Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three-cheese and Veggie Stuffed Shells

Lately I have been doing a lot of cooking. I sure do love the holidays and all the food involved! As much as I enjoy making the traditional meat-and-potatoes holiday meals, I especially love to make Italian food for these cozy nights in. It is so comforting to have a big batch of marinara sauce bubbling away on the stovetop while I go about my day, ready for me to use at dinner. I use my favorite homeade sauce with this fabulous Three-cheese and Veggie Stuffed Shells recipe. It is so easy to make, beautiful, and delicious! It's also deceivingly healthy, as it uses part-skim cheese and lots of veggies, with no meat!

Three-cheese and Veggie Stuffed Shells
A delicious baked pasta for a comforting night in!
Serves 4

16 jumbo shells (from a 12-oz box)
2 cups marinara sauce, plus more for serving
1 10-oz pkg frozen leaf spinach, thawed
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
2 oz Parmesan, grated (about 1/2 cup)
4 oz part-skim mozzarella, grated (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400°F. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
Spread the sauce onto the bottom of a large broiler-proof baking dish.
Squeeze the spinach of excess moisture, roughly chop and place in a large bowl. Chop the broccoli and add it to the bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Yahoo! Shine

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tortilla Crusted Mexican Chicken with Corn & Avocado Salsa and Mexican Rice Pilaf

When most people think of Mexican food, cheesy, greasy food comes to mind. I recently made a Mexican meal that wasn't cheesy or greasy, and it was both healthy and delicious! I marinated chicken breasts in a flavorful sauce and used tortilla chips to create a crispy coating. I made it healthy by baking the crispy chicken instead of frying it. Alongside I served a satisfying Mexican rice pilaf and a fresh and vibrant corn and avocado salsa. This may not be your typical  Mexican meal, but I guarantee you’ll think it’s delicious!

Tortilla Crusted Mexican Chicken
Flavorful chicken in a crispy tortilla crust.
Serves 2

Two chicken breasts, halved lengthwise (or 4 chicken tenderloins)
½ cup olive oil
1 T cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups tortilla chips

Combine olive oil, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and cilantro in a medium bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate until marinated, at least 30 minutes up to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Crush tortilla chips in a large Ziploc bag. Remove chicken from marinade and allow excess to drip off. Place in Ziploc bag with crushed chips and shake until fully coated.

Grease a baking sheet or sheet with rack and place chicken on top. Bake in oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang
Corn & Avocado Salsa
Fresh, vibrant and delicious with crispy chicken.
Serves 6
1 can corn, rinsed
1 avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
Juice from 1 lime
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Allow to sit in fridge for at least one hour before eating so flavors can combine. Feel free to add or swap ingredients!
Recipe by Sarah Lang
Mexican Rice Pilaf
A healthy and delicious rice side dish!
Serves 6 (easily halved)
2 1/2 cups water
1 small onion , chopped fine
2 jalapeƱo chiles , stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups basmati rice or plain long-grain, rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 medium tomato , halved, seeded, and diced small (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

Bring the water to a boil, covered, in a small saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and season with pepper to taste; cover to keep hot.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, chiles, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice, and stir to coat the grains with oil. Cook until the edges of the grains begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the hot seasoned water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, 16 to 18 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the cilantro and tomato—do not mix in. Lay a clean, folded kitchen towel underneath the lid (see the illustration below). Let stand for 10 minutes, then add the lime juice and fluff the rice with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe courtesy of Cook's Illustrated

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Honeyed Pear and Gorgonzola Bruschetta

We all do a lot of cooking around the holidays, and those meals often involve big roasts and lots of chopping. It’s nice to start a holiday meal with an easy and delicious appetizer with fantastic flavors, and this honeyed pear and gorgonzola bruschetta is sure to wow your guests! The salty, creamy gorgonzola combines beautifully with the sweet pear and honey. Serve this treat before your next big dinner and reap the praises. Only you will know how easy it is to make!

Honeyed Pear and Gorgonzola Bruschetta
A sweet and savory appetizer that everyone will love!
Serves 6

1 French baguette, sliced into ½ inch slices
1 pear, thinly sliced
Gorgonzola or blue cheese, about 4 oz

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the bread slices for 5 minutes until lightly crisp. Top with a thin layer of blue cheese, two pear slices, and drizzle with honey. Place back in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and drizzle with more honey. Enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang