Category Archives: Main Dishes
This is another dinner dedicated to my wonderful calorie counting hubby. I was ready to grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and make a smooth, creamy, satisfying chicken bisque. I’d noticed that he hadn’t made a shake for breakfast in the morning and I knew he’d have the calories to spare. Well, he calls at lunch and says he needs something light for dinner because he’s having lunch at work. Ok, so how many calories is dinner limited to? UNDER 400!!! What am I supposed to do with that. Goodbye creamy chicken bisque. So, I started digging around the pantry looking for low calorie for him and satisfying for him.
I ended up finding some whole grain spaghetti for 180 calories a serving, some scallops for 150 calories a serving and some chicken stock for 20 calories a serving (per cup). Well, for under 400 calories per serving (this recipe feeds 2), here’s what I made:
- 8 Bay Scallops, clean** and season with salt and pepper on both sides
- 1/3 pack spaghetti
- 3 TBSP Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP Garlic, minced
- 1 Shallot, sliced
- 3 Baby Portabella Mushrooms, sliced (or any kind you want to use)
- 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
- 3 huge handfuls of Baby Spinach
- Salt and Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Salt a pot of boiling water. Watch out, it will fizz a bit when the salt hits the water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.
- In a pan on the side, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil on med-low. Add shallots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, then add mushrooms. Stir occasionally.
- In another pan, heat remaining olive oil on med heat and add seasoned scallops. You will know when they are finished on one side because it will release from the bottom and not stick. Flip them when they are browned on the bottom and brown on the other side. 3-5 minutes on each side will cook them through. When finished, place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil and place on pasta.
- Add chicken stock to mushroom mixture once mushrooms and shallots have softened. As soon as it heats through, about a minute, add spinach. It will wilt quickly, so keep an eye on it and use tongs or a fork to rotate the spinach from top to bottom. Once it is all wilted, and mixed with the mushrooms and shallot, turn to low and add the finished pasta. Toss and plate. *Optional: Garnish with green onions or chopped green herbs, basil, thyme, or oregano.
**To clean scallops, make sure the side connector is removed and they are lightly rinsed. Do not keep submerged in water or they will soak up the water and not brown properly.
It may seem like there’s a lot going on all at once, but you can easily cook the spinach mixture completely before you cook the scallops. Heat your oven to low, Once it’s heated, turn it off and place your serving plate or bowl inside. When the pasta and spinach are finished and you’ve tossed the pasta in the spinach mixture, place it in the serving dish(es) and put back in the oven. Cook the scallops and you can top the warm pasta. This also works for keeping your serving dish or dishes warm and the food won’t cool off as quickly while you’re plating food and waiting to eat.
Welcome Back to Audrey’s Kitchen. It seems like forever, but I’m slowly working my way back. Being a new mom with a three month old one of my dinner requirements has become something quick. Unfortunately, that tends to mean not very healthy. Well, that’s out the door because my husband is doing the Insanity workout and I’m breast feeding, so whatever I eat, my baby eats. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been addicted to kettle corn lately, and ice cream, so when it comes to meals I try to do better.
For dinner tonight I made something tasty, simple, quick, amendable and healthy. It begins with pre-cooked grilled chicken and ends with fresh store bought herbs. Here’s how I made my Grilled Chicken Caprese Rotini.
Cooked Whole Grain Rotini Pasta
3 oz Mozerella, med. dice
2 Small Tomatoes, med. dice
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
1/8 C Basil & Oregano, chopped
Directions: Mix it all together! Told ya it was simple.
This recipe will feed 2 people for dinner or easily 3 with one more piece of chicken. I used pre-cooked frozen grilled chicken from a bag that was store bought. You can easily grill your own or bake it. We kept this low calorie by not adding any sauce, but be sure to season your pasta water with salt. You can also add salt and pepper, tomato sauce or pesto. You can definitely use dried herbs in place of fresh, just remember to use much less, maybe 1/2-1 TBSP of each.
This makes a great, fast dinner dish with the chicken taking the longest to cook at under 20 minutes. Of course, that’s if you use the ready made chicken, but even raw it’s no more than 35 minutes. This also makes a great party dish. Remove the chicken and add Italian or balsamic dressing.
I can definitely see keeping a cold version of this in the fridge on hand for those quick lunch times or snacks when the baby is napping and I need to refuel. I hope you find a use for it as well. Be on the lookout for more great recipes and ENJOY!
These nachos are super easy and super quick, especially with my shortcut. What is this shortcut? Precooked chicken. I like to make these with the chicken I use for my chicken stock. You can also use a rotisserie chicken. Here’s how I do it.
- 1 Whole Chicken, precooked
- Tortilla Chips (Try my recipe)
- Shredded or Nacho Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Green Onions
- **You can use any nacho ingredients you want. They’re your nachos!
- Prep the chicken. It’s messy, but simple. Just peel off the skin and pull the meat off the bone. Shred it with your hands or two forks. Mix the chicken with your favorite BBQ Sauce. My favorite sauce is Sweet Baby Rays. I like to use the original and spice it up according to what I’m having, but you can go with the Hickory and Brown Sugar or Sweet Vadalia Onion flavors and you don’t have to add a thing.
- Layer your nachos. Start with the chips, top with the chicken, then layer the rest as you see fit. Now Enjoy! Was that easy or what?!
I have recently been on a search for 2 things. The first is a way to use more of my fresh herbs. If you’re a regular follower, you’ll remember a little herb garden I started a few weeks ago. I’m happy to report that, so far, everything seems to be handling the heat well. Everything except my Greek Basil, which keeps drying on the edges. Bygones.
The second is a fresh, rich tomato sauce. I’ve tried before to make homemade sauce, and it never came out right. Well, I’ve finally figured it out. Turns out you don’t have to simmer it all day long and you can use canned tomatoes. The best part, this sauce is garlicky enough that lovers will be satisfied, but not so much so that you’ll reek of it. Here’s how to do it:
1- 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 TBSP Tomato Paste
2/3 C Dry Red Wine
Basil, Oregano, Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Rosemary (I used fresh herbs. You can see how much below, but if you’re using dry herbs, you’ll want to use less)
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
Empty can of tomatoes into a pot and cook over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste. Add red wine and stir. Chop the herbs well and add them to the sauce along with the balsamic.
Simmer for at least 15 minutes, however, the longer you allow it to simmer, the more concentrated the flavors will become. I made the sauce, then, allowed it to simmer while I made the meat and pasta.
Serve with or without meat. Garnish with a sprinkle with your favorite cheese, a drizzle olive oil, and sprig of basil. You can also garnish with a dash of dry basil or balsamic.
Whether or not you add meat, this is a no fail sauce that will tickle your garlic fancy and make you seem like a rock star, and no one needs to know how simple it was. ENJOY!
So, I have to be honest and say, I’m no vegetarian. I love meat, but I also love to be healthy. For me, this means taking a few days off the meaty stuff to have something a little lighter. There are many recipes you can make that offer even the most devout carnivore a satisfying vegetarian meal. This is definitely one of those times. There are a few tricks I use to make this a fulfilling meal for my carnivorous hubby, while keeping it light for me.
I have two main tricks when I want to keep it vegetarian, but filling. The first, starch/carbs. When trying to sell people who love meat on a dish that has none, you have to make sure it’s filling. Potatoes, rices, pastas and breads are the key to this. *Remember that starches/carbs aren’t bad for you. The type and amount we eat can be, though, so starch and carb responsibly.
The second trick I have is to use veggies that somewhat mimic the consistency and, sometimes, the flavor of meat, like mushrooms or asparagus. I find that mushrooms especially are a good substitute for meat. Not only are they thick and hearty, but they can have a great flavor, and can be given great flavor. Asparagus has a dense feel when cooked just right, and using the entire stalk, and not just the tips, can add a heftiness to your meal.
There is one last trick, but that’s just getting them to eat it without complaining. Good luck with that. I often do it by telling my husband we’re going to have one vegetarian dish a week. Usually, he’ll go along with it, and feel the better for it afterward, instead of stuffed and bloated. Just in case it doesn’t work, though, I keep a bag of pre-cooked grilled chicken strips in the freezer. My husband is a soldier, and for any men who have to physically exert themselves during the day, sometimes they need that extra protein boost.
So, let’s get to the food! This Orecchiette doesn’t have many ingredients, and this dish is easy to time so you have everything done at once. This, though, is one of those recipes where it’s worth it to have everything fresh (except the pasta, which can be dry.)
- Fresh Asparagus
- Mushrooms, med dice or sliced
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Baby Spinach
- Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Basil
- Salt, Pepper & olive oil (can use veggie, grape seed or canola also)
You will notice that I haven’t given any amounts to use of these ingredients. It really depends on how many people you are going to serve, and what you like. I like to have equal parts veggies to pasta. For 2 people, I use the appropriate amount of pasta according to the package. For the veggies, I used about 1 cup of each, asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, then, 1/2 C baby spinach and a few roughly chopped basil leaves for garnish.
- Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Heat a pot of water to boiling.
- Prep Asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces.Cut tomatoes in half. place in a mixing bowl and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to use a coarse grind like kosher or sea salt and a large grind of pepper. Toss veggies and pour onto a sheet pan. I always line it with nonstick foil, but it’s not necessary.
- Drizzle butter over mushrooms. Toss and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss in a few TBSP of flour. Add to sheet pan of veggies and bake for 12 minutes in oven.
- Once water comes to a boil, add salt to the water. The water should be salty to the taste, but, remember, this is going to soak into the pasta. I use about 1 TBSP of kosher salt to 3-4 C water. Add the pasta and boil for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and encourage even cooking. Test a few pieces by tasting them. This is a thick pasta, but should not have a hard, raw feel.
- While everything is cooking, slice your spinach into slivers (or ribbons) and set aside.
- When pasta is finished, drain and put in mixing bowl. Add spinach and toss. Add veggies to pasta and toss. Serve and top with grated Parmesan and basil.
For those of you who are desperate for the meaty addition, try this with grilled chicken chunks. It makes it super easy to get the pre-cooked pack of grilled chicken strips at the grocery store, and toss them into the oven as the same time as the veggies. Heat thoroughly, chop them in bite-sized pieces and toss them into the pasta. ENJOY!
This recipe is way too easy not to try. You will make this once and it will become a staple and a simple go to. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it tastes delicious. This recipe is for 2 people. Let’s get to it!
- 1- 12 oz bottle General Tso Sauce (Find it in the international food section of the grocery)
- 2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, bite-sized cubes
- 1/4 C Peanut Oil, or any other cooking oil (not olive oil)
- 1 C Panko
- 1/2 C Green Onions, sliced
- 1/2 a Red Pepper, slice and chop into 1″ long strips
- 2 C White Rice, cooked
- *Optional- 2 C Broccoli, cooked (see recipe below)
Heat Oil in a pan. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Toss chicken in Panko crumbs. Press the Panko into the chicken and coat it well. When the oil is hot, lay the chicken in the oil. Brown on both sides (be sure to cook through), and remove to drain.
Turn heat down to medium and make sure to remove oil from the pan. Put the chicken back in and pour entire bottle of sauce over chicken. Stir to coat chicken. Add pepper strips and green onions (and broccoli if using). Toss until heated through. Serve over over rice.
Was that easy or what?
Broccoli– I love to roast my broccoli. It produces so much more flavor than steaming or boiling. You can use either method you like. If you’re using frozen broccoli I don’t recommend roasting it. In that case, drop it into lightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, then drain it and add it to the chicken.
To roast it, preheat oven to 425˚F. Cut fresh broccoli into bite sized florets with short stalks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place on sheet pan and make sure they’re not overlapping. Bake 10 minutes and add directly to chicken or serve on the side. ENJOY!
Shrimp Bisque was the first bisque I ever learned how to make. I wanted to make something with seafood that I’d never made before. I started combing every recipe book I owned from Giada, Tyler, Ina, Betty Crocker, Better Homes…. Finally, I came to a book I’d never opened before. You have those. The ones you thought were a good idea at the time, but never used, or the one someone who thought they knew you bought for you, and you looked at it and said, “I would never make any of this,” or the one you flip threw and swear you’ll cook from, but never get around to that book. Well, this one came from a 1992 Campbell’s recipe book.
Any recipe book can be helpful to have around. My favorite thing about cookbooks is that they’re great inspiration to find a good idea, or an awesome recipe, then create shortcakes or tweek it to your own personal tastes. Even if you don’t find a recipe in a particular book, it can always give you ideas for creating your own unique meal. I love looking at books and saying, “I don’t have that ingredient, but, OH, I have this and it’d be great!”
The original recipe for this bisque is very good. Of course, I change it up slightly. It calls for fresh parsley, which I never use. Where I live, it’s just to hard to find some fresh herbs in our commissary. You can use dried parsley for garnishing if you’d like, but it’s good either way.
It also calls for a can of condensed chicken broth, but I use homemade broth or the regular boxed broth I normally use. It’s whatever I have on hand. I always have the bouillon cubes, and now they have small packets of condensed stock. Any of that will work.
The thing I like best about this recipe is that it has a chicken broth base, not a tomato base. I have made tomato based bisques before, but, like caramel, they frighten me. Hahaha, I don’t know why. Some things, no matter how good they are or how well they turn out, they strike a fewar in me that won’t go away. Tomato based bisques are one of these things. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to whipping up sauces, gravies and soups with beef or chicken, or even fish bases.In any event, this bisque has been a hit with anyone I’ve served it to. Even my mother-in-law, who, when I told her what was for dinner turned to me and said, “Well, I’m not really a bisque person. I’ll just try a small bowl.” She had two.
This is my take on the “Creamy Shrimp Bisque” recipe from my Campbell’s recipe book. It makes about 4 cups of bisque.
- 4 TBSP Butter
- 1 C Mushrooms, sliced (any will do)
- 1 C Green Onions, sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 lb shrimp, raw, deveined, shelled (I also remove the tails. It’s a pet peeve of mine)
- 2-3 C Chicken Broth
- 1/4 C Flour
- 1/2 C Milk or light cream
- 1/3 C Dry White Wine
- *Optional- 2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, more or less to your heat’s desire
Start by melting 3 TBSP of butter in a medium pot. Once melted, add mushrooms, 1/2 C of the green onions, *crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and cook on med/med-low until they begin to soften. You don’t want the onions or garlic to brown because it changes the flavor and you’re going for a fresh and light taste to this bisque.
Once the veggies have softened, add the chicken broth and shrimp and bring the pot to a boil. It doesn’t take long for shrimp to cook, so keep an eye on it. Your pot and it’s contents are already hot, so it will come to a boil quickly. (I mentioned earlier that I take the tails off my shrimp. It’s easiest to do this if you let the frozen shrimp sit in cold water for about 20 minutes, or let them sit on the counter for about 30-40 minutes. They will still be cold, but this will remove any ice and make things easier. Grab the body of the shrimp in one hand and gently tug. With the other hand, grip the very bottom of the tail above the two tiny fins at the end. Pinch and pull in the opposite direction of the body. The tail should slide right off. It just annoys me to have dishes hampered by having to stop and separate the tail when you’re trying to enjoy a dish.)
While your shrimp cook, combine the flour and cream into a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Pour directly into your pot as soon as your shrimp begins boiling and stir. This thickens your bisque. Bring it back up to a boil, then, reduce it to a simmer.
Add the wine, last TBSP of butter and other 1/4 C of green onions. Stir until the bisque is heated through. Remove from heat and serve, garnishing with the remaining 1/4 C green onions.
I also like to garnish with some grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes (if I didn’t put many in already.) You can also use the original recipe’s parsley. This recipe is perfect as a cold winter day warmer, or a fresh, clean, summer day seafood starter or quick, light lunch. Either way, the key to this recipe is to have everything chopped or sliced or poured into a prep dish, so all you have to do is dump it into the pot when the time comes. It truly makes this soup a 15 minute or less meal.
Try it with fresh jumbo shrimp and garnish with fresh herbs.
Now that we have made a bread bowl, what do we put in it? Many soups and stews are perfect for your bread bowls. Any stew is perfect for this vessel, but I have my favorites.I prefer a nice creamy bisque. Here are two of my favorite fillings for my bread bowls.
The first is one I came up with the other night. My husband wanted something with chicken, and I had two loaves of bread I needed to use. I really wanted something I could put in a bread bowl. I also had mushrooms I needed to use, and I wanted to find some way to get some veggies into it, without making chicken and broccoli soup.
At its most basic, a bisque is a creamy soup. It’s French in origin, and is usually made from fish or shellfish, meat, or pureed veggies. I usually start mine all the same way, with a gravy base. Here’s how it’s done:
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (Use 1 per person)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
8 TBSP Butter
1/2 C + 1 TBSP Flour
4-6 C Chicken Broth
2 TBSP Cream or Milk
1/2 C Mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 C Baby Spinach, chiffonade cut
Salt and Pepper to taste
Green Onions for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Slice both chicken breasts as if to butterfly them, but cut them completely in half. Salt and pepper both sides of the 4 pieces. Place chicken in the saucepan. Once brown, flip and allow the other side to brown. Remove and set aside.
Melt 4 TBSP of butter in the same saucepan, whisking any brown bits off the bottom. Add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for about a minute to remove the raw flour taste. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, beginning with 2 cups and slowly adding more until the desired consistency is reached. Bring to a boil, then, reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream and 2 TBSP butter to finish.
In a small pan, heat 2 TBSP butter until melted. Once hot, toss in mushrooms and sprinkle a TBSP of flour on top. Stir to coat and allow mushrooms to brown. Add to bisque.
Chop chicken in bite size pieces and add to bisque. Add spinach and stir gently. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes and serve. Top with chopped green onions.
This was my first attempt at using curry. A simple meal of chicken and rice, but I spiced it up by making a basic gravy and adding some tarragon and curry. I used a roll of refrigerated biscuits and cooked them as usual. When they were finished, I turned off the oven, buttered them, and drizzled honey over them. I put them back in the oven for about 2 minutes just to let the honey set. Once I plated, I poured a ladle of gravy over the chicken and rice and served. It was a hit!