Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Pin It!

I have a new guilty pleasure...Pinterest! Even though I have been a user/member since April, I have just recently started logging some serious time there. Due to it's recent popularity amongst my Facebook friends, I have plenty of people and boards to follow to keep me busy for hours now. ;)

I originally started using Pinterest as an easy place to "bookmark" great designs/sites I had stumbled upon or products that I wanted to try. It was a convenient place to keep everything all together and organized without creating sticky notes all over my desktop! ;) Since then, I have discovered so many great finds there in such a short time. From new recipes to home decor to fun activities for the kids, Pinterest has become a great place for sharing good finds.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to try some of the recipes that I had pinned. The first, you can find here. Somehow, the pic and link for this one goes to a completely different recipe, but I decided to follow the recipe that was described under the pin for Crockpot Italian Chicken, because it looked much easier. That is always a plus with two kiddos competing for my time these days!

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 packet Zesty Italian dressing seasoning
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 package pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat rotini)
Combine all of the ingredients except the pasta in your crockpot. Cook on low for 4 hours. If the sauce is too thick, add a little milk. Serve over the pasta.

When I made the recipe, I used just 2 chicken breasts, but they were each 1/2 pound, so that was enough chicken for our small family. I didn't bother softening the cream cheese first and just added it straight from the refrigerator. I started the recipe on low as it said to, but after a couple hours the chicken was still looking pretty raw, so I bumped the heat up to high and cooked it on high for an hour or so before turning it back to low for the last hour.

The chicken ended up nice and tender and shredded into pieces quite easily. The sauce was pretty thick, and looking back, I probably should have went ahead and added some milk to thin it out. The flavor of this recipe wasn't bad, but it was a very heavy dish. As I was eating it, I was thinking it might have been even better if it had been placed under the broiler for a bit after it had finished cooking in the crockpot to brown up a bit. Overall, it wasn't bad. I liked the idea of using the Italian seasoning packet for flavor. Because it was such a heavy dish, I think when making it again I would maybe substitute some chicken broth for one of the cans of soup or else add some milk at the end to thin it. This one is worth giving a try if it sounds good to you! :)

The next recipe I tried was for Cookie Dough Dip from "Chocolate-Covered Katie," a healthy dessert blogger. You can find the pin for it here. The kicker is that this is a healthy recipe that is supposed to taste like cookie dough. That should have been my first red flag, haha! Here is the recipe, if you are so inclined to try it...

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained)
  • 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (or you can substitute oil - this is what I did)
  • up to 1/4 cup milk of choice (start with 1 Tbsp and add more as needed)
  • sweetener (I used 2/3 cup light brown sugar - she offers other alternatives to this)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp oats (or flaxmeal) - you can omit these, but also omit the milk if you do

Add all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, to a food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

I blended the crap out of those ingredients, but in the end, the texture was still too off for me (not smooth enough) to really enjoy this dip. Honestly, the flavor wasn't bad. Hubby couldn't even distinguish that the secret ingredient was chickpeas when tasting it! Perhaps if I had omitted the oats, it would have helped with the texture? I am really weird about textures. For example, I don't mind cooked veggies, but I hate them raw because they are too crunchy for me. I love the flavor of coconut, but hate it raw because of the texture. This dip actually kind of had that raw coconut texture. I think that is what ruined it for me. So, this recipe may be something worth giving a try if you can a) blend it smoother than I did, or b) don't mind the texture of it! :)

Ethan didn't seem to mind the texture as he eagerly gobbled it up, so maybe it is a recipe I will keep! ;)

Update: So, the bowl of dip was still sitting in my fridge last night, but before throwing it out, I decided to make one last ditch attempt to save it. I heated the oven to 350 degrees and just threw the whole bowl in there to bake. The dip was about an inch thick in the bowl (see above picture - that was the glass bowl I baked it in). I started out baking for just 20 minutes, but kept adding and adding time until it finally set-up some. I probably ended up baking for at least 45 minutes, but probably closer to an hour. Sorry, I last track of how many times I kept adding time. The result - a deep-dish cookie of sorts. And it was actually really good! After baking it, the texture did not seem to be much of an issue for me and amazingly, it tasted very similar to a kind of gooey chocolate chip cookie! I really could not even tell, at that point, that there were chickpeas in my dessert. For real. Now that, my friends, is an awesome dessert! :)

The next recipe I tried was for Three-Cheese Pasta Bake. It was described as a mix between mac 'n cheese, fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna. You can find the pin for it here. If you love cheese like I do, then this recipe is made for you! :)

  • 1 (16-ounce) package ziti (I used rigatoni because it was the closest thing I could find to ziti in a whole wheat version)
  • 2 (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce (I used Walmart's Marketplace brand)
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used 1/8 cup dried parsley instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Prepare the pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with pasta until evenly coated. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Stir together the ricotta cheese and next 3 ingredients; spread evenly over pasta mixture in baking dish. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over ricotta cheese layer; sprinkle evenly  with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Um, yum! Yes, I do love sometimes dream about cheese (especially when I am preggo), but I am sure I don't want to know how many calories or how much fat is in this recipe. It is probably better not knowing and just enjoying this dish. ;) Given that it is from Southern Living, it is most definitely not a healthy recipe. It would probably make Chocolate-Covered Katie cringe a bit. Oops! hehe

So, I felt slightly better about the fact that I chose to use whole wheat pasta at least. ;) I cooked mine al dente, 2 minutes under the suggested time because I hate mushy pasta. Knowing I would be baking it too, I didn't want it to end up too soft. I also decided to add chicken to give it a bit more nutritional value. I used one package of pre-cooked grilled, seasoned chicken strips. Next time, I will probably use two packages since it makes such a big batch. The chicken worked perfectly. I also decided to go ahead and use the entire bag (2 cups) of mozzarella cheese on top. I figured what the heck at that point! And just in case we weren't getting enough cheese in the meal, I threw in some three-cheese foccacia on the side too. haha! Though my waistline won't thank me for this one, this meal was delicious! This recipe yielded so much food too, that hubby and I both have generously-portioned leftovers for the next two days! Awesome. I'm not big on leftovers most of the time, but this meal was still very good reheated. :)

The original pinner's description was a little off from how I would describe it. I wouldn't really compare it to mac 'n cheese. It's more of a mix between fettuccine Alfredo, lasagna and manicotti. The ricotta cheese mixture would make a great manicotti stuffing too, I think. Either way, it is a deliciously cheesy dish that I guarantee you will enjoy! I know several friends were interested in trying this recipe, so please let me know what you think when you do!

I have so many more Pinterest recipe finds to try soon. I will try to blog about all of them in case you are also interested in them. If you have any favorites that you have tried or would like me to try, please let me know!! :)

Happy pinning, friends!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing all these great recipes, Kristy! I think Pinterest is the greatest! (No, I don't work for them, but I would if they asked...especially if I got paid to pin - haha.)


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