It’s week 5 of my New 2 Me Cooking Challenge! And… I made ANOTHER recipe (slightly) adapted from the Spiffy Cookie. I swear that woman understands my food-eating-soul. I mean the part of me that loves simple & quick, but still delicious and filling. So whatever you call that… she gets it.
I cut the original recipe in half, and substituted broken lasagna noodles for the shells. It is called Skillet Lasagna, after all. Hubs was still hungry after he ate his portion, so I’ll probably make the whole amount next time.
I used all low-calorie ingredients while I was making this… lean beef, Prego Heart Smart Roasted Garlic sauce, the ricotta only had 50 calories per serving, and the mozzarella was reduced fat & made with skim.
I used homemade Italian seasoning, but I’m sure you can buy it in the spice aisle at the grocery store.
Also… I forgot to take pictures. I was so hungry I devoured my dinner. Hubs wasn’t home at dinner time and he mushed his leftovers too much for it to look pretty. I’ll get one the next time I make this Skillet Lasagna. It’ll probably be very soon. Like next week. I think this’ll be going into our regular dinner rotation.
See my version of this Skillet Lasagna!
Week 49- Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket
I didn’t change much in this recipe. Honestly, the only thing I changed was the sauce. In BH&G cook book they combined some of the sauce ingredients, then set a little bit of that aside, and THEN added the ketchup, brown sugar, and some butter to a pot to heat w/ the reserved liquid. That way… was… well… too complicated for me. What I mean is, I was being excessively lazy and just dumped everything into the slow cooker. THEN I realized the sauce wasn’t thick enough so I boiled it on the stove top, and then added almost 2 tablespoons of corn starch. I think AP flour would also work, but don’t quote me. Or you could possibly boil it then reduce the heat and let it simmer to reduce it… maybe?
As for the brisket itself, I actually used a smaller one, it was closer to 1 ½ lbs. I guess the size doesn’t really matter (in this case). You’ll just have to adjust the time in the slow cooker accordingly.
Week 50- Jambalaya
Usually I write each segment for these Challenge posts as paragraphs, but I don’t think that’s going to work in this case. I’m going to try it w/ bullets instead.
– I don’t oven a real dutch oven. I have a pot the I “borrowed” from my mom that is wide & more shallow, it’s also not oven safe… but it works on the stove top in place of a dutch oven… it’s also wide enough for spaghetti noodles, but I digress.
– This recipe is adapted from a few on AllRecipes.com. They all called for Andouille sausage & something called filé powder. Neither of which could be found in my grocery store. I subbed cajun sausage and just left out the Filé Powder.
– I’m not sure if I was supposed to drain the diced tomatoes… but I didn’t. If you do, use more chicken broth.
– It’s very possible that my jambalaya has too much rice. Actually I’m about 90% positive there’s too much rice. All the other recipes use about ½- ¾ of a cup LESS than I did. Yaaaaah… so…
– I’m not sure this counts as a “real” jambalaya due to the lack of Andouille sausage & filé powder… But it came out pretty darn good.
– This recipe made enough to feed an army. There was so much left over I got sick of eating it by the end of the week.
Week 51- Chicken Parmesan
I have to confess something…
I have the horrible habit of over-cooking chicken. Ever since I started cooking (whatever mom told my sister or I to start when she was getting out of work late), I’ve been petrified of undercooked meat. Is that strange? I think it drives Hubs crazy, but he’s too nice to say so. I mean… up until VERY recently I’d only EVER eaten steak well done. What I’m telling you is… I’m trying to break myself of the habit of overcooking meat. I bought a meat thermometer. It’s awesome. When we accidentally left the first one in the (hot) grill this summer, Hubs went out THE NEXT DAY, and bought me a new one. That’s love. 😉
Alright… so that didn’t have much to do with Chicken Parmesan, besides for the fact that this dish was NOT overcooked. Of course I stood over it the entire time it was cooking, staring like a hawk. Like a very hungry hawk.
The cutlets I bought where super thin, I think I cooked these over medium heat for about 5 minutes each side. As usual I forgot to effing check the effing clock when I started. Dammit.
After I put the sauce in the skillet and the cheese on the chicken, I only cooked it for another 5 minutes. I have a pretty big skillet so it ended up being a really thin layer of sauce. I used my favorite Prego (Heart Smart) Roasted Garlic sauce, obviously you can use whatever you want. I had a block of mozzarella that I sliced really thin than layered on the cutlets.
I bet you’re thinking “where the heck in the parmesan in your chicken parmesan”? The answer is… I left it off ‘cause it has a ton of calories, and so far I haven’t found a low calorie substitute that I like. Those fake ones in the shaker just don’t work in this case. If you’re willing to eat the extra calories… go ahead and sprinkle some shaved parmesan over the top. 😉 We had this over some plain spaghetti noodles this time. Next time it’s going on a hoagie with a big side of baked french fries.
This recipe gets thumbs up from both Hubs and I.
Week 52- Cheater Chicken & Dumplings (Slow Cooker)
I got this recipe from one of those silly recipe books they sell with the magazines at the grocery store checkout. We happened to be in a particularly long line and Hubs picked up one full of slow cooker recipes. Needless to say it happened to fall on to the checkout counter to come home with us. I modified it a little bit by adding the corn, using Grand’s biscuits, and using cream of celery soup. Next time I make this recipe I’ll either use regular sized refrigerated biscuits or make some homemade ones.
I’m not sure what “real” chicken and dumplings tastes like. I’ve never had it before. Hubs had a second serving, so he was either REALLY hungry or he liked it. IMO it tasted like chicken pot pie. I thought it was kind of… boring. But no complaints. It was, after all, stupid easy.
That wraps December’s New 2 Me Cooking Challenge and an entire year of trying to make something “new” every week! I can’t believe I’ve attempted to make 52(!) new things. I know I didn’t try anything *really* challenging, but I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone of frozen pizza & chicken/ rice. It’s been pretty fun. I’m planning on continuing in 2014 but with a sliiighly different format! Keep looking out for it. I might even try something more difficult… maybe.
PS: click on the headers to see the recipe!
Week 40- Cheater Chicken Pot “Pie”
When you read how easy this recipe is you’ll know why it’s called Cheater Chicken Pot “Pie”… it’s so easy and it’s not really a pie. I guess I should’ve called it a casserole. Oh well.
I used those mixed veggies that you steam in the bag, and microwaved them for half the required time before I stirred them into the casserole dish. I’m not sure that it really mattered, but I wanted to get the veggies a little more cooked. It took the biscuits about 10-12 minutes to turn golden.
I used the 9X13 casserole dish because I wanted to keep each serving size kind of small/ low calorie, you could probably squeeze this thing into a 9inch pie plate or square casserole.
This dish got thumbs up from both of us. It’s going to be perfect for those winter days when I want something warm AND quick.
Week 41- Cornbread Chili Bake
There’s no recipe for this week because I messed around with this Cornbread Chili Bake from A Kitchen Addiction, and I didn’t like the way my version turned out. Go check out the original one… I think IT looks delish.
I did learn 2 things when I made this…1) I don’t like black beans and 2) I really don’t like the Jiffy brand corn bread mix.
When I try this again, I’m going to use my favorite homemade cornbread recipe and make a few other tweeks. OR, I could try the original version.
Hubs ate his servings, but didn’t ask me to save the leftovers, so I def need to make another attempt.
Week 42- Slow Cooker Veggie Beef Soup
This recipe is another one from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It’s a winner. I changed up the cut of meat, and the amount of potatoes & veggies. When I first put it in the pot I realized that it’s a little chunky to be a soup, but it’s too brothy/ thin to be a stew. I think that’s just because I changed up the ingredients… after all I was only supposed to use 2 medium sized potatoes, not 24 oz of baby Golds. Ha! I left the skins on them, and cut some of the bigger ones in half.
This soup is def going into my rotation. I liked it well enough, and Hubs even reheated some for lunch the next day. WIN.
Week 43- Lasagna
I adapted this recipe from All Recipes. I’ve been dying to try a lasagna for a while, and the cooler weather is the perfect excuse! Honestly though, it’s a little complicated for me. I mean there’s noodle to boil meaty stuff to combine, and cheese to spread. It was kind of a lot of work. Not that it didn’t taste great or anything. It was pretty awesome. However, I had a few problems…
First- I didn’t have a pot big enough to cook the noodles in, so I broke them in half and cooked them that way. Have you ever seen those no boil lasagna noodles? I probably should have used those, but they kinda weird me out. That might make me sound a bit strange, huh?
Then there’s the whole time issue. It just took me a bit longer to prepare then I like to spend.
Finally, unless you’re feeding an army, this is waaaaaay too much food! I ended up putting half of it in the freezer. Hopefully it’ll be just as good reheated.
Overall it got 2 thumbs up. Hubs ate seconds.
Week 44- Garlic Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Alright. I have a confession. I didn’t plan on making anything new this week. I had no freaking idea what I wanted to make. I looked through blogs and my cook books all week and not one single thing jumped out at me.
so, sad with the knowledge of my failure to think of something “new” I went to the grocery store for my weekly shopping. Then… it happened. Cauliflower was on sale AND I just happen to remember glancing at a roasted cauliflower recipe on Picky Palate.
I reduced the amount of oil and salt (I used table salt instead of kosher). I also added the parmesan. ‘Cause what goes better with garlic than parmesan? Nothing.
My head of cauliflower was pretty small so I only ended up cooking it for 15 minutes before I turned the broiler on. The open flame of the broiler totally freaked me out! Is that silly? I’m still getting used to using a gas oven…
This got 2 thumbs up. Between the two of us we ate Every. Last. Piece. I get the feeling that I’ll be making this a lot.
That’s all for my New To Me Cooking Challenge for October.
Week 26- Taco Pasta
I’ve been wanting to make this for a while, but I feel like the Food Gods have conspired against me. It just never happened. Something always came up. I finally got around to it this week, and neither Hubs OR I are disappointed in it. He said it was like Hamburger Helper only 100x better!
I did change it up a bit, so you should check out the original version over at Cravings Of A Lunatic. I didn’t use a crock pot, and I changed up the amounts of most of the ingredients! As usual I used reduced fat or low-fat products (darn those calories!).
I don’t really like cream cheese, so I think I might change it out for some Velveeta next time. You might want to let it sit for a few minutes before you serve… let it thicken up a little bit.
one last thing… when YOU measure pasta- do you go by the weight before you cook it, or after? I always go by the weight before.
Week 27- Cowboy Crockpot Breakfast
Who doesn’t LOVE breakfast for dinner? I know I do! I adapted this recipe (slightly) from Foodie Army Wife.
It came out pretty freaking fantastic! The only problem I had was waiting for the eggs to finish cooking! It actually took mine about an extra 15 minutes.
I’m not sure how this would work for a breakfast meal… unless you only need 6 hours of sleep, and then I guess you could just start it right before you go to bed. My fancy-shmancy slow cooker has a “warm” setting that switches on automatically when the cook time is finished… so that might help if you’re not a morning person. I think I’ll probably stick to making it for dinner. 😉
Ok. I feel really really really bad… I didn’t make anything new this week. We moved into our house on Saturday, and I was so busy unpacking and cleaning that I didn’t plan anything for dinner. Literally. NOTHING. Not one single dinner. Poor Hubs was scrounging all week off paper plates and had to use plastic utensils.
Hopefully I’ll be able to make it up to him soon.
Week 29- BBQ Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
I adapted this recipe from Mom’s Test Kitchen. Go HERE to check out the original. I added a few things of my own. I like to make tons of pasta salad at a time, so I can have some leftover to eat throughout the week… especially when Hubs has to work out of town. I really hate cooking for one.
The next time I make this I’ll def use less chicken. We got this pack on sale at the grocery store, and I figured I’d just use it all. My HUGE bowl was actually overflowing with pasta salad, this recipe makes 14 cups! Basically, it’ll make enough to feed an army. You may want to cut it by half. 😉 The next time I make this I will… The one other thing is that the Ranch and BBQ was kind of light, if you like your pasta salad drowning in dressing you might want to use more.
Hubs and I both liked it. How could I not? It has all of my favorite things in it! No, seriously… everything in this pasta salad is on my “favorite foods” list.
Week 30- Pizza Crust Dough II
I guess this isn’t (technically) something NEW because I made a pizza crust for week 11 of the challenge. I used a different recipe, so I’m using it anyways.
The recipe was SLIGHTLY adapted from The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook. If you don’t own this cookbook… you should go buy it. Seriously, it’s got a ton of great stuff, and the tips & tricks throughout are super helpful! I learned the technical difference between “stiff dough”, and “soft dough”. I’m not sure what it says about my baking abilities that I didn’t know “stiff dough” really just means firm to the touch.
I warmed my water in the microwave for about 40 seconds, then used a (clean) meat thermometer to check the temperature. I know the recipe says to beat the ingredients together, I thought it was weird too. But trust me. Just do it. I used less flour then the original, and let mine rest/rise for almost 20 minutes. The cookbook also said it would make 2 crusts… but it didn’t. At least mine didn’t. I got one.
I’m pretty simple when it comes to pizza. I like a simple mozzarella & pepperoni with light, non-chunky sauce! I think this crust could hold up with heavier toppings, too.
Week 31- Slightly Better For You Than Regular Mozzarella Sticks
I love cheese. Really. Love. Cheese. So, when I stumbled on these while I was browsing around on Heather’s French Press… I knew I had to try them. Right away.
And they’re awesome.
I did however have a little trouble with the dredging and dipping… but I think that’s just a personal issue. Once I got going, and got the flour even, the cheese sticks started looking better. Make sure you keep them frozen, or they will melt in the oven! It didn’t happen to me, but I did notice that they started melting on the edges, and kind of flattened out a little bit.
Next time I’ll probably cut the cheese sticks in half before I freeze them. That way they’ll have fewer calories, and I can serve them to a larger group of people! I’m also debating crushing up some Rice Krispies and using them in place of the flour to save a few more calories.
These cheesesticks wrap up July’s New To Me Cooking Challenge! Don’t forget to click on the heading for my version of that weeks recipe.
Happy Baking/ Making/ Cooking!