Thursday, February 25, 2016

Knorr Rice Sides

Knorr Rice (and Pasta) Sides are something that we always have on hand in our house.  With our busy and often opposite work schedules, there are some nights where I don't feel like making a big meal, so that's where Knorr comes into play.  If I'm just sauteing a few chicken breasts and need a quick side dish, I'll grab one of these bagged rice (or pasta) sides and add some fresh or frozen broccoli and dinner is done, in about 30 minutes or less.

However, I've never thought about re-purposing the side dishes to create a brand new meal.  Sure, I've seen the recipes on the back of the bags, but when I have glanced at them, I realize I'm missing an ingredient and I'll just go back to my original idea.  This month though we had a list of recipes to pick from, all utilizing Knorr Rice Sides and I decided on the Quick Risotto-Style Rice & Chicken, using the Knorr Rice Sides-Chicken Flavored Rice. 

It couldn't have been any easier, and from start to finish it took all of around 30 minutes.  The hardest part was dicing and sauteing the chicken breasts, and from there it was a breeze.  With the addition of some frozen peas and mushrooms that I had previously sauteed in the pan, and with some shredded parmesan cheese, I had a one pot meal that was really good and that took no time at all.

Knorr Rice Sides are one of those things I buy for the convenience factor. I know what I'm getting and it makes my life a little easier some nights.  But now there is a way to take that convenience food and bring it up a notch.  With a few minor changes you can have a nice meal without a lot of a work.

Thank you Knorr for providing me the product!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mazola Stir-Fry Chicken and Vegetables

It's been a while since I've been online, life has just gotten the best of me these last several months. I finally finished school and all my externships, then there was work while applying for jobs in the healthcare field, it's been a whirlwind.

But now, I have a lot, and I mean A LOT of free time on my hands.  Back in early October my husband and I quit our jobs and left our home of the last 6 years to move to Baltimore and in with his mother.  My MIL is in poor health and needs to have someone here in the home to really take care of her now, and that's where I come in.  My husband is working about 30 minutes away while I do my freelance gig and basically have become her caretaker.  I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, help with her activities of daily living, etc.  That is in itself a full-time job.  I miss working outside the home and I want so bad to be working in healthcare after spending the last few years busting my butt, but for now, it's not to be I guess.

Anyhow, now I have time for more cooking, more experimenting and writing!  This particular post is about an activity I did this month for AllRecipes.  Our sponsor was Mazola and I chose to make their Stir-Fry Chicken and Vegetables, and I'm so glad I did!

This dish was super easy to whip up and took no time at all to cook, which I definitely needed this week. I thought this was a versatile dish that you could easily alter to suit your tastes.  It was slightly sweet, which I liked a lot, and the sauce didn't overpower the vegetables or the chicken.  I will say that I did add more chicken broth to the dish, once I added the sauce mixture to the chicken and vegetables.  The sauce tightens up pretty quickly and I like a looser sauce in my stir-fry.  I also increased the amount of soy sauce to taste.  The recipe calls for 3 tbsp. but I use the low-sodium because of my MIL's high blood pressure and I found it needed closer to 1/4 cup of soy sauce. However, don't take my word for it.  If using regular soy sauce you may not need to add any additional, just taste it along the way and you can certainly change it up to suit your pallet.

Everyone in the house loved this dish.  I've already had the husband ask if I can make it again tomorrow but with only vegetables this time, and then next week we're going to make it using shrimp. Feel free to swap out your proteins and mix up the vegetables, use what you have in your fridge and freezer.  It's a great dinner for a quick and easy meal!

Thanks so much #Mazola and #AllstarsMazola

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweet & Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa thanks to Heart Healthy Mazola®

After a bit of a brief hiatus, thanks to school, work, the holidays and AllRecipes, we are back with some yummy heart-healthy recipes from Mazola®, our sponsor for the month of March. 

Both my husband and I have been diagnosed with high-blood pressure, and both of us are on medications to help lower it, but we have also tried to incorporate more heart healthy foods into our lives as well.  We have always primarily used olive oil for cooking but I didn't realize that Mazola® Corn Oil contains more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils.  It has 4x more than my trusty olive oil, 40% more than canola oil and 3x more than vegetable (soybean) oil.

What exactly are Plant Sterols?  Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are plant-based substances naturally present in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, legumes and vegetable oils.  Clinical studies indicate that when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, plant sterols can help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, which in turn can lower LDL blood cholesterol.

So with Mazola® Corn Oil in hand, I set off to make one of their delicious recipes, Sweet & Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa.  For this recipe and more, check out the Mazola® collection on AllRecipes.

The rub for the salmon was nice and it had a little heat to it, which was tamed by the fruit salsa.  Because of the medications we take, we had to eliminate the grapefruit, but we used mango, pineapple and a little canteloupe as a substitute and we were not disappointed.  I've not done a sweet salsa on seafood before but this was a really nice change from citrus.

Paired with a cilantro-lime rice and some freshly steamed broccoli, it made a wonderful and heart-healthy Mazola® dinner!

To learn more about the healthy benefits of cooking with Mazola®, click here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October with Ore-Ida

We love french fries in our house, but for whatever reason I rarely ever think about picking them up when I'm at the grocery store.  Maybe it's because unconsciously I know that if I buy them and bring them into the house, they will be eaten?  And really, looking at the nutritional information for the new Ore-Ida Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries (which we LOVED), they are not bad at all when it comes to calories, meaning I'm going to have to remember to buy these more often!

This month we were fortunate to work with Ore-Ida and so I gave their new Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries a try, pairing them with a roast and vegetables that I had thrown into the crock-pot earlier in the day.

All I can say is WOW!  They were so nice and crunchy, there was no 'frozen french fry' taste to them, and they were not overly salted (despite a review on the Ore-Ida website that says otherwise).  With a little of the homemade gravy poured over them, they were a wonderful accompaniment to our dinner and better yet, they took no time at all!

And then there are the holidays and the requisite Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole.  This is something I make every Christmas, and usually only at Christmas because its so good and so rich that it's a treat for our family.  Well it wasn't Christmas, but this month I made a batch of the Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole using Ore-Ida's hash brown potatoes and I paired it with a roasted lemon chicken and some fresh broccoli (which didn't make the picture below).

I made the recipe as is, except for substituting the corn flakes for the new Nabisco Premium Rosemary and Olive Oil Saltine Crackers (which btw, were yummy!).  You definitely need a crunch factor on the cheesy potatoes to offset the creamy and cheesiness of the dish, but oh they are so good!  

And for our last Ore-Ida dish this month, I paired it with Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage to make a quick and tasty Muffin Cup!  With a bottom crust of Ore-Ida Hash Browns, some cheese and some sausage that I had browned and sprinkled in each muffin tin, along with some eggs that had been beaten and poured over each cup and baked, this made for a quick breakfast.

I made about a dozen of these cups and what wasn't eaten for breakfast was easily stored in an airtight container and reheated in the microwave the next morning.

Definitely make sure you are using a non-stick muffin cups though!  I used some cooking spray thinking this would be enough to prevent the cups from sticking and I was dead wrong :(  They were more difficult to remove from the tins (and not nearly as pretty), but they were still yummy all the same.

These muffin cups are really versatile as well.  You can use up any leftover veggies you may have laying around in the refrigerator as well as any sort of cheese.  I used shredded cheddar in these, but I'm thinking the next time I make these I'm going to try shredded parmesan cheese and perhaps some spinach and artichoke hearts.

For more recipes like these, visit AllRecipes!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage

When I was growing up my mother would make spaghetti about once a week.  It was always a production, and not in a good way. Dad would never eat it, he didn't like noodles (why I'm not sure), and my younger brother (who always seemed to get his way) never wanted mushrooms in the sauce and I disliked onions.  Needless to say, when mom made sauce it contained no mushrooms and I would be left to pick out the onions while dad fired up a steak on the grill.  It's amazing what I remember of my childhood.  There are many memories of meal times in our house.  The cereal for dinner and making my brother laugh until he spewed cheerios all across the dinner table.  Dropping the hot pizza, right out of the oven, onto the floor, cheesy side down.  Whenever I think about them, they bring a smile to my face despite that my dad is no longer with us.

This leads me to tonight's dinner, Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage.  Like I said, the only pasta we ever ate growing up was spaghetti but despite my sheltered Italian food background, I've made up for it since!  I actually have my friend Angie to thank for introducing me to the world that is gnocchi.  I'd never tried it before and she let me sneak a fork full off of her plate and it was just so darn good!  We always have gnocchi in the house now, ready to drop at a moments notice.

Tonight, thanks to our awesome sponsor, Johnsonville we made a delicious dinner that took very little time to throw together, which is always a bonus in our house!  I browned Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage, boiled a package of mini gnocchi and sauteed up some miscellaneous veggies I had in the fridge.  The recipe called for red peppers and snap peas but I used spinach, mushrooms and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes.  Tossed them with some store bought pesto and light cream, and combined everything for a really pretty (I love the colors once plated) dinner.

The only complaint I got from my teenage son was that there wasn't any left!  Thanks Johnsonville for the opportunity to try something new, your Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage was a hit!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Johnsonville Italian Wedding Soup

Soup is a staple in our house, we could eat it all the time, as long as it's not from a can.  It's a great way to use leftovers (like the last little bit of various frozen veggies you may have in the freezer - that's our house), and it's pretty hard to screw up.

Italian Wedding Soup is one soup that I've never made before so I was excited to see a recipe for it from Johnsonville on AllRecipes.   I followed the recipe as directed, my only change was that I used ditalini instead of orzo since that was the only small pasta I had on hand.  I used Johnsonville's Pork and Chicken Mild Italian Sausage, which contains 50% less fat and just removed the casing to make the mini meatballs.  The meatballs turned out great, they were flavorful and held together really well in the soup.

The soup didn't call for any salt, but I felt like it really needed a little.  I'm guessing that because I used the Johnsonville 50% less fat sausage that the broth didn't turn out quite as seasoned as I would have liked.  And because I like lemon in pretty much everything, I added just a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little shredded parmesan which pushed this soup right over the top for me.  

It's been raining here in western Maryland for 6 days now.  It's grey and drizzling today (again), and its damp.  The perfect day for a warm bowl of Johnsonville's Italian Wedding Soup and a few slices of some warm buttered bread.  Hopefully, when I get home today there's a little soup left for me!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good Ol' Sloppy Joes, it's what's for dinner!

I've never been a fan of the canned sloppy joe sauce. I don't like the metallic canned taste or the green and red peppers, and growing up my mom always made homemade sloppy joes, so canned sauce is out of the question in our house.

Recently at work, one of my foodie co-workers and my official taste-tester, Paula, said she was craving sloppy joe's. I had been thinking about them too, so I volunteered to make a batch and bring them in when we were scheduled to work next, just a few days later.  After we sorted out who was going to bring what for our 'unofficial' dinner, I headed to AllRecipes to look for a recipe that would work. 

I found a recipe that got a lot of 5-star reviews and rather than using peppers, it called for celery.  I used the basis of this recipe and made some slight changes to suit my tastes, and what I ended up with, was absolutely delicious!

 I took over four pounds of this with me to work, leaving it on warm in the crock-pot and everyone at work who ate it, raved about it.  I brought what was left over home, which wasn't much, and both the hubby and son asked me to make it again just a few days later.

It's slightly sweet while still being tomato based and the celery added a nice crunch component to the mixture, without adding any additional flavor.

This Sloppy Joe is definitely a keeper and will be making more appearances in our house in the next few weeks!  Another beef recipe, it's what's for dinner!