Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pesto Grilled Chicken

Next up in my pesto-mania:  Pesto Grilled Chicken.  This recipe is actually the reason I wanted to make fresh pesto but the pizza came first in pesto use!  I get recipes & coupons from my local grocery story, King Soopers.  For you Easterners, it is the same company as Kroger.  Anyway, they had sent me a recipe for Spicy Grilled Pesto Chicken.  I am not sure why they named it spicy because it isn't spicy at all to me but it was very tasty!  As always, I didn't follow the recipe completely so here is the recipe and then I will tell you what I did. 
Spicy Grilled Pesto Chicken
     from King Soopers

1/4 c fresh parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Pesto
1 large resealable food storage bag
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thawed (approximately 4 medium to large thighs)

Wash & de-stem parsley, and chop until finely minced for about 30 seconds in a food processor.  Combine the well-chopped parsley with freshly ground pepper, Worcestershire sauce and pesto in a large resealable plastic bag.  Mix the ingredients well with a spoon, and/or by squeezing closed bag with hands.

Add thawed chicken, one piece at a time, into the bag, making sure to coat each piece thoroughly.  Marinate chicken in a bag for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature or in the fridge.  Remove pieces with tongs and grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until the internal temperature reaches a safe 165 degrees F.

For a refreshing summer side dish to balance the sizzle of the grilled chicken, serve with chilled pickled vegetables.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  Serves 4. 

So here is what I did.  :)  I didn't have parsley so out the window that went.  I also am not a big fan of dark meat so we used chicken breasts.  Drew might have preferred I used the thighs.  Next time!  I used 4 pretty large chicken breasts and thawed them for a couple of hours.  I mixed the pesto (about 2 heaping Tbsp since I didn't use the parsley), black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of lemon juice (another veer from the recipe!) in my gallon bag and added the chicken breasts.  The chicken was mostly thawed but not completely.

I mixed the chicken breasts around in the bag and got them coated well and then let them marinate for quite a bit longer than the original recipe.  I probably let them marinate for 2 to 2.5 hours.  I turned the bag a few times during the marination time to make sure the flavors soaked in evenly.   Then I grilled them up!  As I was grilling the chicken, I did slowly add some of the marinade back on to the chicken to keep it moist and add more pesto flavor.

Drew & I really enjoyed this chicken and I foresee us making it again. Plus we had leftovers for lunch.  :) It was juicy and very flavorful, a definite YUM!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A different take on pizza...

This past weekend we decided to make pizza.  Now, given my self-imposed dietary restrictions, this is a bit harder than you think.  I am not eating any grains so a normal crust is out of the window.  When I was back home in Arkansas in June, my Aunt gave me a recipe for a zucchini pizza crust.  Those of you who know me know I LOVE, yes L-O-V-E LOVE, zucchini.  :)  So this seems like the best idea ever! 

Here is the recipe that my Aunt gave me, which I am sure came from somewhere else...if I find out I will give the appropriate credit.  :)   
**Update 7/10/12** The recipe for the pizza crust comes from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen from the Moosewood Restaurant.  

Zucchini Pizza Crust
3 1/2 c coarsely grated zucchini (about 5 small to medium zucchinis for us)
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 c flour (we used almond flour)
1/2 c grated mozzarella (we actually used a pizza cheese mix)
1/2 c Parmesan
1 Tbs fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper

Grate the zucchini using the largest size hole on your grater. 

Salt the zucchini lightly & let it sit for 15 minutes.  Then squeeze out any excess moisture.  I pushed it against the edges of the strainer and then took handfuls and squeezed as much moisture from the zucchini as possible. 

Add the eggs, flour/almond flour, cheese, & basil to the zucchini.  Here I veered from the recipe a bit.  (of course!)  Since I had just made pesto and didn't save any fresh basil, I just used a tablespoon of pesto in the crust instead.  :) 

Mix all the ingredients together and add salt and pepper.  Remember you salted the zucchini a bit before. 

Spread the crust onto an oiled baking pan.  The recipe called for a 9"x13" pan but I used a jelly roll sheet instead.  I think this let the crust get a bit thinner. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree F oven until the surface of the crust is dry and firm.  Then brush the top with a bit of oil and broil for 5 more minutes.  Drew and I decided we would let it brown a little more next time. 

Now you are ready to make pizza!  We made fresh pesto for half (see previous blog post) and just seasoned up a bit of canned spaghetti sauce for the other half.  I used a Hunt's No Sugar Added canned sauce and added garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper. 

Then we had to decide on toppings.  Here is what we had in the house but next time we might add mushrooms and pepperoni.   We used cheese, white onion, sweet petite peppers, black olives & hot breakfast sausage.  The sweet petite peppers are the ones that come in a bag or carton of small red, yellow & orange peppers.  Anyway, choose your favorite toppings! 

We layered on a little Parmesan cheese and then the meat & veggies.

Next we added lots of cheese.  The pizza cheese mix had mozzarella, smoked provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheese.  We finally topped with a few more black olives. 

Finally we baked it at 350 degrees F for another 20-25 minutes until golden brown and gooey. 

We sliced the pizza up and devoured it!  It definitely is a bit of a different textured crust than a normal wheat crust but it is close enough and it fulfills the need for pizza.  This also definitely tasted like a homemade pizza.  My mom used to make homemade pizza (whole wheat crust) fairly often and it reminded me a lot of her pizza, which is a good thing!  Drew and I both liked it a lot and would only try and brown the crust just a tad more next time.  We will be making it again!  Hope you enjoy! 

Monday, June 25, 2012


This weekend we decided to make pizza - which I will share in my next post.  I love pesto on my pizza and you can't buy good simply must be made from scratch.  I am not sure why I can't find a good pesto even in a nice deli situation but it never tastes as good as homemade.  :)

As with a lot of my "recipes", I have a starting point but I may not follow it as I actually make the food. I apologize in advance for any vagueness.  :)   So here is the recipe I had from my mom, which I am sure came from somewhere or someone else.  :) Then I will share what I actually did. 

Basil Pesto
2 cloves garlic
¼ c Parmesan
2 c fresh basil leaves
¼ c pine nuts
½ c fresh parsley

Cilantro Pesto                                                          
2 cloves garlic                                                           
4 oz Parmesan                                                         
2 c fresh cilantro leaves, hard packed                        
1/3 c toasted pine nuts                                           
5 to 6 T oil                                                                 
¼ t salt                                                                        

Blend in blender or food processor.  You can serve it, cook with it or freeze in small batches.  

Below are the ingredients I chose to use, a slight deviation from the recipe:  basil, olive oil, Parmesan, garlic, nuts & salt and pepper.  I used some pecans and some sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts and I also only used basil instead of both basil and parsley.  

I used a small food processor to make mine, as I find it works a little better than a blender.  

I did not measure anything but rather just used all the basil in the package and tossed in some nuts, Parmesan and garlic.  I did have to add enough oil to make sure that the rest of it will blend together in a paste.

I put part of the basil and ingredients in each time and processed until all ingredients were chopped up in the food processor. Finally I added salt and pepper to taste.  

We store it in an airtight glass container.  I have served this on bread or pita, used it as a pizza topping or as a pasta sauce or pasta salad ingredient.  I plan on trying a recipe for pesto marinated grilled chicken this week (and I will share!).  :)  Hope you can follow my crazy, non-recipe-following instructions.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Menu

Tonight's dinner menu is Chili Dogs (minus the buns), coleslaw & creamed summer squash.  I love easy summer meals!

My coleslaw recipe is nowhere near ready to actually be shared - but tonight's was pretty good.  I will keep working on it.  :)   Tonight it was cabbage slaw mix from a bag, mayo (regular & cracked black pepper), red wine vinegar, salt, a tiny pinch of splenda,  a tiny bit of mustard powder, some celery seed powder and a bit of salt.  This recipe still needs to be refined before I share it though! 

The chili I got out of the freezer...I like to make big batches of soup - especially Chili and White Chicken Chili - and then freeze the leftovers in small containers for lunches and easy dinners.  :)  I will be sure to share those recipes next time I make a batch, as they are both staples in my household.  I just warmed the chili up in the microwave and served over boiled hot dogs with cheese on top.  We have been getting the natural hot dog varieties lately with no added nitrates & preservatives. 

So tonight's recipe I will share is Creamed Summer Squash.  It is something my Mama used to make and today was a day for thinking about my Mama a lot. is more of a throw together dish rather than a full-on recipe but I will try and duplicate what I did and hopefully it will work for you too! Measurements are definitely just estimations as the size of your squash and own personal tastes may vary. 

Creamed Summer Squash
3-4 small to medium summer squash (yellow crookneck, zucchini, etc), sliced
1 - 2 Tbsp butter*
1/4 c to 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded*
1-3 Tbsp milk (can use regular milk, a bit of cream or powdered milk)*
salt & pepper
*The amount of butter, cheese & milk you use will depend on the size of your squash and how creamy or cheesy you like it.  

First get a medium-sized pot and sliced your squash into the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.

Simmer the squash until they are fall-apart tender.

Drain any water remaining from your squash.  If you are using powdered milk you can leave just a bit of the liquid (maybe a tablespoon).  Add your butter & mash the squash and butter until creamy. I use an old-fashioned potato masher for this.

Add the milk & stir until mixed together.  Tonight I used a bit of whole milk (about 2 Tbsp) and a teaspoon of powdered milk.  If I don't have regular milk in the house, I will use all powdered milk instead.
Then stir in the shredded cheese.  Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve up!

Enjoy!  This takes me back to childhood; a nice little side for the summer...especially if you have lots of summer squash in your garden.  :) 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Snack, Dessert... Anytime!

Since January I have given up quite a few things - or at least dramatically cut back on, sugar & grains being the biggest of them.  I won't bore you with my reasons but it is working for me and I am happy with my choices.  However, that makes baking REALLY hard, if not entirely impossible.  And let me tell you, I love a good dessert and I adore baking.  It is really the type of cooking I would rather be doing. we are...and over the past few months my boyfriend has been patient enough to let me try some baking with ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour, erythritol, & stevia.  Most of these experiments were not awful...but not what I hoped they would be and therefore only to be made once.  In my search of desserts, sweet treats, yummylicious things, I did find one absolutely divine savior.  We just call them "Bars" (I seem to label my foods one word titles, huh?) and they have almost always been in my fridge, D's fridge or now our fridge.  :) 

For those of you who use Pinterest, don't you love it?  :)  I found this bar recipe on Pinterest and have muddled with it and changed it a bit as I find what I think is best for me, but her original recipe is quite delicious.  So check it out...then I will share with you what I do.  :)  Lauren has lots of great recipes on this blog and here is her recipe for the bars:  Crunchy No-bake Snack Bars

I typically make a big batch of these, a triple recipe - enough to fill a jelly-roll pan/cookie sheet and will last us a couple of weeks.  I also sometimes am not the best "measurer" with this recipe - it doesn't have to be as precise as baking where it is chemistry.  This just has to stick together :). 


Bottom of bar
1 c chopped/sliced nuts - sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, unsalted sunflower seeds, pistachios, any nut of choice - mix it up & put a bit of each kind you like
1/4 c golden flax meal or nut (almond, pecan) meal 
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut, big or small flakes work well
1/4 c peanut butter - could also use a different nut butter
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp agave or honey
1 (up to 2) packets of stevia/erythritol blend sweetener (Truvia or the no-name brand)

Chocolate Topping
4 squares of dark chocolate (we usually use 70% or 72%)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 to 1 pkt stevia/erythritol blend sweetener
1 tsp heavy or table cream or half and half if that is what you have

Choose whatever mix of nuts you wish to, we really like the sliced almonds a lot and almost always them be have part of the nut mixture.  Toast the nuts & coconut on a baking sheet in the oven (375 F or so), just until the coconut is starting to brown.  Measure the peanut butter & coconut oil for the bar bottom and place in a large microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until they melt.  Stir the PB and oil until smooth and then add the vanilla, agave, stevia/erythritol blend sweetener (you can put in as little or as much as you like here to make it the sweetness you prefer) and stir again.  Add the flax seed or nut meal (usually I do part flax and part pecan or almond meal) and stir in and then finally stir in the nuts & coconut. Line a baking sheet (or smaller pan depending on how much you are making) with aluminum foil.  This just makes getting the bars out of the pan a bit easier.  Press the mixture into the pan and they should be around 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer to set.  We usually just use the refrigerator. 

Once the bottoms of the bars are cooled & set, you can begin making the chocolate topping.  Melt the coconut oil & chocolate squares in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just enough to melt them.  Stir this mixture until smooth and then mix in the stevia/erythritol blend sweetener.  Again you can put as much or as little to get the sweetness you prefer.  Mix in the cream until smooth and then spread over the bars.  Place back in the refrigerator to set the chocolate topping.  Once set, you can take the pan out and slice to the size bars you like and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  

We enjoy these for a sweet snack or for dessert and I am so glad I found a sweet treat to be able to make given my dietary choices. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Waking up to Deliciousness

I have been a fan of a certain green-logoed coffee place's iced lattes for a while and since changing my diet (cutting out most sugar & starches) I have really enjoyed having a hazelnut or caramel iced latte - sugar-free with whole or 2% milk - as a treat.  It is one of the few things I can pick up when I am out and about and enjoy.  As you well know...these are not cheap treats.  So about 3 weeks ago I started researching making iced coffees at home.  I have had friends rave about cold-pressed coffee so that seemed like just the thing to solve my dilemma.  My boyfriend and I decided to buy a simple french-press coffee maker (you may have one you use to make hot coffee) and follow various directions on the internet about how to make cold-pressed coffee.  Here is what we have decided on:  16 scoops (scoop came with the coffee maker) of coarse-grind coffee & fill up the rest of the french press with cold/tap water.  Conventional wisdom says 9-24 hours of soaking in the fridge.  We have run the gambit of times and all seem to be fine - possibly longer makes it a little stronger.  Once your time is up, press the coffee grinds to the bottom & then store your cold-press coffee concentrate.  We use good old mason jars.  :)   Then when you feel like a treat or need a nice summery wake-up coffee, put a little bit of ice in your favorite glass, fill about half the glass (give or take for how strong you like it) with your fresh cold-pressed coffee, add a dash (or two or three) of your favorite sweetener - sugar-free syrup for me please, and fill up your glass with the milk of your choice.  Stir and savor your delicious treat! 

Syrups - We have found sugar-free syrups (Torani or DaVinci) at Sam's Club and King Soopers.  I prefer hazlenut or caramel so far.  But we also like Kaluha flavored and I am sure many of you would like vanilla. I might be wishing for sugar-free almond/amaretto or English toffee or cinnamon sugar flavored syrup as well.  Check out for all variety of flavors.  Something new to try!

Milk - Since changing my diet, I have been indulging in higher fat milks to slow down the lactose-sugar breakdown.  We did try half and half in our coffees but felt that was a bit much.  I think I prefer whole milk for my iced coffees but 2% is also good.  Choose your favorite!  

Hope you enjoy a little window into my summer "cooking".

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Adventures in Cooking

I have decided to attempt a blog to record my experiments in the kitchen.  I have recently (in the past 6 months or so) made some changes to my diet and am cooking a bit differently.  Therefore...I have many experiments.  I want to record my attempts, recipes & ideas and have a place to come back to when I want to be reminded of things I loved!  So here we go!

Tonight we tried something new.  I am going to call it Broccoli "Rice" Casserole.  We have been making what I call "Mash" for quite some time.  Many people have versions of faux potatoes made with cauliflower.  I just call my version "Mash" and I make with steamed cauliflower, neufchatel or cream cheese, butter, salt & pepper.  Tonight we decided to try using a frozen bag of broccoli and cauliflower to make "Mash".  When the vegetables felt tender with a fork I did my normal thing and mashed up the vegetables using a hand potato-masher and put in the butter, cream cheese, salt & pepper.  The broccoli (stems mostly) didn't turn out very creamy but it seemed to look like Broccoli Rice Casserole.  So I tasted it and thought it had a similar texture too.  I added a little shredded cheddar to finish off that idea and Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boop - Broccoli "Rice" Casserole.  

As I blog I will work on adding actual recipes & getting better at taking photos!
This picture is just taken with my phone...sorry about the quality.  Indian-spiced grilled chicken, Broccoli "Rice" Casserole & Fried Cabbage.
Broccoli "Rice" Casserole Recipe (or as close as I can estimate it to be)
1 bag frozen broccoli & cauliflower
2 oz cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
3 T butter
1/3-1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Steam vegetables till tender.  Drain any water left in the vegetables.  Add butter & cream cheese to vegetables & mash together with potato masher.  Add salt & pepper to taste & sprinkle in cheese.  Stir it all together and enjoy!