Thursday, July 31, 2008

summer pasta and grilled veggies

Last night I made this pasta dish just kind of on the fly. It's super easy and you can use whatever you have in the house. This is what I did:

boil 1 pound of pasta (I found these cute "sun" shaped pastas in a local grocery store
grill one or more chicken breasts
toss veggies of choice with olive oil, salt, and pepper (I used zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes)
grill those veggies
cut up the chicken breast
toss all together with a little balsamic salad dressing
top with a little shredded cheese of your liking

My 5 yr old ate the pasta plain (I pulled out some for her before I added the dressing), the chicken, and asparagus. It was a healthy meal all around!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tilapia, shrimp, & green beans

This is for all of you who love the Costco frozen food section and for all of you who are not fortunate to live by a Costco, yet make fun of us who buy EVERYTHING there. This meal takes about 10 minutes!

First I pulled out a Tilapia Fillet and rubbed olive oil over it and seasoned with Mrs. Dash . Bake this for 10 minutes @ 425 degrees. While this is cooking, pull out the frozen shrimp and defrost in cool water. Next, grab your frozen green beans and a couple of garlic cloves (Costco fresh foods) and saute in a little olive oil adding salt and pepper to taste. My kids will actually eat this up!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I got this recipe off Rachael Ray's website, it was fun to make and something different. It turned out better and wasn't as time consuming as I expected it to be!

This is the dish Remy whipped up in the hit movie Ratatouille! In order to make this one look as beautiful as it did on screen, look for veggies that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you have one available and are feeling extra fancy, use a mandoline to slice the vegetables, but don't sweat it if you don't have one, your knife will work just fine.

· 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus additional for drizzling
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
· 2 jarred whole roasted red peppers, chopped
· 1 small (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
· Salt and ground black pepper
· 2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
· 2 small green squash, thinly sliced
· 2 small eggplant, thinly sliced
· 2 to 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes or a handful of baby Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
· 3 to 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion, garlic and roasted peppers to the pan and cook until the onions begin to get tender, 4-5 minutes.

Set up a food processor or blender and add the contents of the pan to the machine. Add in the tomato sauce and puree everything up (it should be about the consistency of thin tomato sauce). Season with salt and pepper and pour it out into the bottom of a casserole dish or sauté pan.
Swirl your dish around so that the bottom is evenly coated with sauce then arrange your veggies on top in a spiral pattern, alternating each veggie type, until you've filled the pan (like he did in the movie!).

Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the top along with some salt, pepper, and a drizzle of EVOO. Cut a piece of parchment paper (I used tin foil) into a round the size of the pan (if you're not feeling artsy-craftsy, you can also use a square sheet of paper: Cut four slits in from the corners towards the center of the sheet – this will lay over the top of the dish just fine too). Lay it over the top and place the whole pan into the oven. Bake the ratatouille until the veggies are tender, about 45 minutes. Yields: 4-6 servings

Serve the ratatouille with some crusty bread alongside.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BBQ Chicken Salad

Okay, I know, I started this blog and I am just barely posting a dinner recipe. Sorry, but I am sure enjoying all of your ideas! This is brought to you by Jessica. She's been here visiting this week and we made this for dinner one night. It's her spin-off of restaurant BBQ chicken salads and I tell ya, it's better than the ones I've had! She shot this picture too.

Here's the ingredients and you can add as little or lot of each as you prefer...




Black beans



Tortilla chips (crumbled)

Dressing: Add a little bbq sauce to ranch dressing. Ours ended up kind of pinkish but just keep adding until you like the taste-SO YUMMY!

We served it with a sliced baguette and oil and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chilcken & Salmon Duet with Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables

Don't be intimidated at all by the name of this meal! I wanted to come up with a fancy name for the fun of it. Here's the story . . . we got doubly lucky tonight because my sister and brother-in-law called and wanted to come over to (1) play with the kids, and (2) cook us dinner. How could you turn down an offer like that! So I didn't actually cook tonight, but this dinner was so delicious and pretty that I had to take a picture of it and share it. My sister calls it one of her 'semi-homemade' meals. It looked easy enough to cook that even I will have to try it myself one of these days.

INGREDIENTS (so simple!):
1 pkg Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Vegetables (or any other store brand pre-packaged veggies)
1 pkg Trader Joe's Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto (or another store brand risotto)
Chicken breast fillets
salmon fillet
salt & pepper
garlic powder

(1) Prepare the vegetables per package instructions.
(2) Prepare the risotto per package instructions.
(3) CHICKEN: Season chicken breast fillets on both sides with salt & pepper. Season only one side of the fillet with garlic powder. Cook on a non-stick griddle, careful not to overcook chicken and make too dry and tough.
(4) SALMON: Prepare the same way as the chicken . . . season whole salmon fillet with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle with thyme. Cook on a non-stick griddle until moist and flaky. Cut into serving portions.
(5) PLATING: Spoon a generous mound of risotto in the middle of the plate. Place chicken breast down one side of the risotto and salmon on the other. Arrange the veggies around the plate.

Bon apetit!

Monday, July 7, 2008

chicken salad

i made this for lunch today for the first time and really liked the new twist on chicken salad. i halved the recipe since it's just the two of us (but i'll include the original recipe).

4 c. cubed, cooked chicken (i use the tyson frozen grilled chicken strips and cube them - way easier!)
1 c. mayo
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c. craisins
1 c. chopped celery
2 green onions chopped
1/2 c. minced green pepper
1 c. chopped pecans
1 tsp seasoning salt
ground black pepper to taste

you could also add chopped apples, grapes, or pineapple tidbits as well.

i just served it on regular wheat bread, but my favorite with chicken salad is croissants. mmm. yummy.

banana muffins

so it's not exactly what's for dinner, but they may spoil your dinner you'll want to eat so many of them!

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large bananas, mashed coarsely
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1/3 c butter, melted
(1 tsp vanilla optional)

1. preheat oven to 350. grease muffin tin or line with paper liners
2. sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. set aside
3. mash bananas coarsely (so they are chunky, not smooth- this is key to really moist muffins)
4. in a large bowl, combine bananas with melted butter, sugar, egg (and vanilla)
5. fold in flour mixture and mix until combined. scoop into muffin pan
6. bake in preheated oven. mini muffins: 10-15 min, large: 25-30 (high altitude, like me: 20 min)

makes 12 large muffins

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Orange-Sesame Glazed Salmon with Tangiers Couscous

Here's what my family had for dinner last night. I have to admit, although this is often the way we eat (a protein, a starch, and a vegetable) this particular meal, minus the green beans, came from a meal-prep place. One of those places where you go in and prepare your meals, freeze them, and then defrost and cook. My favorite one in our area is going out of business so they actually put this meal together for me and I just picked it up but I cooked it!

The salmon was marinated in something (not sure what). Then I grilled it on my George Foreman Grill (LOVE that thing!) for 6 minutes. There was a citrus glaze that came with it that I brushed on a couple of times during the grilling process. If doing this from scratch I probably would have skipped the marinade and maybe brushed on a Teriyaki glaze or even pineapple juice.

The Couscous was a little spicy. If doing it from scratch I would have just made plain, or flavored, couscous and thrown in about 1/4 cup of raisins (that's what this dish had). Couscous is EXTREMELY easy to make and really fast! Then I just steamed the green beans.

And for dessert I made this delectable little number!...

I got it from The Pioneer Woman. I just happened to have a big container of blueberries on hand when I read her post about Yogurt Cream and Berries. I had to try it! I used Organic Plain Yogurt and because of that my cream came out a lot runnier than hers but it was still divine!


Pot Roast . . . Filipino Style!

My family loves to eat and eat a lot, that's the Filipino in us! With both a newborn and a toddler in demand of my time, meals at the Villa household these days have to be quick and simple without skimping on quality or flavor. So last night's menu was pot roast and vegetables. Served with Jasmine white rice, it gets a little Filipino twist! Here's what you need for a meal that takes little time to prep but delivers a whole lot of yum and satisfaction . . .

20 minutes prep time
4 hrs of "set it and forget it" cooking time

1 chunk (2.5 pounds) beef chuck roast
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1.5 cups water
2 yellow onions, halved
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pkg ready-to-eat mini carrots
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, halved
3 bay leaves
2 cups Jasmine rice (serves about 6), prepared per pkg instructions

(1) Prep onions, garlic, celery, and mushrooms. Set aside.
(2) In a large heavy pot (or if you have a dutch oven), heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.
(3) Trim exess fat off the beef. Salt and pepper the meat on all sides.
(4) Brown the beef on all sides, trying to get a nice crust on the outside.
(5) Pour in the water, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce; then throw in all the veggies and scatter them around the roast.
(6) Put in the bay leaves, and season with rosemary, thyme, salt & pepper.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, then "Set it and forget it!"

Let the roast sit for 4 hours, basting it every now-and-then with the sauce & veggies. The roast becomes very fork tender . . . mmmm! Serve with the veggies, and drizzle the pot juices over the roast to keep the meat moist. Plate with a side of white rice and dinner is served!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

veggie pizza

this is definitely a family fav and really very easy. i love that i can just take whatever leftover veggies i have from other meals or kind of clean out my crisper with this pizza. and, you can make it any way you like it! I just make it up as I go along, so sorry if the instructions seem vague:

1 store-bought pizza crust (i like just pilsbury in a can - but you can get fancy if you want)
2 tbs cornmeal (makes it so you don't have to grease the pan, and makes it feel like the real deal)
1/2 jar of pizza sauce, or make your own (i just use about 2 c. tomato sauce, some crushed garlic, salt, oregano and basil all mixed together) you could use pasta sauce if you don't have anything else.
2ish cups of mozzarella
1/2 cup of shredded parmesan
1/2 to 1 cup steamed broccoli (cut in thin slices and then steam in the microwave for 2-3 min)
1 tomato (on the vine tastes the best) thinly sliced
1/2 cup of thinly sliced carrots (i use a potato peeler)
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
and anything else you have or want to add! really - i have made this with anything under the sun... you can add zuchini, pineapple, meat obviously, whatever!

preheat the oven to 425 (or whatever the instructions for your crust say). if you have a pizza stone, that works the best (leave it in the oven while it is preheating), but if not, a cookie sheet works too.
sprinkle the cornmeal on the stone or cookie sheet in an even, thin layer
place the dough on the sheet and then top with all of your toppings!
with the pilsbury dough, you don't have to cook the dough first and it comes out perfect. we have tried other doughs that end up really raw in the center if you don't cook them first, so experiment as you will.
i like to put a layer of mozzarella first (about half of it) and then add the vegetables with the carrots on top. I then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella and the parmesan on top. really, i'm sure it would taste good in any order, that's just how i like it!
hope you like it!