06 February 2010

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

I don't own ramekins. I know I should, but I don't. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked to borrow the 6 gorgeous ramekins I had stocked away in the cabinet of kitchen-crap-gathering-dust, and then she moved away rather abruptly and I wasn't able to get them back before a trail of Palouse dust gathered behind her U-Haul.


When the middle of winter blahs take over, I start craving chicken pot pie, and oddly enough, I start thinking about those ramekins. Since my two-person household can rarely finish off a massive chicken pot pie casserole, I've always wanted to make something like this. Since there's no crying over spilled milk (get it? the linked blog is aglassofmilk? I crack myself up), I went ahead and made a whole casserole.

The lucky part is that it was eaten within minutes....the whole thing. The recipe is yet another I adapted from Eating Well, and for convenience purposes (seriously, I had a stack of papers whining at me from my office desk, conveniently located within view of my kitchen--GRADE ME! GRADE ME!), I topped the casserole with store-bought buttermilk biscuits. My heart always flutters when I pop one of those tubes open--it's like Prince Albert in a can. It may be healthier and tastier to follow the homemade biscuit recipe in the original recipe, but as the Pioneer Woman might say about cutting corners on a busy night, it's really the only right thing to do.

Chicken Potpie Casserole
(original recipe at Eating Well)

3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 cup peeled baby carrots
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved*
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream**
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; cook, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned and their liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the onions and carrots to the pan. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in chicken (or turkey), peas, sour cream, salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a 2-quart baking dish.
3. Top with biscuits and bake the potpie until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*I used baby bella mushrooms because it's what I had on hand
**I substituted fat free sour cream and it didn't make much difference in consistency

The Naughty Blogger's Southwestern Salad

I've been a little absent from the blogosphere as of late, but in lieu of the usual "teaching is taking over my faculties" excuse, I'll just admit it: I've been naughty. If you all were my animals, you'd be standing by the front door with a leash in your mouth and soft eyes pleading for attention.

I haven't been naughty in the kitchen, however, and in my attempt to eat more healthfully during the winter months, I've been darn successful. When I eat fresh and healthy, I have more energy to grade, prepare for lecture, read, and every now and then, BLOG!! Here's hoping that energy keeps on coming.

I have a lot to catch up on this blog, so I'll start with one of my favorite light dinners, adapted from Eating Well. The original recipe called for beef, but I've used everything from leftover shredded chicken and ground chicken, to my favorite, ground turkey. I've listed the specific brand/type of ingredient where necessary, but it's pretty versatile. I had some feta to use up, and my husband prefers cheddar to top, but the saltiness of the feta is a lot like queso fresco (and in this neck of the woods, feta is a lot cheaper).

Southwestern Ground Turkey Salad
(adapted from Eating Well's Tex-Mex Taco Salad)

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. Muir Glen Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. canola oil
1 yellow onion (preferably sweet), diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. ground turkey
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Large handful chopped, organic cilantro
Small head organic romaine lettuce, shredded
Garden of Eatin Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
Crumbled feta to top (optional)


1. Mix salsa and sour cream together in a small bowl, and set aside. Heat oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic; cook until fragrant and then add ground turkey. Once cooked through, add tomatoes, spices and kidney beans. Cook until tomatoes are tender. Remove from heat.

2. Add some of the salsa-sour cream mixture and the chopped cilantro to turkey mixture, up to 1/2 cup. Toss salad greens with the remaining salsa-sour cream mixture and arrange among 2-3 plates. Top with meat mixture and arrange tortilla chips around the plates. Sprinkle with feta and enjoy!

03 January 2010

Veal Piccata = HEAVEN

First things first: 2nd wedding anniversary celebration!! Woot woot!

Now that I have that out of the way, wait--let me put away the balloons and streamers, and get down from this chair.

Okay. Veal Piccata. It's heaven.

I found some lovely veal cuts and immediately decided on this one. I even crossed off an already planned meal and a handful of ingredients I was going to buy about 30 seconds after I spotted them. I usually make this dish with chicken since it's cheaper, but I decided a little celebration deserved a little splurging. This isn't the rich, sinful version since I prefer a lighter sauce, but it's still pretty darn indulgent.

Veal Piccata
(adapted from Eating Well)

4 veal cutlets or around 1 lb. (see note below)
2 tbsp. + 1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
1/3 cup white wine
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp. capers
2 tsp. butter
6 oz. whole wheat pasta

1. In a bowl, whisk 2 tbsp. flour into chicken broth and set aside. Season veal cutlets with salt and pepper and coat with flour, shaking off excess. Cook cutlets in a large skillet coated with olive oil, about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove cutlets from the pan and keep warm.
2. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes, and transfer mushrooms to another plate. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente while mushrooms cook.
3. Add white wine and garlic to skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in broth and flour and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt to taste, and simmer until sauce thickens.
4. Stir in the mushrooms, butter, parsley and capers, and then toss cooked pasta with about half of sauce. Serve chicken on pasta and spoon remaining sauce over chicken.

01 January 2010

Forget Take-Out: Healthy Lemon Chicken at home for a healthy New Year

Entering a new year, I rarely ever make resolutions because they just don't seem plausible. I am, however, making one resolution: save money and eat out less. This is an easy resolution to keep since I don't eat out often and I budget my meals carefully every Sunday. But...I have an occasional addiction to kick.

I think I've mentioned my weakness for Chinese takeout before a number of times on this blog, but it deserves reiterating. I LOVE CHINESE TAKEOUT. Tortilla chips are my kryptonite and takeout is my secret love (not to be confused with my crushes on baby bok choy and mini muffins).

In my quest to reinvent a healthier version of takeout, I once again looked to my trusty friends at Eating Well. If you haven't checked out their recipes, you should. They're awesome.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry
(reprinted from Eating Well)

1 lemon
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 cup diagonally sliced carrots , (1/4 inch thick)
2 cups snow peas , (6 ounces), stems and strings removed
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1. Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. Add mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.