Friday, March 19, 2010

Recipe #23: Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe did not disappoint. It's very hearty and has the perfect flavor, and is really cheap to make. This comes from my favorite cookbook, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Fast Fix Family Favorites.


1 store-bought roasted chicken
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
4 cans (14oz each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (10 3/4oz each) Campbell's condensed mushroom soup with roasted garlic
2 teaspoons fines herbes
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups egg noodles, cooked


1. Remove skin and bones from roasted chicken. Shred. In a 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker, place chicken, onion, celery and carrots. Stir in broth, soup, and fines herbes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 8-9 hours.

3. When soup is done, stir in cooked egg noodles and heat thru. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve hot.


1. Instead of using fines herbes, which I couldn't find in the spice section of the grocery store, I instead used herbs de provence, which was right on in flavor.

2. I cooked an entire bag of egg noodles instead of just two cups.

3. Since there was no more room in my crock pot, I instead added the soup to the noodles, which I'd cooked in a big pot to accommodate the combining of the two.

Also, if you don't like mushroom soup, I'd suggest possibly cream of celery in its place.

Recipe #22: Sicilian Swordfish with Broccoli Linguini

This is from my cookbook Prevention's Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer. The sauce for the swordfish might sound strange, but it turns out really good- I love the raisins and how they add a little sweetness to the sauce.

Sicilian Swordfish


1 cup canned, low sodium, diced tomatoes (I used a whole can)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (I used minced garlic)
5 pitted black olives (I used cut black olives from a can, about 2/3 of the can)
2 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 pound swordfish (about 3/4 inch thick)


Place tomatoes and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add olives, raisins, and oregano and continue to cook 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add swordfish. Brown for 2 minutes on each side. Salt and pepper the cooked sides. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook 2 minutes, or until fish is cooked. It will look opaque inside, not translucent. Remove from skilled and divide into 2 equal portions. Serve over linguine (see recipe below) and spoon sauce over top. Note: I used frozen swordfish steaks, so I had to cook them longer. Also, I used two steaks instead of dividing one between two people.

Broccoli Linguini


1/4 lb fresh or dry linguine (I used closer to 1/2 lb)
1/2 lb broccoli florets (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup reserved boiling pasta liquid
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Bring a large pot with 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine. Cook 2 minutes if using fresh pasta or 9 minutes for dried. Add broccoli in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Remove 1/4 cup water from pot and drain linguine and broccoli. Mix olive oil into reserved water. Pour over linguine and broccoli and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on individual plates. Arrange fish over pasta and spoon sauce on top.

Note about raisins: A friend of mine recommended Dole brand raisins to me over the Sunmaid ones, and boy what a difference. The Dole raisins are much juicier and overall a better quality than Sunmaid.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Recipe #21: Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts with a Cheddar-Mustard Sauce

Here's a Rachael Ray recipe for chicken fans! This comes from her 365: No Repeats cook book. The chicken turns out super moist, and the pickle garnish on top really adds to the overall dish. Definitely a keeper.


4 medium (quart size) plastic food storage bags
4 6-8oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 5-oz bag of salted pretzels, any shape (I just kind of eyeballed the amt from a larger bag)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used salted)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I got a bag of shredded sharp Cheddar)
2 heaping tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Coarse salt
1/4c fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large sour dill pickle, finely chopped (I used Klaussen, from the lunch meat section)
1 lemon, cut into wedges (I omitted this)


Sprinkle a little water into the food storage baggies. Place 1 chicken breast in each bag and seal it up, pushing out excess air. Use a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pot or pan and pound each breast until flat, just shy of busting out the bag. Repeat with the other 3 chicken breasts.

Place the pretzels in a food processor or blender and grind until fine. Transfer the ground pretzels to a shallow dish and add the thyme and some pepper. Crack and beat 2 eggs in a second shallow dish with a splash of water. Working with 1 pounded chicken breast at a time, coat the breast in the ground pretzels, then in the eggs, then in the pretzels again. Preheat a large skillet with 1/4 inch of vegetable oil; add the pretzel-coated chicken breasts to the hot oil. Cook in a single layer, in 2 batches if necessary, about 3-4 minutes on each side, until the cutlets' juices run clear and the breading is evenly browned.

While the chicken is frying, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt (if you use unsalted butter only!!) and pepper and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

Transfer the fried pretzel-crusted chicken breasts to serving plates, drizzle with the cheddar-mustard sauce, and then sprinkle with a little parsley, finely chopped onions, and finely chopped pickles. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges alongside.

Check out that texture! I served this with some quick-cook jasmine rice so I could make more use of the cheese sauce.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recipe #20: Beef Shepherds Pie

I've made a simpler shepherds pie before attempting this recipe. Let me tell you, there's a huge difference when you just add a little more time and more fresh ingredients! This is now a favorite meal of mine, and it feeds a lot. I'm eating the leftovers for breakfast! I found this recipe on I was somewhat liberal on the amounts (especially more mushrooms), but for the most part, I kept with the recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used regular margarine)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup canned low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, optional (I used cheddar instead)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, half the salt, and oregano. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until mushrooms are soft and tomato paste has turned brick red, about 8 minutes more. Stir in the beef, the broth, the remaining salt, the Worcestershire, and some pepper, breaking up any large clumps of meat, cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the meat and vegetables to a 2-quart oval casserole dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top, leaving a 1/4-inch boarder around the edge. Make a decorative pattern on the top of the potatoes, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake until potatoes brown and the juices bubble around the edge, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Mashed Potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled quartered

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

3/4 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a saucepan with cold water to cover by about 1-inch and add the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. At the same time, combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan. Toss the potatoes over medium heat until dry. Add the heated milk mixture and mash the potatoes until just slightly chunky, then stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recipe #19: Ratatouille Pasta

Here's a Rachael Ray recipe from her Veggie Meals cookbook. I must say, it's quite colorful, and has just as much flavor as it has color. It's quick and easy to make, and you'll have lots of leftovers. I was surprised how filling it was.


4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (a few pinches)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (3 times around the pan)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (recipe says yellow, I used white)
1 small eggplant, peeled or skin-on, diced (I used a larger eggplant)
1 medium zucchini, diced
20 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
A handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2lb rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente


In a deep skillet or pot, working over medium heat, simmer garlic and crushed pepper in oil until the garlic speaks.

Add peppers, onion, eggplant, zucchini, olives, capers, salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to medium low, and cook the veggies down, stirring occasionally, until eggplant begins to break down, about 10-15 minutes.

Add tomatoes and parsley and heat through. Toss with pasta.