Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Easy Recipes for a Busy Spring

We have been so busy around here lately! I feel like we just run from one thing to the next, and I've been on more plane trips than I'd like... not much of a flying fan. Luckily, my sister has some really yummy, easy dinner recipes that she gave me a while back. I pulled them out last week and started going down the list! Jeremy has commented a few times on how good they are, so I thought I'd share... Enjoy!

Black Bean Enchiladas

This dish is kind of like lasagna, except Mexican! Lots of layering... And it can be vegetarian if you wish--just omit the chicken.

Black Bean Enchiladas
2 C. chopped chicken
2 T. chopped cilantro
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can green chilies, undrained
1 can enchilada sauce, red or green
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese
16 oz. sour cream

Heat oven to 375; spray 11x7 pan. In medium bowl, mix chicken, cilantro, beans and chilies. Spread 2 T. enchilada sauce in bottom of 11x7. Place 4 tortillas, overlapping. Spoon 1/2 chicken mixture and spread over tortillas. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over mixture, then spread 1/2 the can of enchilada sauce, and 1 cup sour cream. REPEAT. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle top with rest of cheese; bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie

Up till now, I've been too scared to make anything like this! I am not good at crusts, and I can just see the whole thing falling apart in my head. BUT... once again, Annie has come to the rescue. I've made it on 4 different occasions now, and it hasn't failed me yet. Ask me if I care about using a store-bought crust!?!?!?

Chicken Pot Pie
1/3 C butter
1/3 C flour
1/3 C chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2/3 C milk
3/4 C chicken broth
1 C frozen peas
1 C frozen corn
2 C cooked chicken, chopped
2 C carrots, diced
2 packed pie crusts
**optional: cooked, diced potatoes; broccoli, etc.

Preheat oven to 425. Make a roux (thick, white paste) with butter, flour, onion, salt and pepper. When it sticks together, take off heat and stir in milk and chicken broth, using whisk to keep it from clumping. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly (really watch this, or it WILL burn). Add peas, corn, carrots and chicken; pour mixture into pie shell. Top with other crust, pinching sides together--or use fork and press down to seal. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top crust is nice and brown. 

Spicy Thai Noodles

This one is great either on its own or as a side dish. It would go well with my Teriyaki Chicken or Jennie Call's Sweet & Sour Chicken. Yuh-hum!

Spicy Thai Noodles
1 lb. spaghetti or fettuccine noodles, uncooked
1 bunch baby spinach (or regular spinach cut in half)
1 bunch green onion, chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 lb. cooked chicken or tofu (optional for main dish)
*chopped cilantro, optional

Cook noodles according to package directions. Combine sauce ingredients (see below). Pour sauce over cooked noodles; add spinach, onion and chicken. Mix well, top with cilantro (if desired) and serve immediately. 

1/2 C sugar
3/4 C soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/2 C olive oil
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 C crushed peanuts

Chicken Fettuccine

Usually I'm not a casserole fan, but this one is definitely an exception. My sister says this is her signature recipe when she takes dinner to new moms, etc. and it's always a hit!

Chicken Fettuccine
12 oz. spaghetti or fettuccine noodles (broken into 1-3 inch pieces)
1 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/4 C butter
4 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed (I use canned chicken from Costco)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz. sour cream
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 C onion, chopped
1 C mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Lightly saute peppers and onion in butter. Mix together all ingredients except cheese. Put in 9x13 pan. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover; bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and cook till cheese melts and casserole is bubbly. 

Baked Ziti Spinach Casserole

This one always gets rave reviews... One of my friends thought it came from a restaurant :o)

Baked Ziti Spinach Casserole
1 lb. ground sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 C pesto sauce
10 oz. ziti or penne pasta, cooked
8 C spinach leaves, stems cut off
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Heat large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil; saute onion and garlic until soft. Add sausage; cook until sausage is no longer pink. Add tomatoes with juice. Cook about 10 minutes. Stir in pesto; season everything with salt and pepper. Lightly oil 13x9 dish. Combine pasta, spinach, mozzarella, and 1/3 C Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce; mix well to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese over top. Bake until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This one is more semi-homemade than homemade :o) But it tastes good all the same, so who cares?

BBQ Chicken Pizza
2 cooked, cubed chicken breasts (or canned chicken)
1/2 C fresh chopped cilantro
thinly sliced purple onion
BBQ sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)
shredded cheese
pizza dough (homemade, frozen, or pre-made Boboli's, etc)

Spread a little BBQ sauce over pizza dough. Sprinkle enough cheese to the amount you prefer. Combine some BBQ sauce and cubed chicken, and put on top of cheese. Sprinkle onion and cilantro on top. Bake pizza according to dough directions. 

Teriyaki Chicken

This recipe is just about as easy as it comes... and I get compliments every time we make it! A great side dish to go with this would be Vegetable Lo Mein or Spicy Thai Noodles, and some edamame on the side.

Teriyaki Chicken
6 chicken breasts
1 cup ketchup
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar

Combine ketchup, soy sauce and brown sugar till dissolved. Pour over chicken--it's that easy!

You can change the measurements depending on how much chicken you need. For example, if you're making less chicken, you can just use 1/2 cup of each ingredient. Or if you are making LOTS, you can use 2 cups of everything! Then just throw them in the crockpot, or put them on the grill as breasts or on skewers. Have fun with this no-fail recipe!

Vegetable Lo Mein

This recipe is from a great book called "How to Cook without a Book" by Pam Anderson. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the whole point of the book is to teach you how to use variations on the same basic ingredients to come up with all kinds of different dishes. It's a wonderful resource--check and see if your library has it!

So... in keeping true to the book, you can change this recipe up--I've only ever used vegetables, but you can add chicken, beef, shrimp, pork or tofu (you'd cook it first before adding the veggies). I like to have Lo Mein as a side dish to complement whatever meat I'm using. You can try it with my Teriyaki Chicken or Jennie Call's Sweet & Sour Chicken...

Vegetable Lo Mein
2-3 cups vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (I use any combination of broccoli, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc)
1 onion, sliced into strips
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz. spaghetti/linguini/fettuccine noodles, cooked
1 batch of Lo Mein sauce (see below)
**toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Heat a large skillet on high, then turn down to medium and add 1-2 Tbsp oil and onion. Cook for a minute until onion is a little soft and slightly browned. Then add your vegetables, one variety at a time, and cook till crisp-tender before adding the next group. When veggies are all in, add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute. Then remove from heat and put veggies in a bowl.

Next, put the now-empty skillet back on the heat and add the rest of the oil. When the oil is shimmery, add noodles and stir-fry for a minute till coated and hot. Put the veggies back in, pour Lo Mein sauce over everything, mix well till coated, top with toasted sesame seeds if you want, and serve immediately!

Lo Mein Flavoring Sauce
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar

Honey Carrots

I am always looking for ways to spice up my veggies. Here are a couple of great, easy ideas from my sis...

Honey Carrots
6 carrots
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp butter
Cook carrots 15 minutes. Drain well. Add butter and honey. Mix well and serve immediately.

Party Broccoli

Party Broccoli
1 1/2 lbs. broccoli
2 Tbsp onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 C sour cream
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

Cook broccoli till tender. Drain well and set aside. Microwave onion and butter for 2 minutes, then stir into broccoli with remaining ingredients. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve immediately.