Thursday, April 28, 2016

Skillet Meal: Wild Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna





I love quick meals!

I love one skillet dinners!

I'm so excited to share this 20 minute....YES, 20 MINUTE recipe with you today.

I found it one of my many collections of recipe magazines. This one was one pot meals by BHG (love them) and I'm so glad I tried this.  I was a little skeptical because you literally just throw everything in the pot (in stages) and poof!  Dinner is ready in 20 minutes....or less!

The real test though, was the taste.  This says it's a lasagna. Well technically it isn't layered like one, but if you count that the two sides of the ravioli, with stuffed delicious wild mushrooms inside, actually act like layered lasagna, then I guess it is.   Plus you delicately layer little dollops of ricotta cheese mixture over the top.  I love that.  It's not completely filled with cheese so you save on the calories, however you still get that ooey gooey lasagna cheesiness that we all crave.



The taste?  Let's just say this will be in the rotation around here.  And just a little tip from me...make extra if you want leftovers.  Our 4 portion serving didn't last long since I caught MGG eating our lunch leftovers later that night...just sayin'!

The other part, is that this dish uses mainly convenience items, like refrigerated pasta.  I used Rana (Giovanni Rana) Mushroom Ravioli and it was delishhh!  You can use any fresh or frozen ravioli you choose although the mushroom lends a wonderful earthy meatiness to the dish.  You will also need a really good tomato basil Marinara sauce from a jar. Use your favorite that provides you will great flavor.  So don't be worried that you didn't make your own sauce.  This is a 20 minute meal!   If you made the sauce, and the pasta from scratch...phew!  That would take hours.  Who has time for that, especially on a weeknight?  Not me!   There is nothing wrong with using fresh packaged items to make your life easier.


Try this....really, and enjoy!




Wild Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna

adapted from BHG magazine Skillet Suppers

serves 4

1 egg, lightly beaten
7 oz. skim milk ricotta cheese (from a 15oz container)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups of tomato basil marinara
3/4 cup water
1 family size package of wild mushroom-filled ravioli (I used Rana's brand 22 oz.)
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

In a medium bowl combine egg, ricotta cheese, and the Parmesan cheese; set aside.


In a large skillet or braising pan, over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce and water. Bring it to a boil.   Stir in ravioli and spinach.  Return to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Spoon the ricotta mixture into large mounds on top of ravioli mixture.

Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until ricotta mixture is set and ravioli is tender but still firm.  
Serve immediately.





Saturday, April 16, 2016

Shredded Chicken Week: Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken and Rice





Well Shredded Chicken Week has come to an end and we are going out with a bang!

I love spicy food.  Growing up in Southern California I've been exposed to spice through Mexican food with different types of chilis.  Nothing better than a good salsa, or a dish made with spicy peppers.  Spicy doesn't have to mean heat, although in a lot of cases it does.  But having that kick of spice in your food livens up your palette and your life!




The Easy Shredded Chicken I made earlier in the week can be used into soooo many dishes that we haven't even touched upon.  How about enchiladas, quesadillas, flauta, or taquitos?  You can add them to soups, stir frys, lettuce cups, wraps, and sloppy joes.  Make BBQ chicken sandwiches or a Mediterranean quinoa salad.  The ideas are endless.




Today's recipe is about spice and ease of cooking.  Yes, another slow cooker meal is on the horizon. This one is Cajun style and I love the blend of flavors from the bell peppers and the cajun seasoning. It does have red pepper flakes for a little heat but you can certainly adjust that to your family's taste.  Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken and Rice is the perfect meal the whole family will love. 

This is another dump and go meal that only needs about 4 hours of cooking on low.  Again I used my favorite multi cooker, the Breville Risotto Plus, it saute's, steams, is a slow cooker, and a risotto maker.  It's just awesome!  But you can do this in a regular slow cooker, you don't need anything special here.  




Kitchen Note: I made the rice separate from the other ingredients as I find it doesn't cook all that well in a slow cooker.  (some rice is left crunchy!)  Plus rice has a tendency to soak up all the juices, so leaving it separate allows for better leftovers!

Enjoy!


    Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken and Rice

serves 4

1 cup celery, sliced 
1 cup yellow onion, diced 
1 orange bell pepper, diced 
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained 
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained 
1 cup low sodium chicken broth 
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 bay leaf 
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups shredded chicken breast (cooked) 
1 cup long grain rice 

Add cut vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the garlic, tomatoes, broth, cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Cook on low 4 hours. 

About 30 minutes before serving, add the shredded chicken to the slow cooker. Meanwhile, on the stovetop in a medium saucepan cook rice according to package directions. Remove the bay leaf, test for seasoning and serve over hot cooked rice.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Shredded Chicken Week: Chinese Chicken Salad





It's Shredded Chicken week and here is my second recipe using the scrumptious shredded chicken I made in my slow cooker to use in different meals.

Hands down, Chinese Chicken Salad has to be my favorite salad.

I have had a love affair with this salad since my teens.  I think it really is all the juicy mandarin oranges, and I love a sweet Asian dressing.  They make the best Chinese chicken salad in my book!  



I love this salad so much that if it's on the menu, I'm sure to order it.  The best salad I've had was at a wonderful restaurant called Stanley's in Sherman Oaks.  It was famous, I mean it actually had a following.  Tender chicken tossed in a romaine salad with crunchy bites of won ton noodles along with sweet mandarin oranges.  All of this was doused in a sweet Asian dressing.  Heaven!  Sadly Stanley's has closed after many many years.



So what's a girl to do?  Make my own version that's what!  I dare say that this salad is just to my liking.  It's easy to put together using my Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken and the whole family will love it.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!



Chinese Chicken Salad

serves 4

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 8 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 cups of shredded chicken
1/3 cup chow mien noodles
3 Tbls green onion, chopped
1/3 cup Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing (I used Girard's)

In a large bowl or platter place chopped lettuce.  Add oranges, almonds, shredded chicken and toss to combine. Toss with dressing and plate.  Top with green onions and chow mien noodles.  Serve.





Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shredded Chicken Week: Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Rice Bowls






I'm a slacker.

I know...last week was supposed to Shredded Chicken Week.  Well, to be honest I caught a nasty bug and it was all I could do to get up and move to the couch in my PJ's and watch episodes of The People vs. O.J. Simpson (I'm so behind!) and then crawl back to bed.

So zapped of all energy I didn't get to post the fabulous chicken dishes using the excellent Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken.  But not to fret, I'm back and ready to go! Today is the 1st of three dishes you can make quickly on a weeknight using your pre-cooked shredded chicken!



Let's talk about rice bowls.  They are everywhere aren't they? And let's face it...who doesn't love a good rice bowl.  For lunch or dinner, they are ohhhh so good, filling, and comforting.

Today I'm bringing you a quick 30 minute meal that's kid friendly, weeknight friendly, and adult friendly too!  These Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Rice Bowls are the bomb! They provide you with that comfort feeling and satisfy all your cravings.  I love the cheesy rice and sneaking in the broccoli gets you a serving of vegetables.  Add in some of the warmed shredded chicken that you have from your batch and dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.  Love that, and you will too!



Kitchen Note:  I used white long grain rice but you can substitute brown or any other rice you like.  I also used chicken broth instead of water for extra flavor.  I also used a sharp cheddar cheese but you could use a milder one or a white cheddar if you prefer.  For the broccoli, you can either steam your own in a pan or microwave, or buy a bag of frozen broccoli steamers for convenience.

Enjoy!



Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Rice Bowls

serves 4

Rice:
2 cups of white long grain rice
3 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of broccoli florets, steamed and cut into small pieces

Cheese sauce:
2 Tbls unsalted butter
2 Tbls flour
1 3/4 c 2% milk
1 1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Chicken:
2 1/2 cups of shredded chicken, heated

In a medium dutch oven heated over medium high heat, add rice and chicken broth.  Bring to a bowl, reduce heat and cook 20 minutes or until water has evaporated and rice is fluffy.

While rice is cooking make the cheese sauce.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat add butter and melt.  Add the flour and whisk until combined.  Stir until a thickened paste is formed.  Add in the milk and whisk to combine.  Heat at a simmer (not a boil) until bubble form on the edges whisking frequently.  Add cheese and whisk until melted.  Add salt and pepper to season.  Continue to cook until sauce has slightly thickened.  

Fluff the rice with a fork and add the broccoli.  Pour the cheese sauce over the rice and stir to combine.  Add warmed shredded chicken to the rice and mix or place rice in bowls and add chicken to the top.  Serve immediately.




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Shredded Chicken Week: Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken









Shredded chicken has to be one of my favorite multi-purpose ingredients.  You can use in so many different dishes that it's a great way to plan a week's worth of meals.

Today's recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken is the perfect shortcut to give you wonderful results and a lot of shredded chicken, all while you are at work or running around for the day!

This is such a simple recipe, you literally just dump and go. You'll have to spend a few minutes putting the chicken ingredients in the slow cooker, and few shredding the chicken when it's done.  No biggie!  When it's done you have beautifully cooked, tender chicken that you shred.  That's it!  

I've deemed this week shredded chicken week.  I'll be posting several scrumptious dishes with shredded chicken that you'll just love.  First up, we'll be looking at the simple technique to making the shredded chicken.



My recipe is for a "small batch" of shredded chicken, which fed 2 people 4 different dishes during the week.  You can double or triple the recipe as you like to feed 4 or more people.  

Kitchen Tips:  

  • Use boneless skinless chicken breasts or if you prefer dark meat, use thighs.  Leaving the skin is on is not suggested as it will add a lot of unwanted fat and the results will not be as good.
  • Start with fresh or frozen chicken breasts.  If using frozen, thaw before placing in the slow cooker. They are saying it's not safe to put frozen chicken in the cooker as it takes too long to come to temperature without creating bacteria.
  • To shred the chicken use 2 forks!  It seems to be the easiest way.
  • The chicken will keep in the refrigerator for several days, but you can also divide it into portions and freeze it in containers or freezer bags so you have it handy for quick weeknight meals.


Have fun using your shredded chicken in all kinds of dishes such as soups, rice bowls, salads, enchiladas, chicken salad, tacos, pasta dishes, chili, pizza...the list goes on and on!

Stay tuned this week for some new recipes that use this succulent shredded chicken.

Enjoy!




Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken


Yields:  4 cups of shredded chicken


2 large chicken breasts - about 1 pound
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

Place chicken in the slow cookers.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top and add the chicken broth.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks.  

Use immediately or store in a container in the refrigerator or freezer.  





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