Friday, August 30, 2013

Summertime Macaroni and Cheese

What says summer more than hotdogs?  I really was in the mood the some hotdogs today, but macaroni and cheese was already on the menu.  So, why not both?  I didn't see a reason why not!
Also, it's been really hot here in Philly, so this is for stovetop, but if it's cooler where you are, feel free to throw it in the oven!

Summertime Macaroni and Cheese

Summertime Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound hotdogs, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
8 ounces shell macaroni
2 cups milk (I used skim)
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. ground mustard
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup canned french fried onions, optional
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, diced, optional

If you plan to use the french fried onions, preheat broiler, if it's too hot, that's fine too.
In a large pot, cook pasta according to directions.  Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute butter and onions over medium heat.  After about one minute, add in hotdogs. Cook until onions are translucent.  Set aside.
Using the same skillet, combine milk, flour, pepper, and mustard, whisking constantly.  Cook for about four minutes, or until thick.  Remove from heat and whisk in cheese.
Combine cheese mixture, pasta, and hotdog mixture in large pot.  Mix well.
*If putting macaroni and cheese in the oven, transfer to casserole dish and top with french fried onions. Broil 3-4 minutes.
Top with fresh tomatoes if using.

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chicken Salad

The other day I made Crockpot Cheesy Chicken and Rice and the original recipe called for four chicken breasts, however only three fit in the bottom of my crockpot and then I had the issue of an unthawed chicken breast in my fridge.  Hence, chicken salad!  I really wanted to make a healthy alternative to the normally mayonnaise-heavy dish so I subbed in Greek yogurt and fat-free mayonnaise.
I also wanted to add in grapes and apples, but I was cooking for my sister, meaning nope!  I just threw them into my salad instead!

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad 

1 chicken breast, cooked and cubed (or 1 cup rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise (you can add more if you like, I like mine on the drier side)
1 tsp. onion flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1/4 cup granny smith apple, julienned

Mix all ingredients together.
Serve on either a nice roll or over some lettuce for a yummy salad.

Recipe Adapted from

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taco Skillet Casserole

Don't let the name fool you, this is basically nachos for dinner.  I found this recipe in an old Culinary Arts Institute and have made it easier and a little healthier.  (But not too healthy... I just said this is nachos for dinner right?)
My favorite part of this dish is that you can basically add whatever you want AND it uses up all those chip crumbs in the bottom of the bag.  Yay!

Taco Skillet Casserole

Taco Skillet Casserole

1 pound ground beef*
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
2 cups enchilada sauce (I used red)
1 1/2 cups tortilla chips, crumbled (or the crumbs from the bottom of the bag)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tomato, chopped
Shredded Lettuce
Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt

In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat.  Drain except for 1 tsp. oil.
Add garlic, onion, and pepper.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until pepper is slightly soft.
Add pepper, salt, chili powder, and enchilada sauce.
Cook for 10 minutes.
Add tomato, tortilla chips, and cheese.
Cook for another 5 minutes, or until everything is coated.
Spoon mixture on plate and top with lettuce and sour cream.

*This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using soy crumbles instead of ground beef

Recipe Adapted from The Culinary Arts Institute Cookbook

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken and Rice

I needed a Crockpot meal for today because Alyssa, Matt, and I wandered around the city today and also because it's too hot to turn on the oven!  I wanted a chicken dish and also needed something that I didn't have to buy any ingredients for, this fit the bill!  My only complaint was that it was quite rich, so for summertime dining, I would add some chicken stock to make the sauce less rich and add some additional veggies... green beans would be great!

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken and Rice

The picture kind of makes it look like a big pile of mush, but it was super yummy!

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken and Rice

3 chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (you can use cream of whatever you want)
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 box yellow rice, prepared as per directions on box
1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded
1 box frozen green beans, optional

Place the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.
Place onions on top.
Top with cream soup.
Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours
When ready for dinner, add corn, rice, and cheese. (Also, can add green beans at this point, make sure they're cooked according to the package directions)
Stir together, shredding the chicken as you stir. (Best done with a BBQ fork.)

Recipe Adapted from

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stuffed Cheeseburgers and Homemade Pickles

My parents were in town to visit yesterday so we went to Victor Cafe, where the waiters and waitresses sing arias in between serving our food.  Matt and I didn't tell them anything until they actually started singing, they were so surprised!
Today they went with my sister, Alyssa, to her orientation and left afterwards.  I cooked dinner for Matt and Alyssa tonight, hamburgers and homemade pickles!  

Look how healthy I was, no bun! 

Stuffed Cheeseburgers

1 pound ground beef
1 packet beef boullion
1 Tbsp. chopped dried onion
2 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil
*You can really stuff your burgers with what you want, including relish, any kind of cheese, onions, etc.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. 
Shape into patties, about the size of your palm.
Press your thumb into the center of each burger to make a small hole.
Heat large pan over medium heat.
Place olive oil in pan. 
When hot, add burger patties.
Cook 3-4 minutes.
Flip, cook 2-3 minutes on the other side, depending on how well-done you want them. (This will give you medium.
I used two tomato slices instead of buns, but you can top with what you like.

Recipe Adapted from Comfort Food

Homemade Pickles

1/3 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dill weed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cucumber, sliced thinly

Heat all ingredients, except cucumber, in medium sauce pan until boiling.  
Remove from heat and add cucumber.
Let sit for about a half an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zucchini Frittata

It is hot in Philly.  I thought fall was here, and than, boom!  90 degrees and lots of humidity.  I needed a light meal for dinner that also used up some of the zucchini from my uncle's garden.  Zucchini Frittata it was!
Now, the issue of whether or not to turn the oven on... no!  Usually, frittatas are put in the oven which helps them cook rather like a pie.  However, I cooked mine on the stovetop and I now know why frittatas are cooked in the oven, it looks gross (but it tasted good!)

Zucchini "Frittata" 

Zucchini Frittata

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 eggs
1/2 Tbsp. parsley, or 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Pour olive oil into large skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic to skillet.  Saute for one minute.
Add zucchini, saute until slightly mushy, 6-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, crack eggs into bowl with parsley, salt, and pepper.  Whisk.
Once zucchini is cooked, add eggs, tomatoes, and feta.
Allow to cook, 3 minutes, or until set.
Now comes the tricky part, flip!
Mine turned scrambled at this point, but hopefully yours won't.
Also, at this point, you could have turned on the broiler and broiled the frittata for 2-3 minutes, however it's too hot!
Cook until golden brownish.
Serve with whole wheat toast

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guacamole Grilled Cheese

I'm a sucker for anything Mexican and if it has guacamole on it, bring me two.  So, for dinner tonight I looked at my ingredients and came up with this.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to put guacamole on a grilled cheese, but damn, it was delicious!

Guacamole Grilled Cheese 
Guacamole Grilled Cheese

4 slices whole wheat bread
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a combination of smoked gruyere, extra sharp cheddar, and colby jack because that's what I had on hand)
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 avocado
1/2 small tomato, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. + 1/2 Tbsp. Butter, divided
Juice of 1 lime

Place medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 Tbsp. butter and add white onions.  Saute 2-3 minutes, or until translucent.
While onions are cooking, combine avocado, tomato, garlic, and lime juice in small bowl.  Once onions are done, add onions to guacamole.
Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
Place one slice of bread, butter side down on frying pan.  Top with cheese. Spread guacamole on other slice of bread (dry side.)  Top sandwich with guacamole side down.
Turn sandwich over, once golden brown, about a minute and a half.
Cook on the other side until golden brown.  Repeat with other sandwich, or if you used a large enough frying pan, you're done!