Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella

I found this recipe on Pintrest.  It calls for Smoked Mozzarella but I couldn't find any at the store.  I figured it was more important to have that smokey flavor than the mozzarella flavor so I made it with Provolone.  It turned out really good.

Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella 


  • 3/4c bread crumbs (if you want to avoid the PHO & HFCS you'll need to make your own)
  • 2T butter, melted
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 1/2lbs), stalks cut off, florets trimmed into 1-inch pieces
  • 12oz penne pasta
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced 
  • 1t dried thyme
  • 1/4c all-purpose flour
  • 2c chicken broth
  • 1c heavy cream
  • 1t salt
  • 1/2t pepper
  • 1 1/2lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3), trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3oz smoked mozzarella, shredded
  • 8oz jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped into pieces (I omitted these because my husband hates tomatoes)
* In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter and set aside.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

* Preheat the oven to 400' and make sure the oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven.  In a large pot, bring the water for the pasta to a boil.  Stir in one tablespoon salt and the broccoli.  The broccoli cooks quickly so stay close!  Cook the broccoli for 1 minute, until it is bright green.  Quickly remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate.  Return the water to a boil and add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1-2 minutes less than how you would eat it normally (it will cook a bit more in the oven).  Drain the pasta in a colander and toss with 1T olive oil.  Leave in the colander and set aside.

* Wipe the pot dry.  Add the remaining 1T oil and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic & thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the flour, salt & pepper and cook , stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the broth and cream; bring to a simmer, whisking often.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella.

*Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce; stir to combine.  Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.  Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Another winning recipe for the whole family.  YEAH!!!  I love when I can get my kids to happily eat.

Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

  • 2c shredded chicken (Tip)
  • 2 (4oz) cans of green chilies, lightly drained
  • 1pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 can white or black beans, rinsed and drained (you can really use any type of beans that you prefer)

  • 2T butter
  • 1/2c chopped onion
  • 2T flour
  • 1/3c chicken broth
  • 1/4c milk
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/4t pepper
  • 1 can (7oz) green chile enchilada sauce
  • 1/2c sour cream

  • 8oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 medium flour tortillas (I recommend using the uncooked ones & cooking them yourself)
  • Handful fresh chopped cilantro
*Preheat oven to 375'

*In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and green chilies.  Mix well.  Add the chicken & black beans.  Mix to combine.  Set aside.

*In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions & stir well.  Cook for 1 minutes, stirring.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk.  As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and sti in the enchilada sauce & sour cream.

*Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.  Spread about 1/4c of the sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Fill each tortilla with about 1/2c of the chicken/cream cheese filling.  Top with a small handful of shredded cheese, a couple tablespoons for each enchilada.  Roll the tortillas up and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish.  Continue filling enchiladas until the dish is full.

*Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas.  Top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned.  Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top & serve.

A battery birthday cake

       I had hoped to post the recipe for the jelly roll I made but I haven't decided if I like it or not.  My first opinion was that it was a wonderful recipe.  It reminded me a lot of the eggy flavor of a cream puff.  But by the next day, when I tried another slice, I wasn't as happy with it.  So I may or may not post that recipe.  We'll have to see. 


     Anyway, I wanted to post a photo of the cake I made using the jelly roll.  This is the cake that I made for my 2yr olds birthday.  I know it's a strange cake for a little boy but it totally fits him.  He is obsessed with batteries.  Remember that kid at the grocery store who was throwing a tantrum because his mom wouldn't buy him that treat at the checkout stand?  That's my son, only his fit is because I won't buy him a pack of double A's.  He carries them around in his pockets & begs me for them when he sees them high up on a shelf.  "Bat-ry" was one of, if not the first longer word he could say.  

       On his birthday, we had a family party with his grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins.  They all thought I was weird to make him a battery cake (well, all but the few that knew about his obsession).  Eventually he pulled a battery out of his pocket to show off.  When he saw the batteries that Grandma was charging in the wall, he had to show them to everyone.  By now everyone was starting to believe me that he liked batteries.  

     Finally it was time to open presents.  He opened one from his grandma.  He gasped & then squealed.  But he wasn't squealing at the Fireman's hat or the megaphone.  He dropped the box & pulled off the AAA batteries that were taped to the front.  He ran around the room showing everyone & yelling "Bat-ries!"  

     So this cake was fun to make, & I'm proud of it but it wasn't that hard.  Like I said, I used a jelly roll with French Vanilla pudding, for the the cake.  I then frosted it with grey frosting & used an frosted Oreo for the postitive end of the battery.  For the label, I found a logo for Energizer off the internet & using Photoshop, created a battery label.  I then printed it as an 8x10 photo & took it to the bakery at Macey's grocery store.  They can print any image onto a thin sheet of fondant.  Then it was only a matter of cutting the label to size & wrapping it around the cake.  The only thing that I would do differently would be to not print the image onto the fondant until the day before I made the cake.  I printed it a few days ahead of time & when I went to use it, it had dried a little & so the edge cracked in places.  Also, the background on the label, was originally grey but the longer it sat, the more the blue became the dominant color.  It worked fine for this cake but I would have been disappointed if I had used a photograph & it had changed colors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken Chimichangas

I love this recipe.  It's a little time consuming but definitely worth it.  I found it as a copy-cat recipe for the Chicken Chimichangas from Chi-Chi's restaurant.  We haven't had a Chi-Chi's in the area since I was a little kid so I can't tell you if it tastes the same but it is a really good recipe.  It is a little spicy so I usually make something else for my picky little eaters.  

Chicken Chimichangas

  • 1/2c chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1/3c chili powder
  • 16oz salsa
  • 1/4c water
  • 1/2t ground cumin
  • 1/2t ground cinnamon
  • 1lb shredded chicken  (Tip)
  • salt
  • Six 10" flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1c refried beans
  • olive oil
  • sour cream 
  • guacamole
  • cheese, grated

*Preheat oven to 425'.  Grease a 13x9 casserole dish.  

*In a large saucepan, saute the onion & garlic in oil until tender.  Stir in the chili powder, 2/3 jar salsa, water, cumin & cinnamon.  Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  NOTE:  Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick to blend.  Pour back into the saucepan; stir in the chicken.  Add salt to taste.

Have you ever tried using uncooked tortillas?  You can find them in the grocery store near the cheese.  They only take seconds to cook & they taste so much better than using the precooked ones.  

* Working with one tortillas at a time, spoon a heaping tablespoon of the refried beans down the center of each tortilla.  Top with 1/2c of the chicken mixture & a little grated cheese.

*Place the chimichangas in the greased baking pan, seam-side down.  Brush all sides with oil.

*  Bake for 15mins or until golden brown and crisp, turning every 5 minutes. (I usually only turn them once & they're fine; just a little softer)

*Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole & cheese.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Garlicky Green Beans with Mushrooms

With these green beans I can get even my pickiest eaters to eat their vegetables.  Not to mention that it is requested at every family party.  And the nice thing is that they're quick & simple to make.

  • 2lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2c fresh mushrooms, cut into 1/4" or 1/8" slices
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4t butter
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t onion powder
  • 1/4t pepper

* Place beans in a saucepan & cover with water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 10 mins.

* Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms & garlic in butter.  

* Drain the beans; add to skillet.  Stir in salt, onion powder & pepper; heat through.

Recipe from Kraft