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Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas

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I made this recipe last night for dinner for the first time. I LOVED it! It made quite a bit too. I think I got about 15-17 pieces. I found this recipe on Facebook Zucchini Enchiladas. I, of course, changed it up a bit to what I found worked better for me.

One of the toughest parts of the recipe was slicing the zucchini into the thin slices needed. I had a small Y-shaped peeler but it was too small. So I improvised and used my Pampered Chef cheese slicer and it worked great! Though I have to say it was tedious. The original recipe called for 4 large zucchini, I had 3 and it worked fine. I also didn’t have quite enough enchilada sauce so I took a small can of green chilis and added it to the amount of sauce I was supposed to add to the top of the enchiladas and pureed it. Worked just fine and tasted great.

I thought this was a great change from the carb-loaded tortillas. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tortillas but this was a nice variation. I have lots left over for lunch and I froze the rest for another day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion)
  • kosher salt
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced (yes I used 4 of course)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • small can green chilis
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used 3 large boneless breasts)
  • 1 1/3 cup red enchilada sauce
  • 3-4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for topping
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and season with salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder and stir until all combined.
  4. Add the chicken and 1 cup of the enchilada sauce, mixing until well combined. It should be a little saucy.
  5. Puree the small can of green chilis with the remaining enchilada sauce and set aside.
  6. On a cutting board use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler if you have one wide enough for the zucchini. Slice very thin.
  7. Layout 3 slices, overlapping slightly and add a spoonful of the chicken mixture (about 1/4-1/3 cup) at the top. Carefully roll and place into a casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat till finished. (I used two casserole dishes)
  8. Spoon the green chili/enchilada sauce mixture over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheese.
  9. Bake until cheese is melted, about 20-30 minutes.
  10. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sour cream. Careful they are very hot because of the water content in the zucchini.
  11. ENJOY!
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Who Doesn’t Love Tater-tots Breakfast Casserole

I’ve made this recipe twice now and I tweaked it even more from the original recipe from Kraft. Made it better! And sorry, it’s not low-calorie, but come on, its got tater-tots in it! Or as they are sometimes called potato tots, potato puffs, etc. I have used Great Value brand and Aldi’s brand. Both came out amazing! The pictures are from the first time I made it since I forgot to take pics the second time. It was Super Bowl Monday the 2nd time and it sure hit the spot that morning!

First time I made it I forgot to cover it when I baked it, still came out good but it needs to be covered. Omg, sooooo incredibly delicious! It can definitely be prepared the night before and then baked in the morning. For the sausage, I use whatever type of sausage I have in the house. Usually some kind of chicken sausage. I’ve used the Italian style and it’s fine. The original recipe also called for 2.5 ounces of bacon! HA! I used a whole pound. Also, the original called for a 10.5 ounce can of cream of potato soup. The store was out of it when I went so I used the big “family” size can. I think it’s like 23 ounces. I used it all! Makes it much creamier.

This recipe is so simple to make. You will NOT be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound cooked ground sausage

4 large eggs, scrambled

1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

3 1/2 cups thawed tater tots (any brand will be fine!)

1 family size (23 oz) can cream of potato soup (any brand is fine)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp black pepper

1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half.(use more if you wish!)

Sour cream for top if desired

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, except for 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese.
  2. Pour into a large casserole dish making sure it’s all distributed evenly.
  3. Cover and bake for 35 minutes at 350°.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake uncovered another 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly!
  5. Serve hot! If you want, add a dollop of sour cream to each serving.

 

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Mary’s Famous Mexican Dip

Yes I know I have been quite negligent with my blog lately! I am so sorry everyone. I made a promise to myself this morning to do better and I will!

Today’s recipe I have tried to get for years! Everytime I visit my sister Michele in NJ for any type of party she always has this dip. Her mother-in-law Mary makes it and showed Michele and everyone falls in love with it! Even the kids! So on a recent trip there, Mary happened to be in attendance as well and the dip was on the menu. So with camera and notebook in hand I got it! FINALLY! It’s a type of layered dip that you serve on a platter. Serve it with tortilla chips. I would recommend using stronger chips as well because this dip has so many yummy things you don’t want to lose anything because of a broken chip! We’ve all been there, digging in to a great dip and snap! Broken chip. You try again. Snap again! Another broken chip. So find your best thicker/stronger chips for this recipe.  I am also playing with an idea to make this as an Italian dip as well. I’ll post that when I work it out! So for now, here’s everyone’s newest favorite party snack! Thanks Mary!! (Now I want to go and make some to snack on!)

Mary preparing the famous dip!

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese if you wish)

1  jar (16oz.) of your favorite salsa

Shredded lettuce, about 2 cups

Shredded cheddar cheese, about 8 ounces

3-4 campari or plum tomatoes, chopped (Or you can use 1-2 large)

3-4 scallions, chopped (use whole scallion)

¼ cup jalapeño slices

1 small can sliced black olives (You can use green if you don’t like black)

So pretty!

Directions:

  1. On a large platter spread cream cheese to cover bottom.
  2. Spread salsa over the cream cheese.
  3. Add shredded lettuce on top of the salsa.
  4. Add the shredded cheddar evenly over the salsa.
  5. Top with the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Add scallions.
  7. Add jalapeño slices.
  8. Top with black olives.

Serve with sturdy chips!! Eat some before it disappears!

It's going fast!

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Fast & Easy Taco Bake & A New Venture!

Hi everyone!

Just a quick side note. I am now writing food articles/recipes for www.examiner.com. I am in the West Palm Beach, FL edition under food and drink. I have only written one article so far so keep checking back or subscribe. Some of it will be the same as the blog but I am going to include past stuff as well as new. I am actually getting paid to do this, and while I won’t be quitting my job just yet, it will give me good experience. So check it out! My first article is at http://www.examiner.com/american-food-in-west-palm-beach/cooking-with-quinoa.

If you want to become a writer as well, click on this link. Referral Program Or when signing up put my name, Andrea Genua in as a referral! Thanks!

Now on to the recipe!

As usual when I get home from work these days it’s a scramble to get dinner ready. Sure it would be easier if I planned it out on the weekends but what fun is that? Since I no longer work at home the weekends are full of laundry, food shopping and errands. So cooking ahead of time never enters my mind. So last night when I got home I had defrosted nothing, of course. I heard someone earlier in the day talking about tacos and that sounded good! But I didn’t want to deal with the extra calories of the taco shells. So I defrosted some beef in the microwave and made this recipe instead. Instead of shells I put in a package of the tofu shirataki noodles. Never missed the shells! We pretty much finished the entire dish so I guess it was a hit! Easy and pretty fast considering I had nothing ready.

Ready for the oven!

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound lean ground beef

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped or minced garlic

3 tablespoons taco seasoning

1 can (approx. 15 oz) diced or chopped tomatoes with garlic/onion flavor

1 package Tofu Shirataki noodles, prepared according to package and cut into smaller pieces

1 cup 2% or fat-free shredded sharp cheddar cheese

light or fat-free sour cream

hot sauce as needed

Ready to eat, all bubbly and yummy!

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Prepare noodles according to package directions and set aside.
2. Brown the ground beef and drain.
3. Add the onions and garlic, mix well and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
4. Add the taco seasoning, mix well. Add the tomatoes, mix well and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
5. Add the noodles. Pour mixture into a round or square casserole dish and stir in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake at 350º F for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

Yum!

Serve hot! Add a dollop of sour cream if desired. Hot sauce can be added as needed.

Makes 4 servings

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Pesto Chicken Pizza

I keep finding such yummy recipes on the back of the mozzarella cheese labels these days. Yummy and easy recipes!!  This pizza uses a pre-cooked pizza crust. Just use your favorite crust. I like using the Pillsbury thin pizza crusts. Just roll out and bake! So simple. Love that little doughboy! (giggle)

This recipe also has only 4 ingredients. Simple, fast and delicious. Chicken is a great protein when we want to be eating right. And who says pizza has to be a bad thing! Pizza is our friend! I’ve been making pizzas alot lately and this is my next one! I haven’t made it yet but it just sounds so good. The pesto it calls for is store-bought but if you feel like making it yourself go ahead.

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces sliced, pre-cooked chicken breast

1- 12″ thin pre-baked pizza crust

¼ cup prepared pesto

4-8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Spread the prepared pizza crust with the pesto. Sprinkle with chicken and top with mozzarella cheese.

2. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Makes 4 servings

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Baked Eggplant Italiano

This is my  version of a healthier eggplant parmigiana dish. Yes it can be done! I did not use any breadcrumbs and I didn’t fry the eggplant. That is where most of the fat and calories come from. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old-fashioned breaded and fried version of this dish but I just can’t have the extra fat and calories anymore. Plus it takes forever to fry it all! Next in line with the fat is the cheese used. I used a shredded, reduced fat 4 cheese Italian mix. It has reduced fat mozzarella, smoked provolone, Asiago and Romano cheese. It’s made with 2% milk so it has 33% less fat and 10% fewer calories than the full fat version. I broiled the slices of eggplant on a cookie sheet under the broiler and only sprayed them with olive oil cooking spray. The dish came out great. It is very filling even without all the extra bread crumbs! I really enjoy eggplant and this time I remembered to make it pretty soon after I bought it. I have a tendency to buy it and forget it’s in the refrigerator for days. Then when I go to use it, it’s all brown and spotty inside. Yuck! So this time I bought it and cooked it the next day! Remember when buying an eggplant the top crown should be green and not brown. Brown is bad, means it’s been there a while and not fresh. By the way, the leftovers are just as good as the first time too! (I started to cut the eggplant before I remembered to take a picture)

INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant

olive oil cooking spray

marinara or your choice of pasta sauce

Parmesan cheese, grated

garlic powder

2 cups reduced fat shredded Italian cheese of choice (Sargento’s 4 Italian Cheese is great)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel eggplant. Slice it lengthwise or if you prefer, round. For this recipe I sliced it lengthwise.

2. Set your oven to broil and place the rack about 4 inches under the broiler. Spray 1-2 cookie sheets with the cooking spray.

3. Place eggplant in a single layer onto cookie sheets. Spray tops of eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic powder. Broil eggplant 4-5 minutes on each side. When you flip the eggplant spray again with cooking spray. Keep an eye on the slices as they can easily burn. They should be lightly browned on the edges and soft. Do this until all eggplant is broiled. After eggplant is done, move the rack to the middle and set your oven to 350º.

4. In a square Pyrex or other oven proof baking dish put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay eggplant slices on bottom slightly overlapping till you have one layer. It should take about 3 large slices. Next add sauce to top of eggplant and spread a thin layer over it. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and about ¼ cup of the shredded cheese. Place another layer of eggplant, again overlapping slightly. I placed this layer in the other direction to give it more stability. Again apply sauce and cheeses. Continue until you have no eggplant left. Finish with shredded cheese on top.

5. Place the dish into the 350º oven and bake until sauce is bubbling and the cheese is all melted. About 15-20 minutes should do it. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes to let the sauce set up. It’s ok if it’s a little runny. Cut and serve!

This dish is great with a nice salad on the side or even a small dish of pasta.

Serves 2-4

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Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

Since we had Thanksgiving in July in my house last weekend we now have lots of delicious leftovers. I was trying to think of something great to make with them and came up with this recipe. It is actually leftovers from the turkey dinner and leftovers from a few days before. I had a few containers of leftover vegetables. Stir fry mix with corn, snow peas, beans, water chestnuts, carrots and some green beans. I also had some broccoli and cauliflower from our dinner at Carrabba’s the night before. What I came up with was a Thanksgiving type Shepherd’s Pie! It was so good. It didn’t get rid of all the turkey or gravy leftovers but it was a start! You can use any kind of vegetables you have leftover. You will have a new family favorite!

INGREDIENTS:

Leftover cut up turkey (about 2 cups or so)

Leftover cut up vegetables (about 2 cups)

1 cup leftover turkey gravy

Leftover mashed potatoes

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


DIRECTIONS:

1. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl. Cut up any really large pieces. Add the turkey to bowl. Add the gravy and mix thoroughly.

2. Put all the vegetables into a 2 quart casserole. (Or one that is big enough or small enough to hold them all). Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the turkey/vegetable mix, like you are frosting a cake.

3. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top and bake in a 350º oven until the cheese melts and the “pie” starts to bubble on the edges. Usually about 30 minutes.

Serves 2-4

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Fourth of July Food For Kids

This is a long holiday weekend and sometimes we tend to forget kids are involved as well. Not all of us have our own kids but we have family and friends who do. So check out this great little e-book of food and snacks for the younger generation. It’s got easy and kid-friendly recipes that even the big kids will love!

Sample Recipes:

4th of July Fruit Kabobs

• Bananas • Strawberries • Large Fresh Blueberries • Kabob Skewers

Slice bananas into large chunks. Alternate fruit on skewers Serve immediately

Pretzel Sparklers

• Long rod pretzels • White chocolate, melted • Sprinkles (red, white and blue) or star cake decorations

Melt the white chocolate. Dip the pretzel rod halfway into the melted chocolate then sprinkle the sprinkles over the wet chocolate. Lay on waxed paper or place in a cup to dry.

Popsicle Rockets

• Red juice (red raspberry, cherry, cranberry) • Blue juice (blue Kool Aid, Gatorade, blue raspberry) • White juice (lemonade, coconut juice drink) • Red string licorice for fuse • 3 oz. paper cups • Popsicle Sticks

Line up several 3 oz. paper cups on a baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons of red juice into each cup. Freeze 2-3 hours until firm-slushy. Remove from freezer and poke a Popsicle stick into the center of each cup of juice. Add 2 tablespoons of white juice and freeze 2-3 hours. Remove from freezer. Top off with blue juice and freeze 1-2 hours until slushy.

Remove from freezer and insert a 2 or 3-inch string of licorice into each Popsicle. Freeze until hard. Peel off paper cups to serve.

So click on the Flag below and you can download a free recipe book!

And don’t forget to check my website as it grows! www.cucinadiandrea.com

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Plantain Tostones

Growing up in our house we always had plantains. Or as we called them Plátanos. My mom made them mashed, fried, stuffed, you name it. I always remember we had to buy them green and then they got put into a brown paper bag from the supermarket (this is before plastic was around) and close up the bag and keep it in the oven (it wasn’t on) for days. Until they turned black! This meant they were ripe! The only time we didn’t ripen the plantains were when we were going to be frying them. For frying they needed to be very firm otherwise they’d fall apart in the oil. This recipe calls for them to be double fried. Cubans also make this recipe and sometimes serve with a mojo sauce. Puerto Rican style as was made in my house was just eaten as is with some salt on them. Like big thick plantain potato chips! I would make them more often if I wasn’t the only one eating them! They aren’t hard to do, it’s just time-consuming. So be brave and try a new dish! You won’t be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS:

3 green plantains

1 quart water

2 tablespoons salt

2 cups cooking oil or olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Score the peel of the plantains lengthwise. Peel the fruit and then cut into diagonal slices 3/4″-1″ thick. Add salt to the water and soak the plantains in it for one hour.

2. Heat oil in a large pan or deep fryer to 325°. Drain the plantains and dry well with absorbent paper towels. Fry them in the hot oil for 1-2 minutes. This is to get a nice crisp shell on the plantains. Lower the heat and reduce the temperature to 275°. Continue frying for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the slices from the oil. Place on paper towels. Place each piece between two paper towels and mash flat with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a heavy glass.

4. Return the slices to the oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper and serve hot, sprinkle lightly with salt and eat!

Serves 8

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Mussels Ala Genua

I never knew I liked mussels for most of my life until I had them at a friend’s house about 10 years ago. Who knew I’d love them so much! We have tried mussels in most of our favorite restaurants in our travels and have found such a range of styles and tastes! In Florida our favorite place to get mussels is at our favorite Italian restaurant EVO in Tequesta. (www.evoitalian.com). And strange enough our all time favorite place for mussels was in one of the oddest places you would think, North Conway, NH at a wonderful place called The Muddy Moose Restaurant and Pub (www.muddymoose.com)! We were there at the outlets a few years ago on while on our trip to Maine and decided to get a beer, they are a microbrewery also so they have great beers. We were hungry as well so decided to give their mussels a try and they were outstanding! Go figure, a local pub serving bikers and tourists and they all loved the mussels! A full pound of Maine mussels sautéed with garlic, shallots, white wine, butter, lemon juice and crushed red pepper. Incredible to say the least! We compare everything to theirs now. EVO’s recipe is fresh Prince Edward Island mussels pan sautéed with white wine, roasted garlic, pecorino romano and tossed with a touch cream, finished with fresh basil and toasted crostini. Also to die for! But mine is my own recipe and it’s still really good. I have been actually buying my mussels frozen from Wal-Mart, no joke. I get two whole pounds for $3.50! They are already cooked and frozen! And they are really good! Go figure! I always have some on hand in the freezer for a quick snack when company comes by. They don’t take too long to cook and they are pretty low-calorie too. It’s the cream sauces and bread that makes them higher in calories. Anyway, without further ado (as my Dad always says…) here’s the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds of frozen mussels

2 -15 ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes with garlic and basil

olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup wine, red or white, which ever you have open

thin sliced italian bread toasted, if you wish

grated parmesan cheese


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large sauté pan, pour enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan and heat on medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until lightly brown. Careful not to burn it.

2. Add the wine and sauté with garlic for a minute or so.

3. Add the tomatoes to pan and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes until heated thoroughly.

4. Add the mussels and mix thoroughly. Cover and heat for about 7 minutes. Remember they are already cooked so don’t overcook.

5. Serve in a large bowl with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 6 (or 3 really hungry people!)

**Check out the Muddy Moose when in North Conway, NH!! You won’t be disappointed!

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