Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cheesy Chicken and Kale

Sometimes Pinterest is my Google. Seriously, I often feel like my phone should come with an option to say "OK, me recipes using chicken, kale, garlic and cheese." And yesterday was one of those times. I was trying to decide what to fix for dinner, so I just typed in the ingredients I wanted to use and behold...all of these great recipes came up!

One immediately caught my eye. It's probably because I could see all the cheesy goodness. I used her recipe as a starting point for dinner. It sounded so good and I figured I could make some changes to suit our tastes, and switch out the pasta for spaghetti squash, Ugh, giving up pasta is hard.

What you'll need:

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 large spaghetti squash
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 c chicken stock
1-2 Tablespoons butter
1-2 Tablespoons flour (equal amounts of butter and flour)
5 ounces baby kale, cut into manageable pieces
2 c Italian blend shredded cheese
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

So I started by getting the spaghetti squash in the oven. I used a rather large one knowing I was feeding 2 teenage boys and my husband as well. I generally cook for 8 so we have plenty for dinner and for lunch the next day. After the spaghetti squash had been in the oven for about 30 minutes, I started in on the rest of the ingredients. First-saute onions in some olive oil.

After about 5 minutes, I added in some garlic and let that simmer for another few minutes. Then the chicken and herbs.

I let that go until the chicken was no longer pink on the outside. By this time, the spaghetti squash was done, so I pulled it out of the oven so it could cool enough for me to touch it.

Back to the chicken....
Push all the meat to one side of the pan and drop in a tablespoon or two of butter and let it melt, then whisk in an equal amount of flour and let that cook until it stiffens up. Add in about a cup of chicken stock and mix everything together in the pan. Keeping a simmer going, add in the kale and the cheese. After a couple of minutes, the sauce will start to thicken. Add milk until it's nice and creamy. Then add in the spaghetti squash and make a mess all over the stove top as you stir it all together. A final seasoning with salt, pepper and some red pepper flakes and it's ready to go.

I was going to add in some spinach too at this point, but I decided since we were having a salad with it and there was spinach in the salad, that was probably enough. Next time I make this, I'm going to toss in some capers though. The brininess would be perfect in here! But even without the capers, dinner was a hit with everyone. There was just enough left for the husband and I to have lunch today.

Monday, November 16, 2015

DIY Outdoor Christmas Tree Decorations

I managed to make it half way though November before the Christmas decorations came out. That's some sort of record for me. Because the husband and I are both still kids when it comes to Christmas, we have to set a limit on how many decorations we buy each year, and that includes lights. This year, he opted to buy a few of the inflatable outdoor decorations, and we had to retire a couple, so it really didn't feel like we added anything this year. While we were out shopping this weekend, we saw some outdoor decorations for sale that I knew we could make ourselves. The decorations were basically tomato cages turned upside down, then donned with tinsel, lights and some decorations. They were $9.99 each, which wasn't a bad price, but I knew we could make some with items we already had around the house, which essentially makes them free. I can do free!

I grabbed three tomato cages from the garage. We had a few that have been through many garden seasons and were starting to fall apart, literally. I figured these would be perfect for this because I don't have to undo it all to use them again in the spring. But, with just a few snips, they could be ready to go for garden use if we needed to.

Mine were a bit mangled, so I started by straightening them as much as I could, then flipped it upside down and tied the top together with zip ties. Have I mentioned I love zip ties? I think half of our house/garage/chicken coops/fencing is held together with zip ties.

Next, add the lights and tinsel, wrapping around the "trees", securing with zip ties along the way. Then add your ornaments and a tree topper. We used star ornaments as the tree toppers.

All that's left is to trip the zip ties. They look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book at this point, but that's ok. Once they are outside and turned on, no one will notice. 

The last step is to take them out and plug them in!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Lightened Up Casserole

One of my favorite comfort foods is chicken and broccoli casserole. It doesn't matter what time of year it is or what the temperature is outside, that's the one meal that always hits the spot for me. And the best part is it's made from leftovers.

Last night I was trying to figure out what to make with the leftover turkey breast I had, it came to me that I could fairly easily tweak the chicken and broccoli casserole recipe to make it work with the turkey, and lighten it up in the process. Today I entered the ingredients into the Recipe Calculator to see what the nutritional difference was between the original recipe and the new version. The amounts may be slightly different, but for the quick comparison, it will do. Here's the original recipe:

And the Nutrition Information

For this version, here are the swaps I made: 
1 roasted turkey breast for the chicken
1 egg beaten in place of the mayo
1 roasted spaghetti squash in place of the rice
3 slices of cheddar cheese in place of the colby jack
1/2 c riced and roasted cauliflower in place of the breadcrumbs

Check out the new nutrition information: 

These swaps cut out over 100 calories, 16 g of fat and 20 carbs per serving!! That's not to mention all of the increased vitamins and minerals!