Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Herbed Balsamic Chicken

I had to work late tonight--but was thankful I didn't have to worry about my boys. Crockpot cooking is GREAT for nights like these. Today's dinner: Herbed Balsamic Chicken. While I was at work, my boys were able to have dinner on time. After Joey had his bath, I was able to sit down and eat without having to worry about a thing. Best thing--it was good AND low in points!

What's Needed:
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 T. quick-cooking tapioca, crushed
4 chicken breast halves (boneless, skinless)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
2 T. chicken broth
1 9-oz. package frozen Italian cut green beans
1 C. red bell pepper strips (I a bag of frozen, pre-cut pepper strips)

1. Place onion in crockpot. Sprinkle with tapioca. Top with chicken. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour vinegar and broth over chicken. Add frozen green beans.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6-7 hours.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and veggies to a serving platter. Spoon some cooking liquid over chicken and vegetables. Pass the remaining cooking liquid. Serve with rice.

Husband's Grade: B+
PointsPlus: 7 (chicken and veggies only. Rice is extra)

Inspired by: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekend Edition: Ham & Swiss Crepes

I have never had savory crepes before in my life. I was a little nervous about the idea. Crepes to me are supposed to be sweet and served at breakfast. After making this recipe by Rachael Ray, however, I was pleasantly surprised that they are just as good for lunch or dinner.

What's Needed:
1/2 C. all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 C. fat-free milk
2 T. brandy
2 T. melted unsalted butter
Coarse black pepper
Vegetable oil, for cooking crepes (I used a non-fat cooking spray)
2 C. shredded Swiss cheese (I used Swiss-Guyere shredded mix)
1/2 lb. thinly sliced Black Forest Ham, chopped into ribbons

1. Crepe batter: combine flour and pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add to the well: the eggs, milk, brandy and whisk to combine. Stir in melted butter. Cover the batter and set aside for 20 minutes.

2. After the twenty minutes has passed, preheat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Cover the bottom of the skillet with just enough batter to coat.

3. Let the crepe brown on one side (about 1 minute). Turn the crepe with a rubber spatula, lifting up the edges. Then use a knife to help flip it over (this is a tough step. No need to worry about your crepes being picture perfect. They're being eaten, after all).

4. Scatter cheese and ham on top. Season with salt and pepper, then fold the crepe over and continue to cook until the cheese starts to melt.

5. Transfer the crepe to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat this until all the batter is gone (about 7 more times). Serves 2 crepes per person (4 servings total).

MY Grade B+ (I still prefer the sweet to the savory crepes)
PointsPlus: 9 points (2 crepes)

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: 365: No Repeats--A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners by Rachael Ray

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mandarin Orange Chicken

My little guy LOVES Mandarin oranges. They must be one of his most favorite things in this whole wide world.

What's Needed:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 C. orange juice concentrate
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained, with 3 T. juice reserved
2 T. flour

1. Place chicken in crockpot.

2. Combine onion, orange juice, poultry seasoning, and salt. Pour over chicken.

3. Cover. Cook on LOW 4-5 hours.

4. Remove chicken and keep warm. Reserve cooking juices.

5. In a sauce pan, combine mandarin orange juice and flour. Stir until smooth.

6. Stir in chicken cooking juices. Bring to a boil. Stir and cook 2 minutes to thicken.

7. Stir in mandarin oranges. Pour over chicken.

8. Serve with rice or pasta.

Husband's Grade: B+
WW Points: 7

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Beef & Rice Casserole

You could very easily turn this into an oven casserole dish. Everything in this is cooked already, so the time that it's cooking in the crockpot, the flavors are just meshing. Be sure to add salt to the rice when you cook it (probably the night before). I forgot, and it was very bland. I had to add a few things to spice it up a bit.

What's Needed:
1/2 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 C. green bell pepper, cut finely
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
About 2 T. of Adobo without pepper
ABout 1 T. of Parmesan cheese
1 small can reduced-fat, low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 C. water
4 cups COOKED brown rice

1. Brown ground beef, onion, garlic and green pepper in a skillet over medium heat. Season with basil, oregano, and Adobo.

2. Combine soup and water in separate bowl.

3. Spray crockpot with cooking spray.

4. Layer 2 C. cooked rice on the bottom of the crockpot. Add half of the ground beef and half of the soup mixture.

5. Repeat layers.

6. Cover. Cook on LOW 4 hours. The last 15 minutes, add the Parmesan cheese. Stir to mix.

Husband's Grade:
PointsPlus: 6 (for 1/6 of the casserole)

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Super Easy Chicken

And it was SUPER easy. I served this with a salad and a side of rice.

What's Needed:

4 FROZEN chicken breast halves
1 packet dry Italian salad dressing
1/2 C. Water

1. Place frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot. Sprinkle dry Italian salad dressing over the chicken. Add water.

2. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus: 3 (1 chicken breast)

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Edition: Cider Vinegar Chicken with Smashed Potatoes

One word: yummy :) This recipe comes from one of Rachel Ray's Cookbooks--namely: 365: No Repeats. The only thing in this recipe I did not make was the Watercress and Cucumber Salad. The boys and I loved this. It will be a definite repeat in our house!

2 lbs. small red-skinned potatoes
6 T. Extra-virgin olive oil
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 T. thyme
3 T. Honey
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1 can chicken broth
1/2 C. half-and-half
3 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Cut the potatoes in half an dplace in a pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Place lid on the pot and bring water to a boil.

2. Salt the water and potatoes. Leave the lid off the pot and cook at a rolling boil until tender, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 T. olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken. Place on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Add more olive oil (about 1 T.), the onions, thyme, honey, and garlic. Season onions with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for 8 minutes. They should be brown and caramelized by the end.

5. Add the cider vinegar and chicken broth. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Return chicken to skillet and cook in the sauce for 10 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.

6. Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot. Add the half-and-half and butter to the potatoes and smash with a fork or potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 20 (for 1 chicken breast half, some onions/sauce, and 1/4 of the potatoes)

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats--A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners

Thursday, August 12, 2010

China Dish

I'm really not sure what Chinese dish this is supposed to emulate, but it was a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.

What's Needed:
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 10 3/4 oz. can low-fat cream of chicken soup
1 10 3/4 oz. can low-fat cream of mushroom soup
3 1/2 C. water
1 C. frozen onion
1 C. brown rice, uncooked
3 T. low sodium soy sauce

1. Brown ground beef in a non-stick skillet.

2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir to blend.

3. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Makes 6 servings.

Husband's Grade: B (He's not fond of Chinese, but enjoyed this dish)
PointsPlus: 7

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Single Serving Caprese-like Salad

I've had a major craving for tomatoes and string cheese lately, especially since my neighbor was so kind as to let us have all of the ripe tomatoes in her garden while they were on vacation. I like Caprese salads (when done right), so I decided to give it a go. All measurements are approximate, as this was a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of cooking day.

What's Needed:
About 5 ripe Roma tomatoes (or cherry or grape--any small kind will do)
2 Low-Fat String Cheese
1 Chicken breast half
3 T. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
Pinch of salt

1. Cut tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Place in a medium bowl and season with a little salt.

2. Cut string cheese into bite-sized pieces. Place in the bowl with tomatoes. Toss with Italian seasoning and Balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat.

3. In a small skillet, cook one chicken breast half in extra virgin olive oil. Season with Italian seasoning.

4. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the bowl and mix well.

Enjoy! Serves 1.

MY Grade: A-
PointsPlus: 5 points

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Easy Shepherd's Pie

This is one of my husband's favorite meals. If we hit an Irish pub (which we do once in a very great while), he is sure to get this. If you have your ground beef browned ahead of time, the prep time is pretty quick. Very easy to prepare ahead of time, and then cook later for dinner.

What's Needed:
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 8-oz. carton dairy sour cream
3/4 C. water
2/3 C. frozen carrots, thawed
2/3 C. frozen peas, thawed
2/3 C. frozen corn, thawed
2 C. packaged instant mashed potato flakes (I used Betty Crocker Butter & Herb Potatoes for this recipe)
1.5 C. water
1/4 C. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Sprinkle of paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. In a large skillet, cook ground beef until cooked through, using a spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat.

3. Stir the 1/4 C. flour and dry onion soup mix into meat.

4. Stir in cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, 3/4 C. water, and all veggies. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the 1.5 C. water, the butter, and salt. Bring to rapid boil. Remove from heat. Add dry potato flakes and milk, stirring until combined.

6. Stir in eggs, 1 C. flour, and baking powder.

7. Spoon meat mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Spoon potato mixture in mounds over meat mixture. Spread mounds of potatoes together to form a crust over the meat. Sprinkle paprika over the top of the potatoes.

8. Bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown on top.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 9 for 1/8 of the casserole.

Inspired by: 9x13 The Pan That Can

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chicken-Potato Casserole

School's beginning soon (eek! 20 days left!), so I'm back to crockpot recipes with the occasional casserole in the oven to mix things up.

This recipe tasted very similar to my mom's 'Holiday Potatoes'. The only thing it was missing: crushed cornflakes over the top. I might have to try that next time :)

What's Needed:
Nonstick cooking spray

1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup (you can also use cream of chicken soup)

1 8-oz. carton sour cream

3 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup)
3 oz. shredded swiss cheese (about 3/4 cup) **I used Artisan Blend: Shredded Swiss and Guyere for this recipe**

1 28 oz. package frozen diced hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers, thawed
3 C. chopped smoked or roasted chicken or turkey (about 1 lb.)

1. Lightly coat the inside of your crockpot with the nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine soup, sour cream, and cheese. Stir in potatoes and chicken.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 6

Inspired by: The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book