recipe

I am a horrible person/Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake

I am a horrible person/Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake

Don’t hate me.

No really, don’t. It has been [insert unfathomable number of days here] since my last post. This makes me a horrible person and a really bad blogger. One of those people who never gets sponsors or subscribers or friends. Hello have you met me? I plant flowers [more on that soon, I swearonmymother] and have cats. They’re pretty much the only things that can depend on me… and the flowers are questionable. I promise I’m going to make an effort to do better with this blogging thing because [gasp] people have been asking for it. That’s right, you asked for it.

Now that the self-loathing portion of this post is over, let’s talk about a recipe I just tried out. I follow a lot of lovely blogs on bloglovin’. It’s a problem. My feed is filled with food, fashion, exercise (ha, okay, maybe one of those kinds of blogs), and even some blogs qualified as “lifestyle” which I think means “whatever I feel like telling you about today.” So yeah, I’m a lifestyle blogger, y’all. One food blogger I find myself going back to over and over again is Plain Chicken (aka Stephanie). I was pretty excited when I found out she’s from Alabama! I was kinda pissed when I found out she’s an Auburn fan. Despite her flaws, she makes good food and updates her blog very regularly (shut up). Check her out at http://www.plainchicken.com

This weekend she posted her weekly menu and it included a Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake that she adapted from a Southern Living recipe. My mom always told me I need to eat things with color (as she filled my plate with a baked potato, a piece of chicken, and corn… sorrynotsorry, mom) so I initially felt a little guilty about making this. It’s colorless. It’s also loaded with calories and things that are insanely bad for you. Not one, not two, but THREE cheeses. Alfredo. Sour cream (which, by the way, I loathe – but after a quick Instagram conversation with Stephanie @PlainChicken, she assured me I wouldn’t be able to taste it. She doesn’t lie!). Okay fine. It sounded delicious. I promised myself I would eat it in tiny portions over the next week. Or two. Freeze half of it?

Here are the details (copied and pasted exactly from Plain Chicken’s website):

1 (16-ounce) package penne or elbow macaroni
2 (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 garlic clove, minced
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Stir together all ingredients except mozzarella cheese. Spread mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

My notes: The recipe above will easily feed 12+ people. I split the recipe in half and would say it made 6-8 single servings. I only had the little spiral-y pasta (very scientific: spiral-y) at my house so that’s what I used and it was fantastic. I know there’s a pasta guru out there who will tell me why you should or shouldn’t use certain shapes of pasta in certain dishes but to me, it’s all the same. Use what you have or what you like! I like garlic. I don’t like buying a whole head of garlic just to use a clove or two. My solution? Buy a jar of minced stuff. It keeps *forever*, the measurement guide is right on the jar (ie 1/2 a teaspoon equals one minced clove. I think. Maybe you shouldn’t quote me on that.), and your fingers don’t get all stinky. I use Spice World brand and it’s fab. Get some. I forgot to mix the parm into the mixture so I sprinkled it on top with the mozz; it was fine. I had the carton of eggs on the counter but forgot to add the egg; it was fine. I am obviously awesome at following step-by-step directions. If you want your cheese to get brown and a little toasty on top, you’ll probably have to turn on the broiler for like two minutes and fifteen seconds. I’m not kidding. Watch that sucker. Broilers don’t mess around. Two minutes and sixteen seconds and you’re ordering a pizza.

Verdict: this stuff is good. It’s better than your standard “dump a can of condensed soup and some chicken into dish” kind of casserole. Mine actually came out a little dry. It could be because I didn’t use quite as much sour cream as it called for (it’s gross and I didn’t trust Stephanie. I’m sorry.). It’s also possible that I suck at measuring pasta and I used a little too much. If you have a magical way to measure pasta, namely the spiral-y kind, please share.

PS please excuse the not-so-pretty picture. This is not my favorite depiction of this dish. You’ll live. I’m a *lifestyle blogger* not a photographer, remember?

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Pina Colada Smoothie

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I spent two years living in Albuquerque, NM. They were two of the hardest and best years of my life! I learned so much about being independent: finding a job, making new friends (from scratch!), going to a new school, and all of this done in a place where almost no one has eaten a biscuit or cares about football. New Mexican food is truly unique in that it utilizes lots of local peppers, namely the green chile (which can range in heat from mild to ridiculously slap your mother hot), and spices to make it taste like no other Mexican or Tex-Mex you’ve ever had. At first, those of us who are used to fast food joints like Taco Casa or “Mexican” restaurants in Alabama may not appreciate the flavors of New Mexican cuisine. However, it doesn’t take long for it to get in your blood and trust me, it never leaves! It has been eight years (holy crap!) since I have lived in that colorful city and I still crave the food!

Now that I have your mouth-watering for chiles and Mexican food, let’s talk about smoothies!! One habit I picked up in New Mexico was replacing meals with smoothies. I’m not sure if this is more common out West or if they just make better smoothies out there but I have yet to find a good smoothie joint in Alabama. My favorite place in Albuquerque was called Keva Juice and my favorite drink was a Keva Kolada. I remember on those hot desert days, there was really nothing more satisfying!

When I moved back to Alabama, I was set on duplicating the recipe (since I couldn’t find one online). It took a ridiculous amount of trial and error. I even made a friend of mine in Albuquerque go to Keva Juice and stalk one of the workers while he/she made a Keva Kolada!! I think my ingredients are slightly different from the original, but the taste is deliciously similar!

All of this being said, the recipe I’m posting below is purely for taste. I’ve recently started running [more on that later; I’d like to know if I can write a definitive success or fail verdict before I go into great detail about it] and I’m sure there’s a way to make this thing more healthy! Protein powder (or Greek yogurt, but I think the stuff may as well be sour cream – so more power to you Greegurt lovers but I’m not one!) would be the easy way, but I know some people swear that you can “hide” spinach and kale and all sorts of things in smoothies. What do you think?

[Or you could always go the complete opposite direction and add rum… drunk running could be a sport. No judgment.]

Also, I highly recommend the Cuisinart Immersion Blender for this little project. It’s brilliant for smoothies, soups, (say it with me) hhhkkkummmus, and milkshakes. It comes apart for storage and the DISHWASHER (sold!!). And oh my gosh so many pretty colors. The instructions don’t tell you about the obligatory first time user mess, so just be aware, stop pushing the button before you pull it out of whatever you’re mixing. Every time. Trust me. Do it. Every. Time.

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I was going to pour the smoothie into a pretty glass for the picture but come on, I was starving and I know y’all really didn’t want me to dirty up another dish! Plus this way you get to see the cool measuring/mixing cup that comes with the Cuisinart blender. Yes, I drank the smoothie straight out of it and it was delicious.

For a 12 – 16oz drink:

4 – 6oz pineapple juice
One small banana, chopped
3 heaping spoonfuls non-fat vanilla yogurt (not the frozen kind)
4 or 5 heaping spoonfuls pineapple sherbet
One spoon sweetened coconut flakes (a little goes a long way)

I don’t add ice to this drink. If it’s too thin, add more sherbet a spoonful at a time.

Snow Day & Enchiladas!

Snow Day & Enchiladas!

Okay, so if you haven’t heard about all of the snow down South, you live under a rock. I also want to know where this rock is so I can come visit to get away from my mother in law. You know, when I get a MIL. Although, I’m sure my MIL will be *splendid*. Moving on…

We got to leave work at 11:30 yesterday because the forecast went from “light dusting” to “EVERYBODY PANIC!” It took everyone I know anywhere from two hours to never-made-it-past-the-hill-let’s-turn-this-party-bus-around to get home. Thankfully, I chose some very random back roads to weave my way home and, by the grace of God, I made it without incident. If the conditions hadn’t been so dangerous, it actually would have been a beautiful scene. I love how quiet everything is when there’s a layer of snow on it!

Eventually, work announced that there would be no work today and I immediately did my happy SNOW DAY dance! Of course, it was tempered by my “and also Lord, I pray for those who are currently stranded on the interstate” dance. Because whoa, there were lots of people stranded in lots of places. My brother and sis-in-law were stuck at their respective places of employment overnight while many others were peeing in bottles in their cars (because yes, that’s what I think of… where will they pee?!) until traffic cleared up.

Anyway, with an impending mid-week snow day, I decided it would be the perfect time to attempt a new recipe a friend had passed along. Baked enchiladas filled with cheese and salsa and chicken! My friend’s exact recipe is in this post below, but here is how it went down for me:

First, don’t forget to grease the pan. I’m not confirming or denying that this happened to me, but should it happen to you, it might suck. Grease the pan.

Second, the recipe calls for 6-inch tortillas. Those are wee baby tortillas. I couldn’t find that size in the flour variety (and let’s be real, flour tortillas > corn tortillas). So I ended up with four pretty big enchiladas rather than 6-8 that the recipe predicts. All was good in the hood; the chicken filling is pre-cooked so the size of your enchiladas is moot, irrelevant, innocuous.. I could go on, but I won’t.

You know I didn’t use onions because, let’s say it together, onions are evil. But do whatever you want, I won’t judge.

I used a rotisserie chicken from Publix and it was delish. I recommend.

Verdict: semi-success. These were a little bland. I might try this recipe one more time with a few tweaks (my fingers wanted to type “twerks” there, why?). For one, better salsa from a local Mexican restaurant. Also, I might look harder for smaller tortillas. I think having more enchiladas in the [greased] pan, pushed against one another while baking, covered in better salsa would actually make these turn out more like enchiladas than just hot soft tacos. I ended up sprinkling Tony Chachere’s on it to kick up the salt and the spice, because hey, I put it on everything anyway. The best news is: this is a super easy recipe to customize your way!

Here’s the recipe:

1 Medium onion / chopped
2 Tbs margarine
1-2 cups shredded chicken (about 2 cooked breasts or buy pre-cooked)
1 12-16oz jar of salsa
3oz cream cheese
1 tsp cumin
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 6inch flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook onion in margarine until tender. Stir in chicken, 1/4 cup of salsa, cream cheese, and cumin. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in one cup of cheddar cheese.
Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture in center of tortilla, roll up, and place seam down into greased 12×7 dish. Top with remaining salsa and shredded cheese
Bake for 15 minutes

Serving suggestion: serve with iceberg lettuce salad with tomato and cucumber.

One Pan Pasta!

One Pan Pasta!

This weekend I decided to make a dish inspired by my friend, Sara. I love anything I can throw together in one pan and she said it was tasty enough that she would make it again – that’s a good enough review for me to give it a try!

Because I’m a single gal, I halved the recipe (click my photo to be taken to Martha Stewart’s recipe) so I wouldn’t have leftovers for days. I’m not crazy about re-heating pasta… or tomatoes for that matter.

Also, I hate basil so I used spinach. I used chicken broth instead of water (hellleeww water is blah). I left out the onions because onions are EVIL. Annnd I added corn because who doesn’t love corn??

The verdict: Other than the fact that I added too much red pepper (my lips were on FIYAH), it was tasty!! I think next time I’ll add some mushrooms and maybe some shrimp or chicken. Halving the recipe gave me enough for a full plate plus a full plate of leftovers. Success.