Lighter Chicken Alfredo Pasta

With not much time left to thaw out whatever meat I planned to use for dinner today, I had to come up with something fast. I was having a hard time figuring out something that hadn’t been eaten here in a while, then I had a thought–hey, pasta!

Yes, my first pasta post is here, and it’s a healthy one too! I searched around for a bit to find a “lightened up” alfredo sauce, because while almost everyone loves the flavour of alfredo (me excluded… :P), it is basically made from cream, cream cheese, and butter. Not the healthiest dinner, especially when layered over a plate of carbolicious pasta. Made my way though, with lighter, but identical tasting alfredo, whole wheat pasta, and chicken breast, it’s actually great! If you want this to be vegetarian, use vegetable broth and leave out the chicken, and if you want it to be vegan… well I pretty much don’t think alfredo can actually become vegan. Using soy milk and vegan cheese could be a cool experiment though. I’ll converse with some vegan family members, and see if they’re willing to be guinea pigs 😀

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary (roughly)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces of whole wheat pasta
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used lower fat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

This scrumptious dish can be made in about 30 minutes, so be ready to be blown away!

I caramelized my chicken breast first, and then threw it back into the pan to heat up towards the end. Cube your breasts, then add to a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and some rosemary sprinkled over the bottom. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on one side until about halfway cooked from the bottom up, then sprinkle the chicken with more rosemary and flip it over to finish cooking.

Cook your pasta however your package tells you, making sure to salt your water, and while that’s going on, get to making your sauce!

Heat your olive oil in a medium sized pot, over medium heat, and then cook your minced garlic until fragrant. Add your flour and stir to combine, and cook for a minute to make sure you get the raw flour taste out. Whisk or stir in the chicken broth until smooth, then whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring it to a simmer, then cook for a minute. Add your Parmesan cheese, and cook for a minute.

Reduce heat to medium-low, if your pasta isn’t ready yet, but if it is, drain pasta well, return it to your pot, and then add the alfredo sauce. Portion out your pasta, and top with caramelized chicken breast.

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-Happy Cooking!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Mug Cake

Bad days happen. It’s a fact, and when they happen, sometimes, all you need is a little of something sweet. Some days, like today for me, can’t really be fixed with a little something sweet, but I can damn sure still appreciate the taste! I’m still in love with my brownie in a mug, but I was craving peanut butter like there was no tomorrow, so I decided to change up the recipe and create a chocolate peanut butter masterpiece instead.

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Yeah Baby! This thing was truly delicious, and took merely minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp allpurpose flour
  • 2 tbsp quick oats
  • 2 tbsp water
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • tiny splash of vanilla

You may have noticed that I replaced half of the flour with quick oats, but I did that because I love oats. If you don’t, skip the oats and just go for 4 tsbp of flour.

Mix everything in a mug, really, really well, and then put it in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds. After that, you can enjoy your beautifully peanut buttery, slightly chocolatey, wonderfully sweet dessert. If you like ice cream, pop some of that on top!

-Happy Cooking!

Single Serving Brownie… in a mug?

I’ve done a bad thing. A very bad thing. I’ve infected my father, my sister and myself with the brownie bug! I think I can blame this one on the internet this time though. I’ve seen the mug brownie recipes, and cookie recipes, so when the three of us were hit with a sugar craving that was strong enough to kill yesterday, I had to take action. I armed myself with a few very simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted (or margarine, for us vegans)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

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Put all of those things into a microwave safe mug.

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Stirred it all together really well with a fork. Trust me, you do not want lumps in the magic that is this brownie.

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Placed my mug of deliciousness in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds, then took it out and enjoyed! They can be topped with ice-cream, confectioners sugar, or whipped cream, as my dad suggested, or eaten it plain and simple, like we did. They really and truly are delicious. My dad actually yelled across the house to me, “Riley! This is so good! Like, restaurant dessert good!” My sister loved it, and had me make her another one today. 

The best thing for a quick sugar fix, without having an entire batch of brownies to tempt you!

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-Happy Cooking!

 

Experimenting With Bread!

I’ve made my whole wheat oat bread twice now, the second time omitting the oatmeal because I simply didn’t have any, and the results were just as delicious both times. However, I’ve been trying to make them pretty, with the addition of oats as a topping the first time, and rosemary the second (because I used rosemary in the dough), and I didn’t have any luck getting them to stick. I didn’t use anything the first time, and olive oil the next, and while the olive oil gave it a lovely flavour, it didn’t make it stick, so I did some research, came back with a ton of cool information on how to make great bread, and am now happily sharing my findings!

I discovered that an egg wash is the way to go to get toppings to stick, steam makes the bread crusty and wonderful, and that the giant slab of baking tile sitting unused in my cupboard was finally needed! I imagine it must feel very happy and loved… if it had emotions.

I began with my recipe for whole wheat bread (doubling it, leaving out the oats, and adding rosemary as I suggested in the post). Once I had my bread sitting in loaf shapes on an oiled baking sheet, and I had covered it with a damp cloth raised over the sheet using four tumblers, I began preheating my oven to 350 F, with my baking tile inside on the middle rack. 

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Isn’t so pretty and artistic looking?!

While waiting for it to rise for the second time, I gathered my ingredients for a fancy and delicious topping. One small egg, poppy-seeds, freshly picked big thyme, and freshly picked rosemary, grown in my own backyard!

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When the bread was finished rising, I beat the egg in a small bowl, then used a silicone brush to gently brush the surface of the bread with the egg wash. This gives it a gorgeous glossy finish, and makes the toppings stick really well. I used the cooking sheet to make it easier to handle the bread. (I left the bread on it when I put it in the oven, on top of the baking tile.)

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After that, I sprinkled my toppings over the bread, and made it pretty!

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For the next part, you need a rather sharp knife. I used my slightly chipped, but much adored ceramic Cuisinart, to slice along the length of the bread. 

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After that, it was time to bake! I stuck it into the oven, on the cookie sheet, on top of the baking tile, and baked for 33 minutes exactly, only because that’s when it was done. Use the time that your recipe tells you. Mine says 30-35 minutes.

Now, here’s another cool trick! As I mentioned, steam makes bread nice and crusty, so I chilled a clean spray bottle full of water in the fridge for a bit, and sprayed water into the oven to create steam, shutting the door quickly afterwards. I did this the first time I put it in, and about 3 times after that, every 5 minutes. This bread turned out really lovely. My whole family adores it, plus, it’s completely whole wheat and infused and topped with herbs, so it’s one of the healthiest breads you can get your hands on! It tastes magnificent.

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I left this photo undoctered, to show how gorgeous it really is. Its taste lives up to its looks!

-Happy Cooking!

Shortbread Cookies

I’m not a huge shortbread fan, but my dad loves them. Their buttery flavour and their melt-in-your-mouth texture are right up his alley! Therefore, I definitely needed to make them!

Now, I’d heard horror stories about shortbread cookies being notoriously hard to make, especially in Grenada, where pastries and doughs never turn out right because they don’t like the warm air, but that didn’t stop me! There are a ridiculous amount of recipes floating around the internet claiming to make the best shortbread, but I decided to go with the simplest one I could find for my first time making this, and I couldn’t be more happy with the results!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled

This recipe makes 32 cookies, and is really so simple.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 F.

Place your dry ingredients in a food processor, and pulse to combine.

Cut butter into large chunks with a sharp knife, and place (still very cold) in the processor and pulse until the dough becomes crumbly and starts to stick together.

I used a 9.5 x 11 inch pan, but a 9 x 9 will work well too. Place the dough into the pan, spreading it evenly, and press it down as much as you can with the bottom of a flat bottomed cup. Try to make the surface as smooth as possible.

Take a sharp knife and make 8 x 4 rows, to make 32 cookies. You can prod it with a fork too, if you want the classic short bread look 🙂

Bake for 30-50 minutes (I say this because my oven is very strange, and the cookies are weird with getting the correct time. Start with 30 and see where it goes from there), until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oven, and while still hot, cut along the lines you made prior to baking. Allow them to FULLY cool in the pan, and the remove them. This step was really easy for me because I used a silicone pan. Store them in an air tight container, and enjoy!

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-Happy cooking!

Nutty Asian Salad Dressing

My family devoured their veggies tossed in this sauce. I mean, they really, really loved it. It’s even little kid approved, thanks to my nine-year-old little sister of sorts.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbso white vinegar
  •  2 tsp honey
  • About 1 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Enough water to get a nice dressing consistency, 3 or 4 tsp should do.

Mix together and eat with mixed veggies, or a green salad. It’s so insanely delicious. I really like it with broccoli, since the tree-tops (I’m sure they have a real name, but I don’t know it, so they’re tree tops) catch the sauce so magnificently 😀

Mini Potato au Gratin

A perfect potato side dish, especially if you’re going for a fancier atmosphere at dinner. This potato au gratin is made in muffin tins!

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Ingredients:

  • unsalted butter, room temperature, for muffin cups
  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 3/4 pound each)
  • ground pepper
  • 12 tablespoons heavy cream (or swap for milk with a couple tablespoons of flour)
  • Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 F, and lightly brush 6 standard muffin cups with butter. Thinly slice potatoes, I recommend using a mandolin. Place 2 slices in each cup and season with salt and pepper. Continue adding potatoes, seasoning every few slices, until your cups are filled.

Pour 1 tablespoon heavy cream over each, and sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Run a thin knife around each gratin, and pop out of the pan with a fork.

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