Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mom-to-Mom Tip: Tomato Paste

I always have leftover tomato paste when I need it for a recipe. On TV food shows I've seen it come in tubes, which makes it easy for "leftover" storage; however, in my grocery stores they only sell it in the cans. Even if I buy the smallest can, I still only need 1-2 tablespoons at a time. If I put the rest in tupperware in my fridge, I usually forget about it the next time I need some tomato paste. It just seems like so much waste! So... here's my great tip! Drop the leftover tomato paste by tablespoons in between two pieces of wax paper and put in the freezer (make sure it's flat). Once it freezes, you can put the "drops" into a freezer bag together. When you need tomato paste for a recipe, just take out how many tablespoons you need and drop it in the pot!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grilled Lemon-Mustard Chicken

This chicken has a super-easy marinade. Make it ahead of time and stick it in the freezer for a quick meal! It was so delicious and turned out so tender! Give it a try!


½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs minced lemon zest
¼ cup dijon mustard
½ tsp EACH of the following chopped herbs: thyme, oregano and parsley
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp coarsely cracked pepper

4 whole large skinless, boneless chicken breasts

lemon slices, parsley and fresh herbs for garnish


Combine marinade ingredients in a large freezer ziploc baggie. Mix well.

Add chicken breasts to baggie and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and grill 3 inches from heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

Place on individual plates or on a platter surrounded by parsley sprigs, lemon slices and fresh herb leaves.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Italian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

This is chock-full of veggies and really delicious! My 2 year old wasn't interested, but my husband, 10 mo. and I all loved it! I served it for dinner and topped it with a little Parmesan cheese. Oh, and the great news: one serving is zero WW points (without the cheese)!

2 cup(s) escarole, chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 cup(s) onion(s), chopped
2 cup(s) spinach, baby leaves
2 small zucchini, cubed
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), chopped
1 medium fennel bulb(s), thinly sliced
6 cup(s) chicken broth
28 oz canned diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1/4 small crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp thyme, fresh, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup(s) parsley, fresh, chopped


* Put escarole, garlic, onions, spinach, zucchini, red pepper, fennel, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme and oregano into a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes.

* Stir in salt, black pepper, and parsley. Serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cheesy Chili-Mac

This was delicious! It was a bit on the spicy side-- and I even left out the green chili peppers! Both of my boys (including my 10 mo. old) gobbled it up, but you might want to use regular tomatoes if your kids aren't into spicy foods.

1 spray(s) cooking spray
2/3 pound(s) raw extra lean ground beef
2 medium onion(s), chopped
29 oz canned stewed tomatoes, Mexican-style (undrained)
2 1/2 cup(s) canned tomato juice
4 oz canned green chili peppers, diced, drained
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cup(s) uncooked macaroni, elbow
31 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese


* Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until meat is browned, about 10 minutes; drain off fat.

* Stir in undrained stewed tomatoes including juice, tomato juice, chili peppers and chili powder; bring mixture to a boil.

* Stir in macaroni and beans; return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until macaroni is tender, about 15 minutes. Spoon chili into bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Yields about 1 cup of chili and 1 tablespoon of cheese per serving.

Roasted Vegetables

This was delicious and would make a great side to any entree! I modified it a little, sprinkling olive oil over the veggies instead of on the pan, and leaving out the thyme. Both my husband and I ate them all, and even the kids enjoyed them (once we convinced them to try it)! I cut all the veggies and put half of them in a ziploc bag to freshly roast them with the next meal. Oh, and the best news is: if you're counting WW points, this one is ZERO points!

4 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray, divided
2 medium sweet red pepper(s), cut into 8 thick strips
1 medium green pepper(s), cut into 8 thick strips
1 medium summer squash, cut thickly on the diagonal
1 medium zucchini, cut thickly on the diagonal
1 medium red onion(s), cut into large wedges
12 oz canned artichoke hearts, without oil, drained and halved
1 tbsp thyme, fresh, minced
1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste


* Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.

* Arrange peppers, squash, zucchini, onion and artichokes on prepared baking sheets and coat with cooking spray; sprinkle with thyme, salt and black pepper.

* Roast until vegetables are tender and golden brown, shaking pan once or twice during cooking, about 25 to 30 minutes. Yields about 3/4 cup per serving.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken Parisian

Yet another freezer meal. Make it for tonight or make a big batch so you can stick a few bags of this in the freezer. Thanks for the recipe, Tori!

Chicken Parisian

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup white wine
Combine all in a large freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air,
seal, and freeze.
SERVING DAY: Thaw meal completely in fridge. Either bake
uncovered at 350 for 1hr 15 mins., OR cook in crock pot on high
for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes

Here's another freezer meal. You can make it tonight, or make a few bags of this and stick them in the freezer for those nights when you don't have much time! Thanks for the recipe, Tori!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
1 tsp EACH oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary

Chicken, garlic salt, and pepper go together in one large
freezer bag. In a separate small freezer bag, mix tomatoes,
balsamic vinegar, & herbs.
SERVING DAY: Thaw meal completely in fridge. Brown chicken in
skillet, then place chicken & topping in casserole dish to bake
at 350 for 35 minutes.

Tijuana Beef

Here are some meals you can make ahead of time and then put in the freezer. We had a Meet-up today where the moms prepared the meals while the kids played. I can't wait to try all of them. Thanks for the recipes, Tori!

4 servings of beef, cut into 1” cubes
1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 tbl lime juice
1 tbl orange juice
¼ cup Tequila
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in large freezer bag. Squeeze excess air
from bag, seal, and freeze.
SERVING DAY: Thaw meal completely in fridge. Grill beef on
oiled skillet over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lemon Rice

Here's another great one for the rice cooker! Again, you can make it on the stove but it might be a bit more work. This is the perfect accompaniment to a chicken or fish dish!


* 1 cup long grain rice
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
* 1 pinch salt
* 1 tsp. minced garlic
* 2 teaspoons lemon zest, freshly grated
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (I used dried)


1. Place rinsed rice in the rice cooker bowl of your rice cooker.
2. Add the chicken stock, garlic, and salt; stir to combine.
3. Close the cover and set for the regular cycle.
4. When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, add the lemon zest, butter, and parsley; stir to combine.
5. Close the cover and let the rice steam for 10 minutes.
6. Fluff the rice with a wooden or plastic rice paddle or wooden spoon.
7. This rice will hold on Keep Warm for 1-2 hours.
8. Serve hot.

Easy Rice Cooker Chicken Curry

This recipe was so easy and so delicious! If you don't have a rice cooker, you could also do it on the stove. The rice cooker just took all the work out of it!



* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 tablespoons curry powder
* 2 cups water
* 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
* 1 (8 ounce) package zatarain's jambalaya mix
* 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
* 1/2 cup golden raisin
* 3/4 cup plain yogurt
* 1/3 cup chopped cashews


1. Hit Cook and place oil in pan then add onion and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add curry powder; cook and stir 2 minutes.
2. Add water, tomato sauce, Jambalaya Mix, chicken and raisins then mix well.
3. Close lid and hit COOK. After cooker switched over to Warm turn off the Rice cooker and stir in yogurt. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cashews.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mozzarella Stuffed Roasted Chicken Meatballs (w/Tomato-Basil Sauce)

These are the best meatballs that I've ever made! They smelled so great while I was mixing and forming them, and then tasted incredible! My husband and kids agreed, asking for seconds. The sauce is simple and delicious as well. (We had some parmesan-pepper potatoes and roast broccolini alongside.)

2 pounds ground chicken
salt & black pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds (I omitted this, as I don't like fennel)
3 cloves garlic, either minced or grated
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
ball of fresh mozzarella, cut 16 small chunks from it
olive oil
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup basil pesto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets with about 1 tbsp olive oil.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, salt, pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, and bread crumbs. (If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs.)

Form 16 meatballs, placing a chunk of cheese in the center of each. Arrange 8 balls on each of two baking sheets and coat them with olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning over halfway through.

While the meatballs are roasting, add tomatoes to a small pot or skillet, mash with a potato masher, and season with salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat then simmer to reduce, about 8-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in pesto.

Serve meatballs with the tomato-basil sauce on top or underneath.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cheddar Macaroni Beef Casserole

I got this recipe from my Kraft Food & Family magazine, and thought it'd just be something quick & easy. I was actually surprised by how good it was! Both my kids loved it as well (although one picked out the tomatoes). :) I served it with steamed broccoli, but a salad would be good as well.

1 pkg (7.25 oz) Macaroni & Cheese dinner
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (14.5 oz) Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

PREHEAT oven to 400. Prepare mac & cheese in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting butter. Meanwhile, brown meat in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomatoes and oregano; mix well. Bring to boil.

ADD meat mixture to mac & cheese; spoon into 11x7 baking dish (or comparable size). Sprinkle with cheese.

BAKE 10 min. or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.

Makes 4 servings, 1 3/4 cups each.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Avocado-Egg Breakfast Wrap

This is one of my absolute fave things to make for breakfast. My kids always try and steal it too! This recipe is for one wrap, but there's usually enough filling for two.

Put 1 egg and 2 egg whites, beaten, in nonstick skillet over medium heat (I add a bit of margarine or spray to pan first). Cook, stirring, until scrambled. Stir in 2 tsp finely chopped fresh cilantro. Spoon onto 1 warmed corn tortilla, top with 1/4 medium avocado and 2 tbsp salsa. Roll up and enjoy!

Tangy Tuna Sandwich

I'm always looking for quick, yummy things to make for lunch. I really like this sandwich!

Mix together 1/2 c drained tuna, 2 tsp each of olive oil, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice, and chopped fresh dill or basil (or I use a small amount of dried dill) to taste. Spread on 2 slices whole-wheat toast. Enjoy!