Chicken and Spinach Yogurt Pesto Pasta and a Giveaway!


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Update: I plugged the numbers into Random.org and a winner has been chosen! The winner is comment #24! Rachel said, “I love eating it with granola for lunch.” So check your email Rachel! If the prize isn’t claimed within 5 days a new winner will be selected. Thank you for all of your entries!

I’m sure that my recent lack of posts has made it pretty obvious that I’ve been in a cooking/blogging funk lately. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of the baby or this cold weather that’s getting me down, but I just haven’t had a whole lot of creativity or motivation in the kitchen. It feels like I’ve just been rotating the same 5 meals lately. Needless to say, I was so excited when my friend Jessica, from My Baking Heart, invited me to join a Virtual Cooking Party! Perfect opportunity to get some excitement back into my kitchen!!

For this party we all put our own spin on the same recipe, featuring Stonyfield Greek Yogurt. I am a HUGE fan of cooking with Greek yogurt, I often use it as substitute for sour cream in recipes and as a topping. I’ve even used it to replace the mayonnaise in a cole slaw recipe! It’s a great way to make some of my favorite recipes a little bit healthier without making a sacrifice in taste.

The recipe chosen for this Virtual Cooking Party was Spinach Yogurt Pesto Pasta. I love pesto because it is always so fresh tasting and it’s packed with layers of flavor. This recipe is no exception. I even told Jessica that I would happily just eat spoonfuls of this pesto for dinner. 🙂 But, since I live with a meat and potatoes man, I used pasta AND chicken. The chicken seemed to grab onto just the right amount of the subtle lemon flavor. And as it turns out, the swirls of the rotini pasta made perfect pockets for holding on to the delicious pesto. I thought the Greek yogurt was the perfect way to add creaminess to the pesto. The slight tang of the yogurt perfectly balanced the fresh basil and powerful garlic. To help make dinner a little more economical, I substituted walnuts for pine nuts. All in all, dinner was a huge success! Big thanks to Jessica for bringing a fresh new recipe to my kitchen! Be sure to stop by her blog to see how the other party-goers put their own spin on this recipe!

For this party I was happy to get my hands on some free Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, and I’d love for you to be able to get your hands on some as well! Because what’s a party without a fun prize/giveaway?! Stonyfield has generously agreed to offer one lucky reader a case of Stonyfield yogurt and a Stonyfield Cookbook!

The giveaway is now closed and a winner has been announced!
How to enter:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite way to use Greek yogurt!
Sorry, only US residents please

Deadline & Winning Information:

The deadline for entry will be 11:59 pm Saturday, February 1
Winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be announced at the top of this post on Sunday, February 2
The winner will receive an email from me (so be sure to enter your correct email address!) and will have 5 days to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure:

I was offered free Stonyfield Greek Yogurt as a part of this Virtual Cooking Party. However, the opinions and review are my own!

 

 

 

Summer Vegetable Casserole


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I have been holding out on you. I’ve been making this side dish for almost a year now and I am just now getting around to posting it. The good news is that this is pretty much the perfect time of year to share/make this recipe.

Back when we lived in Ohio, we would have a nice little vegetable garden every summer. By July I was always trying to come up with new ways to use the vegetables that seemed to be taking over every inch of our kitchen. Luckily, I have learned over the years that vegetables are so, so much more than things you just steam and serve along side dinner. Sometimes, even when they are the side dish, they’re the star of the meal.

That’s pretty much how I feel about this casserole, it’s always the star of our dinner. But don’t get caught up on the title, “casserole” fits because the ingredients are bound together and baked with a little sprinkling of cheese. There are no cans of soup or cups of cream in this casserole. There is however a little bit of a surprise ingredient – cottage cheese. Don’t let that scare you. Mixed in with the rice and vegetables it just acts like a binder. Also feel free to play with the vegetables a little bit. I think the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes are a must, but sometimes (like this time) I throw in bell peppers or eggplant.

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cup cooked rice (I used short grain brown rice)
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 cup zucchini (1 small zucchini), roughly cut into matchsticks or diced
1 ear of corn, cut from the cob or 1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 medium bell pepper, diced
4 large leaves of fresh basil, chiffonaded

*Sometimes, for an extra kick,  I use 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp whole grain mustard. Just depends on my mood!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish or pie pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the rice, onion, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and bell pepper, stir to coat evenly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish or pie pan, use a spatula to evenly distribute in dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Allow to coil for 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh cut basil and serve.

Very slightly adapted from eat love drink

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes


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Jesse is a funny guy. Lately there has been a common recurrence in his reviews of dinner, “It was good/great/amazing/OK, but it would be even better with potatoes.” The man loves his potatoes, and thinks that they should be an ingredient in every meal. Chicken and rice, calzones, hoagies, soup… you name it. Don’t get me wrong, I like potatoes too, but rice AND potatoes in one meal?

After several evenings of, “Where’s the potatoes?” and after finding 2 of the largest potatoes I’ve ever seen at the market, a light bulb went off. It was time to take his potato love to an extreme. And thus was born the STUFFED Twice Baked Potato. Would you like some potatoes with your potatoes?

These potatoes can not be tagged as an “Easy Weeknight Dinner”, not because they’re difficult just because they can be a bit time consuming. Don’t worry, they are well worth the time and effort.  Knowing the time/effort required for twice baked potatoes,  I really wanted the potato to be the star of this meal so I opted to add chicken to the stuffing. It was nice to not have to worry about preparing a main course and in the end the meal was filling and satisfying.

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients
2-3 Idaho baking potatoes (depending on their size, mine were HUGE so I just made 2)
Olive oil and kosher salt for coating
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
small handful fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

Directions
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

Scrub the outside of the potatoes really well, then pat dry with paper towels, prick each potato with a fork 6-8 times, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle each potato with about a teaspoon of oil and use a pastry brush to evenly distribute over surface then sprinkle with kosher salt. Flip the potatoes and repeat on the other side. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until they are tender when pricked and the internal temperature reads 210 F (100 C).

When the potatoes are close to being done, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the half and half and broth. Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, chop the basil. After the sauce has simmered, add the basil, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Once the potatoes have finished baking, cut them in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the insides, leaving a thin shell around the edges, then return the shells, open side up, to the baking sheet. Place the potato guts in a bowl. Use a fork to slightly mash the potatoes. Pour the sauce into the bowl with the potatoes and stir to incorporate. Add the cooked shredded chicken and stir.

Fill the potato shells with the filling, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and return them to the hot oven for 10 minutes, switching to the broiler for the last minute or so if the cheese hasn’t yet started to turn golden brown.

Serve hot with a small side salad or steamed vegetables.

Adapted from Kayotic Kitchen

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce


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Wow, that’s a really long name! Probably too long, but when thinking about this recipe it just didn’t feel right to leave any part out of the name. The chicken, vegetables, and roasted garlic sauce all work together to form one beautiful, filling, delicious pasta dish.

I knew that I wanted to make pasta for dinner and I knew what ingredients I had on hand, but I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So I went searching and what I found was very promising recipe on my friend Krystal’s blog (Krystal just had a baby, by the way!). I worked with what I had and used her recipe as guide, and what I thought was going to be a good dinner turned out to be a GREAT dinner! So much so that I’m putting it back on the menu for this week!

The first change I made was to use zucchini instead of broccoli (side note: why can I never spell either of those words right on the first try? mental spelling block) and penne instead of fettucine.  I also used milk instead of cream, but because I was worried that it wouldn’t thicken up enough, I added a tablespoon of corn starch. It worked perfectly and even held up and remained creamy for my next day lunch leftovers. Finally, I added mushrooms because it just seemed right.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Ingredients

1 head of garlic – roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much chicken per serving you want), roasted and sliced
12 oz. penne pasta
Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnishing

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose the tops of cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic, pinching the seams to seal. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cloves are tender and start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest, covered with aluminum foil, until you’re ready to serve, then cut into slices. (Roasting in the same oven as the garlic slightly infuses some of the garlic flavor into the chicken, mmm!)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook penne until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the milk and corn starch in a glass measuring cup, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the skillet. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the garlic and mix into the vegetables.

Create a well in the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the edges, slowly stream in the milk/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Work the vegetables into the sauce with the whisk then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved cooking liquid a tablespoon at time until you get the desired consistency.

Top each portion with the sliced chicken, extra Parmesan, and fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from Mrs.Regueiro’s Plate