Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicken Ranch Pasta

Being a busy mom, I usually don't feel like cooking at the end of the day, so I LOVE meals that don't require much preparation, are quick to cook and include lots of veggies.

I got this recipe from my friend Joann and it is a perfect kid-friendly and mom-friendly meal. It will be added to our regular meal rotation. And FYI- I don't like cottage cheese in the slightest- but when it melts you cannot tell that it's cottage cheese, so don't let that ingredient stop you from trying it.

I halved her recipe because I only had half the cottage cheese required, we fed all 5 of us and still had a bowl of leftovers... so I'm including the halved version here...but she says it freezes well, so check out her site if you have a big family or are doing freezer meals.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
1/2 box Farfalle pasta (or any other pasta)
1-2 carrots, diced
1 crown broccoli, chopped
1 cup frozen peas or lima beans
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup ranch dressing (made from packet or other high quality brand)
Parmesan cheese, grated

Cube chicken and cook in saucepan over medium heat with a dash of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, and about 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper or other garlic seasoning. Cover and cook until chicken is no longer pink- about 10-15 minutes.

In a large pot, cook pasta according to directions. Add carrots and broccoli and cook until tender. Drain.

Add cottage cheese to the saucepan with the chicken. Stir until cheese is completely melted (mixture will be runny). Add ranch dressing and stir in pasta and veggies. Let sit 5 minutes until thickened.

If you have small children, this is where I stir in the frozen peas because they act as little ice cubes and cool the meal down. If you don't have heat-sensitive munchkins, go ahead and add the peas when you first stir in the pasta to the sauce.

Top with grated parmesan cheese (I didn't have any on hand and used feta- tasted just as delicious).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Almond Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting (and coconut oil!)

This is a good "plain" cupcake recipe. I am not much of a cake eater unless it's super moist or super flavorful- ok I really only eat cake for the frosting- and this frosting is YUM. So it really doesn't matter what cake you use underneath, but since you have to make something...you might as well make this...

You can substitute vanilla for the almond extract, I just wanted to add some extra flavor...(not that it needs it with a mountain of this yummy frosting!)

Almond (or Vanilla!) Cupcakes
1 cube butter, softenend
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (or vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar- let sit 10 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream sugar, butter and eggs. Sift dry ingredients then stir into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in buttermilk. Pour into 12-15 muffin cups (or 12 full size and a pan of mini muffins). Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
1 cube butter, softened
2 tablespoons crisco COCONUT OIL
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional but adds great flavor)
1-2 tablespoons milk

Cream butter and crisco coconut oil. Stir in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and milk until desired consistency and beat until fluffy. Add food coloring as desired.

Since embarking on my real food journey, I have discovered there are alternatives to crisco for this heavenly frosting, coconut oil! Doesn't affect the flavor at all, keeps the texture light and creamy, and is good for you! (Ok, so it doesn't reduce the effect of sugar- even organic sugar- but hey, it makes me feel better ;)

It is important that you use crisco coconut oil- many recipes call for 1/2 a cup- because it makes the frosting really fluffy, but I found that just 2 tablespoons was enough to do the trick without tasting like you're eating crisco. Here are pictures with and without the crisco- you can see that the one without starts to separate and is not as creamy as the one with crisco- so just close your eyes and add it- it's only 2T, and your arteries will be clogged if you make any of these desserts anyway ;)

                                   with Crisco                                                           without crisco

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

There is nothing I love more than dessert with cream cheese. These cupcakes are delicious especially with a mountain of cream cheese frosting on top! I think these might be the tastiest cupcakes I've ever had...YUM!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk + 1/2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
dash of lemon juice
milk to thin (1 to 2 T. at most)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you don't have buttermilk, mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes. In a bowl cream sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Stir in sour cream, buttermilk and food coloring (if you don't use enough food coloring they'll be pink velvet cupcakes)  Mix dry ingredients and stir into wet ingredients. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into muffin cups (makes 15-18 regular size cupcakes or a dozen regular and a pan of mini's). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla on high until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar. I think lemon juice is the difference between good and great cream cheese frosting. ). Start small and add a bit more until you get the right taste. Thin frosting with milk if necessary. If you frost using a large star tip you'll need a batch and a half of frosting (might as well make it two- it's a great excuse to make something else yummy...

And by the way- these freeze really well! Frost them, and put the whole cupcake pan in the freezer (flash freeze so the frosting doesn't smoosh). Once they're all frozen just put in a freezer bag and thaw whenever you get a craving. They taste just as good as the day you made them!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes

These are delicious cupcakes and I love the chocolate cream cheese frosting. Recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine. YUM.

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
2 eggs

Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Line 15 muffin tins or 12 regular muffin tins and 12 mini muffins.
Mix together flour, sugars, soda and salt. Boil water and pour over chocolate chips, butter and cocoa, stirring until chocolate is melted. Add sour cream, milk and eggs. Combine with dry ingredients and pour into muffin liners. Bake for 20 minutes, cool before frosting.

For frosting: melt chocolate chips in microwave. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar. Stir in chocolate and mix until smooth.
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