April 23, 2014

Rotelli with Chicken & Asparagus in Tomato Cream Sauce

Busy day?  Mine certainly has been!  We all need at least a few go-to recipes in our repertoire that are quick and easy but satisfying and delicious at the same time.  This is one of those meals.  Here's to a delicious meal at the end of a crazy day that can be ready in under 30 minutes!  

Serves 3

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil 
  • 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed 
  • 1/2 c carrot, chopped 
  • 10 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1/4 c onion, finely minced 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1/4 c dry red wine 
  • 1 c heavy cream 
  • 1/4 c tomato sauce 
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste 
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste 
  • 8 oz rotelli pasta, cooked and drained


Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the hot skillet and brown on all sides.  Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.  

Add the carrots, asparagus and onion to the hot skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom.  Continue to cook until the wine is evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.  

Stir in the cream, tomato sauce, Parmesan, and cayenne.  Bring the mixture to just a boil.  Stir in the chicken and reduce the heat to low.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  

Stir in the cooked pasta.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Garnish with parsley.


April 18, 2014

Chicken Scallopini with Saffron Cream Sauce

Saffron and pine nuts.  Two ingredients that I love but really have a hard time bringing myself to purchase without feeling guilty because of the sheer cost.  Oh, but there's nothing quite as delicious as a fresh batch of basil pesto with pine nuts slathered on a crispy cracker.  Try to imagine my joy and surprise as I unwrapped a pretty little bottle of saffron from my stocking last Christmas.  I sure landed myself a thoughtful husband!  

I decided to use some of my lovely saffron in a cream sauce and serve it over chicken and pasta.  The chicken is so tender and juicy.  Pour that dreamy, delicious saffron cream sauce on top and it's just over-the-top Ahh-mazing!  It's so easy, and it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  I also poured some of that velvety sauce over pasta and served it with steamed broccoli.  This is definitely one of my favorites!

April 13, 2014

(Flourless & Butterless) Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze

Just because we're spring cleaning our diets doesn't mean that we have to deprive ourselves of the things that we love!  I had a few hours to myself between my little sous chef's dance recital and violin concert this weekend, so I decided to fool around with some ingredients and make healthy cookies that I can treat myself to throughout the week.  I came up with these flourless and butterless cookies that include goodies like oats, shredded carrot, flaked coconut, wheat germ, and walnuts.  They are delicious, delightfully chewy, and not overly sweet.  When paired with the cream cheese glaze, they are just dreamy.  These healthy, guilt-free cookies are so easy to make and can be ready for you to indulge in, in under 20 minutes!  They would be a great option for breakfast on-the-go, too!  

Note:  These cookies will maintain the exact shape that you place them on the baking sheet, so use your fingers to form them into your desired shape.

April 11, 2014

Step-By-Step Chicken & Vegetable Soup From Scratch

In my last few blog posts, I touched on how and why we are spring cleaning both our diet and our budget.  We have rotisserie chicken about once a week for dinner, and I usually end up using the leftover chicken in another meal that week.  This time, I wanted to try to stretch out the leftover rotisserie chicken to make two additional meals.  I used 1 cup of the leftover chicken to make a yummy Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole, which was not only easy, but it was so incredibly delicious!  The second meal I made from the leftover rotisserie chicken was this chicken and vegetable soup using the carcass and skin to make a homemade broth.  My family raved over this soup!  That stinking rotisserie chicken was used to feed my family three separate meals!  Talk about saving money!  

Here's how I did it.  

April 9, 2014

Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole

Along with spring cleaning our diets, we've been working hard at spring cleaning our budget.  We'll be moving to a new house next year, God willing, so cutting corners with spending has definitely been a priority.  We've worked hard to maintain a debt-free life, so one of the most logical ways for us to cut corners in our budget is (please hold for a second while I cover CookingCreation.com's ears) in the food department.  *gulp*  I really, really, really love to splurge at the grocery store, so this takes a lot of commitment and sacrifice on my part.  Challenge on!

On average, we enjoy a rotisserie chicken about once every week or so for dinner.  It's so delicious on its own for a meal, but I love that I always end up having leftover chicken to use in a meal another night that week.  It definitely saves me both time and money.  I wanted to try to stretch out the leftover chicken even more and make two additional meals out of it.  First, I made a yummy Chicken & Vegetable Soup from scratch using the chicken carcass and skin to make a homemade broth (step-by-step recipe to come!).  That was delicious!  I also took 1 cup of the remaining chicken to make a second meal, this Chicken Parmigiana Pasta Casserole.  It's so easy to make and so flavorful!      

April 6, 2014

Peach Poppy Seed Vinaigrette over Strawberry, Feta & Walnut Salad

We've been doing some spring cleaning of our diets recently, especially since I've gained my usual 5-pound winter weight.  I'm very anxious to get back on the tennis courts and bike trail again!  I had a beautiful package of mixed baby greens in the fridge and was in the mood for a light and refreshing salad.  I decided to use up my remaining strawberries, toss in some feta, and add some toasted walnuts.  But it needed something to bring it all together.  I found about 3 tablespoons of peach preserves that I had to use up, so I decided to make a peach vinaigrette with poppy seeds.  This dressing is seriously bangin!

April 2, 2014

Strawberry, Kale & Carrot Smoothie

This is a super healthy and refreshing smoothie that is low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.  Oh, and it's pretty darn delicious, too!  I didn't add any honey to my smoothie because my strawberries were sweet enough on their own, but you certainly can add it to sweeten it up more.  Happy hump day!  

March 31, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast in Beer

This pot roast really packs in a lot of flavor and is so simple to make.  You don't even need the hassle of searing the meat.  The only liquid used is beer, which adds a beautiful depth of deliciousness to the pot roast.       

Note:  For this recipe, I recommend using a lighter beer or one with 20 IBU or less to avoid any bitterness in your pot roast.  To my embarrassment, I once tried a 65 IBU beer and had to throw out the entire pot roast because it was too incredibly bitter to eat.  

March 26, 2014

Asian Mahogany Shrimp with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms

It was a mounds-of-dishes-from-the-night-before-that-I-was-too-tired-to-clean-because-the-dishwasher-was-full-of-clean-dishes-that-I-didn't-want-to-put-away-either type of morning.  Fast forward 8 hours of a crazy work day, and those same dishes were still there.  Amazing.  I was done working for the day, so I rolled up my sleeves, turned up some music, and got to cleaning.  I stepped back to admire my sparkling kitchen and thought to myself, "I have all these clean dishes and a counter you could eat off of - why don't I mess it up by making dinner?"  *sob*  I begrudgingly start grabbing pots and pans, and gathering ingredients.  But something happened that always seems to happen to me.  In a sort of magical way, messing up the kitchen with food becomes almost therapeutic.  It's like playing with food puts me in a good mood (sounds like a country song!).  That's probably why I always end up having some sort of dinner made for my family every night, regardless of how my day went.  

Having a food blog is not only about cooking and coming up with recipes, it's also about photography.   If the food doesn't look appetizing, chances are, no one's going to want to make it.  I'd say once or twice a week, my family will be eating at the table... behind me while I'm snapping pictures of what they're eating.  A lot of times when I'm taking photos of the food we're eating, I have a sense of urgency to hurry so I can sit down with them and enjoy the food at the same time.  So, I made this mahogany shrimp last night.  I was having one of those days and I just couldn't get the shot that I wanted of it.  I'm frustrated and trying to hurry to get the shot and, in the midst of all that frustration, I hear my little sous chef behind me going, "Mm!  Mm!  *smack, chomp, smack*  This is so good!  Mm!".  I stop, put my camera down, sit down at the table, and smile.  Priorities.  The photo may not have been a hit with me, but this mahogany shrimp sure was a hit with my family.  The mahogany sauce is so good that I'm putting it into my meal rotation possibly weekly.  It would be wonderful with chicken and broccoli, too!  

March 24, 2014

Cinnamon Applesauce Crumb Cake

Confession.  I'm not the best baker in the world.  I'll admit it - I don't like sticking to recipes, and I especially don't like measuring out ingredients.  I guess it's just because I'm lazy I'm so used to not measuring things when I'm cooking.  With baking, everything has to be exact - there's no eyeballing it.  So, one of the things I have been trying to do recently is bettering myself in the baking department.      

My husband and I recently came across some delicious Amish applesauce cake that we both loved.  He asked me over this past weekend to try to recreate it for him.  Trouble is, I've never made applesauce cake before, and I'm definitely not the most confident baker in the world.  After doing a little research, I came across a recipe from Gourmet that has received some highly rated reviews.  I made a few slight changes to the recipe and added my own crumb topping to it.  It turned out delicious!  It was easy to make, moist, and not too sweet - just right.  This is a great cake that can be eaten for dessert and breakfast - definitely a keeper!