Spinach and Artichoke Mac & Cheese

I love spinach and artichoke dip and I love mac and cheese – so why not put them together for dinner!!

Spinach and Artichoke Mac & Cheese

Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese

1 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. bag frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 12 oz. jar chopped (or quartered) artichoke hearts
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 cups milk (I use skim)
1-1/4 cups shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish with non stick spray.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package (I omit the salt). While the pasta is cooking, place a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add the olive oil and then the onions. Saute the onions for about 10 minutes; until they are soft. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 -3 minutes. Add the spinach and artichokes; season with nutmeg and pepper; mix well. Saute until the veggies are warm and well combined (3 – 4 minutes). Place all into a plate and reserve.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain, put pasta back in the pot and then add this veggie mixture to the pasta; blend well and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the butter. When the butter is mostly melted, sprinkle in the flour and, using a wire whisk, mix well. You will have what looks like crumbs in the pan. Let this cook for 2 – 3 minutes, keeping everything moving and letting the pan get fairly hot. Start adding the milk a little at a time, whisking well after each addition and making sure everything is smooth; letting the pan heat back up again before adding the next milk addition (this will help the sauce stay smooth and lump free). Once you have added all of the milk, add in the Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano and whisk until smooth.

Add the sauce to the pasta/veggie mixture and put it all into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of Mozzarella over the top, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, turn on the broiler for about 3 – 4 minutes to brown the top (watch very carefully!!).

 

 

Salmon Scampi

Salmon Scampi

Salmon Scampi
Salmon Scampi

 

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons margarine (I use Smart Balance Light)
2 – 6 oz. Salmon filets
1/2 cup onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (or you can eliminate the wine and use 2 cups of chicken broth)
1-1/2 cups fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti, cooked according to package directions (no salt)

Heat the olive oil over medium in a skillet, melt in the butter. Add Salmon; season with a little cracked black pepper and  a sprinkle of  garlic powder. Saute over medium heat and break up the filets as they cook. When the Salmon  is about half cooked add onions and continue sauteing until the salmon is almost done and the onions are soft. Now add the garlic, pepper flakes, basil; continue sauteing for another minute or two. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and then add the broth and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes. Pour entire mixture over cooked pasta; mix well. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan!

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna – 143

Yesterday Eric and I took a trip to the new Whole Foods that just opened in our area. It’s actually a new location for the Whole Foods that we’ve been visiting for years. Yesterday was the Grand Opening – how could we resist? We made a big list, loaded up the car with our canvas grocery bags and we were on our way!

There was one small crimp in our plan…I had forgotten to write down directions to the new location…ooops 😳 We were almost at the old location when I realized my mistake. Not to worry – I have a GPS and Google Maps on my phone, a couple of wrong turns later and we arrived at our destination. Wow, this place is huge and the parking lot was packed (at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon – doesn’t anyone work any more?).

The first thing we realized when we walked in was that we had no idea where anything was located. Oh well, they had plenty of samples – fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, cheeses….mmmm. As we made our way around this giant food heaven, I started realizing that our cart had a lot more in it than we had on the list – but how can you resist? The produce is spectacular. I found a huge container of fresh baby spinach and I decided that we were going to cook a vegetarian lasagna for dinner! A few minutes later we arrived at the “Olive Bar” and I saw some beautiful roasted red peppers; another great addition to my lasagna.

Once we arrived at home we had the monumental task of putting away all of this good food and then getting in a P90X workout! We did it, a kick-ass P90X+ Intervals workout, followed by creating a huge pan lasagna, followed by a great bath, followed by eating this amazing creation with a glass of red wine – what a perfect ending to the day 🙂

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna

 

1 – 8 oz. box whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions, no salt
1 – 28 oz. can tomato puree (I finally found a large can with no salt – Dei Fratelli brand)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
6 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fat free cottage (or ricotta) cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fat free feta cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups Mozzarella cheese ( I use 1 cup fat free and 1 cup of regular)
1 large roasted red pepper, sliced into julienne strips

Preheat oven to 375°, spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the tomato puree, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and oregano; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; saute until onion is soft and mushrooms begin to lightly brown, season with basil and oregano. Add in the baby spinach – you’ll need to do this a little at a time. It seems like a ton of spinach, but once it cooks down it’s just right. Once all the spinach has been added and is cooked down; take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool slightly. In another large bowl mix the cottage cheese, Parmesan, egg, and black pepper; then add in the cooled spinach mixture and blend well.

Now you’re ready to assemble it – put a very thin layer of the puree mixture on the bottom of your prepared 9″ x 13″ pan, followed by a layer of lasagne noodles, spread the noodles with 1/3 of the cheese/spinach mixture, add several strips of roasted red pepper, a layer of Mozzarella – continue until all of the noodles are used up; ending with a last layer of sauce followed by Mozzarella on top. I also added a few last strips of the roasted red pepper on the very top.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour. Take the foil off and place under the broiler for about 1 minute to lightly brown the top. Now the hardest part – let it sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it. 😆

 

 


Quick ‘n Easy Chicken Parm – 144

My son came over the other night to watch the Celtics play off game against the Nicks. Just like during football season, we like to DVR the game and watch it without commercials (who wants to watch commercials?). While we were waiting for the recording to get to a point where we wouldn’t “catch up” to it by fast forwarding; we had time to listen to some albums (yes, actual vinyl) and cook a great dinner. I was still recovering from my cold and I was going to just make a quick Chinese stir-fry, but my son suggested “how about chicken parm?”. What a great idea! I hadn’t made it in a long time and my blog is in dire need of some new recipes- perfect! It came together super fast and before you know it we were enjoying an awesome meal and a great Celtics play off win 🙂

 

Quick ‘n Easy Chicken Parm

1 – lb. 99% fat-free chicken breast, cut into “finger” like strips
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 Tablespoon grated, low-fat Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 – 12 oz. package sliced Portobello mushrooms
2 – 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
3 – 8 oz. cans tomato sauce, no salt added
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 Tablespoons grated, low-fat Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup fat-free Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 – 16 oz. package of any 100% whole wheat pasta (I used Rotini), cooked according to package directions – no salt)

 

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic, onion and mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. (**note** my awesome sous chef is very particular about prepping our chicken, he makes sure that only the best pieces are cut for the recipes and any yucky fat or unpleasant looking veins and tendons are cut out. Sometimes this means that along with these perfect “finger” size strips, I also get some small pieces that don’t really work for breading and baking. This happened with this meal, so I jut took all of the small pieces and sauteed them with the veggies – problem solved!) Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Cook for several more minutes, until hot and bubbly. Add 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined.

While the sauce is simmering, place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Combine break crumbs and 2 Tablespoons Parmesan on a plate. Dip chicken pieces in egg and then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place chicken on the rack. Bake in oven for approximately 10 – 14 minutes. When done; top with shredded Mozzarella and cook for a couple of more minutes, just until the cheese melts.

Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta (reserving some sauce for the chicken) and mix well. Serve with chicken strips on the side top each piece with some reserved tomato sauce.


Pasta Sauce – 147

Last week a friend of mine posted a comment on facebook that she was cooking a big “gravy” (apparently that is Italian for “sauce”) complete with meatballs and sausage. This sounded pretty good to me, not too healthy ( 🙄 ), but good. Also, since I don’t eat beef or pork I would be leaving that out. I love all types of pasta (again as my friend pointed out – all pasta is actually “macaroni”) and a fresh homemade sauce sounded like dinner! Since I’m Irish/French and Eric is Italian/French and we’re both into eating healthy; this sauce was going to be a combo of Italian/French/Mediterranean/P90X. I prefer my sauce to be more “chuncky-saucy” and less “gravy” so my first step was to enlist my favorite prep cook to chop up some veggies. I also don’t add salt or products containing salt (whenever I can avoid it) to anything, so I am forced to use small cans of tomato sauce. It’s a pain and very wasteful. If anyone knows where I can get no-salt added tomato sauce in cans larger than 8 oz. I will give you a free copy of this cookbook when it’s finished!

Pasta Sauce

 

1 – 1/4 lbs. 99% fat-free ground turkey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground savory
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
4 – 8 oz. cans no-salt added tomato sauce
5 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, season with next 9 ingredients and saute until cooked through and nicely browned. In the meantime, in a very large skillet or dutch oven; heat the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and add the garlic, onion, mushrooms, and peppers; season with the next 4 ingredients. Saute until the peppers are tender crisp. Add the 4 cans of tomato sauce and 2 cans of the diced tomateos. Place the remaining 3 cans of tomatoes into a blender or food processor and puree them (if I could buy tomato puree with no salt I could eliminate this step). Add the tomato puree to the veggie mixture and blend. Once the turkey is done, add that to the tomato/veggie mixure and mix well. Turn heat to very low and simmer for as long as you can stand it (the smell will be making you crazy 🙂 ). Cook up some whole wheat “macaroni” (pasta) of your choice and enjoy! This makes a TON of sauce, so for the next week or so I’m making Pizza’s, Lasagne, more pasta….yummy!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo – 149

What a crazy few weeks it’s been, in a good way. My website company is super busy – thank you to all of my wonderful new clients for choosing Just Ducky Designs for your on line advertising! I’ve also been working very closely with my favorite website client The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide (full disclosure here – he’s also my husband 😛 ). We just launched the new online store where you can purchase an advance copy of the book and/or Eric’s CD “Songs Without Words” (individual downloads are also available). Also added to the site is a PDF preview of the actual book, click here to take a look. We are very excited to announce that April 18th is the official release date! Be sure to check out the store and purchase your advance copy to insure that you will be among the first to receive the book (buying it in advance will also help us pay for the upfront printing costs 😳 ).

OK, enough about all that – back to recipes!! The other night as Eric was prepping and I was cooking this delicious meal, I realized that I hadn’t added it to the blog yet. I’ve been making this recipe forever and it’s one of our favorites. It’s yummy, satisfying, and so easy. I hope it will become one of your favorites too!

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
(or as Eric calls it – Chick-Broc-Alf)

 

4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 – lb. chicken breast, cubed
2 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup low-fat Parmesan cheese, grated

1 – 16 oz. package whole wheat pasta (I used bow ties for this); cooked according to pkg. directions – no salt

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the broccoli, season with half of the pepper, basil, and oregano; cook for 2 -3 additional minutes. Add the chicken broth; mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp (you don’t want mushy broccoli). Place broccoli mixture into a bowl and keep warm (there will still be a small amount of broth left, keep most of it with the broccoli but leave a little in the saute pan. Add the chicken cubes to the saute pan (you might want to add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan); season with remaining pepper, basil and oregano. Saute until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove chicken to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Add almost all of the 2 cups of milk to the pan (reserve about 2 tablespoons of the milk), heat to very hot but not boiling. Mix cornstarch with the reserved milk and whisk into the hot milk in the pan. Continue stirring until the mixture starts to thicken; turn off heat. Whisk in the cheeses until well blended. Stir in the chicken/broccoli mixture and pour everything over the cooked and drained pasta. Serve with a little extra grated Parmesan!

Buffalo Mac & Cheese – 150

The good news is that I am 1/4 of the way to my goal of 200 recipes in 400 days. The bad news is that I only have 206 days to accomplish it 🙁 I will not be discouraged, I am going to keep going and (like Tony says in the P90X workouts) “Do my best and forget the rest”.

Another piece of good news is that I am now officially a “Foodbuzz” featured publisher! Take a look to the left of this post and you’ll see the badge. You can click on that link and see my profile on their website. There are also a ton of other food bloggers there who publish great recipes every day. I got the idea for this recipe from a fellow Foodbuzzer. I loved the idea of combining spicy buffalo chicken with a creamy mac & cheese. I simply needed to “healthy it up” a bit. It is still spicy, creamy, delicious and as comforting as any mac & cheese you’ve ever had 😉

 

1 – 16 oz. pkg. of any whole wheat pasta (macaroni is the obvious choice, but any short cut pasta will do; I used rotini in the photo)
1 – lb. 99% fat-free ground turkey (or chicken)
1/3 cup Franks Red Hot wing sauce
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance Light
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup shredded low-fat jalapeno cheddar cheese
2/3 cup fat-free cheddar cheese
1/3 cup low-fat blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup whole wheat dried bread crumbs (seasoned with 1 teaspoon chili powder)

Preheat oven to 350°

Saute the ground turkey in a skillet over medium high heat until cooked through and lightly browned. Turn heat down to very low and add the wing sauce; mix well. While the turkey is browning, cook the pasta according to package directions (no salt) and drain. Put the pasta back into it’s pan and add the turkey mixture; cover and keep warm. In the same skillet, on medium low heat, melt the smart balance. Sprinkle in the flour and cook and until well incorporated. Whisk in the milk and keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add in the cheese (one cheese at a time and whisk well after each addition). Pour cheese sauce over the pasta/turkey, mix well and then pour into a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish that has been sprayed with fat-free cooking spray. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top; cover and bake for 25 minutes; remove the cover and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes (until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned).

 

Shrimp Scampi – 155

Those of you who know me from New England probably remember a restaurant/bar called LJ’s. I remember (or at least partially remember) seeing Eric’s old band, Shockwave, playing there and dancing the night away with friends. I also recall getting there early sometimes and having dinner (yes, there was a time in my life when I ate “restaurant food”). My favorite item on the menu was their Shrimp Scampi. Looking back I remember that on the nights when I would order that for dinner, it was well into the night before I could drag my butt out of the chair and dance. The Scampi was delicious but it sat like brick in my stomach and made me feel more like lying down than dancing. On a side note – something I never thought of back then – I must have reeked of garlic after eating that meal, it’s a good thing Eric usually ate the same thing….a belated apology to anyone he or I may have offended with our garlic breath 😳 Anyway; this version of Scampi will not make you want to lie down and nap and it is (in my humble opinion) every bit as delicious as the LJ’s version….it will however give you serious garlic breath!

Shrimp Scampi


2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons margarine (I use Smart Balance Light)
1 – 2 oz. can anchovies, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 cups fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb. medium shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
1 lb. whole wheat linguine, cooked according to package directions (no salt)

Heat the olive oil over medium in a skillet, melt in the butter. Add anchovies, garlic, pepper flakes, basil, and parsley. Saute until the anchovies are melted and the garlic is soft. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add shrimp, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 7 – 10 minutes (until the shrimp are firm). Pour entire mixture over cooked pasta; mix well.


Paprika Chicken – 158

I’m back! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post or even been able to do much cooking…New Year’s started out so nice, Eric and I had a great New Year’s Eve at home – just the two of us – a few drinks, some snacks, music, dancing – just perfect. The next morning we slept late, had a great brunch of Polenta, Sausage & Egg. It was after we cleaned up from brunch that disaster struck. After putting everything away and starting the dishwasher, we went to our respective offices and checked our email (yes, we are addicted). Upon returning to the kitchen, Eric yelled (something along the lines of “Oh Shit!!), and I came running. The kitchen floor was covered in water. At first we thought the sink as leaking – nope, under the sink – nope…..oh no, it’s the dishwasher. We opened the dishwasher and found it still full of water (just a tip, it’s a bad idea to open the dishwasher when it’s full of water). We began to panic, it’s New Year’s Day, are we actually going to be able to find (or afford) a plumber on a holiday? Fortunately, Eric has a guitar player friend who is also a plumber. So, as much as he hated to bother him, Eric gave him a call. It turned out that he’d already been called out once that morning and was more than happy to come over and help us 😀 A few hours later we got the bad news. The water pipe running from our kitchen to our septic was going to have to be replaced. Apparently when the house was originally built they decided that a 40 foot length of pipe didn’t need to have any angle on it. Our plumber couldn’t come back with all of the necessary parts until Friday. So after almost a week without running water in the kitchen, we are now back in business.

So after that very long explanation, I’m back to being able to cook and wash dishes in my kitchen and get back to posting recipes. This is a new variation on something I made quite a long time ago. This is, of course, a healthy version at barely 300 calories per serving – what a great way to kick start your New Year’s Resolution to get healthy!!

Paprika Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 Tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 –  15 oz. can diced tomatoes, no-salt added
1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
1 – 12 oz. bag whole wheat noodles, cooked according to package directions (no salt)

In a plastic or paper bag combine the flour and black pepper. Place chicken in bag and shake well. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, add olive oil and coated chicken pieces. Cook until the chicken is lightly browned on each side. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms; continue cooking until the onions are softened and the mushrooms begin to brown. Add paprika, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and broth (reserve about a Tablespoon of the broth in a small bowl). Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes (this is a good time to cook the noodles). Stir cornstarch into the reserved broth until smooth. Add to the chicken mixture and stir continuously for 2 -3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Turn off heat. Mix in the yogurt. Pour mixture over the cooked noodles; mix well. Done!

Pastacos – 169

Sunday night we were getting ready to watch yet another Patriots game (which they won – 😀 ) and I need a meal that is worthy of eating during a football game (which means it needs to have a big fun factor and go nicely with Bud Light). I wanted to make tacos, but I was out of taco shells. Game time was approaching and we were all hungry, so I needed something that would come together quick. What I decided on is a combination of pasta and tacos…hence the name PAStacos. It’s quick, easy, and delicious!

Pastacos

 

1 lb. 99% fat-free ground turkey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1 – 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers
1 can fat-free refried beans
2 – 15 oz. cans no salt added diced tomatoes
1 – 8 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce
1 – 12 oz. box Rotini, cooked and drained (no salt added)
low-fat cheddar and/or jack cheese for topping

Brown turkey in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Season with chili powder, garlic, powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, oregano, paprika, cumin and black pepper. When the turkey is nicely browned and cooked through add jalapeno peppers, beans, tomatoes and sauce. Mix well and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add turkey mixture to cooked and drained pasta and toss well. Serve with shredded low-fat cheddar or jack cheese.