Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spinach-Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Ok, I promise I will get a better camera or make myself a lightbox so my pictures stop looking so gross:/ It is really kind of disappointing to have such a tasty meal, but then end up with a photograph like this! Maybe I'm just too critical of myself. Or maybe I can blame it on winter and it getting dark so early, making it very hard to take nice pictures.

On a happier note, we had Andy's parents, his brother and our nephew over for breakfast this morning. I thought it would be nice to have breakfast before we headed out in the cold to decorate Grandma Lavon's gravesite, and I'm also really obsessed with finally finishing our 'fancy' living room and I wanted to show it off. Here's a couple pictures of it, because I really can't resist, and this room makes me happy everytime I walk through it.

But really, the point of this post is the macaroni. I actually saw the recipe on the back of the shredded cheese as I made the Eggbake for breakfast. I'm going to be gone every night this week so I thought this would be good to try so Andy would then have some leftovers. I have not had much luck with homemade macaroni in the past, but this actually turned out really well! However, I did not have spinach so I used Arugula instead and it tasted great. I also used 1 cup sharp cheddar and 1 cup mild cheddar, and grated my own parmesan cheese instead of using the stuff in the green can.

Spinach-Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Kraft Foods

3 cups medium shell macaroni, uncooked
1 pkg. (6 oz. ) fresh baby spinach leaves
4 slices OSCAR MAYER Bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
2 cups KRAFT Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees

COOK macaroni as directed on pkg., adding spinach for the last min. Cook bacon in large saucepan. Remove bacon; save drippings in pan.

ADD flour to drippings; cook and stir until bubbly. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 3 to 5 min. or until thickened.

STIR in 1 cup Cheddar and Parmesan; cook and stir until melted. Add bacon and macaroni mixture; mix well.

SPOON into 1-1/2-qt. casserole; top with remaining Cheddar. Bake 20 min.


Email subscriptions

I've slowly been exploring my way around the world of blogging, and I recently figured out how to add a 'subscription' feature on Kitchen Escapes. Anyone who's interested can add their email in the box on the right, and then you will receive an email whenever I add a new post. I'm hoping this will be a helpful feature for those interested, and not an annoyance to continuously receive emails from me:)

Thanks to all the followers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gruyere, Arugula and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is some fancy chicken! Probably not something that's worthy of a weeknight meal again, this is more worthy of company. I've never bought Gruyere cheese before, but it seems "company worthy" to me because of its price! I'm moving up in the world of fanciness in my blog escapades:)

The chicken is pretty salty with the cheese and proscuitto, and it is very rich. I did not make the sauce in the recipe, but next time I might try that to lighten up the chicken flavor.

Gruyere, Arugula, and Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Shallot Sauce
Source: Cooking Light


6 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 (1/2-ounce) slices prosciutto
6 (1/2-ounce) slices Gruyère cheese
1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 cups dry white wine
2 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the chicken, place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Discard plastic wrap. Top each chicken breast half with 1 slice prosciutto, 1 slice cheese, and 1/4 cup arugula, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Fold in half, pinching edges together to seal; sprinkle with salt and pepper. (The chicken can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated at this point.)

Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan; bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until done. Keep warm.

To prepare sauce, add shallots to skillet; sauté 4 minutes over medium-high heat or until browned. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 6 minutes). Add broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half (about 8 minutes).

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Asian-Style Couscous

This is the most flavorful couscous I have ever made. Normally I just maybe add some garlic or lemon and call it good. While my couscous always tastes good, this couscous is actually....moist, I guess. I don't know how else to describe it, but "moist" pretty much sums it up, and the flavor is amazing. The asian flavors are subtle enough that this dish could really go with anything.

Asian-Style Couscous
Source: Adapted from Recipezaar

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbls. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup couscous, uncooked

Heat small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken broth and next five ingredients. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous to pan. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Serve warm. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spicy Korean Pork Loin

I found this recipe in my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook, and it was SO good! We've been eating a lot of pork loins lately, (guess that's what happens when I stock up on meat sales) so I wanted to find something with a different spin on it. The brown sugar carmelizes while baking and creates a nice crust on the pork. This was really spicy too, almost too spicy for the hubby I think, and he adds cayenne pepper to everything. We served this with asian couscous and it was a perfect pairing.

Spicy Korean Pork Loin
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light Complete Cookbook

2 lb pork loin
2 tbls. brown sugar
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbls. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 c. low-sodium chicken broth

Combine pork and all ingredients through garlic in a large ziplock bag. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take pork out of refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while oven preheats.

Place pork in oven proof baking dish. Pour half the chicken broth into pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until internal thermometer reads 145-155 degrees. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to let juices settle back into meat.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Peanutty Noodles

These noodles were a nice accompaniment to the Asian Salmon we had. I knew the noodles would be good, but I didn't want the peanut butter to overpower the taste of the fish, so I cut the amount in half and it still had enought peanut butter taste for me. I also did not have any of the fresh veggies it called for, so I just sauteed some frozen asian vegetables and it worked out fine.

Peanutty Noodles
Source: Cooking Light


2 carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter (such as Smucker's) (I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 pound snow peas, trimmed
8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I omitted)


Shave the carrots lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable peeler, and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and minced garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt); stir until well-blended. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and snow peas; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine carrot, peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mixture, and linguine in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Asian Salmon

This past summer my parents went Salmon fishing and brought some home for Andy and I to try. Salmon is one of those foods that I "think" I'm not going to like so I have never really given it a chance. I actually enjoyed this meal, but I'm still not sure if salmon is anything I would ever request for dinner or order at a restaurant.

Since I've never made salmon before, I knew I wanted to find a really good recipe so I had the best chance of enjoying it. My mom and I perused a bunch of my cookbooks and I finally decided on this Cooking Light recipe, and I already had everything it called for! This particular recipe uses a plank to grill the salmon, so I adapted it to bake in the oven. I've posted the original recipe and noted my baking changes. We served the salmon with Peanutty Noodles.

Asian Salmon
Source: Cooking Light


1 (15 x 6 1/2 x 3/8-inch) alder grilling plank (I omitted)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 (3 1/2-pound) salmon fillet
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I omitted because we didn't have them)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (I omitted)

Immerse and soak the plank in water 1 hour; drain.

To prepare grill for indirect grilling, heat one side of the grill to high heat.

Combine vinegar and the next 6 ingredients (vinegar through lemon) in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Shake to combine. Add fish; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.

Place plank on grill rack over high heat; grill 5 minutes or until lightly charred. Carefully turn plank over; move to cool side of grill. Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade. Place fish, skin side down, on charred side of plank. Cover and grill 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Sprinkle with onions and sesame seeds.

*If not grilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake salmon for 15 minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork