Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

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I love finding a new recipe that I know immediately will be a winner. The picture draws me in and then I start examining it further for ingredients that my family loves. Then, I’ll scan the ingredient list to make sure there isn’t anything my family hates or I see if I can omit the item or substitute. My family loves pasta and spaghetti is their favorite type. Add in some heat and I know my husband will love it.

Apparently, I’ve been under a rock because I had never heard of Chicken Spaghetti before. Apparently, it’s a classic but uses canned soups. Well, canned soups aren’t my thing unless it is absolutely necessary so I am glad I found this recipe as it is below since I would have glanced over it otherwise. This meal is great since it provides plenty of flavor, but doesn’t deviate too far from my family’s comfort zone. It really doesn’t contain a lot of heat, just enough for flavoring. I promise, I’m a wimp so I mean it when I say it isn’t hot. If you want it hotter, play around with the addition of more jalapeno peppers and cayenne. Just to be safe, before adding everything together to bake, I pulled out the pasta and chicken and served that to my daughter without the flavorings. The joys of having a young child is that they will accept a plate with chicken, pasta, tomatoes, and a lump of shredded cheese!

This was well received and has made it’s way into the easy dinner rotation. I hope your family enjoys it as well!

Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and halved lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for topping
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken

Lightly grease a 12-inch skillet. Cook spaghetti according to package directions in a pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse, and transfer to skillet.

Meanwhile, turn on broiler. Place grape tomatoes and jalapenos on a foil-lined baking sheet, skin side up, along with garlic cloves and onion. Broil 5 to 7 minutes on a rack placed 6 inches away from heat. Remove from oven, let vegetables cool, and dice. Reduce oven to 350F.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until well combined and slightly browned, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in milk and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens to coat spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and slowly stir in half the cheeses, about 1/4 cup at a time, until melted into sauce. Stir in diced vegetables, along with cumin, cayenne, cilantro, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper. Pour sauce into cooked spaghetti and stir in shredded chicken. Top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Source: Homesick Texan’s Family Table

Light Italian Dressing

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Our spring has not been that wonderful here in Maine. It’s been filled mostly with cold, rainy days. I know summer is coming though and we’ll most likely go from cold to blazing hot in a blink of an eye. I’m sure I’ll complain about the heat, but I am looking forward to days of fresh produce from our garden, eating outside, and enjoying meals from the grill. One of my daughter’s favorite things to do is eat lunch outside on the deck. She loves having a picnic and usually our spring days are filled with lots of picnics. Not this spring though. We’ve only done it once, sadly. Anytime it is nice out though we head outside and start shifting from our heavy, cold weather meals to light, fresh meals. We’ve craving the sun and warmth just like the plants outside. I whipped up this dressing last week when it was warm and it felt so nice to have a fresh salad with this on it. Of course the next day it was back to being cold, but I had that memory and I continued to eat my salads with this dressing to spite Mother Nature.

This is a great alternative to your standard Italian dressings you may be making or buying. You can’t taste the “lightness,” it takes just like any other Italian dressing, but you also aren’t getting those fake ingredients from the bottle “light’ dressings. You also probably have all, if not most, of these ingredients on hand anyways! So, dress you garden salad, pasta salad, or marinate your chicken in it this summer and know that it’s light, fresh, and a little healthier for you!

Light Italian Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, halved
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Rub the cut sides of the tomato along the coarse holes of a grater into a bowl; discard skins.

Whisk in remaining ingredients and pepper to taste.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Shake well before using.

Yields 1 cup

Nutritional Information

Per serving (2 tablespoons): 38 Calories, 4g Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 92mg Sodium, 1g Carbohydrate, 0g Fiber, 0g Protein

Source: Food Network Magazine May 2011

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If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you will know that I love using wonton wrappers for traditional and nontraditional recipes. What you may find odd though, is I’ve never made wontons or dumplings with them. They aren’t just missing from the blog, they were missing from my life. I always order them when we go out for Chinese food, but it’s one item I hadn’t made at home. Recently, I decided to change that and have been playing around with different recipes. This recipe has been one we’ve gone back to a few times, although I tweak it each time. For us, the ginger is slightly too much, but I know others may love it so I wanted to stick with the original and later on I’ll post variations that I’ve come up with.

Potstickers or dumplings are great because you can make a large batch and freeze them for later. Simply freeze the raw dumplings on a baking sheet and then store in an airtight bag for up to 3 months. When you are ready to eat, simply cook from frozen. They are also great because you can eat them easily with one hand which, for me these days, is vital. My daughter loves them since they are a “fun” food to eat as well and you can even sneak all sorts of foods they may not realize they like yet inside!

 

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Pork & Chive Pot Stickers

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 1 Tbsp minced chives
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry sherry
  • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp cornstartch
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce (see below)

In a bowl, combine pork, chives, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, sesame oil, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water.

Place a heaping teaspoon of pork mixture in center of wonton wrapper. Lightly wet edge of wrapper, fold over, and press to seal. Repeat to form remaining dumplings.

In two batches, cook dumplings in a large pot of boiling water until cooked through, 4 minutes; transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. In a large nonstick pan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high. In two batches, cook until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Serve with dipping sauce.

Yields 20 dumplings, Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per serving; 200 Calories, 8.3g Fat, 9.1g Protein, 22.2g Carbohydrates, 1.3g Fiber

Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup light-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients.

Yields 1/2 cup

Nutritional Information

Per 2 tablespoons; 25 Calories, 0.3g Fat, 1.4g Protein, 4.9g Carbohydrate, 0g Fiber.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 2010

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I’ve been racking my brains lately with cooking dinner. I need something fast, that everyone likes, and it would be awesome if it was remotely healthy. I will be the first to admit that fast and everyone’s choice comes before nutrition lately. With the warmer weather I’ve been thinking of short sleeves and this post-baby lady isn’t happy. I also feel sluggish from all of the carbohydrates we’ve been eating. Bring on the spring and summer flavors, please!

In order to pass these meals by though, it has been taking a lot of convincing. Just when I pretty much have my husband’s approval on anything I make these days, my pre-schooler is starting to buck the system. I have to go through a whole routine to insure that she will try and like something. I list each individual ingredient out to her and show her that she likes them all. Then I convince her that it is, in fact, okay to eat these ingredients mixed up. They don’t have to live segregated on the plate. It’s OK, I promise. If all else fails, we have a chart next to the table where she earns a start for every new food she tries. Ten stars equals an ice cream cone, yeah we’ve resorted to bribery here!

This is another one of those great pasta recipes that are quick to throw together, use some things you already have in your kitchen, but offer a fresh taste to your normal, heavy pasta dish. Adults and kids will love it! Don’t have pancetta? Dice up some bacon instead! Want to omit the white wine? Go ahead! The original recipe utilitizes this as a side dish, but I went ahead and used a box of pasta and a little bit more peas and pancetta and called it a meal.

Farfalle with Peas, Pancetta, and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 12 oz uncooked farfalle or mini bowties
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 oz diced pancetta
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp lemon rind
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding frozen peas during last 2 minutes of cooking; drain.

Sauté pancetta 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add wine and cook 30 seconds. Add pasta mixture, butter, lemon rind, salt, and pepper; toss.

Nutritional Information

Adapted slightly from Cooking Light, May 2014