Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

I have to say that one of the most comforting meals in the whole wide world is alfredo. What's not comforting, however, is how your pants will fit after eating alfredo. I've tried making various "healthy" versions, but they've all ended up very runny and not too tasty. So when I found this recipe on, what else, Pinterest, I was pretty nervous and almost immediately assumed it'd be really gross, especially because it's vegan (ok, when I say vegan, I pretty much mean non-dairy. Don't tell your husband, boyfriend, or kids, they won't know the difference!). MAN OH MAN WAS I WRONG!!! It was INCREDIBLE!!! I added chicken and roasted tomatoes to give it some extra flavor and protein, and it was absolutely perfect. It was super simple and honestly took about 30 minutes from start to finish, and was a very easy clean-up. This will go down in history as the BEST alfredo sauce I've ever made and probably one of the best YOU'LL ever have!

What you'll need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups broccoli
1 box fusili (or any other pasta with ridges to hold on to the sauce)
4 tbs. minced garlic
4 tbs. grape seed oil
2 tbs. flour
1 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup garlic aioli (or non-fat Greek Yogurt)
Kosher salt & pepper
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 2 tbs. of the oil over medium heat and 
brown the chicken. Set aside. After about 10 minutes, cut into bite-size pieces.
2. Boil a pot of water and cook your pasta. In the mean time, toss the tomatoes with some olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Broil for about 5 minutes and set aside.
3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic until is brown (about 2 minutes). Add the flour and whisk for about 2 minutes. 
4. Whisk in the creamer, broth, and aioli (if you're going to use parmesan, now is the time to add it). 5. Once the sauce thickens, after about 5 minutes, add the cooked pasta using a slotted spoon (DON'T DISCARD THE WATER YET!!!). 
6. To the pasta water, cook your broccoli. It will go FAST, about 5 minutes MAX!!!. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with the pasta.
7. Add the chicken and tomatoes, top with a little more parmesan and voila!

enjoy :)

Balsamic Cream Chicken

I know this is going to seem totally silly, but sometimes I get a little intimidated by chicken. Unlike red meat, you CAN undercook chicken and get sick from eating it that way. You all know I love my steaks rare, but you dare not eat a rare piece of chicken. With that said, I get quite nervous that I'll under or overcook it whenever I make it. It's never really happened, but it's still a silly fear. Anyways, I found this amazing chicken on Peace Love and Low Carb but adapted it so that it's even healthier and vegan!!! No, I'm not crossing over to the dark side of veganism (did you NOT read two sentences earlier when I went on a rant about meat?!), but many of the sauces I make are quite healthy and just so happen to be low carb. This is a very elegant meal, totally inexpensive, and absolutely DELICIOUS!!!

What you'll need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbs. margarine

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs. grape seed oil
1 lb. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 cup non-dairy creamer
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

3 tbs. garlic aioli (you can leave this out or substitute with non-fat Greek Yogurt)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Kosher salt & pepper

1. Heat a large pan over LOW heat and caramelize your onions (this will take a while, please be patient and do it correctly!!! Which means slowly over low heat).
2. In a separate pan, heat the margarine over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Once the margarine is bubbling, brown chicken on both sides then set aside (do NOT cook it all the way through, just BROWN IT! It will cook later in the sauce).
3. In the same pan, deglaze with the veggie broth (this will get all of the good bits of flavor off of the bottom of the pan) and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bottom bits off of the pan.
4. Add the mushrooms, creamer, aioli, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Whisk everything together, then let simmer and thicken for about 10 minutes (if it does not look like it's thickening, do NOT freak out!!! It WILL thicken when you add the chicken).
5. Add the chicken back to the pan, along with the caramelized onions, salt, and pepper. Let simmer for 15 minutes (this is when it WILL thicken). Right before serving, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and it will REALLY thicken up!
6. Keep the balsamic theme going with some green beans and serve immediately! 
enjoy :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Last Christmas, my mom got a whole bunch of gifts from William's Sonoma, some of which she decided to return. Of course, by October of this year, she still hadn't bought anything with her store credit. So last week I went in to use it and get a new crock pot. I was pleasantly distracted with their cooking classes that was occurring. They were making butternut squash risotto. I was DROOLING!!! it smelled incredible!!! I knew I had to go home and recreate it. Risotto is a pretty intimidating dish but, fear not, it is really not that difficult, just time consuming. So home I went to make dinner. To make it my own, I added a little parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, and truffle oil (I couldn't help myself!). Needless to say, this would make a WONDERFUL side dish, or even main course, at your next holiday party. The butternut squash has such a comforting taste and smell. This was a definite hit! Oh, and it's vegan!

What you'll need: 
1 box Arborio rice (risotto rice)
8 cups low sodium veggie broth (or whatever the directions are on the box of rice)
4 tbs. vegan butter
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 butternut squash, cut in half

1. Preheat the oven to 475*. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out the insides, and season with salt and pepper (some people do brown sugar but I didn't want to overpower the risotto). 
2. In the holes of each side of the squash where the seeds were, drop in 2 tbs. butter. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
3. Cook your risotto according to the directions on the box. This is the time to caramelize your onions, too. Remember, it will take anywhere from 35-40 minutes to PROPERLY caramelize them.
4. When finished cooking cooking, remove the insides of the squash and puree in a blender until smooth. Add to the risotto along with the caramelized onions.
5. Continue to cook until the risotto is fully cooked. DO NOT OVERCOOK!!! It will dry out!!!
6. Drizzle with the truffle oil, combine thoroughly, and serve IMMEDIATELY!!!

enjoy :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Challah French Toast

Every week I find myself coming home with a fresh loaf of Challah. Unfortunately, nobody really eats it so there are now about 4 half loaves in the freezer. This weekend, I wanted to make good use of the fresh one I had just come home with. I could take the easy route and just make some toast or a sandwich. BUT, I knew exactly what to do. French Toast!!! Who doesn't like French Toast (that's right, NOBODY!)? Honey, vanilla, and some creamer make it sinfully sweet and delicious. I found this recipe originally from the Barefoot Contessa but I made it a little healthier (non-dairy creamer instead of real milk). You can really use any soft bread you want but nothing works as well as Challah. You could be REALLY naughty and use chocolate chip challah, but we didn't have any yet. Make as individual slices of French Toast or pour into a casserole dish and make a French Toast bake; either way, everyone will be satisfied!

What you'll need:
8 pieces challah
2 extra large eggs
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 tbs. GOOD honey
Pinch Kosher salt
1 tbs. Smart Balance (or other margarine)

1. Heat a large griddle or pan over medium heat. In a large bowl, mix together the creamer, eggs, vanilla, honey, and salt.
2. Soak each slice of bread in the mixture (it's easy if you put it in a baking dish and pour the mixture over the bread). Let sit for a few minutes so the bread soaks everything up.
3. Melt the butter on the griddle or pan and let each slice cook for about 2-3 minutes per side (or until it's golden brown).
4. Top with some good quality maple syrup and powdered sugar and serve immediately!
enjoy :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallots

I have made quite a few different types of mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower. My naughty mashed potatoes are a HUGE hit with my family, as are the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I made the roasted garlic mashed potatoes for dinner the other night but I wanted to jazz them up. I was sort of in the mood for onion rings but did NOT want to make as much of a mess. So I thinly sliced up some shallots, melted some butter and oil, and let them slowly crisp up for about 20 minutes. They added a wonderfully crunchy topping which everyone picked off of the top of the bowl (can't say I blame them!). The crispy shallots will go great on top of mashed cauliflower, too. And, they're a MUCH healthier alternative to gravy.

What you'll need:
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tbs. butter, melted
3 tbs. canola oil

1. Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat, until the butter is melted. Lower the heat to low, add the shallots and sauté until they are brown. Continue to stir the onions every few minutes so they don't burn!
2. Line a plate with some paper towels. Using a slotted spoon (spoon with holes!), put the shallots on the paper towel and let the butter drain off.
3. As they sit, they'll firm up and get super crunch. Put them on top of the potatoes and chow down!

enjoy :)

Avocado Chicken Salad

I rarely have time to make my lunches in the morning so if we have any sort of chicken for dinner on Sunday night, I usually pre-make salads of some sort. We had some gorgeous avocados so I wanted to incorporate them into my lunch, but I was a bit sick of regular salads. The creamy texture of avocados paired perfectly with the chicken and some crunchy celery. You can certainly omit the avocados if you're not a fan, but they really do make everything seem a little more fancy. I just had this by itself with some sliced cucumbers as a utensil, but you can definitely put some cheese on top and make a delicious panini or sandwich or even on top of a bed of mixed green salad!

What you'll need:
1 ripe avocado
1 cup chopped chicken, cooked
2 tbs. light mayo
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 purple onion, minced

1. Slice off the tops of the avocados, then cut all the way around. Cutting off the top will make it MUCH easier to take the whole thing apart. Use a spoon to scoop out the inside and dice into pieces that are about the same as the chicken. Place in a bowl.
2. To that bowl, add the minced onion, rinsed and chopped celery, mayo, and chicken.
3. Mix together and serve with bread, cucumbers, crackers, or whatever your tummy desires!

enjoy :)