Chili, Chicken and Chicken

We made it back safely and WE’RE MARRIED!  I’ve been busy since we returned.  I went to Social Security to change my name and sent a form to the school to change my name there; I was online for hours ordering all my law school books; and I have dealt with financial aid (which was/is a huge headache).  And that’s just naming a few things.  So, one thing I haven’t been doing too much of is cooking.  This week we had 2 nights of chili and 2 nights of chicken meals and tonight I’m just finding something in the pantry.  Seriously, this evening I just want to stare at the TV, maybe watch a Christmas movie – or 2!  We have managed to watch Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, which was a childhood favorite.

Below are some pictures of this week’s eats.

Rachael Ray’s Steakhouse Chili (click for recipe)

Really simple, easy and delicious.

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

All I did with this was dab some dried thyme, salt & pepper on the chicken, then put it in the skillet with some EVOO.  Cook it until it is well-browned, then set chicken aside.  Drop in 2 tbsp. each of balsamic vinegar and honey.  Let it bubble up and stir, stir.  This takes 1 to 2 minutes.  It may still appear runny, but it will turn to glaze on the chicken.  This was served with roasted Brussels sprouts (tossed in EVOO, salt & pepper) and instant potatoes – that tasted nothing like instant because I added milk and Gruyere cheese.

Rotisserie Chicken and Vegetables

Wednesday I picked up a rotisserie chicken, which I don’t do often, but think I’ll probably do more often now that I’ll be attending school. Healthy and delicious!  I paired this with roasted zucchini and tomatoes (tossed in EVOO, salt & pepper) and again with more Gruyere potatoes.  I only took a picture of the vegetables because I’m sure you’ve seen a rotisserie chicken breast before, and the potatoes are in the picture above.

Like I said, it has been an uneventful week in food.

I have only worked out once this week, and I probably won’t again until Saturday because when I take a deep breath it feels like someone punched me in my back.  I blame you, Jillian! I did Week 2 of the new DVD I have – Ripped in 30.  It was a big step up from Week 1 – WOW – or maybe it was the fact I haven’t worked out in a week and a half.

I hope to update with our Santa Fe/Taos, NM eats soon because there was some good stuff! We also got a new camera, so the pictures will be a lot better – celebrate! Sadly, this week I still used my iPhone to take these photos because I didn’t feel like breaking out the camera to take one picture a night and have to upload them, blah, blah.

If no update before Christmas, then I hope everyone has a very, merry one!

Roasted Cabbage

Got back into the workout groove last night with Level 1 of 30 Day Shred.  I love Level 1! But this morning I wasn’t feeling that sore, so I was wondering if next time I should level up, but now the soreness is finding my leg and chest muscles.  Ahh!  It cooled off overnight, so a run is looking promising for this evening.

Last night we had baked chicken, potatoes and cabbage.  I was going to boil my cabbage like I always have in the past, but after roasting veggies and loving them, I thought heck, I can roast cabbage, too!  I had no idea what I was doing, but I cut the bottom off, then stood it up and cut down it’s middle, lay those 2 pieces flat and cut them each in half, then cut those pieces in half.  I put them on foil on a cooking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, topped with Kosher salt and pepper, then baked at 400F for 20 minutes, carefully turned each piece (some fell apart but that was cool), topped with more salt & pepper, then baked for 18 more minutes.  Oh my, the cabbage was good!  You could actually taste the cabbage itself than when you boil it and it’s all salt (at least mine anyway).  I still like boiled cabbage, but I see lots more roasted cabbage in my future.

I didn’t realize the pre-roast cabbage picture was so blurry.

The chicken is seasoned with Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing & Marinade.  I rubbed it on both sides, then baked it at the same temp as the cabbage, 400F, for 20 minutes, turned it and then baked about 15 more minutes.  Brett prefers the Lite Zesty Italian dressing, but both are good to me.

Layered Mexican Casserole and Scooter’s Spaghetti

Last Tuesday night we had this . . .(from Picky Palate)

Layered Mexican Chicken Rice Bake (click for recipe)

Ingredients:

I started the rice boiling, then added it to the vegetables that had been sauteed.  Then dumped in my cumin.

To cook the chicken, I boiled (poached) it in a little water, then shredded it with a fork.  Here’s what it looked like with the salsa mixed in.

Then, layer.

Before and after.

The top picture is how I left this dish while I went out for a quick 2 mile run.  I don’t have my stats with me because they’re on my new Garmin. I no longer use my Runkeeper app, so I can’t check my phone easily.  When I returned from the run, I topped the casserole with cheese and popped it in the oven.

This was just OK.  It was dry and needed more salsa.  That may be because I think I used a little more rice than was called for.  I also don’t like the layering in this dish.  I think a good stir (with added salsa) is what this dish needs.  It wasn’t worth the dishes I had to use.  My kitchen felt like a mess, but it could be because I was frustrated and wanted to run before it got too dark, but I’m borderline OCD when it comes to cleaning before I walk out of the kitchen.  So, I cleaned everything up before I went for the run and it seemed to take forever, then I came back to this mediocre dish.

Next up, Wednesday . . .

Scooter’s Spaghetti (click for recipe)

I got this recipe from Pinterest.

Ingredients . . .

This dish was really easy.  The only “time consuming” part would be chopping the onion, garlic and pepper.  After that, place the vegetables in a bowl with the butter, then microwave on high for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes.

Then add the cream and milk.

Ooh, creamy!  Brown your meat, then pour in the tomato sauce.  Put a little meat sauce in the bottom of  the casserole (I used a 10×6) then pour in the cooked spaghetti and top with the creamy concoction.

Then add the rest of the meat sauce. I then left this and did the 30 Day Shred.  After that, I topped with parmesan cheese and baked.

Top with the onions and bake for the final five minutes.

I was happy with how this turned out, but it was really rich and creamy.  I couldn’t eat too much of this – probably a good thing!

Thursday night we made tacos because we didn’t have anything planned for that night, so we made our usual Friday meal on Thursday, then Friday went out for pizza at Star Pizza.  Star used to be our go-to Friday night spot.  We have discovered other pizza places and haven’t frequented there near as often, but they still greet us with a smile.  The same people work there and the host always jokes that he doesn’t have our usual corner table available.  Why would it still be “usual” if we haven’t been there in 2 months?  Aww, so sweet.

To be honest, I can’t remember which days I ran and which days I shredded.  I need to check my Garmin watch and update this, so I’ll know for future reference.

Winner, Chicken Dinners

Monday and Tuesday were both new chicken dishes.  Dishes I got from Pinterest. Yes, still obsessed.

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken

This is probably the easiest thing I’ve ever cooked.  Just coat the chicken breasts with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese, then bake it.  I added too much garlic powder because I didn’t measure and the stuff just came pouring out.  You could tell it, too. Sigh.  But, all in all for the easiness of this dish, I would make it again, just not often.

Ingredients (mashed potatoes aren’t an ingredient – they were a side, but I just added it in the pic).

We paired it with some probably outdated Target mashed taters and the usual roasted Brussels sprouts.

Tuesday night, we tried Chicken Penne Florentine Bake.

Ingredients:

When I poured the Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette into the skillet to cook the chicken, a delicious smell followed.  Very nice.  Would probably saute chicken in this again for a salad topper, or just by itself with some side dishes like above.  After the chicken is browned, I poured in the next ingredients.

Doesn’t that look yum?  Naaah! Then add spinach.

I obviously don’t take good action photos.  Then stir in the pasta and pour everything into a 9×13 baking dish and top with cheese. Cheese!

I don’t think I would make this again.  It was good, but there was A LOT of spinach and not much of anything else, and I like spinach.  Here’s my blurry plate.  I must’ve been hungry.  Blurriness not caused by what’s in the glass in the next pic! It was Brett’s!

Brett wanted to make his contribution with a beer picture.  He’s been wanting to try this Maui Brewing Company CoCoNut Porter beer for a while now.  It was pretty good, but at $9.52 for a 4-pack, probably won’t be a frequent purchase.  Worth trying, though!

Zucchini and Fennel Chicken Pasta

I found the following recipe on Pinterest (obsessed), and couldn’t wait to try it out.  I will also be trying out other recipes from this blog, Picky Palate, because her recipes look YUM!  In fact, I’m making another one tonight.  I like quick and easy now and then, who doesn’t?, and this recipe was definitely that.  I had it ready before Brett got home around 6:30 (and it had been ready for a while).

Zucchini and Fennel Chicken Penne Gratin (click for recipe).

Ingedients:

Notice the fennel propped up on the olive oil.  This was my first time cooking with fennel.  I’ve been wanting to, just never have found the right recipe.  I also didn’t have the Lawry’s garlic salt called for in the recipe; instead, I just used my trusty McCormick’s garlic powder.  That is probably almost 3 lbs of chicken pictured, but I froze a breast for a later meal.  I just used 2 breasts.

First, simmer the zucchini and fennel in 2 tbsp of olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add in your chicken pieces and garlic and simmer  until chicken is browned or cooked through.

Then add in the Prego to the pot. You’re supposed to also add the pasta, but my pot wasn’t big enough, so I drained the pasta and put it in the 9×13 casserole dish, then dumped the mixture on top and stirred to mix.  I then covered it and left it on the counter a little while until Brett got home.  The recipe says to top with cheese and melt under the broiler.  I’ve had bad experiences with the broiler, so I put the oven on 400F and when Brett got there, I popped the casserole in for about 8 minutes, then topped with cheese and then popped it back in the oven until the cheese melted, maybe 5 minutes.  This was a lot of cheese!! I almost didn’t put as much as it called for, but there wasn’t much left in the bag, so I figured may as well pour it on.  Next time though – cutting the cheese at least by a half cup.

Just look at this cheesy goodness!

And here is my (first) plate – yes, I went back for seconds.  I loved the flavors of this dish! Mmm, mmm!

I was happy to have an early supper for once.  The rest of the night we just chilled and watched Monday night football.  Tonight we will definitely be back out there running.  I took yesterday off to rest the leg one more day and also because I had a frustrating work day and wasn’t into it.  I hope my run goes better today.  I’ve been pretty discouraged lately because I don’t see lots of improvement on my time.  I don’t think people shave off a minute per mile each run, but I feel like I should not be running near 13 minute miles.  I guess I’m pushing too hard my first mile, but that’s only a 12 minute (or 11:53) minute mile, so it doesn’t seem like I’m pushing THAT hard on mile 1 but when I know the one mile marker is coming, I almost fall down I’m so tired.  It has to be mental because I usually rest after mile 1, so my body just wants to do that every time now.  And after I get into mile 2, I get into a rhythm and don’t need to stop as much, but I’m still not fast and I still get winded.

Here’s to a good run today!

Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers

Wednesday night’s supper – Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers, courtesy of Emeril.

Ingredients (not pictured: Essence – we bought Emeril’s; we didn’t make our own).

Once you get everything chopped and prepped (thanks, Brett!), then you’re ready to combine and simmer.  A picture with the rice already tossed in…

The filling was so good!! We may have eaten a little before stuffing our faces the peppers.  Top those babies with the bread crumb/cheese mixture and put a little pat of butter on top.

What is that red stuff you ask?  It’s Classico Cabernet Marinara sauce that happened to be in the pantry (thank goodness!).  This recipe called for water to be added to the bottom of the dish.  No, thank you.  After reading reviews of others adding diced tomatoes, I opted to put in this marinara – so glad I did!  This dish came out phe-NOM-enal!! So yummy.

My plate.  I ate all of my pepper and stuffed goodness.  Mmm!

While the peppers were baking, we mixed up a cocktail I had seen in the new Rachael Ray magazine.  Pick-a-Liquor Ginger Cocktail.

Muddle 5 mint leaves into an old-fashioned (or short) glass.  Fill 3/4 of the glass with ice and add 1 1/2 oz vodka, gin, dark rum, bourbon or scotch.  Squeeze in 1 lime wedge and top with 5 oz. of ginger beer.  We opted for bourbon – Maker’s Mark.  This drink was refreshing and I really liked the taste.  I don’t like a lot of ginger taste, but this was good.

Thursday we did not run (GASP!).  It was National Noodle Day, after all!! Actually it was because we were lazy tired and Brett didn’t get home until almost 7:00.  I really didn’t want to eat at 9pm (again).  We made Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo – again. Old pic from that previous post…

Had a little Cabernet and watched the Jersey Shore (yeah, we did).  Turned out to be a good night.

Meat, cheese & pasta

Saturday, after the run we did a little shopping.  I was starving by midday.  We were going to grill out because it was such a beautiful day, but I was ready to eat!  We settled on Chipotle since we hadn’t been there in quite some time.  If I eat a burrito for lunch at work, I go to Bullrito – and I now know I prefer it over Chipotle.  Brett still prefers Chipotle because the says their steak is the best.  Since we ate such a big lunch, later on in the evening  we decided to have a little variety of cheeses and some prosciutto.  Blue cheeses, aged cheddar and a little Barely Buzzed, some prosciutto and I’m not sure what the other meat is, something Brett had – pastrami, salami, pepperoni – one of those.  It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed this spread with a few drinks.  We even got out a few Halloween decorations (it being October 1st and all), but we were very tired, so we saved those until Sunday.

Sunday morning I wanted something heartier than cereal, and I remembered we had some leftover tomato slices that I didn’t use on my sandwich on Friday.  We also had some deli turkey, eggs and jalapenos.  What to make?  THIS!…

We were ready to grill Sunday. The weather was still cooler and beautiful.  We grilled some jalapeno and cheese sausages for Brett and some kielbasa for me.  We also made the pressed potatoes again.  These are so good as a side dish and pretty quick to make.

We decorated the balcony with our usual witch and cobwebs.  This year we added a hanging zombie man – his eyes flash red!  I will have to get a picture of the balcony.  We also decorated inside and carved a jack-o-lantern while the movie “Halloween” played in the background.  We have seen it many, many times and will watch it many, many more times during this month, so we didn’t pay much attention to it – just love to hear that theme song playing while Brett’s stabbing a pumpkin with a knife.  Ah, bliss.  Anyway…

Monday brought more sausage!  We made Sliced Sausages over Spaghetti with Tomato-Basil Sauce – courtesy of Rachael Ray.

Ingredients…

Here are our sliced sausages…and our tomato sauce with basil.

And here is my final plate.  This dish was fairly easy to make and we enjoyed it.  We used Italian hot sausage, which added to the flavor.  I don’t think I would like any sausage with this that wasn’t a little spicy

Tuesday was Honey Bourbon Chicken!  Sounds good, yes?!

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this recipe, but it’s on a blog called The Southern Lady Cooks.  I haven’t checked out the other recipes on the site yet, but being from the South, I’m sure I’ll be back!  When I got home from work I trimmed the chicken and combined all the ingredients (for bourbon, we used Maker’s Mark) and put them all in a large Ziploc bag with the chicken. I gave it a good shake and put it in the fridge.  By now, Brett was home and we got changed for our run.  When we returned from the run, I poured the contents of the bag into a large Pyrex glass baking dish and popped it in the oven at 400F (contrary to what the recipe said) and baked it for about 17 to 20 minutes, then I turned the chicken over and cooked for another 15 minutes.  Brett said the chicken looked like it had a spray tan.  Ha! It does kind of look like it would fit in at the Jersey Shore.  The chicken turned out moist and with a sweet and savory taste.  The Dijon mustard flavor really came out.  I liked it, not loved, but liked.  We sided this dish with roasted Brussels sprouts (fave) and some instant potatoes (don’t just me).

Tuesday, we also went out for a run.  It was 81 degrees – still better than 97F!  It actually felt a little breezy.  I did great the first mile, but then had to stop for a minute to catch my breath.  I was breathing short and heavy.  I’m ready for my breathing to be more under control!  This time I actually ran past the house instead of stopping at the 2.8 mile mark.  I continued down the street and back, so I ended up at 3.05 miles.  I need to make the route be 3.2 miles so I’m doing a complete 5K, but that will come.  I did shave a tiny bit off my time though.  3.05 miles in 38:44 minutes.  Mile 1 = 11:52, Mile 2 = 13:09 and Mile 3 = 13:15.  Of course I would like to be down to 12 minute miles (if only all would be like mile 1) by now, so I could be down to 11 minutes or less on the day of the 5K, but I’m just going at a comfortable pace for now and will eventually get there.  The 5K I’m referring to is on October 29th in downtown Houston.  We finally registered for the Great Pumpkin Fun Run.  Excited!!

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