Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick and easy crock pot mac and cheese

My roommate and I finally busted open the new crock pot. We thought the best thing to make as our first crock pot meal was mac and cheese. There were so many recipes floating around and making our mouths water that we decided we couldn't wait any longer. We had tons of different cheeses and bacon left over from a dinner party (as well as a spare box of pasta) and we thought we would not get a better opportunity than this!

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese with Bacon
Photo Credit: Me

Ingredients (serves 6):
1 13.25oz box of Dreamfields pasta (either elbow or penne)
1 cup light cream
1 cup low fat milk (whatever you have on hand)
1 egg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup gruyere, cubed
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
6 slices of bacon
1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs

Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the box. Cook the bacon in a frying pan and chop after it is cooled. Mix together your cream, milk, egg, and spices with a whisk. Add everything to the crock pot and mix well. Set the crock pot on high and let cook for one hour. Stir well, and turn the heat down to low for another hour. You may need to add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk depending on  how tight the mac and cheese gets. In the last 10 minutes of your cook time, toast up some seasoned panko bread crumbs to top your mac and cheese with on low heat in a small frying pan.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 654 per serving
Total Fat: 31.8g
Cholesterol: 135.3mg
Sodium: 766.7mg
Carbohydrates: 63.4g
Fiber: 5.2g
Sugars: 4.7g
Protein: 32.5g

Enjoy :)

Photo Credit: Me

Mini Quiche

The holidays are arriving fast, which means you may be in the position where you will have to make food to bring to parties. Over the weekend I tried out a new recipe that ended up being a crowd pleaser. You could make multiple varieties of this dish, depending on who your audience is and what they like to eat! I got the recipe from, and changed it up a bit per usual.

Mini Quiche

Ingredients (makes 36 mini quiche in 2 flavors):
1 cup light cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
6 strips of low sodium bacon
1/4 of a red bell pepper
1/2 of a small yellow onion
1/2 of a 17.3 oz package of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 400ยบ. On a lightly floured surface, roll your puff pastry until it is a 12x12" square. Cut the pastry into 36 2x2" squares. place each puff pastry square into a well greased mini muffin/cupcake tin. Cook the bacon in the microwave (fastest way) for 2 minutes on each side and then finely chop or crumble once it has cooled. Cut your onion and pepper into very finely diced even pieces. Mix together the cream, eggs, and spices with a whisk. In the bottom of half of the puff pastries, add your chopped bacon, about a tablespoon of the egg mixture, and a dollop of the sharp cheddar. In the other half of the puff pastries, add the peppers and onions, about a tablespoon of the egg mixture, and a dollop of the gruyere cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the puff pastry is golden brown. 

Nutrition Facts for 1 quiche piece:
Calories: 52
Total fat: 10.5g
Cholesterol: 26.1mg
Sodium: 64.8mg
Carbohydrates: 0.2g
Protein: 2.9g

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday Night Meal: Buffalo Turkey Tacos

Mmmmm. Tacos. Seriously who doesn't like tacos? They are so versatile and are a great entertaining food. I love to make chicken tacos, pulled pork tacos, shrimp tacos, and turkey tacos. You could even throw a taco party where you make all of those meats and have the toppings and tortillas on the side like a build your own taco bar! Last night (a Monday) I was seriously in the mood for tacos but wanted to keep it on the healthy side so I cooked one of my favorites:

Buffalo Turkey Tacos

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb of lean ground turkey
1 large onion, diced
1 serving of taco seasoning**
1/4-1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot Wing sauce (depending on how hot you like it)
8 6" flour tortillas
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup water
Optional Toppings:
Cheese (I love these with sharp sheddar)
Sour cream
Extra hot sauce
Ranch dressing (or blue cheese if you are into that)
Fresh cilantro

Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium high heat. Add your oil and your onions and cook until almost translucent. Add your ground turkey and butter and cook until there is no pink left. Add your spice blend and mix well. If it looks too dry, add the 1/4 cup of water. Finally, add your hot sauce and stir everything together. Two tacos per person. 

It's as easy as that!

I like to assemble mine as follows: Toast the flour tortilla over a gas flame, about 10 seconds per side. Lay down some sharp cheddar, followed by the meat. Then add scallions, sour cream, and extra hot sauce as the toppings. YUM.

Enjoy :)

Nutrition Facts (for just the meat):
Calories: 208
Total Fat: 11.6g
Cholesterol: 80mg
Sodium: 1,007mg
Carbohydrates: 4.2g
Fiber: .8g
Sugars: 1.8g
Protein: 22.6g

**Taco Seasoning (so much better for you than the store bought stuff!):
1 Tbl chili powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kielbasa, Rice, and Everything Nice

I grew up with having kielbasa (Polish sausage) as a staple meat in my house. My mom would always make kielbasa with onions and potatoes, and since I don't like potatoes I thought I'd put my own spin on it. For some reason kielbasa to me is an ultimate comfort food and is perfect for cold nights in the fall and winter. I paired mine with instant cook brown rice and a light and easy cream sauce. You could use pasta or potatoes with this, and if you don't like kielbasa, this sauce is great with steak and chicken as well.

Kielbasa with Rice and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Photo Credit (my picture looked like mush)

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
2 cups of instant brown rice (you can do the real stuff if you have 45 minutes)
1lb turkey or light kielbasa* (check note on bottom if you are unsure on how to cut the meat)
1 package of button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 cup of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%...whatever you have on hand is fine)
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tbl garlic powder, separated
1 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 tbl olive oil
1 tbl butter

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add the kielbasa and cook until golden brown on either side. Remove from pan and slice into small pieces about 1/4 inch thick. Keeping the heat of the pan at medium, add your butter and let it melt. Then, add the diced onions and mushrooms and cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are much smaller in size and golden brown. At this point you should cook your rice according to the package in either the microwave or on the stove top. Add half of the garlic powder and all of the remaining spices to your onion and mushroom mixture. Turn up the heat to medium high, add the wine, and let cook for about 3 minutes (it should be at a slight boil). Turn the heat down to medium low and add your milk. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add your cheese and remaining garlic powder. Let the sauce cook 2-5 minutes longer until it has reached your desired thickness. 1 pound of kielbasa serves 7, so you only want to use a little more than half of what you have (yay leftovers!). You can add the rice and meat directly to the sauce or have everyone create their own bowls.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 410 per serving
Total Fat: 19.1g
Cholesterol: 66.7mg
Sodium: 1,084mg
Carbohydrates: 29.4g
Fiber: 2.5g
Sugars: 9.4g
Protein: 22.1g

Enjoy :)

*How to cut the kielbasa: The kielbasa will be shaped like a horseshoe, so start by cutting it directly in the middle. You now have two evenly sized pieces. Cut each piece in half lengthwise so that you have four pieces each with casing on the outside and meat on the inside.