3/26- Easy Feta Chicken Bake

This is another one I found in a Food & Family magazine. It couldn't be easier, and it's delicious! I served it with brown rice, mixed vegetables, and fruit salad. The lemon in the dish really comes through, which really surprised me! The flavors all really compliment each other, and it is just so good!

6 boneless chicken breast halves (I used tenderloins)
2 T lemon juice, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 c finely chopped red pepper
1/4 c finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange chicken in 13x9 pan. Drizzle chicken with 1 T of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with feta cheeze, then drizzle with remaining 1T of lemon juice. Bake 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with red pepper and parsley.

(I put some of the red pepper on before I cooked it so as to get a mixture of cooked and raw peppers in the dish. )

3/23- Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

I found this little gem tucked away in a Food & Family magazine on my bookshelf. I was lacking inspiration for meal planning and decided to dig out some books I never look at. It's amazingly easy to make, it's cheap, and it was delicious! It has sausage, which I don't normally like all that much, but it really is a must for this dish. Ground beef would just be too flat flavor-wise. It's a great one pot meal for a chilly, hectic day!

2 c penne pasta
1/2 pound ground sausage
1 package baby sinach leaves
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian, undrained
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzerella cheese
2 T grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, cook sausage. Add spinach and tomatoes, cook about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm. Drain pasta, place in large serving bowl. Add sauce, top with cheese, mix lightly. Serve it up, and enjoy!

3/20- Roasted Chicken with Fennel and Lemon

I made this for some long-time friends of ours the other day. It was the first time we'd been able to have them over to our house since we'd lived so far away for so long, so I wanted to impress. I think it worked! :) It was a rather busy day with some company leaving and then the friends coming over, so I forgot to take pictures. I kicked myself when I realized it, because it all looked so good!! But oh well, I'll still give you the recipe. http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000001585216

The chicken was amazing. It was moist, flavorful, and the lemon really came through. I followed the recipe exactly, and it came out perfectly! I did cook it for closer to an hour and a half, though. I made a takeoff on the Herb Gravy that's linked on the recipe's page. I didn't so much follow that recipe at all, I just put a bit of butter in a pot, added the drippings from the chicken, and then added some flour and water. My mom's trick is to put about equal parts of flour and water in a little jar, and shake it up until it's well mixed. Then pour it in the gravy slowly, stirring constantly. Bring it to a boil, keep stirring, and add more of the flour liquid as needed to get the right consistency. I added a bit of salt too. It turned out really well, I was rather impressed with myself!

For sides, I served fruit salad, fresh broccoli, and mashed sweet potatoes. For the sweet potatoes, I just chopped them up, boiled them, drained, and then mashed them. While mashing them in the mixer, I added some butter and milk, plus a little splash of vanilla extract. (I meant to add some salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar, but I got distracted and forgot. ) Once I put them in the casserole dish, I topped it with some marshmallows. Despite the missing ingredients, everyone said they were really good!

Sorry again for the lack of pictures, but you should really try this chicken out, it's delicious!

March Challenge- MRE

This month's challenge was to come up with a concept dish for an MRE (meal ready-to-eat). These little pouches of deliciousness are what our servicemembers eat when they're in the field. Actually, MRE's take a lot of flak, but they're not really that bad. Well, I've never had to eat them 3 times a day for an extended period of time, but every now and then they're actually pretty good! The food is all in separate pouches, and they're designed in such a way that with about an ounce of water you can have a hot meal! Can't beat that when you're out in the middle of nowhere. There's a chemical of some sort that reacts with the water to create heat, and you slide the indicidual pouces of food into a cardboard box, and viola! Dinner! (or lunch... you get the idea)

Anyway, when coming up with our ideas, we didn't have to worry about how the food would be processed or packaged for the MRE. We only had to think about what we thought the troops would like to find inside of one of those meals in a tiny little box. Now, my GI Joe is currently unavailable for giving guidance, so I apologize if this idea already exists. I was thinking, though, that since our men and women sometimes have to eat these things morning, noon, and night, that maybe they should actually have some breakfast MRE's. (To my knowledge there aren't any, but I could easily be wrong.) I decided that a good old fashioned omelette would be just wnat a soldier out in the woods would want to eat on a chilly morning. I made up a tomato, ham, and Monterey Jack omelette and home fries, and served them up with some fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt, and an English Muffin on the side. It would certainly warm them up and get them going for the day!

3/12- Chicken Chalupas

Now I didn't actually make this tonight, but I froze it before Joe left it and ate it tonight. That counts, right?

Ok, I know it's going to be shocking, but Chicken Chalupas are not cupcakes, and it's not a Cooking Light recipe either! I'll give you a minute to recover. :)

This recipe came from a friend of my mom's many years ago, and it became a staple dish in our family. It's a great one to make ahead for company as it can feed a lot of people. It has an almost ungodly amount of cheese in it, but it's soooo good! It has a few steps to it, but that's kind of what makes it easy to make ahead and freeze. You can get it all assembled, stop short of putting it in the oven, and throw it in the freezer.

1 1/2 doz flour tortillas

4 lg chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 pint sour cream

3/4 lb grated Monterey Jack cheese

2 green onions, sliced

1 small can black olives (I leave these little pieces of nasty out :) )

1 can small green chiles

3/4 lb grated Cheddar cheese

Mix soup, sour cream, chiles, green onions, and olives. Add Monterey Jack cheese. Put aside 2 cups of mixture. Add chicken to remaining mixture, place in a tortilla and roll up. Place in a 9x13 dish. Continue until mixture runs out. Pour reserved 2 cups of soup mixture on top, cover with cheddar. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. (It tastes best when tortillas are really full!)

Enjoy! :)

3/9- Black Forest Cupcakes

I know I've been making cupcakes as all my desserts lately, but that Marthat Stewart book has so many fun ideas!! This time it was a special occasion, and I just couldn't pass these up. Friends of ours from Germany were visiting, and I took the kids over to my parents' house to have dinner with them. My family and I have a history of being extremely silly with the guy, Timon, who just happens to be from the Black Forest in Germany. No joke! So when I heard he was coming to town, I just had no choice but to make these cupcakes for him and his family.

Although I didn't think they were my best effort ever, they were very well received. I will tell you, though, that they took forever to make. I started them as soon as I put the kids down for their naps at about 1:30 pm, and finished them at about 4. And then I had to assemble them before I presented them to Timon at the table. They are VERY involved, but they were really good! They would've been even more involved if I'd actually made the pastry cream from scratch like Martha said to, but I knew that would just take forever. One box of Food Lion Instant Vanilla Pudding to the rescue! Maybe someday I'll try them again and see if I can't make them look prettier since I did think they were rather "blah" as far as appearance goes. I'd like to know what the pastry cream tastes like, too. Add it to the "someday I'll......" list!

3/6- Cupcakes!

Well, like I said, I haven't been cooking much. I froze a lot of things ahead of time, and people have been helping me out a LOT, so I haven't had to cook much at all since Joe left. I did get the itch to bake yesterday, though, so I actually have something to post! Since God gave me a sweet jaw (sweet tooth just doesn't cut it!), I of course went straight for a dessert. A high school friend was coming over for dinner, so I figured I owed her something yummy too. :) I totally cheated and used a boxed cake mix, but I figured making my own frosting would make up for it. It still felt like cheating, but there's no way I could've made it all from scratch and had it done before 11 pm, so oh well. I mentioned the Martha Stewart cupcake book once before, and of course I broke it out again for these. I ended up having the ingredients for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so I went for that. I, of course, made it chocolate as well. In my humble opinion, what good is dessert if it's not chocolate? :)