So what went wrong in my execution? I have tried to work it out and have come up with the below conclusions, but I would LOVE your ideas/thoughts as well.
Recipe Numero Uno: Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake
Recipe Source: http://www.aimeesadventures.com/ (A great source for healthy, quick dinners, including nutrition info and WW points for each meal. Family friendly stuff that real people eat. Except for "Taco Ring" I'm scared of that one. Because, well, tacos aren't shaped like rings and really shouldn't be. But I digress...)
1 lb. Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb. Bag Frozen Broccoli Florets
3.5 oz. (approx. 1 Cup) Barilla Plus Multigrain Rotini Pasta, uncooked
1 Cup Fat Free Shredded Cheddar Cheese
10.75 oz. Can 98% Fat Free Cream of Chicken Soup
10.75 oz. Can 98% Fat Free Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 Tablespoon Dry Minced Onions
1 1/2 Cups Fat Free Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, macaroni and cheese. In a small bowl, whisk the soup, broth, onions, garlic powder and pepper together; stir into the chicken mixture. Spray a 9X13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir, and then bake 25-30 minutes longer, or until the chicken juices run clear and pasta is tender. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
What went wrong:
I made some substitutions to account for what we had on hand and (David's) dietary preferences:
- I substituted the chicken for a pre-cooked turkey breast, which we cut into cubes.
- I added a bit of extra pasta because it looked a bit soupy.
- Because the hubby detests onions, I added 1/2 tsp. of onion salt.
- The store was out of Broccoli Cheese soup so I used 98% fat free cream of broccoli instead.
- I used low-fat cheese because I don't believe in fat-free cheese. Unless you like munching on plastic. Then go right ahead and enjoy.
On this one, it was a simple mistake of not thinking ahead. I never use low sodium chicken broth or low-sodium canned soup because I think it tastes awful. So coupling that with adding pre-cooked turkey breast and additional (onion) salt equaled tons of extra sodium in the recipe. The result was decent (but only because I love salt) and required you to drink a gallon of water with each bite so your blood pressure didn't sky-rocket.
How to fix it:
Next time I would make at least one of the cans of cream soup a Healthy Request soup (with lower sodium). I would use onion powder instead of onion salt. I would use the uncooked chicken or turkey breast instead.
Another note on this recipe...We upped the temp a bit and added some cooking time, which was absolutely required. You have to check the dish at various stages to make sure the pasta gets done.
This recipe had potential and looked pretty in the casserole dish, so maybe you would like to have a go at it?
Recipe Numero Dos: Balsamic Chicken with Butternut Squash Ravioli
Recipe Source: The chicken and sauce recipe comes from Cooking Light's 5 ingredient, 15 minute cookbook.
4 skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsps olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 package of butternut squash ravioli
Some manner of vegetables for your side item.
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan. Cook 5 minutes until browned. Turn chicken over and cook another 6 minutes (or until the chicken is done). Stir in vinegar, honey, and basil and cook 1 more minute.
Make the ravioli as described on the package.
Plate the ravioli and chicken and drizzle the pan drippings over all.
What went wrong: We substituted dried basil instead of fresh because we didn't have any fresh herbs on hand. While we knew enough to use half the amount of dried basil (because dried herbs are much more concentrated than fresh), the dish turned out peppery and did not have that wonderful savory basil taste (or gorgeous green color).
How to fix it: Get out there and buy some fresh herbs!! This recipe would be wonderful with that one change.
Recipe Numero Tres: Chicken Piccata
Recipe Source: Free magazine we received in the mail. Cuisine at Home. This is the recipe (however, this person has doubled it, so keep that in mind unless you are feeding 8). http://www.recipezaar.com/143009
What went wrong: We used too much lemon, not enough salt and for some reason, the chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan and caused the sauce to have bits of browned flour in it.
How to fix it:
- Too much lemon can easily be solved by actually MEASURING. (whoops)
- Too little salt can be remedied by actually TASTING the sauce before serving (Tom Colicchio and Gordon Ramsay would be horrified!)
- On the brown bits....We used the amount of oil it called for. We waited for the oil to heat properly before putting the cutlets in. So I really don't know what happened there. Any thoughts?
In any event, this recipe wasn't a complete disaster by any means. It just wasn't as good as it could be. I, if I must say so myself, it looked pretty on the plate!!
So, in the end, you win some...and you lose some. I'm definitely not a professional chef. I do not even play one on tv. Therefore, I will chalk these up to rookie mistakes and try, try again.
And just remember..."If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." --Patches O'Houlihan