I love to cook but I feel like I am always making the same 5 things for dinner and that gets old quick. I decided to start this blog to make myself try new recipes. The goal is that I will find a recipe, try it out and then post it on the blog for others to try and review. I will also post recipes that I have yet to try, but look like they might be good. If you have a recipe that you would like to see posted on the blog, email it to me, or leave it as a comment.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole

cooking spray
1 cup(s) canned yellow corn, drained, or frozen, thawed corn kernels
1 tbsp canned green chili peppers, chopped, mild or hot
15 oz canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup(s) cooked brown rice, fresh or day old
3/4 cup(s) shredded Mexican-style cheese
3/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp scallion(s), chopped (dark green part only)
2 tbsp shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 2-quart glass baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine corn, chilies, beans, rice, 3/4 cup of cheese, sour cream, chili powder, salt and pepper; stir in scallions.
Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts and casserole is slightly bubbly, about 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes to firm up before slicing into 6 pieces. Makes 6 servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS: 4

***Change the beans or cheese to your liking: white or black beans, reduced-fat cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheeses all work well. If you want to brown the cheese more, place the dish (make sure it's broiler safe) under the broiler for a minute or two. I used a whole can of diced green chilies instead of just a tablespoon, because we really like them, it was great!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

2 1/2 cup(s) water, divided
1 cup(s) uncooked white rice, long grain-variety
2 tsp olive oil
1 3/4 cup(s) red onion(s), chopped, divided
1 medium banana pepper, cubanelle or other sweet pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
31 oz canned black beans, two 15.5 oz cans (undrained)
1 tsp table salt, or to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2/3 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped, divided
1 medium lime(s), cut into 6 wedges

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil; add rice and cook as package directs.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of onion and all of the pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in beans and their liquid, remaining 1/2 cup of water and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for flavors to blend, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and 1/3 cup of cilantro.
To serve, spoon beans over rice; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of remaining onion and 1/3 cup of remaining cilantro; squeeze fresh lime juice over top. Yields about 3/4 cup of beans and 1/2 cup of rice per serving. Makes 6 servings.

POINTS Value: 5

*** There is way to much cilantro in this recipe for my tastes, but I did like a little sprinkled on top. I drained the beans to cut down the sodium, but I added a little extra water.

Chili Beef Tacos

2 tbsp chili powder, or Mexican seasoning
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion(s), chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
8 oz uncooked lean ground beef (with 7% fat)
8 oz canned tomato sauce
8 oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 item(s) Old El Paso Regular Taco Shell(s), or equivalent product (about 1/3 oz each)
4 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
4 tsp cilantro, fresh, chopped

Toast chili powder and cumin in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add oil to skillet and heat; add onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add beef and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and beans; cook 5 minutes more or until heated through. (Note: To turn up the heat, toss in some chopped chipotle peppers with the tomato sauce.)

To assemble, fill each taco shell with 1/4 cup of beef mixture; top each with 1/2 tablespoon of sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro. Yields 2 tacos per serving. Makes 4 servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS:6

Monday, March 9, 2009

Italian Chicken and Orzo

2 4oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
cooking spray to coat pan
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp minced red onion
1 cup cooked orzo pasta

Pound chicken to an even 1/2 inch thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pat chicken breast with oregano and pepper, coating both sides. Brown chicken in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Remove chicken from skillet. Add tomatoes to skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Add chicken broth and onion. Return chicken to skillet. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken to baste. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, turning chicken once, until chicken is cooked through. Turn heat up for the last few minutes to reduce sauce slightly. Serve over 1/2 cup of orzo for each serving. Spoon extra sauce over chicken and orzo.
Makes two servings.

Weight Watchers POINTS value: 5

My husband and I recently joined Weight Watchers; from now on recipes will include POINTS values. This recipe is from the weight watchers website. The original recipe called for whole wheat orzo, which I didn't have so I used regular white pasta. If you use whole wheat the POINTS value is 4 instead of 5. I only had Spanish style diced tomatoes on hand, but it still turned out great, just a little spicier than if I had used Italian style diced tomatoes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cookies till You're Content

I LOVE TO BAKE!!! I've decided to start adding new cookie recipes as well as new dinner ideas to my blog. I got a wonderful cook book this weekend and I can't wait to start using it!

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken

1 pound penne pasta
2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.
Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before serving top with Parmesan.

*** I hope you like lemon if you try this recipe! I would recommend adding the lemon juice a little at a time and testing it to get the flavor you want. I put all the lemon juice in at once and it was to strong for me.

Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks

4 sirloin strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each) 1 inch thick
1 1/2 tbsp dark chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 large red onion, cut into 4 thick slices
Olive oil to coat onion
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to high heat. combine spices for rub and rub well into steaks.

Coat red onion slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill steaks and onion slices about 5 minutes on each side, remove from heat. Let meat stand for about 5 minutes. Top with grilled onion rings and serve.

*** Go easy on the spice rub! A little goes a long way with strong flavors like these. The spice rub recipe made enough for twice as many steaks as the recipe calls for.

Pasta al Forno

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound penne rigate (with lines)
softened butter, for baking dish
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 pinches cinnamon
6 slices bacon, chopped and extra crispy
1/4 to 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Put a pot of water over high heat to boil. when water boils add salt and pasta. Cook pasta to al dente (soft on the outside with a little crunch on the inside), about 7 minutes. Once pasta water comes to a boil preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Butter a medium size baking dish or casserole. Ad olive oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. cook onions and garlic in olive oil 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Add cream and season sauce with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add chopped bacon to sauce and stir with cooked pasta to combine. Adjust seasonings and transfer pasta to baking dish. cover pasta with cheese and place in oven. Bake until top is lightly brown and pasta is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.

*** This pasta was so very good. The recipe makes enough for a 9x13 pan which fed my family for a week! Just go easy on the cinnamon, the flavor is really enhanced when you bake it.