Greek Chicken Pasta Salad

I am so excited to share this because I’m thinking this may be my new favorite summer salad! It was so fabulous that even my brother approved it! Once again, the dressing consists of heart-healthy olive oil, which contains the good mono- and poly- unsaturated fats (as opposed to the not-so-good saturated fats and the very bad trans fats). One of the reasons people of the Mediterranean are considered so healthy is because of their use of plant-based fats, like olive oil, as opposed to animal-based fats, like butter. Anywho, enough jibber-jabber. Get in the kitchen and start cookin’!

 

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 12 oz farfalle (bow-tie) vegetable pasta
  • 16 oz shredded cooked chicken*
  • 6 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup reduced-fat feta

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, and then cool.
  2. Stir chicken and veggies into the pasta.
  3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the feta) to make the dressing.
  4. Combine the pasta and chicken with the dressing, and refrigerate to allow the flavors to marinate until ready to eat! And don’t forget the feta!

*To cook and shred the chicken, here is my easy, foolproof method:

  1. Place chicken in a skillet.
  2. Fill with water until the chicken is barely covered.
  3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and other seasonings as desired. (In this case I added oregano, basil, and turmeric).
  4. Bring the chicken to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes.
  7. Drain the water, shred the chicken with two forks, and Voila!

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 3 cups salad + 2 tbsp. feta
  • Calories: 445
  • Fat: 17g
  • –Saturated:
  • –Polyunsaturated:
  • –Monounsaturated:
  • –Trans: 0g
  • Sodium: 595mg
  • Potassium: 15mg
  • Carbohydrates: 47g
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Vitamin A: 28%
  • Vitamin C: 5%
  • Calcium: 8%
  • Iron: 20%

* This recipe was inspired by The Wanderlust Kitchen, at http://thewanderlustkitchen.com/mediterranean-orzo-pasta-salad/.

Advertisements

Tangy Mac’n Cheese

Mac’n cheese: the ultimate comfort food. Typically, it’s absolutely delicious but not so nutritious. Lucky for you, this recipe happens to be both delicious and nutritious. How? Subbing greek yogurt for butter and cream saves tons of unnecessary fat and calories, so now you can enjoy mac’n cheese without feeling guilty about it!  This recipe also happens to be quicker and easier than most. It’s a little more difficult than the stuff from the box, but much better! This is great served with roasted broccoli, too!

 

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup cheese of choice (I like reduced-fat sharp cheddar)
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs, for topping

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, constantly stirring for about 1 minute. Add the milk slowly and contine to constantly stir.
  5. When the sauce is smooth whisk in the salt, pepper, and 3/4 cups of cheese.
  6. Remove this mixture from heat and allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the Greek yogurt.
  7. Next add the pasta and an additional 1/2 cup of cheese and stir well to combine.
  8. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake for 10 mintues, until the cheese is melted. Yum!

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 250
  • Fat: 12g
  • Sodium: 600mg
  • Potassium: 40mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 14g

*Recipe adapted from A Dash of Soul, at http://adashofsoul.com/2014/04/08/greek-yogurt-macaroni-cheese/.

The Spaghetti Bolognese 

There’s a reason this is the Spaghetti Bolognese.  If you’ve never had it, the time is now. Ironically, this Italian takes me back to Deutschland. You could find this dish at any restaurant in Germany, Italian or not. There’s just something comforting about it that fills you up with a warm, somehow creamy goodness. As the Italians would says, this spaghetti is Delicioso!

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 med. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1lb ground chuck beef
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • Red wine, to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Fresh or dried basil, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1lb spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Directions 

  1. Heat oil in skillet. Add the garlic and onions and sauté at medium-heat for about 8 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to high and add the beef, cooking it until it is no longer pink. Drain some of the fat and add a splash of red wine, if desired.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes, parsley, and basil. Simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in the cheese. 
  6. Stir in the spaghetti and you’re done. Delicioso!

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 388
  • Fat: 17g
  • Carbohydrates: 43g 
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 18g

*Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis. Here’s the link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/simple-bolognese-recipe2.html

Corn and Kale Pasta

I went to my first farmer’s market the other day! I got a little excited and bought a little more produce than I expected to… I ended up getting swiss chard and kale, neither of which I had tried before. As well as corn, red new potatoes, green onions, and cucumbers… I think I’m set for a while 🙂

Anywho, I was trying to figure out what to do with all I had purchased. I ended up typing the words corn and kale into Google, and low and behold, a recipe for corn and kale pasta came up from the Food Network! With a few changes and simplifications, I present to you my recipe for corn and kale pasta. The sweetness of the corn and the slight tang from the kale complement each other nicely. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I urge you to try this tasty, satisfying dish!

Corn and Kale Pasta

Corn and Kale Pasta

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 12 oz. whole grain rotini pasta
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 bunch kale leaves, stems removed and cut into strips*
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and place in a bowl.
  2. Put the cobs in a large pot and fill with water (add salt if desired). When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  3. Before draining the pasta, discard the cobs and reserve about 1 cup of the liquid (this will be used later).
  4. Heat one tablespoon of oil in the same pot. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for about a minute.
  5. Add the kale, and cover the pot for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted.
  6. Next add the corn kernels, green onions, and butter, and stir until heated through.
  7. Lastly add the pasta and about half of the reserved liquid, adding more if necessary.

*If you’ve never done this, here is a great link for the how to (even though the instructions are for swiss chard, it also works for kale): http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/techniques/how-to-prepare-swiss-chard

**The recipe that inspired this dish was found at the following link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pasta-with-corn-and-kale.html

Pasta Salad with Roasted Veggies

The longer it sits, the better this pasta salad tastes. I promise. The roasted vegetables add such great flavor to this salad, and surprisingly the whole-wheat pasta works very well in this dish—the nutty flavor complements the other ingredients nicely.

I even discovered a trick that can be used for any pasta salad. After cooking the pasta, toss it with vinegar and lemon juice and refrigerate it for an hour or two—this will prevent the pasta from absorbing the dressing and drying out as it sits.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Veggies

Pasta Salad with Roasted Veggies

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • olive oil, to coat
  • 1 lb. whole grain rotini pasta, cooked according to pkg. directions**
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions

  1. Chop all vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces. Place vegetables in roasting pan and toss with olive oil. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes at 400 F, or until tender.
  2. Toss the vegetables with the pasta in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

*The trick and recipe that I adapted were discovered here at Better Homes & Gardens: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/grilled-veggie-pasta-salad/

**See background for tip.

Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake

Since we are moving, lately I have been trying to use up what we have in our pantry. In this case it happened to be some penne pasta and herb seasoned stuffing, among other random ingredients. Luckily, my creative juices were flowing pretty good yesterday and I ended up coming up what I would call a Mac’n Cheese Masterpiece. If you’re not aware, I really like Mac’n Cheese. If you don’t believe me, check out my Pinterest board entitled “Mac’n Cheese Excitement”–here’s the link: http://www.pinterest.com/cd_bean/macn-cheese-excitement/. Anywho, I hope you give this recipe a try. It was really flavorful and delicious, I promise.

DSC00771

Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup broth (you could use chicken, vegetable, beef…)
  • 1 cup milk
  • pepper and nutmeg, to taste (trust me, the nutmeg worked)
  • 1 container plain greek yogurt (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used German gouda and a Mexican cheese blend, like I said, random ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup herb seasoned stuffing

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking it a tiny bit.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot. Saute the garlic for about 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the flour. Next, slowly whisk in the milk and the chicken broth. Add the pepper and nutmeg. Then add the cheese, and stir until smooth. Finally, stir in the pasta and transfer to a greased, large casserole dish.
  4. Top with the stuffing and bake 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!