Tuesday, January 29, 2013

pasta salad

This is just a simple, quick pasta salad.

Bowtie pasta
Green apples, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Cucumbers, chopped
Mozzarella cheese (I just use string cheese), cut up
Carrots, chopped
Chicken -- I don't add this

Combine all ingredients - however much you want of everything - and mix with rice vinegar (I use seasoned vinegar).

I make this sometimes when I just want something in my fridge to snack on during the week. In fact, maybe I will go make it right now. i LOVE rice vinegar too ... Maybe the original recipe had more of a vinaigrette, I don't know. But I just use straight up rice vinegar on it all. I could drink that stuff. I don't add the chicken b/c I don't like old chicken that's been in the fridge for a couple days ... and this lasts longer than that for me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

lettuce wraps

I kinda did a mash up of 2 recipes.  this one and this one...

1lb ground chicken breast (I used 3 boneless skinless breasts, chopped smallish)
1/2 medium onion, minced
salt & pepper, a dash of each
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch nob fresh ginger, peeled & minced ( I used way more than this, I love fresh ginger)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or more if you like it hotter)--I didn't have this, nor did i want to buy it, so I added a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
dash of fresh pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, shredded zucchini

  • Heat a large, non-stick skillet on high. Add chicken, onion, salt & pepper, and cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat. Add in minced garlic and ginger, and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink.
**Here I removed  the chicken and cooked the shredded carrots, cabbage and zucchini
  • Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce and pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add into the skillet and stir to combine.  I doubled the sauce because I added veggies
  • Add green onion and water chestnuts (I left these out, me no likey) into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through.
  • Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (I left these out too, my peanut butter was chunky and NOT natural), and serve with cold lettuce leaves
  • I like wraps with fresh veggies too, so I add a thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots to it along with cilantro.
  • I also like to add rice to make it more substatial, and I like to make sauce to dip it in:

Dipping/Drizzling Sauce
4 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs water
2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
 To prepare dipping sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

homemade granola bars

my kids eat a lot of bars, so I wanted to try these.  I loved them.  Almost like a rice crispie treat, but a little healthier.  I toasted the oats in the oven, and I also added some coconut and chopped almonds (both toasted with the oats).  Yum...  I doubled it and put them in a 9x13 pan.

*Note: Don’t substitute rolled oats for the quick oats because the granola bars will fall apart. If you only have rolled oats, give them a very quick process in a blender or food processor (don’t pulverize them!). Also, if you want to take these to a new level, toast the oats in the oven (350 degrees for 4-7 minutes) and let cool before using them in the recipe. Amazing.
*Makes 10-12 bars
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup rice krispies cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Lightly coat a 9X11-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. If you don’t have a pan that size, use a similar sized pan, like a 8X12-inch. This recipe is a bit small for a 9X13-inch pan but if that’s all you have, just pack the granola bar mixture into a smaller portion of the pan – the mixture doesn’t spread so that should work fine.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats and rice krispies. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture comes together, stirring frequently. Cook at a simmer (so the mixture is lightly bubbling) for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the wet mixture over the oats/rice krispies and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing down very firmly. If the mixture isn’t pressed down well enough, the bars will be crumbly once they cool. Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top. Press lightly if you want them to stick to the bars. Mine tended to fall off, which was just fine since there were a lot of little fingers ready to eagerly pick them up and eat them anyway. Let the bars cool for at least 2 hours at room temperature. Cut into rectangles. Store well covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

pasta fagioli

recipe found here
my changes are in red.  I liked this soup a lot, similar to minestrone, but pureed beans added a different flavor that we likes.  I would like to add some grated zucchini next time I make it, my kids don't like it big.

Pasta Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
Servings: 5 • Serving Size: about 2 cups • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 254.5 • Fat: 3.4 g • Protein: 10.3 g • Carb: 47.5 g • Fiber: 6.8 g


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped (I added more)
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped (I added lots more)
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans (I used great northern beans)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 (14 oz each) cans fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz dry Ditalini pasta or other small pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
  • I also added a small can of diced tomatoes
  • I also added a not pureed can of black beans at the end


In a deep pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat.

Blend the can of beans with one can water in electric blender until almost smooth. I blended the can of tomatoes here, so it was smooth

Add blended beans to pan then add the can of tomato sauce, celery, carrots, chicken broth, basil, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to slow boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is al dente, according to pasta directions.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese (extra).

spaghetti sauce, nettie style

We haven't had cable in many years, so I get my food channel fix watching America's Test Kitchen on PBS.  This recipe comes from there, but I didn't actually write it down, so it's my memory of what I watched.

1/4 cup onion, grated
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp butter
1 (normal size) can of tomato paste (this is my addition, if you wanted it less thick, don't add it, but I like the flavor)
1 large (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes--this makes all the difference.  I usually use Hunts brand, because I like it, and once I used another brand and it didn't taste right.
basil to taste (I add about 2 tsp)
oregano to taste (1/2 tsp)
parsley to taste (1 tsp)
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

melt butter in pan, add grated onion until it's soft, sprinkle in sugar and cook until golden to kinda carmalize them.  Add red pepper flakes (I usually do a pinch) and garlic, careful not to burn.  cook until fragrant.  add tomato paste and cook it, this kinda caramelizes too and makes it sweeter.  don't let it burn.  add  crushed tomatoes and seasonings.  Let cook for 20 or so minutes.