Spaghetti squash look-in-the-pan

When I was growing up, my mom always used to make a dish known as “look-in-the-pan.” The basic idea behind the name was that if you asked her what was for dinner, it would be easier for her to tell you to look in the pan than describe what she was making.  Look-in-the-pan almost always involved some kind of pasta, hamburger meat, spaghetti sauce, a variety of vegetables, and possibly cheese, but rarely consisted of the exact same combination as the last time.  It was a popular dish in our household that we ate many times over the years.

Well, today I made a new, low-carb version of look-in-the-pan.  It is much different than the kind I always ate growing up, but the name still seems appropriate.  Want to know what’s in it? Look in the pan…

Just kidding!  I’ll still tell you.  I combined cooked spaghetti squash, cooked chicken that had been marinated in a sun-dried tomato sauce (from Trader Joe’s…not homemade), olive oil, garlic, onion, fresh basil, feta cheese, salt & pepper, and a little bit of a sun-dried tomato spread that I had in the fridge.  It turned out really well, although nothing like traditional look-in-the-pan.  I did especially like the flavor of the feta cheese in this dish…something to remember!

What ingredients would you use if you were making your own look-in-the-pan?

Advertisements

Salsa Chicken Soup

A friend of mine loaned me her crock pot recently, so I have been on the lookout for something interesting to make with it.  I wasn’t really in the mood for beef stew, pulled pork, or any of the other usual suspects for crock pot cooking, but when I came across a recipe for “salsa chicken,” I thought that it sounded perfect.  The original recipe looked really good, but I decided to try to make it into more of a soup so that it could be eaten on its own, rather than over rice or in tacos.  In the end, I think that the recipe was a huge success!  I will definitely be making this one again (if someone wants to get me a crock pot for Christmas, that is…hint, hint).

Here’s how I made it (recipe adapted from mad tasty):

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 (16-oz) jars of your favorite salsa
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used a kind that had green chilies in it and that worked really well)

Directions:

All that you have to do is layer all of the ingredients in your crock pot and then cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Start with about half the salsa, then add the chicken, then layer in all of the remaining ingredients except for the rest of the salsa.  Spread the remaining salsa on top and it is ready to go!

I cooked mine on high for about an hour before turning it to low because I only had about 5 hours until dinner and my chicken had not completely defrosted.  I ended up cooking it on low for a little more than 4 hours after that. This worked very well and everything was cooked through at the end.

When there are about 20 minutes of cooking time remaining, you can open the crock pot and shred the chicken with two forks.  It should be so tender that it is practically falling apart on its own.  Then, stir it all together and let it heat for another 15-20 minutes.

In the end, it should look something like this:

Eat and enjoy!  I served it with shredded cheese on top, which I would highly recommend. This would also be really good with some tortilla chips or some sour cream!

Stuffed green peppers, chicken enchilada style

Inspired by my last round of stuffed green peppers, I decided to make chicken enchilada style stuffed green peppers.  I took my favorite chicken enchiladas recipe and simply replaced the tortillas with green peppers.  I wasn’t sure how this combo would turn out, but they were really, really good!  I think that I like them even better than the Italian flavored stuffed green peppers from last time!

Making them was really easy and they were so good that I’m sure I’ll be making them again soon.  Here’s the recipe (I actually made a 2/3 batch, but you can make as much as you want):

Ingredients:

  • 3 cooked chicken breasts (cubed or shredded)
  • 1 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 small can of chopped green chilies (optional)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (optional)
  • shredded mexican cheese (8 oz bag)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 5 green peppers

Directions:

To begin, preheat your oven to 350.  Mix together the cooked chicken, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, chopped onions, green chilies, and about half of the shredded cheese in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the stems off of the peppers, cut the peppers in half, and remove the seeds.  Unlike last time, I did not parboil the peppers this time to see how they turned out this way.  As expected, they were much crispier than last time, but still tasted really good.  I think that whether they should be parboiled in advance or not is really just a matter of personal preference…I think I like them a little better when they have been parboiled, but there are fewer dishes to wash when you skip that step, so who knows how I’ll make them next time!

Line the peppers in a baking pan like this:

Then, scoop the chicken mixture into the peppers.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the peppers and sprinkle with more cheese…how much cheese is up to you and can be varied based on how healthy you want them to turn out!

Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until the peppers are hot and the cheese is melted.

And now, you have a relatively low-carb, delicious chicken enchilada-like dinner!  Try not to eat too many of these at once!

Blue Cheese Burgers

I recently made some delicious blue cheese burgers using a recipe from The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta.  I’ve never actually been to The Vortex, but my roommate made this recipe once and it looked really good, so I thought I would give it a try.

Basically, I wanted to make a burger topped with caramelized onions and The Vortex’s blue cheese spread.  I ended up getting a little impatient (read: hungry) and didn’t allow the onions to fully caramelize, but the burgers still turned out really well.

To make the blue cheese spread, you mix together approximately 1 1/4 cups of crumbled blue cheese and 3/4 cup of sour cream.  Then, you refrigerate the blue cheese mixture for two hours before eating it.  Thanks to The Vortex and the Food Network for sharing the recipe!  Next time I am in Atlanta, I will definitely have to go there to get the real burger!

Here are my onions in the process of caramelizing:

Stuffed Green Peppers

Today I finally used up the rest of the vegetables that I purchased at the farmer’s market by making these delicious stuffed green peppers!  I came up with this idea after doing some googling for recipes with green peppers, since I had so many of them.  I thought it turned out really well and will definitely have to make it again!

As a side note, while I was trying to decide what kinds of spices to season the beef mixture with, I couldn’t decide if I wanted this to be an Italian or Mexican dish.  I went with Italian, but am looking forward to trying a Mexican-themed version next time!

The recipe is pretty easy.  Here it is (adapted from momswhothink.com ).  Most stuffed green pepper recipes call for rice, but I left that out and didn’t miss it at all.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 large green bell peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4-6 tomatoes, diced (or 1 20-oz can of whole tomatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4-6 basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garlic and Italian seasonings to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can of condensed tomato soup
Directions:

To make the recipe, begin by preheating your oven to 350.  Then, remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and parboil them in boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain the peppers and set aside.

Here are my boiling peppers:

In the meantime, cook the ground beef in a large skillet and drain the grease.  Add chopped onions and tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, and spices to taste.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Mix in half of the shredded cheese and add some grated parmesan cheese.

Spoon the beef mixture into the green peppers and place in a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Mix a little bit of water into the condensed tomato soup (until it can be poured) and pour over the stuffed peppers and the pan.  Sprinkle the peppers with the remaining cheese.

Bake the peppers uncovered for 20 minutes (or until cheese has melted and peppers are hot).  Enjoy!

Low-carb spinach pie

Well, after eating lots of salad since my trip to the farmers market, I still had a ton of spinach…2.2 pounds of it to be exact.  I did some googling to get some ideas of what to make and kept getting stumped since I’m trying not to eat a lot of carbs.  Eventually, I came across a low-carb spinach pie recipe and thought that would be perfect.  Instead of crust, the recipe calls for a muenster cheese topping.  It turned out really well, although I’m not sure how healthy it was with all of the cheese.  It was very tasty though!

Here it is…hot out of the oven:

Here’s my recipe (adapted from recipes by jovigirl and silverwolf).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I cheated and used dried parsley)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 package of sliced muenster cheese
Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350.  Lightly grease a pie pan.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions and garlic for several minutes.  Add the spinach, parsley, salt, and pepper to the skillet and cook until the spinach is limp.  I covered the skillet to speed up this process given the enormous quantity of spinach that I was using.

Here’s how much spinach I started with:

And here it is after being cooked:

After cooking the spinach, remove it from the heat and set aside.  Mix together all of the remaining ingredients except for the muenster cheese.  Drain the spinach.  I learned that an effective method for draining the spinach is to put it between two plates (like you are stacking the plates with spinach in the middle) and squeeze the plates together over the sink until you can’t squeeze any more liquid out of the spinach.

Next, mix together the cheese mixture and the drained spinach mixture.  Line the bottom of the pie pan with half of the muenster cheese slices.  Fill the pie pan with the spinach and cheese mixture and top with the remaining muenster cheese.  Bake at 350 for about half an hour, or until the cheese begins to brown.

That’s it!  Enjoy!

Htipiti (roasted red pepper and feta dip)

In an effort to use all of the roasted red peppers that I made, I decided to make a dish from one of my favorite restaurants in DC, Zaytinya.  I first ate this dish over the summer and absolutely loved it.  When I found the recipe online, I knew it was meant to be.  Htipiti (not sure how you pronounce that…) is a delicious roasted red pepper and feta dip that is typically eaten with pita bread.

You can find Zaytinya’s recipe here (thanks A Nesting Experience and Zaytinya for sharing the recipe).  It’s really delicious!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 4-5 roasted red peppers
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 shallots, peeled
  • a dash of pepper (white pepper is recommended; I used black pepper)
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 8 oz block of feta cheese
I made a half-recipe (which was plenty) and did not include shallots, since the grocery store did not sell them individually.  I also did not add olive oil since my roasted red peppers had been stored in olive oil and were dripping in it already.  To make the dip, you dice the red peppers, crumble the feta, and then just mix everything together.  It’s pretty easy and really good!