Saturday, July 28, 2012

Balsamic Chicken with Peppers




As promised, I am posting a healthier recipe.  This also happens to be a super quick and easy recipe that I whip up when I am tired and don't have very many ingredients to work with.  You could add other fresh veggies that you like, but I tend to make mine very simple. 






Ingredients:
olive oil
6 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2-3 thinly sliced bell peppers, any colors 
1 medium onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp dried basil (or one bunch fresh basil)
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spicy Mac with Chicken and Broccoli





I love a good macaroni and cheese, especially when it's homemade. I love mac & cheese because you can change up the types of cheeses, the veggies you add in, and the type of pasta. I realize my first posts haven't been exactly the most healthy ones; I promise to provide some good healthy recipes in this blog as well... but as for now, bring on the cheesy. Also, I should note that I am a bit of a spice wuss. I suggest if you like spiciness, you add a chopped jalapeno or serrano, or an 8 oz can of green chilis for an extra kick.

Ingredients you will need:

1 lb. cavatelli pasta, cooked as directed on the box
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz pepperjack, shredded
salt & pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp butter
3 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 broccoli crown
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch strips

Let's start by getting the broccoli & chicken part cooked. I also boiled the pasta while getting this part done. The cheese sauce requires the most attention, so you don't want to be working on other parts of the recipe while making the cheese sauce.

So first, heat up a large skillet pan with oil, add garlic. Saute for one minute, then add onion, and cook until translucent.



Add chicken. I used chicken thigh meat because it was on sale, but if you prefer white meat, you can use that too. I actually love dark meat and its rich flavor. Cook on medium-high heat until browned, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.



Add the broccoli on top, cover immediately. You do not need to stir, the steam from the chicken and onions should cook the broccoli to the proper tenderness.







Cook until broccoli is bright green and slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, but keep cover on to retain heat.

Now on to that cheese sauce. Start by warming a saucepan on medium heat. Add butter but watch carefully so the butter does not burn. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.






Slowly add the milk very gradually, whisking constantly.




Simmer and let thicken, whisking frequently, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add cheeses, salt & pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until incorporated.






In the pasta pot, add chicken and broccoli mixture to the pasta.



Pour cheese sauce on top, and mix all together.






Serve immediately!



Variations/substitutions:

add a can of green chilis to cheese sauce to make it spicier

sub white meat for thigh meat

sub peas for broccoli

sub macaroni pasta or penne for cavatelli

sub fontina for pepperjack, or any other good melting cheese

Friday, July 6, 2012

Potato Bacon Pesto Pizza



Pizza is a forever favorite in my home, and I love its versatility.  I found a pesto potato pizza recipe and decided to add bacon, because let's face it, everything is better with bacon.  I also decided to make my pesto from scratch because fresh basil smells wonderful.

Start off by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.  Now time to make that pesto.


Pesto Sauce:
2 oz. basil, remove stems (about 3 bunches, I used the container pictured above)
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (if you're feeling fancy)

Black Bottom Cupcakes




One day at work, there was an office party, and I signed up to bring in cupcakes.  After I did, I became known as the "Cupcake Lady" and was the go-to gal for party pastries.   My cupcakes got to be such a coveted item that one time someone in my office heard about a batch I made and literally pushed things off my desk and gave me the silent treatment for a week because I did not save her any.  


I have many cupcake recipes, but there are two that are most requested, the Banana Cupcake with Peanut Buttercream frosting (which I will share later), and the Black Bottom Cupcake, which is essentially a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate chip cheesecake in the center of it.  I like to make the black bottom cupcake because it is easily transportable since it has no frosting, and definitely a crowd pleaser!


The Ingredients.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe taken from http://www.allrecipes.com, which I use for a lot of my base recipes.  I enjoy all the recipe reviews that have variations to improve or change up the original recipe.  In this case, I doubled the recipe and added a LOT more chocolate!  Here is the step-by-step instructions on how to make these easy but amazingly decadent treats.

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup oil
2 tbsp vinegar
2 cups water
2 tsp vanilla
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese 
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups mini chocolate chips