Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lasagna...Sort Of

Today, we invited my in-laws over for an impromptu Mother's Day. I already had this recipe planned and I knew I would have enough, so why not? I have heard of lasagna in the crockpot before, and when I saw this recipe in a slow cooker cookbook, I thought I would give it a try. After all, it has spicy in the title. Spicy is always welcome in our household.

I didn't want to spend the money and buy a whole package of Italian sausage ($4.99 a package, yikes!), so I decided to buy bulk sausage. It was much less expensive, and I was able to cook it along side the ground beef.

The recipe is very easy, with two steps. I opted to cook it on high rather than low, because I had church this morning and wouldn't have time to get everything in the pot before I left. I also undercooked the lasagna noodles by about 2 minutes because I knew they would continue to cook in the crock pot.
The results were very tasty! I would like a little more tomato, but I can't win every time right?

Spicy Lasagna
from: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook

10 ounce package lasagna noodles, broken into bite-size pieces, cooked
1 lb. group beef, browned
1/2 lb Italian sausage, sliced and browned
1 onion, chpped
1 clove garlic, minced
12 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 oz. cottage or ricotta cheese
16 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1.5 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1.5 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients in greased slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on low 7-9 hours, or High 3-5 hours.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For My Husband

My husband has been asking for this recipe for several weeks now. I have been putting it off because although it's extremely delicious, it's terrible for you. Crescent rolls, cheese and mayonnaise. What could be worse? I suppose a little in moderation won't kill a person and in my defense, we did eat salad with this.

This is a Pampered Chef recipe, and the first time I had it was about 10 years ago. I turned my nose up at it at first, until I actually tasted it. Wowee! It's good!

If you prefer, you can make this lighter by using the new low-fat crescent rolls they have on the market, and lower fat cheese as well as Smart Beat or Light mayo. I did a little bit of a combination. I didn't have Light Mayo, but I did use the lower fat crescents and the 2% cheese. So, I don't feel as guilty. It's still rather tasty with the lower fat items.

This is a fun recipe to assemble. For all you creative folks, you get to braid the dough! I like to make lattice top crusts on pies, so this is right up my alley. I would recommend using a dough roller of some sort to smooth out the crescent roll dough, but if you don't have one, that is totally fine too. I have an awesome pizza cutter so I used it to make the slits, and I also used it to cut the servings in the end. Don't you think it's awfully pretty? Too bad you have to cut into it!

I always pre-grill or pan grill the chicken. I like to add a little seasoning to it so it's not too bland. Also, in the recipe where it calls for the baking stone, you can substitute with a baking sheet. It works just as well : )
I do have to say that I love my baking stone, and it's gotten nice and dark (seasoned) over the years. My aunt's is nearly black because she uses it all the time.

The results are definitely worth it. I just hope my husband thinks so too. Perhaps a nice massage or a date out are in order?

Chicken Broccoli Braid
from: Pampered Chef

12 ounces cooked chicken, chopped (2 cups/about 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 packages (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine chicken, broccoli, red pepper and garlic in a bowl.
2. Add cheese to veggie mixture. Add mayonnaise, dill and salt; mix well.

3. Unroll one package of crescent rolls; do not separate! Arrange longest sides of dough across width of baking stone. Repeat with remaining package of dough. Roll dough to seal perforations. On longest side of baking stone cut dough into strips 1.5 inches apart, 3 inches deep. Leave 6 inches in the center for the filling.

4. Spread filling evenly over middle of dough. To braid, lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip one turn. Continue alternating strips to form braid. Tuck ends to seal braid.

5. Brush egg white over dough. Bake 25-28 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Healthy One!

I have been tired lately of my vegetable soup. Don't get me wrong, it's really good. But, after about the fifteenth pot, you get tired of it. Soup is such a great thing to take to work for lunches, so I decided to find a new favorite soup recipe.

Cue trusty Weight Watchers. I found this recipe in Simply the Best, a Weight Watchers cookbook I received for a gift several years ago. Most of the soup recipes were too many calories. I like to keep my soup at about 100 calories per cup. After hunting, I found the recipe below. This one is only 109 calories for a serving, and from what I can tell, a serving is more than one cup.

The only alteration I would suggest is a little more spice. I would add Tabasco, or even some red pepper flakes. This would also be delicious with some dill or fresh herbs. I just planted a vegetable and herb garden, so the next time I make this, hopefully I will have something to add from my garden! The only other thing is that I couldn't find the instant chicken broth the recipe called for, so I just substituted chicken bouillion.

The pictures didn't turn out spectacular, but this soup was delicious! I gave the recipe to several people at work (they are internet-uneducated and don't go online) and told them they MUST make it.

As always, enjoy!

Hearty Chicken-Vegetable Soup
from: Simply the Best by Weight Watchers

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added
3 packets low-sodium instant chicken broth and seasoning mix
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large nonstick saucepan or Dutch oven, bring the tomatoes, broth mix and 6 cups water to a boil. Add the carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, macaroni, and garlic; return to a boil, stirring as needed. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, strring as needed, until the vegetables and macaroni are tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Increase the heat and stir in the chicken, parsley, salt and pepper; return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.