Category Archives: Recipes

Super easy crockpot lasagna

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe so here is a SUPER INCREDIBLY EASY recipe for crockpot lasagna.

Our oven was on the fritz and we had people to feed! In a pinch, I threw together some ingredients we had on hand for a crockpot lasagna and it came out SUPER AWESOME. It was like magic, and did I mention this is an easy recipe? Perfect for a weeknight, and yummy leftovers to boot. Enjoy!

Super easy, quick, and brainless crockpot lasagna

Super easy, quick, and brainless crockpot lasagna

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 15-oz. cans of tomato sauce
  • basil, mushrooms, whatever misc. veggies you have on hand
  • 1 package of uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • shredded mozzarella (2%)
  • 1 egg
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine tomato sauce, basil, mushrooms and other vegetables – blend with an immersion blender and salt to taste. Set aside.
  2. Brown meat in a large pan. Drain grease and add tomato sauce.
  3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, sprinkle of parmesan, and egg.
  4. Layer some tomato sauce, broken (uncooked) lasagna noodles, and cheese mix in crock pot. Repeat – sauce, noodles, cheese – with final layer being sauce.
  5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until noodles are cooked.
  6. Once cooked, turn to warm and top with remaining mozzarella until melted.

Serve with garlic bread and a side salad. BAM. Meal complete!

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The Blendtec!

One of my good friends from college started asking me questions not too long ago like, “Do you make smoothies?” and “Are you going to make your own baby food?” I didn’t think the questions were weird or out of the ordinary – he recently said he started eating a really healthy, clean diet so we chatted about food for a bit and mentioned that we should expect a package in the next few days. He told me to call when I got it so he could explain – how mysterious and exciting! He also said, being well informed about the serious case of baby brain* that I’ve been experiencing, “You’re probably going to get the package and forget that we had this conversation but just call me.”

(*Baby brain is real, people! I forget everything, lose my sunglasses every single day, misplace things that are right in front of my face, and put things away in really weird places. I have found that if I don’t write something down, it’s gone from my brain… maybe forever.)

Anyway, when a box arrived a few days later addressed to “Baby Broadbent Headquarters,” I was like, “OMG! What is this? What could it be?! Who sent it?!” I opened it up and saw that it was a Blendtec Total Blender, and my memory started working again. A-ha – it made sense, the questions about smoothies and baby food! I somehow remembered that I was supposed to call Mike and the first thing he said to me was:

ARE YOU BLENDING ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING YET? I bought a pound and a half of spinach the other day and it’s all GONE because I’ve BLENDED IT!

This is maybe one of my favorite things that he has ever said.

Now, if you don’t know anything about the Total Blender let me tell you: this thing is no regular blender; it is a beast. Check out Blendtec’s website called Will it Blend? If you don’t have time to watch any of the silly videos just know that the Blendtec CAN and WILL blend/pulverize/demolish things like an iPhone…. so that smoothie you want to make is total child’s play.

My first Blendtec experiment was hummus. It was also 9:00am on Superbowl Sunday but hey, I wanted to make sure we had some healthy eats for the evening – so I apologize to anyone in the neighborhood I disturbed. After reading through the recipe book, complete with tips on how to load this bad boy, I threw in the ingredients, hoped for the best, and hit the button. It was like magic… magical hummus in seconds!

hummus

Don’t mind the mess in the background. Hummus in the making!

Aside from being slightly afraid of the Blendtec at first, I’ve embraced its loud volume and let it do its thing when I’m using it. It truly makes our old blender look like a toy, and I can’t wait to start using this beast for baby food when the time comes! Until then, it’s healthy, yummy foods for mom and baby – one of my recent favorites (inspired by our hypnobirthing instructor, Muneeza) is a raw chocolate smoothie.

A big thank you to Mike and his fiancee Marissa for exposing us to the Blendtec!

blender-cropped

Raw cacoa, banana, coconut, flax seed smoothie before…

... and after!

… and after!

Coconut, Banana, Flax, and Raw Chocolate Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1 banana, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp. coconut manna
  • 1 tbsp. coarsely ground flax seeds (with the Blendtec, I am not even grinding them beforehand – just throwing them in whole!)
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Directions

  1. Add ingredients to blender, liquids first. Blend and enjoy! 
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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I haven’t been doing much experimenting in the kitchen over the last few months – an incredibly busy summer spilled over into fall – which helps to explain the dearth of posts with new recipes. A couple weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner, so I had to get back into the kitchen!

Originally, I thought we should do Mexican since we were having a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters over – we’d be able to give people the option to pick and choose what they wanted. Chris overruled me when he suggested that he make a pot roast instead – the perfect meal for a chilly fall night, and one that I have yet to master. (I have tried and tried and tried to perfect cooking beef, in a form other than “ground,” to no avail. I leave these types of dishes up to him!)

To make sure everyone had something to eat, I decided to whip up some quinoa stuffed peppers to round out the main course. I also decided to stalk Chris while he was making the pot roast so hopefully I could pick up a thing or two. Unfortunately, he kicked me out of the kitchen so I didn’t learn any of his firehouse cooking secrets. (That just ensures that he will always cook these things for me… right?)

Anyway, dinner was a success – we had plenty of food and everyone left full and happy – and the stuffed peppers turned out great!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Vegetarian quinoa stuffed peppers!

I started with this recipe from Vegetarian Times.com – the only modifications I really made were removing a couple of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (½ cup)
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3 large carrots, grated (1 ½ cups)
  • 3/4 cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided (optional)
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Directions

  1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
  2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.
  4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour.
  5. If desired, uncover and sprinkle half of the peppers with the remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

 

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Quinoa Salad

It’s the end of July – when did that happen?! I love summer – aside from the great weather, there is always something going on. Lately it’s been weddings, but when we’re not celebrating nuptials with our friends, there are boat rides, beach trips, and barbeques to keep us occupied. Therein lies the rub: with so many things going on, it can be hard to find time to reset. We pretty much put aside most projects at the house, and I also find that I cook a lot less. It makes me sad that I’m less adventurous in the kitchen during the warmer months, but it also forces me to find easy and light dishes that will keep me going through the summer madness.

After pinning about 3,000,000 recipes for a quinoa salad on Pinterest, I ended up making one up using the fresh vegetables I picked up at the market and what I had in the pantry. You could put most vegetables in here and it would be good, no matter what. I threw together a lime-cumin dressing, similar to the one I made for the corn and black bean salad, and it was all pretty painless.

Quinoa salad with summery vegetables

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. of lime juice
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chopped vegetables, cilantro, and quinoa in a large bowl. Mix well.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well, using salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Pour dressing over salad, mix well, and serve.

If serving this as a side, it makes quite a bit – the leftovers stayed really well in the fridge. Happy summer!

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Chicken and Lemon Summer Salad

If you are looking for the perfect summer salad, look no further. This tasty Chicken and Lemon Summer Salad is a gem – it’s crisp and refreshing, great to bring to a BBQ, and won’t leave you with the remorse of having indulged in one too many hot dogs.

Preparing this dish is a lot of fun – the zesty yellow lemons, bright and cheerful peppers, and aromatic cilantro all scream summer. Not to mention, all those fresh ingredients make the kitchen smell great without having to even turn on the stove!

I found the original recipe in a cookbook I picked up called Cooking Light Chicken Tonight! and I didn’t change much except added more cilantro (seriously, I’m obsessed) and included orange peppers to the vegetable mix. Helpful hint: to yield more juice from the lemons, microwave them for 30 seconds before juicing.

Chicken and Lemon Salad

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray

Salad:

  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup each: red, yellow, orange bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. To prepare chicken, combine the first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag, and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Prepare grill.
  3. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until done. Cool completely; cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  4. To prepare salad, cook peas in boiling water 30 seconds. Drain, and rinse with cold water. Drain. Combine peas and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add chicken, tossing to combine.
  5. Place 1 3/4 cups chicken salad on each of 4 plates. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
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A delicious dish for summer fun – black bean and corn salad!

Summer is always full of fun activities – this year we started off the season with a relaxing weekend on Lake Cobboseecontee in Maine. It’s such a calm and refreshing lake – with only a few boats going by here and there, it reminded me what quiet sounds like:

Ahh… peace and quiet!

Aside from spending time playing around the lake with family, I got in a nice long run on Saturday morning and started reading Catch-22, a book I feel a bit guilty about never having read as an English major. I didn’t bring a laptop and had very little cell service, so I wasn’t tempted to check in on work or obsessively play Words with Friends. Note to self: unplug more often!

No weekend away is complete without good food. One of the many (delicious) dishes we had during our stay was a very simple black bean and corn salad, put together by White Flour Catering out of Augusta. It was just the perfect light, citrus-y dish for a summer evening. I knew I needed to have the recipe, so I asked for the basics and then made a few adjustments of my own once I started putting it all together.

This didn’t take long to prepare and chances are, you have most of the ingredients at home already. I know cilantro is one of those ingredients that people either really love or really hate, so feel free to leave it out if it’s not your cup of tea.   

Black bean and corn salad, with just the right amount of cilantro!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Chill until ready to serve.

See… I told you it was easy! You can have it made and ready to go in just about 20 minutes, making this the perfect dish to take on summertime beach or boat adventures.

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Cheesy Zucchini Bake

Quick post to share a new go-to recipe! I love zucchini… I love cheese…. so when I saw a pin for an “Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake,” I was immediately sold. I modified the original recipe (which you can find in this post on www.kalynskitchen.com) by adding olive oil and I didn’t use basil. I think it really comes down to a matter of preference, including (or not including) EVOO or basil won’t make or break this dish. It’s a great side – I served it with baked chicken – and it held up alright overnight in the fridge.

Enjoy! And stay tuned for a couple new recipes that I plan on posting in the next couple of weeks that I discovered on a recent trip to Maine including a delicious black bean & corn salad and a scandalously decadent chocolate cake!

Cheesy zucchini bake!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, sliced
  • 2 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced
  • 2 T thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup low-fat Italian cheese mix
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine zucchini and squash in large bowl with olive oil, green onion, thyme, garlic powder, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix until well-combined and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is almost done.
  4. Remove from oven and add remaining cheese on top; return to oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and zucchini cooked through.
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Chicken Rolls with Asparagus and Mozzarella

The other day I walked into Fairway and right in front of me were these petite asparagus spears – they looked perfect for the chicken rolls that were dancing around in my head and with that, an impromptu recipe was born.  After picking up some thin chicken cutlets, I was ready to cook – I had everything else at home, making this an easy weeknight recipe that takes little thought, effort, or preparation.

CHICKEN ROLLS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MOZZARELLA

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin and evenly
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning meat
  • whole wheat bread crumbs

    Chicken rolls w/ asparagus and mozzarella!

Directions

  1. Sautee asparagus in olive oil until bright green. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Pat chicken dry and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay out chicken breast, arrange asparagus on top, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  6. Roll chicken around asparagus and cheese; place seam down in baking dish.
  7. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
  8. Sprinkle whole wheat bread crumbs on top of chicken.
  9. Cook for approximately 25-30 mins* or until chicken registers 160/165 degrees with a meat thermometer.

That’s it – veggies plus protein in one fell swoop and a nice way to switch up chicken and vegetables! I suggest serving this with brown rice or cous-cous as a side to round out a nicely balanced meal that makes for a yummy, crowd-pleasing dinner and great leftovers.

This is also a solid base recipe – you could switch out asparagus for mushrooms or another veggie, use a different type of cheese, or even make mini flank steak roll-ups using the same concepts. Happy eating!

*October 31, 2012 update: It might take a little longer than 10 minutes to cook your chicken depending on the strength of your oven, size of cutlets, etc. Never consume raw or undercooked meat – always rely on a good meat thermometer to let you know when food is done!

*November 11, 2013 update: OK, OK, I have heard you all loud and clear – I changed the cooking time from 10 mins – I must have a magical oven or be totally inept at keeping time. Originally, I only cooked these for about 10 mins but the cutlets I used were really, really, really thin. So don’t eat raw meat, cook it long enough, and plan ahead accordingly.

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Light & Healthy Chicken Marsala

My grandmother, a well-seasoned cook and fantastic baker, has always talked about how much she loves reading cookbooks. It wasn’t until recently, when I started cooking regularly for myself, that I understood what she meant. Not only is it a great way to learn new cooking techniques, but so many cookbooks hold information that goes well beyond the recipe. Little nuggets like conversion tables, tips and tricks about which types cookware to use, and basics like the best way to measure certain ingredients grace the pages of the better cookbooks.

So, when my grandmother recommended “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook,” I took her suggestion pretty seriously – she is not quick to refer someone to a bad cookbook. I thumbed through it at her house and fell in love. It was full of such great information about everything from cookware to product reviews to amazing recipes. On my next trip to Barnes and Noble, as I perused the cookbook section, I came across “The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook” – it had all of the great information in the traditional version but all of the recipes were light and healthy! Sold! (Not all of the recipes are “clean,” but I figured I have lots of clean cookbooks and it couldn’t hurt to add something different to my collection.)

I started to make a list of what I wanted to make out of the book – turned out to be basically everything. I settled the “Spa Chicken” and low-fat “Mushroom-Marsala Sauce.” Some Marsala sauces and recipes end up laden with calories – from breaded chicken to heavy cream in the sauce itself. This was a huge turnoff to me, so until now I had considered it an occasional treat to order when eating out rather than something I could whip up at home.

Not anymore! I couldn’t have been more pleased with the recipe came out – I don’t think I would change anything about it! And, to boot, this was the first time I made poached chicken as a main dish and not as part of a soup. In stark contrast to my last recipe experiment, I followed the steps on these recipes exactly. Both recipes below are from “The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook” – check them out at http://www.americastestkitchen.com/.

MUSHROOM-MARSALA SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons EVOO
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced thin (I used 10 oz. because I love mushrooms!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    Marsala sauce underway!

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt; cook until browned.
  3. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Whisk in the broth and Marsala and bring to a simmer.
  5. Whisk the water and cornstarch together and then stir into the sauce.
  6. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and measures 1 cup, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

SPA CHICKEN

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, pounded if necessary
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, parsley, cilantro, or tarragon

    Healthy chicken Marsala ready to eat

Directions:

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the water, garlic, thyme, and soy sauce in a 12-inch skillet.
  3. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. When the water is simmering, flip the chicken over, cover, and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Slice on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and cover in Marsala sauce and mushrooms to serve.
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Spicy Chicken Soup

It’s about time for a new recipe! I envisioned this spicy chicken soup to be a mash-up of two of my favorite recipes: chicken soup and chicken taco stew.  But, I was pressed for time when I made it and decided to totally wing the recipe. Bad idea: the final product didn’t look right – something was missing, but I didn’t have the time or energy to figure out what it was. I declared it a failure, decided on take-out, and put the soup in the fridge – maybe I could salvage it the next day when I had some more energy.

I guess I had to sleep on it, because on my way home from the gym the next morning, I had an epiphany – I FORGOT TO PUT THE REST OF THE VEGETABLES IN THE SOUP! I NEVER USED THE CILANTRO I BOUGHT! No wonder it looked boring and dull – it totally was!  As soon as I got home, I quickly prepped the beans and corn, added the cilantro, and got the soup simmering again while I got ready for work. All’s well that ends well, and I managed to save it for the most part. Without further ado, here is my mish-mash Spicy Chicken Soup!

Spicy chicken soup, after some adjustments

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water (if needed/desired)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 bell pepper (your choice), seeded and diced
  • 2-3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chili
  • 1 can corn, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 a packet of low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 2% mexican cheese mix
  • optional: chives, greek yogurt/low-fat sour cream

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent. Add taco seasoning and cilantro; saute for one more minute.
  2. Place chicken breasts on top of onions, pour in broth.
  3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  4. While that’s simmering, combine the diced tomatoes, pepper, and carrots in a blender until chunky. Set aside.
  5. Remove chicken from broth and shred with two forks; return to pot.
  6. Add diced tomato mixture, corn, and beans.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  8. Let soup simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Brush whole wheat tortillas with olive oil and bake for five minutes; remove and break into pieces.
  10. Top soup with tortilla strips/bits, chives, cheese, and Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream (if desired).

And, try not to forget the essential ingredients!

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