CEiMB: Pasta Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese

Do you know what I love most about the various cooking/baking groups I’ve joined?  I’m frequently pushed out of my comfort zone and try things I would have passed over otherwise.  This pasta salad is no exception.  I really debated skipping this one, particularly since we just got back from vacation late last night, and I haven’t even had time to unpack yet.  As usual, I am very glad I decided to make this!  All three of us ate multiple helpings, it was that good.  I doubled the dressing per reviews on Food Network’s website, and I used Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta rather than the whole wheat as we aren’t partial to whole wheat pasta.  I also used a tomato and basil feta cheese, which was delicious!  I will definitely make this again, and again, and again, and you should too!

Thank you to Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table for picking such a great dish!  You can find the recipe on her blog, on Food Network’s website, or on page 137 of Ellie Kreiger’s The Food You Crave.  Check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this.

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CEiMB Rewind: Chicken Cacciatore

This week’s CEiMB recipe was for Mushroom, Onion, and Basil Pizza and was chosen by Joanne of Apple Crumbles.  Because we are leaving for vacation tomorrow, I did not have time to make this, but based on the posts I’ve seen so far, it will hit our menu very, very soon!  Head on over to Joanne’s blog to get this recipe, and check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this pizza. 

I decided to post a rewind recipe this week since we tried Ellie’s Chicken Cacciatore recipe last week.  I missed out on so many great recipes that were chosen prior to my joining this group, and I’m hoping to go back and try several of them.  I am so glad I tried this one…it was fantastic!  The toddler, who has been refusing to eat all that much lately, ate a ton of peppers and onions, and over half of a chicken breast!  We will definitely be making this one again.

Chicken Cacciatore

4 skinless chicken breast halves on the bone, about 2 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes in juice,  juice reserved
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over moderately-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken.

Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the onion and pepper, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and simmer the mixture covered for 10 minutes.

Return the chicken breasts to the pan and simmer, covered, until the chicken is just done, about 20 minutes longer.

Source:  From page 204 of The Food You Crave by Ellie Kreiger

CEiMB: Apple Brown Betty

This week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was chosen by Jessica over at Learning to Love Vegetables.  You can find the recipe for this fabulous dessert over on Food Network’s website, or on page 241 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy

 I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical of this recipe…I just didn’t see how whole wheat bread crumbs would make a good topping for this dessert.  Boy, was I wrong!  We all really enjoyed this, and I see this being made in our house quite frequently.  You can’t beat a great tasting and HEALTHY dessert!  The only change I made was using sliced almonds instead of walnuts, because that is what I had on hand.  The only thing missing…some vanilla ice cream!  I will be running to the store tomorrow to pick some up so that we can enjoy it with the leftovers.  Thanks Jessica for a fabulous pick!!  To see how the other CEiMB members did this week, check out the blogroll.

CEiMB: Sloppy Joes

This week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe for Sloppy Joes was chosen by Chaya of Chaya’s Comfy Cooking.  Check out her blog to see what she did with this recipe, and many other great recipes!  Chaya and I are in several blogging groups together, and always has great tips and plenty of encouragement. 

I have never really had homemade sloppy joes.  I’ve always been a Manwich kind of girl.  Since the husband is not a Manwich fan, and really doesn’t care for sloppy joes in general, I never make them unless he is out of town.  I showed this recipe to the husband, and he said he would give it a try.  Let me tell you…these were fantastic!  The husband ate 2 sandwiches on Tuesday night, and ate three more on Wednesday night!  Even the toddler enjoyed these.  I’d say we hit a homerun with this one.  I put the the red bell pepper in there despite my hatred of peppers, and I really didn’t notice it in there.  Great way to sneak in some veggies without really tasting them.  I did omit the jalapeno since I didn’t have one, and used chili powder in its place.  Thanks, Chaya, for picking such a great recipe this week!  This will definitely make our dinner rotation, especially since the whole thing took less than 20 minutes!  Check out the CEiMB blog to see how the other members did this week.  Next week’s recipe is for Salmon Cakes with Ginger-Sesame Sauce.  I won’t be making this one as we’re not big fans of salmon or ginger.  I will do a rewind recipe and try something out that the group made before I joined!

Sloppy Joes

1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 red pepper, diced
1 can black beans, preferably low sodium, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground mustard
3/4 tsp seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 whole-wheat burger buns

Brown the meat and the onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and red pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes more. Place a half-cup scoop of the mixture onto each bun and serve.

Source:  Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Kreiger, page 90

CEiMB: Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spinach

I love shrimp, pasta, and spicy food, so when it was my turn to choose a recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly, I knew exactly what to pick – Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spinach.  Fra Diavolo is, essentially, a spicy tomato sauce, which is right up our alley!  This recipe is a cinch to throw together on a busy weeknight…the longest part was letting the sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes.  We really enjoyed this!  I did overcook the shrimp a bit , so it was kind of rubbery.  We’re not big fans of spinach, so I was hesitant to add it to the sauce, but decided to stay true to the recipe and give it a shot.  I really couldn’t taste it much at all, and we got the added benefits of having it in the sauce.  I would like to try this again with chicken instead of shrimp to see how that tastes.  Thanks, Ellie, for another great healthy, fast, and delicious meal!

I posted the recipe with my adaptations below.  You can find the original recipe on page 162 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy: Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.  Thanks to all of the CEiMB members who cooked along with me this week…I hope you all enjoyed this as much as we did!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spinach

3/4 pound Ronzoni Smart Taste angel hair pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp 4S seasoning salt from Penzey’s
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (3 ounces), coarsely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente and according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softenend, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional minute.  Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the shrimp and spinach and cook, stirring, until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add the drained cooked pasta to the sauce and toss well until combined.

CEiMB: Chicken with Warm Tomato-Corn Salad

This week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe for Chicken with Warm Tomato-Corn Salad was chosen by Danica of Danica’s Daily. Check out her blog for some great recipes and healthy eating tips.

I am not a vegetable eater. I pretty much stick to corn, broccoli, and salad stuff (romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes), so when I saw this week’s recipe, I was a bit skeptical. However, we are trying to eat more healthy so I gave it a shot. Wow, this was fantastic! The husband ate almost the entire pan of the tomato corn salad, and the toddler kept asking for more tomatoes (music to a mother’s ears). This dish was very light and flavorful, perfect for a warm summer evening.  The only thing I would change next time (because there WILL be a next time!) is to add more seasoning to the salad mixture for an extra flavor boost.  The best part…I had dinner ready in less than 15 minutes! 

Chicken with Warm Tomato-Corn Salad

1 1/4 pounds thin-cut skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp Penzeys Northwoods Seasoning, plus more to taste
4 tsp olive oil
4 scallions, whites and greens separated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups frozen corn kernels
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Season the chicken with the Northwoods seasoning.  Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tsp of oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the scallion whites and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more.  Add the tomatoes and corn to the pan and cook until they are softened but still retain their shape, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the scallion greens and season with Northwoods seasoning to taste. 

Place about a cup of the vegetable mixture on each plate.  Top with a piece of chicken breast.  Sprinkle with lime juice and serve.

Source:  Adapted from  So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Kreiger, pg 144

CEiMB: Lemon-Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

This is my very first Craving Ellie in My Belly post!  I’m excited to cook along with everyone.  The husband and I are both painfully picky when it comes to food, and I’m hoping that this experience will encourage us to try some different, and healthy foods. 

This week’s recipe was chosen by Debbie from Dining with Debbie.   The original recipe was for lamb chops rather than pork chops, but I had two issues with the lamb chops.  One, they were crazy expensive at the grocery store ($11.59/pound!!!) and, two, I’ve never had lamb before and quite frankly, it doesn’t sound too appealing to me.  This marinade is amazing!  These were seriously the best pork chops we’ve ever had, and the toddler even ate almost an entire pork chop!  I would love to try this marinade on chicken as well.  It’s a great weeknight main dish that came together in a flash, and will definitely be in our rotation.  Enjoy!!

Lemon-Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, center cut pork chops

Preheat the broiler, grill, or grill pan over medium heat. 

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.  Put the pork chops in a sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them.  Move the chops around in the bag so the marinade coats them well.  Seal the bag and marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature. 

Remove the chops from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Grill or broil the chops until cooked through.

Source:  Adapted from “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” by Ellie Krieger, p. 190