Low Carb · main dish

Pumpkin Monday – Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meat Sauce

Today’s recipe isn’t true pumpkin, but did you know that al the squashes are in the pumpkin family?  I have google to back me up on that! The blessing of this recipe is that you can have your favorite “pasta” without all the carbs, and believe me, you won’t miss them.  I’ve tried other substitutes like riced cauliflower and am not really a fan. However, I have really gotten into using squash in place of pasta.  Remember my lasagna? 

Now I’ve added the spaghetti squash to our menu!!  Continue reading “Pumpkin Monday – Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meat Sauce”

Dinner · main dish

Zucchini Lasagna

 

zucchini lasagna 5a

Lasagna is usually a guilty pleasure.  With pasta, cheese and ground beef, what’s not to love?!  However, while visiting my parents recently, my mom had clipped a recipe for a Zucchini version that replaces the pasta for this tasty veggie.  Wow!  It was so good!  It was also really easy to put together because it eliminates the one step of boiling pasta!

To get the zucchini ready and to keep it from adding moisture to the luscious tomato sauce, you lay it on paper towels, sprinkle it with salt and let the water drain from it.  Then when you layer the casserole together it doesn’t get as watery.  It’s a simple process!

 

zucchini lasagna collage
Here is the process in pictures.  1. Drain the zucchini with salt.  Layer meat, cottage cheese, tomatoes and cheese.  Repeat.
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A round pan might be a little odd, but I halved the recipe and this was a great size for 2 with a little leftover.

If you think you’re going to suffer when eating this you’re wrong!  It’s a delicious alternative. I tweaked the recipe my mom had when I made it at my house.  I used ground turkey instead of beef, making it even a little more healthy.  I also switched out the Ricotta cheese for Low-fat Cottage cheese.  We love this dish!

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients
  • 3 small small zucchini
  • 1/3 onion (chopped)
  • 14.5 oz tomato (diced)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBS fresh basil
  • 2 TBS fresh oregano
  • 1 TBS fresh tyme
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 10 oz cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Lay zucchini out on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Cover with additional paper towels.

Put olive oil and chopped onion in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute for about 5 minutes until onions are soft.
Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic salt and garlic powder.
Stir everything together and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add herbs when you are done simmering and remove from heat.\
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl combine, egg, Cottage cheese and Parmesan.
Spray a 9×9 (or 8×8) baking pan with cooking spray.
Spread about 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of your pan.
Layer 1 layer of zucchini across the sauce.
Top zucchini with about 1/3 cottage cheese mixture.
Top ricotta with 1/4 of mozzarella.
Top cheese with more sauce and repeat steps
End with zucchini, sauce then mozzarella.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden.
Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before eating. Cover pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

 

zucchini lasagna 6

 

I hope you’ll try this healthy but scrumptious version of a family favorite!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Chicken · Dinner · main dish

Sheet-Pan Roasted Chicken and Veggies

BBQ Rub chicken 1a

Roasted chicken is one of my all-time favorite dishes.  From the crispy skin to the savory and juicy meats, it’s just a perfect dinner in my eyes.  Even better is when you roast chicken pieces.  It’s super easy, and you can make just enough for your family without having to roast a whole bird. This is one of those great sheet-pan dinners.  I added a salad and bread and it was perfect.

 

I took this recipe from Southern Living. and used one GIANT Chicken breast, and also reduced the amount of veggies.  Friends, this is so good, I almost guarantee you will love it!!  I roasted the Chicken with carrots and potatoes in the pan, too.  You could change that out if your don’t care for one or the other.  Butternut squash and red onions would be good, too!

bbq rub chicken 4
Those crispy vegetables and the savory, juicy chicken are absolutely delicious!  

BBQ Rub Roasted Chicken Breast

  • 4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 2 (4- to 5-lb.) whole chickens  – I used one large bone-in chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • 1 (8 oz.) package baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Step 1

Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together first 5 ingredients, 4 teaspoons of the salt, and 2 teaspoons of the pepper. Remove necks and giblets from chickens, and reserve for another use. Pat chickens dry.

Step 2

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon brown sugar mixture inside cavity of each chicken. Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil into skin of each chicken. Sprinkle evenly with remaining brown sugar mixture; rub into skin. Tuck wing tips under.
Step 3
Toss together potatoes, carrots, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread potato mixture in a single layer in a 17- x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet. Place chickens, breast side up, facing in opposite directions (for even browning), on top of potato mixture
Step 4
Bake in preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 165°F, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cover and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Stir parsley into vegetables.

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I love using this thermometer that will alert me when the chicken has reached 165 degrees.  I’ve been over-baking in the past for fear of having under-cooked chicken! Now the chicken stays juicy instead of drying out! I found it at Williams and Sonoma. It’s become a favorite kitchen tool!

Chef’s Notes – I can’t wait to try this with my leftovers!

Toss together 2 heads chopped romaine lettuce; 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber; 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes; and 1 avocado, cut into wedges. Top with sliced leftover BBQ Rub Roasted Chicken. Serve with your favorite buttermilk dressing.

Prepare ahead tips: This would be an easy dish to prepare ahead of time.  Prep the chicken with the oil and rub, then cover and refrigerate.  Cut up the veggies and put in a bowl of water, but don’t add them until just before you put the chicken in the oven. You’ll have dinner in the oven in minutes by simply draining the vegetables and drying with paper towel, then adding the oil.  Place the chicken on the pan and place into the oven! Bake.  Enjoy!

This recipe will be on a regular rotation at our house!  Hope you’ll try it!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Brunch · main dish · memories · Mother's Day · Tablescapes

Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics

Isn’t it amazing how fast vacation time flies by? I had an app on my phone that told me how many more days ’til vacation.  Then, woosh!  It’s done!   It’s also easy to forget everything that happened.  It’s for that reason that I try to journal each day I’m away.  I try to log what we did and what the highlights of the day were. I write down any fun places we discovered, any new restaurants we enjoyed and also special things that we shared as a couple in our day together. Then when I get home I can read back over my writings and can relive our time away!

Here’s a picture journal for you of a few highlights and favorite photos from our time away. Continue reading “Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics”

Chicken · Fast meal · freezer · main dish

Getting the Most Out of a Deli-Purchased Chicken

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When was the last time you went to the grocery store or Sam’s Club and picked up one of these rotisserie chickens from their deli? Recently a friend brought one to me at a busy time and it was such a blessing!

Image result for deli rotisserie chicken

They are usually about $5 and are a great easy, delicious meal straight from the container. You might slice the meat and serve:

Potato Salad
Green Beans
Salad

It’s a wonderful busy night dinner.

However, if there are only two or three, you’ll have leftovers, but probably not enough to serve slices of meat again.  What do you do with the remains without wasting it?  I have a couple of ideas to help you get the most out of that $5 bird! Last week when I had that chicken, here is all the ways that it provided for us –

Chicken Salad – If you have enough white meat left, you could mix up the ingredients for lunch tomorrow!  This made for a delicious lunch!
Add:

  • White meat Cubes
  • Grapes
  • Pecans
  • Celery
  • Dressing – I mix together
    • Mayo
    • A little sour cream
    • Cinnamon

Served on bread or crackers, it totally transforms a rotisserie chicken into a whole new meal.

Chicken Pot Pie – You can use white meat, dark meat or a combination of both. It only takes 1 1/2 Cups of chicken – or you could use 1 cup and add more veggies!

chicken pot pie 2

I make a low-fat version of Chicken Pot pie that is equal to any high fat version!

Don’t be afraid to alter the vegetables to what your family likes.  Changing that will not change its deliciousness!

Crust:
1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
4-5 Tbl cold water

Mix dry ingredients.  Use a pastry cutter or fork and cut in shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Add water, 1 tbl at a time, until all dough is moistened.  Form dough into ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten the ball of dough with hands.  Roll dough into a 13 x 8 1/2 inch rectangle.  Cover pastry and set aside.

Filling:

1 cup slices fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (or more) chicken broth
1 tsp instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried sage, marjoram, or thyme (thyme is my favorite!)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 10-oz package frozen peas & carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Spray a cold medium saucepan with nonstick coating.  Add mushroom and onion.  cook and stir over medium heat about 4 minutes or till the onion is tender but not brown.

Meanwhile reserve 1 tbl of the milk. Set aside.  In a small mixing bowl gradually stir the remaining milk into the flour till smooth.  Stir into vegetable mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in the water, bouillon granules, sage, marjoram or thyme: and pepper.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Stir int he frozen peas and carrots and chicken.

Transfer mixture to a 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch baking dish.  Place pastry over chicken mixture.  Fold under edges.  Crimp edges of pastry with a fork.  Brush pastry with reserved milk.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or till the chicken mixture is heated through and the pastry is golden brown.  Makes 5 servings.

Chicken pot pie 3

This pie is so good, friends!  You could even assemble it and pop it into the freezer for another day!

Now, at this point I had stripped most all of the meat off the carcass.  Was it ready for the garbage?  No!  DON’T THROW THAT CARCASS IN THE TRASH CAN YET!!  There’s one more GREAT WAY to use that chicken!

Chicken Stock – No need to purchase cans or boxes of this in the store if you have a chicken carcass in your fridge!

Here’s the recipe and method I use to make chicken stock. Let me add one more thought – I have learned that it’s even easier to make it in the crock pot so I don’t have to babysit it.  I do the very same thing, only pop it into the crock pot and cook it all day long.  The house smells amazing and I have about 8-10 cups of chicken stock when it’s finished! Look how rich that broth is!

chicken broth

I pour it into small baggies, then put them in a large Ziplock bag and freeze them.

You could also just cube the meat off and freeze it in small freezer bags ready for soup, enchiladas or quesadillas, 

The possibilities are endless, and also so convenient because the chicken is already cooked.  You know, you might even consider buying TWO rotisserie chickens just so you can make so many great meals so easily!

When was the last time you enjoyed a rotisserie chicken?  What else do you do with yours?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Dinner · freezer · Low Carb · main dish · Main entree

A Healthier Pizza Recipe

pizza 5

If you included weight loss in any of your New Year Goals, you will be really happy to try this recipe!  This Deconstructed Pizza Casserole is low carb but highly delicious! If you’re hungry for pizza, but don’t want all the calories and carbohydrates, this will come in a close second to the real thing!  I added a green salad and it was a perfect Saturday night supper that almost felt like, “Pizza Night!”

Here’s the easy recipe and my tweaks:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (do not use petite dice)
  • 5 links (19.5 oz.) uncooked turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 8-12 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed and cut into thick slices (I used brown Cremini mushrooms.) To wash, wet a paper towel and wipe the mushrooms.  Don’t rinse under water!
  • 1/2 Red onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
  • Pepperoni slices (I used Turkey Pepperoni, but you can use regular, if you prefer.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8 inch x 11 inch glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.
  2. Pour the diced tomatoes into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water. Let tomatoes drain a minute or two, then spread them out on paper towels to dry (or blot dry with another paper towel on top.)
  3. Remove the sausage out of the casing, and cook over medium-high heat until it’s nicely browned, breaking it apart as it cooks.
  4. While sausage cooks, clean mushrooms and slice into thick slices.
  5. When the sausage is done make a layer of sausage in the bottom of the casserole dish and top with the drained tomatoes and red onions, spreading  out over the top of the sausage. Season with dried oregano, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper.
  6. Rinse out the pan if needed, then heat 2 tsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until all the liquid is released and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Layer the mushrooms over the sausage-tomato mixture.

    Pizza cass 2
    I divided the mixture between two dishes, since it was just the two of us!  One went into the freezer for another day.
  7. Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella over the top of the casserole and lay the pepperoni pieces on top of the cheese, spacing them evenly so the whole top is covered with pepperoni.
    pizza cass 4
  8. Bake about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve hot.

pizza 6

 

With yummy dishes like this, you could cut carbs and not feel like you’re missing your favorite pizza!

Hope you’ll give this a try!!  It’s super-good!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Dinner · main dish · Pork chops

Pork Chops, Peas and Potato Dish

You’re probably up to your eyeballs in sugar cookie dough and all things sweet right now, but you still have to have supper, right?! I’m going to help you with an old family recipe I remember having as a child, fixing for my girls when they were home, and I still enjoy today.
I love a recipe that doesn’t call for special ingredients.  I know I can open my pantry and find just what I need and pull supper together in a flash.  I recently made a casserole that’s an old recipe that falls right into that category! It’s called, Pork Chop, Peas and Potato Casserole.  I loved it as a child, and I love it today.  The pork chops get so tender while cooking in the tomato soup mixture, and the soup makes a great sauce for the vegetables.  I love these kinds of recipes where you pile everything in the dish, cover it, and you’re done!
You could put this together the night before and store it in the fridge until it’s time to bake it for dinner (just make sure the potatoes are all under the sauce so they don’t turn brown).  This is hearty and so good!  Add a salad and bread and the meal is complete!

Pork Chop, Peas and Potato Casserole

 4 Pork Chops
3-4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 Cup onion, diced
1 can Tomato Soup
1 Can Milk
Frozen Peas
Salt and Pepper
Layer potatoes and onions in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add peas – as many as you think you’ll need.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix soup and milk.  Pour over top of vegetables.  Place pork chops on top and spoon some of the soup over the chops. Add salt and pepper to chops.   Cover and bake 1 hour.
The pork will be super tender and the potatoes and peas will have absorbed the sauce.  Yum!
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pork chops and peas
Have you been cooking any old family recipes?  Is there one you haven’t made in a while you need to pull out?  Sometimes those are the best!
With love from my country kitchen,
Denise Signature 150 px