Sunday Night Dinner: Bruschetta Chicken

Tonight’s edition of Sunday Night Dinner is Bruschetta Chicken. It’s a pretty perfect summer dish, and since it was 60 degrees in Minneapolis today, it seemed appropriate. Plus, it’s super easy to make! I threw some roasted vegetables on the plate as well, so all and all a pretty balanced meal.

First up is the bruschetta. It’s pretty simply. Garlic, basil, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss it all together and then set aside.

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Hey summer, nice to see you.

Before I started cooking the chicken, I popped some asparagus and broccoli, along with some red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon and olive oil, and some parmesan cheese for good measure, in the oven at 450 for about 15 minutes, to get them all nice and roasted.

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Tonight, I cooked the chicken in butter, since I was using olive oil in two other places, and it was a beautiful thing.

Butter

Butter

It was a pretty easy meal, and pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. Try it out next time you need a little summer on your dinner plate.

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Bruschetta Chicken

10 cherry tomatoes, diced

10 leaves basil, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 slices fresh mozzarella

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Melt 2tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat, add 2 chicken breasts. Cook until golden brown, 5-10 minutes per side. Slice chicken, place 4 slices mozzarella over each chicken breast and then top with about 3 tbsp of bruschetta.

 

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Cilantro Lime Chicken

Pinterest + crock pot = yummy yummy things. I’ve been pretty honest about my Pinterest successes and failures in the past, and tonight’s meal is definitely filed under the success category. I combined two recipes I found on Pinterest and combined them to work for me (originally recipes can be found here and here).

Step 1: Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in the crock pot. Yep, that easy.

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Step 2: Add the chicken breast to the mixture – just press it in to the base.

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Step 3: Cook for five and a half hours on low.

Step 4: Read a book or take a nap. Or both. I did.

Step 5: After five and a half hours, remove the chicken and shred with two forks, then add back in to the crock pot, mixing it in. This will help any excess liquid get absorbed, which is helpful if you’re planning on making tacos like I am.

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Meat!

Step 6: Let simmer, covered, for another 30 minutes. Then serve with 6-inch tortillas, or on it’s own, with a little Mexican cheese on top!

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Yep, pretty simple. And delicious.

Ingredients 

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast (about 3 breasts)

Juice of 2 limes

1 lb frozen corn

2 small onion, diced

1 cup salsa

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can black beans

1 package taco seasoning

1 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish

1 cup chicken broth

Mix all ingredients except chicken in the crockpot. Add in the whole chicken breasts, setting them on top and pressing into other ingredients. Cook on low for five and a half hours. Remove chicken from crock pot, shred and return to crock pot. Cook for another 30 minutes. Serve in tortillas or on their own, with cilantro and Mexican cheese. Serves 6.

Nutrition (does not include toppings or tortillas, as calculated by MyFitnessPal):

302 calories

36g carbohydrates

3g fat

33g protein

1,229mg sodium

9g sugar

Pinterest Test: Breakfast Quinoa

When I woke up this morning, the windchill was -36 degrees F (tomorrow’s forecast calls for the  coldest day in Minnesota in 20 years. I’ll be hitching a ride to work – no bus). Weather like that, even if you don’t plan on going outside, calls for a hearty breakfast. Most people would think biscuits and gravy or vats of oatmeal, but I wanted to go a little more creative of a route. A few days ago I pinned a recipe for breakfast quinoa (see the original post and recipe here) and, along with a couple of tweaks, decided to give it a try this morning.

My love of quinoa is pretty obvious. I love using the complete protein grain as a pasta replacement to ease the guilt, like I did with my quinoa spaghetti. In the past, I have used quinoa as the base for my weekly lunches, adding sautéed vegetables and spaghetti sauce or italian dressing to it and storing it in the fridge throughout the week. But, I’ve never used it as a breakfast ingredient before, so I was intrigued at how this would turn out.

Usually, I cook quinoa just like rice – water, medium-high heat. This recipe had me cooking in milk, with low heat and longer times. For one cup of quinoa, bring two cups of milk to a boil. Add one cup quinoa, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, it should look a little bit like cream of wheat, but with about 1/4 of the milk still visible.

After 15 minutes, about 3/4 of the milk should be absorbed. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, stir in and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Biggest difference between cooking quinoa low and slow instead of high and fast is the consistency. Usually when I cook quinoa, it’s almost like couscous in that it is individual grains. This morning, the quinoa had a more oatmeal or cream of wheat consistency, which was different, but still yummy. Once the quinoa was done cooking, I topped it with a little more brown sugar and cinnamon, as well as some walnuts. Hearty indeed.

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Yummy yummy.

The original recipe called for one cup of dry quinoa – this made a TON. I had leftovers, and as with oatmeal, it doesn’t look so appetizing anymore. If you’re only making breakfast for one person, definitely play with cutting the recipe in half, though there are bound to be some intricacies associated with that. Full recipe below:

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups milk
3 tbsp brown sugar, plus extra for topping
1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for topping
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Chopped walnuts

Bring two cups milk to a boil. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until 3/4 of the milk has been absorbed. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Recover, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until consistency is similar to oatmeal or cream of wheat. Serve in a bowl and top with brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Enjoy!

Quinoa Spaghetti with Italian Sausage

Hi, my name is Carrie and I love spaghetti.

Spaghetti is truly my favorite food. The noodles. The tomato and meat sauce. It just works so well. And I don’t just love to eat it; I love to cook it too. It got to the point during college where I was only allowed to make it for my roommates once a quarter, because I would try to make it every couple of weeks.

Growing up, my family always made spaghetti with Italian turkey sausage, instead of meatballs. We’re not even a little Italian, so we felt no guilt when we adapted the dish to make it a little quicker to prepare.

Some days, I wake up and know I need to make spaghetti that day. Today was one of those days. I had some Jenni-O Mild Italian Turkey sausage in the freezer, which was perfect. I did not, however, have any pasta in the house. I try not to have very much pasta on hand, since I tend to cook it, and then eat it. Frequent consumption of pasta is not part of the bikini plan. I may not have had pasta in the cabinet, but I did have quinoa.

I use quinoa all the time, and often with some pasta sauce. But I have never used it as a full-on replacement for noodles in spaghetti. I figured it was time to test it out. Not only would I get spaghetti, but I could feel slightly less guilty about eating it, since I was replacing carb-y pasta with carb-y + protein-y quinoa. Problem solved. It was time to cook.

When I make spaghetti, I keep it simple. Italian sausage, store bought sauce and some herbs to dress it up. It’s easy, and it’s delicious.photo copy 5To start, I sautéed some onion, garlic and crushed red pepper with some black pepper and oregano.

photoThen, I squeezed the Italian sausage out of its casings and browned it along with the onion, garlic and herbs.

photo copyAfter browning the Italian sausage, I added the spaghetti sauce. I always use a sauce that is as simple as possible – none of this four cheese or garlic mushroom stuff. Just keep it simple. Tonight, I had about half a tomato in the fridge, so I chunked that up and added it in to the sauce too.

photo copy 2I let this saucy concoction come to a simmer, and then covered it and let it build flavor while I cooked the quinoa.

If you’ve never made quinoa, you cook it just like rice. One cup quinoa, two cups water, bring it to a boil, cover, and don’t uncover, for 15 minutes. Viola, you have quinoa.

photo copy 8I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about this all working and being a satisfactory replacement for my version of traditional spaghetti. In fact, I was relieved when it turned out absolutely delicious. With a small salad, some parmesan cheese and a glass of milk, I had me some healthier comfort food. Quinoa Spaghetti with Italian Sausage for the win!photo copy 7

Pinterest Fail: Yogurt Covered Blueberries

Pinterest. For many young ladies, like myself, it’s a combination drug and time-suck. You make the mistake of visiting the site for “a quick peak,” and end up looking up from your computer, hours later, only to realize it’s dark out and you haven’t accomplished anything that day, let alone come close to achieving any of the thousand pins you re-pinned that day.

To make up for this unproductive time, many Pinterest users blog about their successes with Pinterest, hoping to become a social influencer, or be pinned themselves. Well, guess what? About 50 percent of the crap I attempt on Pinterest doesn’t work. Sure, I’ve gotten great fashion advice, skin care regimens and pasta recipes, but sometimes, it’s just a failure.

Case in point: Greek Yogurt Covered Blueberries. I thought this had so much promise. I mean, Greek yogurt + blueberries = superfood that will turn one into the picture of health. Well, I don’t know because I had all of five test berries before I realized I had wasted my time.  I won’t post the original link, because I’m sure the author loved their concoction and it worked great for them. But it didn’t work for me.

Here is why it didn’t work:

  1. Plain Greek Yogurt probably wasn’t the best choice. IF, and that’s a big if, I were to make this again, I would use a honey or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt, just to avoid the weird tanginess.

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    It looked so promising.

  2. To get the yogurt to become a coat on the blueberry, you have to freeze the little superfood nuggets. Turns out, frozen blueberries turn into little chunks of ice, covered in frozen yogurt. It’s like eating ice, and I hate chewing ice.

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    I truly wish this had worked!

  3. When I put them in fridge to become a little less ice-like, they became soupy, blueberry yogurt-y messes. I was not pleased.

Moral of the story – sometimes you have Pinterest success, sometimes you have Pinterest Fails.

Sunday Night Dinner: Pot Roast and Hatfield’s & McCoys

Sometimes, you just need a little home cooking on a Sunday night. So, you make yourself a pot roast.

I’m proud to say, at the age of 23-years-old, I have finally made a pot roast. I always look for a little bit of a family-feel on Sunday, which typically manifests itself in the way of a big meal and a movie. Tonight, I accomplish that cozy feeling with pot roast and re-watching the first installment of The History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoy’s. I know, I am America. I just need some apple pie and a flag.

I didn’t use a recipe for my pot roast – just a conversation with my mom and some improvising on my part. I literally just threw it in a crock pot and forgot about it.

Here’s what I did (scroll to bottom for ingredient list):

I put all the vegetables on the bottom, as a kind of bed for the roast.

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Veggies!

 Then, I used some McCormick’s Montreal steak seasoning on the meat. Why McCormick’s Montreal? Because it was on sale for a dollar, that’s why.

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Well aren’t you an adorable hunk of meat?

After I had the vegetables and the roast in the slow cooker, I mixed two cans of beef consommé and 2 cans worth of red wine together. In the words of my mom, “make sure you can taste the wine!”

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Mhmm, beef juice and cheap red wine.

Pour this beef wine over the steak and vegetables (it shouldn’t cover the roast), put the lid on the slow cooker, and go.

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Time to make the magic happen!

I started this around 11:00 am this morning, and by 6:00 pm, I had this beautiful sight:

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Get in my belly.

I’m pretty proud. I mean, look at it, it looks delicious. I’m going to be able to enjoy this for DAYS.

Now, I’m going to settle in with my pot roast and some Hatfields and McCoys. Haven’t seen it? Watch it. I know not everyone is as obsessed with American history as I am, but this is a truly great mini-series. Watch it.

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American history is my favorite.

Ingredients for the Pot Roast

  • 1, 2 pound boneless roast, trimmed
  • Steak seasoning
  • Oregano
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 celery stocks, cut into chunks
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 cans beef consommé
  • Red wine, enough to fill 2 cans of the beef consommé

Place vegetables at bottom of crock-pot. Place seasoned roast on top of vegetables.

Mix beef consommé and red wine. Pour over roast and vegetables, making sure the liquid does not cover the roast.

Cook on low for 7 – 8 hours. Enjoy!

US Dairy Farmers Care

I love milk. Just like my mom always told me, milk makes me strong. Milk keeps me healthy. Milk makes me happy.

Apparently, I am not alone in my love of milk- in 2010, each American consumed 72 gallons of milk. That totals out to be 22 billion gallons of milk consumed in the United States alone. Clearly, America likes their dairy products. But do they love their dairy farmers?

Below is a video from Merck Animal Health. The video is all about showing the consumer how much American dairy farmers care for the animals, and how much they do to make sure we can each enjoy out 72 gallons of milk each year. Dairy farmers work 365 days a year to produce a delicious, safe and nutritious product for us. In addition to providing us with dairy products, each time a farmer adds a cow to their operation, $25,000 is added to the local community. This only proves to me how much dairy farmers rock and how much we should appreciate them.

Watch this video and you will see all the other ways dairy farmers take care of us each and every day. Thanks Merck Animal Health for reminding us that dairy farmers do more than just give us a glass of milk- they take care of us.