Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta

I knew when I saw this recipe over at PreventionRD that it would be one that we would be making. It had all three things I’m interested in when looking at a recipe.

1. Cheap (less than 1.50 a serving)
2. Delicious (duh)
3. Healthy!

Well as soon as my hubby found out what was for dinner, he begged me to somehow turn it into a blackened chicken pasta. The man loves blackened seasoned anything and not just the seasoning but the technique of blackening as well. I adapted PreventionRds recipe by using homemade blackened spice and blackened the chicken. It was so flavorful and delicious! At 364 calories a bowl I was a very happy camper and hubby got his blackened chicken. All was right in our little world. 🙂

NOTE: If you are using this blackened seasoning or using any salt free blackened seasoning you will need to lightly salt the chicken and add salt to the sauce to taste which I have mentioned in the recipe below. If you ARE using regular store bought blackened seasoning, then do not salt the chicken. The mix should have plenty of salt in it.

Blackened Cajun Chicken Pasta
Adapted from: Prevention RD

10 oz whole wheat linguine
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 1/2 teaspoons blackened seasoning (divided)
kosher salt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, slices into strips
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
1 tsp dried basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut chicken breasts into thin strips and season with 2 teaspoons of blackening seasoning, if using homemade blackened seasoning sprinkle with kosher salt on either side lightly. In a large skillet (cast iron is preferred, but any skillet will do) add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Heat pan over medium high heat, once pan is very hot, sear chicken on both sides until no longer pink. Just a note- Proper blackening will smoke and smell like charred food. That’s the beautiful crust forming. No worries! Set chicken aside and cover with foil.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to same skillet. (there is no need to clean out the pan) Add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute. Add red and green bell peppers. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.Saute for 3-4 minutes, until peppers are slightly tender.

Add the half-and-half, basil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer. Add the cooked linguine, tossing to allow the half and half to cook into the al dente pasta. Add the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons of blackened seasoning. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each).

Approximate Nutrition Information (per serving): 364 calories; 10.3 g. fat; 57 mg. cholesterol; 437 mg. sodium; 42.4 g. carbohydrate; 6.5 g. fiber; 24.2 g. protein

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Posted in 500 Calories or less, Chicken Dishes | 2 Comments

Blackened Seasoning

It’s a funny thing. After you’ve been cooking for a while you find yourself wondering about the things you could make at home yourself instead of buying them. Sometimes it isn’t feasible. Not everyone has time to make their own bread or churn their own butter ;), but simple spices like this are not only miles better but are also better for you and cost-effective. This blackened seasoning is my go to blackened seasoning mix. It’s salt free so remember that when using this in a recipe that calls for store-bought blackened seasoning. You will need to adjust the salt to taste but frankly, I see that as a positive. The amount of sodium companies pack into that prepackaged crap is disturbing! It takes 2 minutes to measure out the seasoning and you’re done. Plus it makes a 1/4 cup at a time so you can get several recipes out of one batch.


Blackened Seasoning
Adapted from here

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning


Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper and Italian seasoning in a bowl until evenly mixed. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.



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Posted in The Basics... | 3 Comments

Better late than never! Menu Plan: 1/2-1/7

Whew. The holidays are over. It was a blast but I have to be honest, I’m ready to get back to normal. I had so many fun and delicious parties that left our pantry pretty bare. One of our resolutions this year is to really keep our budget on track and for us that is keeping our grocery budget in check. So this week I’m eating out of the fridge as much as possible to use up all the leftover produce and odds and ends from the holiday. I’m cooking up an entire bag of brown rice today to use for several meals throughout the week.

Monday: A lightened up version of Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Cream Sauce. I’m using Non-Fat Greek Yogurt to replace the cream. I’m serving it with brown rice and roasted zucchini.

Tuesday: It’s finally going to be cold! Lentil, Kielbasa and Garlic Stew, whole wheat herb biscuits

Wednesday: One of my favorites that I’ve never shared! Spicy Citrus Shrimp Tacos with Southwestern Cream Sauce, leftover brown rice with tomatoes and cilantro.

Thursday:Leftover Stew and Biscuits

Friday: Sesame Chicken and using the last of my leftover brown rice! 🙂

Saturday: Crispy Thai Chicken Wings and French Fries.

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Frittata with Aspragus, Tomato and Fontina

If you are looking for a simple, elegant and most importantly easy breakfast dish, then this is it. It takes the same amount of prep time as a breakfast casserole, with half the cooking time and really gives you the luxury of customizing the ingredients to whatever you desire. A frittata is nothing more than a fancy omelet that is never flipped and is finished in the oven. Now that I’ve stumbled on the beauty that is a frittata, I can’t wait to start experimenting with different combinations. The asparagus in this recipe was delicious and it paired so nicely with the fontina cheese. I just can’t say enough about how easy and delicious this was. It would be perfect for brunch as well, give it a try you won’t be sorry! 🙂

Note: I did a lot of my prep the before for this frittata to make it even easier. I chopped my tomato and blanched my asparagus so I didn’t have to worry about sauteing it in the morning. To blanch, trim the woody ends off the asparagus and drop in boiling lightly salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and put asparagus in a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. This will stop the cooking process and keep the asparagus nice and green. Remove from ice water, pat dry and chop according to recipe instructions. Now, instead of waiting for the asparagus to saute (the recipe only recommends 2 minutes for crisp tender, I didn’t want crunchy asparagus in my fritatta) you can just warm it through in the pan and get done faster! 🙂

Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato and Fontina
Barely adapted from here.


6 large eggs
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
1 tomato, seeded, diced
3 ounces Fontina, diced


Preheat the broiler. Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet (I also lightly sprayed the skillet) over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender (see note above to skip this step!), about 2 minutes . Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate.

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Posted in Breakfast, Quick and Easy Recipes, Vegetarian Dishes | 1 Comment

Top 5 Healthy Recipes for 2011

2011 was a big year for my husband and I. After he had a major operation we were told, that he absolutely had to lose weight. Even though it wasn’t doctors orders, I knew I needed to as well. At first, I thought my life as a foodie was over. What a silly thought! There were so many amazing resources available to help us navigate our new food journey. We’ve tried many dinners under 500 calories, the best of which I’ve shared with you. However, there are a few that really stood out to us this year. With the New Year upon us, I thought this would be a perfect time to share our favorites for your New Years Resolution!

Happy New Year friends!


Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce, an amazing flavorful dish that by no means tastes low-calorie!


Soy and Cherry Cola Braised Pork Shoulder was a meal that we ate on for days and I was so happy to do so!


Marinated London Broil with Blue Cheese Sauce. Such a flavorful dish with a sauce that you don’t even have to cook!


Chicken Shawarma. A very close tie for first. The flavor of these little sandwiches can’t be beat!

Last but not least….#1

Tuscan Garlic Chicken. Without a doubt, the best “healthy” recipe we’ve tried all year and even though it just squeaks over 500 calories it was by far the biggest hit of the website this year!

Happy Eating!

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Posted in 500 Calories or less, General Announcements | 4 Comments

Recipe Swap: Cranberry Ricotta Gnocchi

Let me start by saying I adore the idea of a recipe swap. I also happen to love the blog who hosts the one I participate in and the blog that the recipe I was given came from. Since I usually (read: always) over-book myself I totally forgot about making the recipe for the swap! So of course when I realized the deadline was today I panicked. That’s when everything started to go wrong. Thanks to Christmas I had two gallons of whole milk, which we don’t ordinarily drink. So I decided that I should make fresh ricotta to use up all that milk. Did I mention that I am sick as a dog? Ugh! Two failed batches of ricotta later, I decided to take my sick behind to the store and buy the sage and ricotta needed for the recipe. Of course, my store didn’t have any fresh sage today so I opted for thyme. Then I came home to make the gnocchi and somehow got even sicker. What a nightmare! I’ve made ricotta gnocchi before, so I knew what to expect. Gnocchi is delicious! It’s usually made with potatoes, but ricotta makes for a lighter fluffier gnocchi. While hubby and I both liked the gnocchi, I felt the sauce needed a little punch. The sage I was missing was most likely the missing link. We both agreed that it would be a good side dish, especially for pork. Like any pasta, it can be labor intensive so be sure to plan for it! Thank you Cookaholic Wife for your recipe!

Cranberry Ricotta Gnocchi
From: The Cookaholic Wife
Serves 6-8

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
Brown Butter Sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 tbs. sage
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a large pot halfway with water. Heat over medium.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the gnocchi ingredients until it forms into a ball. Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough through the flour. Knead 12 times. Separate the dough into 3-5 equally sized pieces. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. On a floured surface, roll the dough into 1″ logs. Cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Use a fork to lightly press down on the dough, making indentations.
4. Bring the water to a boil. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Top the cooling rack with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
5. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water in batches and transfer with a slotted spoon to the cooling rack once the gnocchi floats to the top, 30-60 seconds. Repeat until all of the gnocchi are cooked.
6. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sage, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add in the cranberries and walnuts and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the first batch of gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the gnocchi are lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batches of gnocchi and serve immediately.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

I love it when simple dishes blow me away. I’m a firm believer that a recipe doesn’t need to be complicated for it to be amazing. This dish is effortless, delicious and presents beautifully at any table. The salty prosciutto and the asparagus taste like they were meant for each other! Plus, you can prepare most everything ahead of time which is always a winner in my house. A big thanks to my friend Terah for the idea of spreading cream cheese on the prosciutto. It helps bind the two and adds delicious flavor!

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

1 lb asparagus ( about 15 stalks of asparagus)
15 thin slices of prosciutto (or one slice to each stalk of asparagus)
2 oz cream cheese
salt (for water)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375

Trim woody ends off asparagus (the fibrous ends of the asparagus). Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl with ice and water in it. Add asparagus to boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove asparagus from boiling water and place immediately in bowl of ice water. Let sit in ice water for 1 minute. Remove from water and set asparagus on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess moisture.
To wrap: Lay a slice of prosciutto down. Smear 1/2 teaspoon cream cheese over center of prosciutto slice. Place asparagus in center and roll prosciutto to wrap asparagus.
To cook: Place wrapped asparagus on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 7-10 minutes until prosciutto starts to curl at the ends and asparagus is bright green. Remove and serve immediately.

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