From my kitchen

 

Today is my crazy busy day – for work and for the girls.  Both of them have dance class and I have an afternoon of back-to-back conference calls. It makes for one tired mommy in the evening, that’s for sure.

To combat that, I try to do a little prep work ahead of time in the morning – preparing something yummy & healthy for dinner and planning out whatever else I need to for the rest of the day. It just saves my sanity and helps me to enjoy being with my kids more rather than stressing out and being cranky.

Today, I changed up my planned dinner. Usually, Thursdays are leftover nights (because it is easier to warm things up than cook from scratch when you’re running back and forth between school & the dance studio. can I get an amen?)

But today, I was thinking about the jumbo pack of mini-sub rolls I got at the warehouse store the other day… the same mini-sub rolls I just knew the girls would love for cute little sandwiches for lunch.  And the very same mini-sub rolls they most definitely do not like for their lunches – as evidenced by the returned, uneaten sandwiches two days this week. Sigh.

So, I was trying to figure out how I was going to use those rolls before they became a science experiment on my counter.  I don’t eat (much) bread and SuperMan is trying to cut back… which leaves quite the dilemma. Until you start to think about things like… garlic bread!

So, once my mind went to garlic bread, I decided to try out this new recipe I’d found on Pinterest – it’s for a crock pot ravioli casserole.  Perfect! And because I’m-a good-a little-a Italian girl, I have all the ingredients on  hand. (wink, wink)img_1962

With dinner planned out, I decided to tackle another looming kitchen problem. Bread.  I have gotten back on the wagon of making my own bread; partly to help Big Girl’s tummy issues and partly because it’s just so darn good.  But the problem is that Little Bit doesn’t like it and SuperMan isn’t wild about it (he’ll eat it, but I think he only does it because he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings).  They say it is too dense. Which, ironically, is what Big Girl and I love about it.

ANYWAY – I rummaged around and found an old bread recipe and decided to whip up another batch to see if I could make a lighter loaf.

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I made one as a cinnamon raisin bread and the other plain.  They’re cooling on the counter now, so we will see what the troops think when they return home tonight.img_1968

They sure SMELL GOOD – between the garlic and the bread, my house smells SO GOOD right now.

And speaking of garlic – here’s another fallen soldier:img_1967

I am going to have to start counting how many of these I go through in a year. I think I open a new one about every 2 months.

No vampire problems here, that’s for sure.

So, what’s going on in your kitchen this week?

 

Flying by the seat of my pants

My menu plan was out the window this week. Between travel over the weekend and the Labor Day holiday AND a raging cold, thinking about what to eat/cook this week was just beyond my capacity on Sunday or Monday.

So, I’ve been winging it.  Which is a little stressful, a lot more expensive, but is also blossoming my creativity. What can I cook with what I have on hand and without a trip to the fast-food takeout joints?Weight Watchers Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Tonight’s dinner?

Chicken Parmesan.

YUM.

I love Chicken Parm. It brings back memories from my (Italian) childhood. Lots of cheese, garlic, tomato sauce, and of course, chicken.

Today I tried a crock-pot recipe for Chicken Parmesan recipe. I checked out several “traditional” recipes and a few crock-style recipes and invented my own version.

One thing I did differently was that I did not bread my chicken. My grandmother may be watching from up above thinking this is a sacrilege but I was trying to eliminate the extra carbohydrates and I figured that was an easy way to do it. Besides, in the crock pot, the breading would’ve just turned to mush. And I don’t need bready mush – ever. 

I also didn’t make my traditional tomato sauce that I use for spaghetti and most anything else Italian I make.  (Grandma may decide to disown me now.)

I figured I was going to try the super-easy, super-simple method and see how it turned out. So, I just used an extra-large can of crushed tomatoes and seasoned them with some garlic, Italian seasoning and my Houston House Seasoning.

And, I used high-protein pasta.  I like Barilla Plus. They have an angel hair pasta, so that made the decision easy for me.  I like the fact that I’m feeding my family the extra protein and vitamins without the white flour and fillers in regular pasta.

The verdict?

Major yumminess.  And major easiness, too. A win-win as far as I’m concerned.

The kids loved it, too.

I served it with garlic bread and SuperMan will probably get a salad with his (when he gets home from work, that is)

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • 4-6 Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • Houston House Seasoning
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic (I use diced garlic in the jar but you can press 2-3 cloves fresh garlic)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of celery seed
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound of angel hair pasta
  • Garlic Bread (you can’t eat this without it!)

Preparation:

  1. Season chicken breasts with Houston House Seasoning.
  2. In a large skillet, brown chicken breasts in olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, sugar, celery seed, about 2 Tbsp of Italian seasoning and 2 Tbsp of minced garlic.
  4. Add your chicken to the slow cooker.
  5. Pour tomato mixture on top.
  6. Set your slow cooker on low and let the chicken cook for 6-8 hrs.
  7. When you are ready to serve, boil your pasta water and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  8. While the pasta is cooking, place the chicken breasts in an oven safe dish and top with about 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture on each breast. 
  9. Sprinkle some of the cheese on top of the chicken.
  10. Bake in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.
  11. Serve the chicken on a bed of pasta that has been topped with about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce that is left over in your slow cooker.

And here’s a link where you can print your own copy.

 

And, as my grandpa would say… mangi!

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