med-low and keep a careful eye not to burn the rice mixture at the bottom. This requires a
careful stir about half way through. Cook for another 20 minutes. Stir gently and return cover to pan and let it sit about 10 minutes before serving. To serve the dish, sprinkle with cilantro and sliced olives and top with plantanos maduros (sweet ripe fried plantains).



Plantanos Maduros
3 very ripe plantains (should be spotted or mostly black)
1/2 cup of canola oil

Heat oil in frying pan. Peel and slice plantains at an angle and add to hot oil. Fry until caramelized and brown on either side. Place on paper towel to soak up excess oil and serve.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Meal Plan for Week Starting 8/5

8/5 Meal Plan

#1 Satay Chicken served with Rice and Roasted Kale.

#2 Wild Salmon with Sunshine Rice and Roasted Green Beans.

#3 Mock Mayan Harvest Bake (Full recipe and photos to come!)

#4 Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill with Eggplant Couscous Salad.

#5 Grilled Salmon and Asparagus Salad served with Crusty Bread (Bonefish Grill salad recipe).

#6 Thai Mango BBQ Chicken served with Basmati Rice and Sauteed Veggies.
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