Monday, August 31, 2009

Pesto and Mozarella Stuffed Chicken

I absolutely adore the flavors of pesto, mozzarella and fresh tomatos. I try to incorportate them into meals frequently, without being mundane.

In an effort to make a real main dish with these ingredients--something more than just pizza-- I decided to stuff them into a chicken breast and bake. The result was perfect! The husband requested less tomatos on his next time, but I think I might add more to mine. :)

This is another extremely easy recipe, with flavors that taste like you used tons of effort.

Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded, low fat mozzarella
2 small tomatos, sliced
2 tablespoons pesto
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the chicken breasts in half, about 3/4 of the way through. This should create a hinged "pocket".

Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto into the sliced area of each chicken breasts. Lay tomato slices on top of the pesto, slightly pressing them down into the pesto so they don't slide off. Sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of cheese (per chicken breast) onto the tomatos.

Close the chicken breast over the filling and gently push down. Sprinke the chicken with salt and pepper.

Layer additional tomato slices on top of the chicken, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Portabellos

The idea of making spinach and cheese stuffed portabellos has been bouncing around in my mind lately, so I decided to give it a try recently. I didn't use any recipes this time; I just started combining ingredients that I knew would work well together. I did look at several different recipes online, just to get an idea of cook time. Other than that, the recipe is mine. :)

The mushrooms came out really good, other than one of them leaking all over the baking pan! Next time I will add at least another half a bag of spinach, and possibly some cayenne or red chili pepper flakes for a bit of heat. I also bought 6 mushrooms, but only used 4. I thought about chopping up the extra mushrooms and adding them to the filling. Something to try for next time.

These tasted wonderful, were quick and easy to make, and with the fat free ricotta, are pretty easy on the waistline! Everyone at work was impressed when I brought the leftovers for lunch the next day. :)

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms
Printable Recipe

  • 4 portabello mushroom caps
  • 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1 bag spinach (1 and a half bags would be better)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese + 4 teaspoons, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons pepper
  • olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash the mushroom caps and remove the stems and gills.
Place the mushroom caps upside down in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic, spinach and zucchini, for about 1-2 minutes. (I did this in batches to fit all of the spinach in the pan.) You just want to wilt the spinach and soften the garlic and zucchini.

In a separate bowl, mix the vegetables with the ricotta cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Season with the salt and pepper, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Remove the mushroom caps from the oven, and fill with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle one teaspoon of Parmesan cheese over each filled mushroom. Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (Quick and Easy!)

It's nearly one o'clock, you barely ate any breakfast, and now you're starting to think about lunch. What to eat, what to eat?

That was my dilemma recently. Actually that's my dilemma most days when I am not at work. Then I remembered the chicken breasts defrosting in the fridge, specifically for today's lunch. Great, I'm saved! But how to make them? I don't want to heat the BBQ. George Foreman is too boring. I already have bread baking in the oven, to I can't bake them.


BBQ chicken sandwiches! But, but, but....that'll take hours slow cooking and I want to eat nooooowwwww!

I decided to just poach the breasts, then pull the chicken apart with a fork and douse in BBQ sauce. Fast and easy pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches. No recipe needed.

Since the chicken is not slow cooked until falling apart, as in traditional pulled chicken recipes, the meat is not as melt in your mouth tender in these sandwiches. The meat is more in chunks rather than shreds. But they are, however, quite flavorful and a great alternative when you don't have hours to cook. This is incredibly easy and quick.

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Printable Recipe

1 chicken breast per person
1 can broth (I used vegetable broth) Note: If you are cooking more than 3-4 chicken breasts, use another can of broth
1-2 teaspoons pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce
Large hamburger buns (I used good)

Pour the broth and pepper into a large pot. Bring the broth to a boil. (If the chicken is not totally defrosted, throw em in the broth while you wait for it to boil.)

Once the broth comes to a boil, add the chicken breasts and turn the heat down until the water is just simmering. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the breasts).

Remove the chicken from the broth and shred, using two forks. Dump your BBQ sauce all over the chicken, tossing to ensure that all pieces are coated.

Toast the hamburger buns and pile high with the shredded, BBQ-coated chicken. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carne Asada Pizza

Pizza on Foodista

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love pizza. I am serious. I love it. Pizza is definitely one of my favorite foods. Please don't make me pick just one favorite food though; I have a love affair with eating.

Anyway, one of my favorite restaurant pizzas is CPK's (that's California Pizza Kitchen for the uninitiated) carne asada pizza. It is tangy, and asada-y, and fresh tomato-y, on a pizza crust. YUM. I recently bought several pounds of marinated carne asada from the local Mexican market, and after bbqing it for dinner one night, we still had several pieces left. I was planning on wrapping them up in tortillas with beans and rice and calling it a night, but then I remembered how much I love CPK's carne asada pizza.

So I made my own. The husband's verdict: Better than CPK and his favorite homemade pizza so far. Looks like we have a winner, everyone.

Better than CPK Carne Asada Pizza
Printable Recipe

pizza dough
• 1 small can salsa verde
• 1 tomato, diced
• 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 1-2 cups cooked/pre-marinated carne asada, cut into bite-sized pieces
• cornmeal

Pre-heat your oven, with the pizza stone inside, to 550*.

Sprinkle cornmeal on a sheet of parchment paper. Stretch out your hunk of pizza dough until it is the desired shape and size. We like thin crust pizza, so I stretch mine until it is about to rip. Make sure you stretch out the edges too, or you will have very thick crust.

Spread the salsa verde on the dough, leaving about 1/4-1/2" around the edges uncovered (this will be the crust).

Cover the salsa with shredded cheese and top with the carne asada and tomato.

Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

The name "salsa" is misleading in this recipe. This is not really a salsa, or even a garnish; It is more of a side dish. It's a great summery addition to a bbq or burgers, and can be made even better by using fresh corn over canned. If you can find flavorful tomatos in the winter (that don't cost an arm and a leg), this would be a great addition to dinner throughout the year.

This is incredibly easy to double, but if you do so, don't double the cumin, or it will overpower the other flavors.

This is another recipe from my mom; I am unaware of the original source.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Printable Recipe

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
• ½ teaspoon cajon seasoning
• 1 can of corn, drained
• 1 cup chopped tomatos
• 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
• ½ cup green onions, diced (including the green tops)
• 1 jalepeno, minced (seeds and pith removed if you don’t want a lot of heat)
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Combine the first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour the liquid mixture over the salad, and stir well to fully incorporate dressing.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld. (Tastes even better if allowed to sit overnight.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Citrus & Garlic Chicken

I recently made The Best of Cooking Light's Chicken Thighs with Garlic and Lime and was dissapointed with the final product. While the chicken was moist and flavorful, I felt the cumin called for in the recipe overpowered the garlic and lime flavors.

I recently decided to re-work their recipe, omitting the cumin comptely, and punching up the taste of citrus and lime. This version has a spicy kick to it, followed by the tang of garlic and lime juice, with a nice peppery after taste. MUCH better than Cooking Light's cumin-heavy recipe, if I do say so myself.

This is not too salty, but I am thinking about omitting the 1/4 teaspoon of salt next time, just to cut out some sodium. The Creole seasoning will give it more than enough salt on its own.

Citrus and Garlic Chicken Thighs
Adapted from The Best of Cooking Light
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons citrus pepper
½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided into 2T and 1T
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 tablespoon white vinegar


Preheat oven to 350*.

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a small bowl. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining lime juice, broth, and vinegar. Set aside.

Heat a oven-proof skillet over medium high heat on the stove. Lightly mist with olive oil. Brown the chicken, top side down, for about 1 minute.

Turn the chicken over and rub with the garlic mixture. Pour the broth mixture over the chicken and bring to a boil.

Once the broth comes to a boil, place the skillet in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes (until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 180*).

Serve chicken with juice drizzled across the top.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Crust

Garden-picked tomatoes, fresh basil, 2 kinds of cheese...heaven.

A girl on the online cooking board I frequent posted this tomato-mozzarella-basil recipe the other day and I thought it looked amazingly delicious. I knew I had to make it, and soon, before all my tomato plant is bare. I love caprese salad, so I i

This is such an easy to throw together recipe, using just a few simple ingredients. Note that you do need to chill the tart crust for an hour though, so make sure to plan in advance. Also, while this recipe calls for a tart pan, I don't have one, so I just used my regular pie dish.

My husband called this a fancy pizza and said e should serve it as appetizers if we ever have a dinner party. I totally agree!

Recipes adapted from Pink Parsley; originally from The Complete Indian Vegetarian Cookbook

Printable recipe

Basil Crust

1/3 cup fresh basil
1 medium clove of garlic
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into large pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Place basil and garlic in the bowl of your food processor. Turn on and process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the flour and salt, and pulse to combine. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized bits.

Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, and briefly pulse following each addition. After 4 tablespoons, pulse for several seconds to see if the dough begins to form a ball. If not, add another tablespoon of water and pulse.

Remove the dough from the food processor, and place onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten into a 5" circle. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

After chilling, roll the dough into a 12" circle, using a rolling pin. Place the dough in your tart pan, pushing into the bottom and sides. Trim off any excess dough.

Tomato Mozzarella Tart


8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 large tomatoes (about one pound), cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
1 recipe basil dough (see above)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Once dough is placed in the tart pan, line the bottom of the pan with the mozzarella cheese slices. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the cheese and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the minced basil and oregano.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly and the crust is golden. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 10, 2009


My husband and I recently took my parents out to celebrate my dad's 64th birthday. Dear old dad chose Outback Steakhouse (mmmmm, ribs) and we all enjoyed a scrumptious dinner and celebration, followed by some Wii bowling and boxing at home. Dad KO'ed me in boxing....just like he does when we hike. But my mom kicked his butt in Wii bowling...even if she did hold the Wii-mote with two hands.

During dinner, as my husband barely touched his rib eye (he doesn't eat a lot), he and my dad got into a conversation about what Omar likes to eat. The husband's favorite foods? Burritos, hamburgers, and pizza. Ahhhh, a man after my own heart.

To satisfy two of the husband's three fav foods, and with some inspiration from this blog, I created a Mexi-burger. But of course, I shredded some of those pesky summer squash in the food processor to hide in the meat. We've gotta at least try to be healthy, right?

Printable recipe


1.25 pounds ground turkey
1 package fajita seasoning (or burrito, taco, etc seasoning)
1 tablespoon crema (or plain yogurt or sour cream)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
a dash of garlic powder
1-2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon citrus pepper
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded squash (I used two small-medium patty pans)

Heat your BBQ grill, or plug in your George Foreman.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Using your hands, smoosh the seasonings into the meat. Be sure to fully incorporate everything, making sure there are no large pockets of squash.

Using your hands, form the meat into evenly sized patties (about 1/2 inch thick). Make sure they are not significantly thicker in the middle, otherwise they won't cook evenly.

I sprinkled extra pepper on top of the formed patties.

Place patties on the grill and cook with the lid on for about 3 minutes. Flip burgers over and cook until done all the way through (about 2 more minutes).

Serve with your favorite toppings and fat free refried beans. We made ours into protein burgers, with lettuce instead of buns.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Even though we quit the CSA a week or so ago, my kitchen is still over run with summer squash, including 2 zucchini. In an effort to rid us of these vegetables, I decided it was time to try my hand at chocolate chip zucchini bread. I used a recipe by Paula Deen, but as she is definitely not known for being health conscious, I had to make several *adjustments* to her recipe.

How would I describe this bread? Moist, super chocolatey, and decadent. Enjoy!

Here is my significantly healthier, but still not healthy, version.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Paula Deen's recipe
Printable recipe

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 medium zucchinis, shredded (about 2-2.5 cups)
1 twelve ounce bag milk chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350*. Grease two 9x5" loaf pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Stir together first six ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy. Add in the sugar and continue to whisk until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla and applesauce and stir to combine.

Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix. Make sure to incorporate any dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. Add in the zucchini and chocolate chips and mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the two loaf pans, filling each about halfway.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool and serve.

I bet this would be great with some Nutella spread across each slice of bread. Mmmmmmm!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie and Julia

I have been highly anticipating this new movie, based on Julie Powell's novel-turned-book of the same name, as well as Julia Child's memoir, "My Life in France". Omar agreed to accompany me for this "chick flick", opting to watch a movie about cooking over Adam Sandler's "Funny People" (which I am also dying to see).

I enjoyed every second of the movie and nearly peed in my seat because I did not want to leave for even a moment. (Not to self: Don't drink 2 sodas in a good movie.) I previously read Powell's "Julie and Julia" several years ago and enjoyed her book immensely, though I have not yet read Child's book.

I am not going to review the movie, other than to encourage everyone to go see it! I am, however, feeling inspired to try some new recipes. Be on the lookout for chocolate cream pie, beof bourguignon (I had to look up that spelling!), and mussels (probably in a white wine sauce), among other delights.

Also, I recently won a cookbook from the blog Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails, with the condition that I blog at least one recipe from the cookbook. Secondly, I entered the Great American Taste Test, which is again a free cookbook with the stipulation that I blog a recipe. But the cool part about that one is that they are restaurant recipes, so not only do I make my own version, but I am supposed to hold a taste test with the real deal from the restaurant versus my homemade concoction. Any local taste testers want to get in on the eating action? :)

Bon Appetite!


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