Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken Tetrazzini

Don't let the plain jane-ness of this plate deter you. This is one delicious meal. It can be made with chicken or turkey (leftover turkey is terrific) and as casserole's are wont to do, it feeds an army. It's creamy and cheesy and wonderful. And it's a good take-in meal, especially when made in a disposable oven-friendly pan.
No bells and whistles here just good old fashioned comfort food that never disappoints.

Chicken Tetrazzini
{My friend Carolee suggested added sauteed mushrooms and toasted almonds, sounds divine!}

12+ oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped/shredded (or leftover turkey)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 T butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles until tender and drain. Saute green peppers and onions in butter till softened. In large bowl combine soups, milk, cheese, and sauteed veggies. Stir. Add chicken, salt and pepper to taste, and noodles. When all combined pour into greased 9X13 casserole dish and bake until warmed through and bubbly, about 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Magic Cookies

Everyone has their most favorite chocolate chip cookie and I have several favorites that change often depending on my mood. Sometimes I'm in a ground oatmeal, refrigerated dough thick cookie mood, other times it's a toasted nut thinner cookie mood, and still other times I want a good old back of the nestle toll house package recipe special.
Right now my favorite are these "magic" cookies. I don't know why they're called magic, other than the fact that when I take a bite it's magic! Somehow these seem like a good every day chocolate chip cookie, like they're easier and quicker to throw together and bake off or something. I don't know if they really take any less time than my other recipes, but I do know that they are chewy and chocolate-y and some of the best cookie-dough eating yumminess I've had in a while. Just be sure than you actually bake some, it's gonna be hard though-believe me. Oh and don't forget the milk!

Chocolate Chip Magic Cookies
{Feel free to mix it up some with your add-ins, this is a great basic dough recipe. We like a combination of milk and semi-sweet chips with chopped walnuts. I've also thrown in some peanut butter chips with the regular chocolate chips and left out the nuts and hoo-boy that was a treat. M&M's would be delicious, I'm always sad when I never have any on hand. And of course the ever popular white chocolate chips with macadamia nut combo would work really well too. As they say "whatever floats your boat".}

2 cups + 2 T flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 T) melted and slightly cooled salted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk, at room temp
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups add-ins i.e. chocolate chips, nuts, m&m's...

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pour melted butter and sugars in bowl of mixer and beat until well-combined (2 minutes-ish). Add the egg, yolk, vanilla, and salt and stir until mixed. Gradually add the flour and baking soda. It may look crumbly, but just keep mixing. Stir in chocolate chips, etc.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on sil-pat lined cookie sheet a good 2 inches apart. Bake for about anywhere between 12-15 minutes. The centers should be soft and puffy. You want them seem a little underdone when removed from oven. They'll continue cooking on the cookie sheet. Let stay cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 18-20 largish cookies.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Swiss Cheese Broccoli Cauliflower Bake

Oh my lands this is tasty! I have a similar recipe that just involves cauliflower from my husbands grandma and it has long been a favorite in our house. I will share it sometime. But this combination of cauliflower AND broccoli and swiss cheese is side dish heaven on a plate! And just so you know, cover any veggie with saucy, cheesy goodness and you've got a sure fire way to get your kids eating their vegetables. (So what if it's not quite as healthy ;0))

Swiss Cheese Broccoli Cauliflower Bake

1 head of cauliflower
1 head of broccoli (or 2 if smaller)
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese, grated
2 T green onions, chopped
2/3 cup mayo
1 t dijon mustard
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Steam broccoli and cauliflower until mostly fork tender. Arrange in 9x13 casserole dish. Combine remaining ingredients in separate bowl, until a thick "paste" is formed. Spread cheese mixture over vegetables, using a spatula. Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Candied Chicken

This is a delicious chicken recipe. I realize that the word "candy" linked with a main dish might seem strange, but oh no-no strangeness here. Just wonderful sweet chicken-y goodness. Pair it with a vegetable and bread product and you've a got a meal to remember. Quite the crowd pleaser too.

Candied Chicken
{We aren't big fans of whole chicken breasts in our house, so we opt to cut each breast into at least 2 if not 3 pieces. It cooks faster, stretches farther, allows for higher sauce to meat ratio, and helps with portion control. I recommend it!}

4-6 chicken breasts, cut in half or thirds
Salt/pepper or seasoning salt or garlic salt
Flour for dusting
Oil/butter for browning
Sauce as follows:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 T worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water

Season chicken pieces, dust lightly with flour on both sides, and brown in skillet. Not cooking through, just browning all sides. Place browned chicken in greased oven-friendly baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 for up to 2 hours. I recommend cooking with foil on for the first hour and then removing foil, so that sauce can reduce, thicken, and thoroughly coat the chicken for the last hour.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cookies 'N Cream Brownies

MmmmmMMMMMmmmmmmm Chocolate-y cream-filled Oreos and chewy, dense, fudge-y brownies? Yes please! I have nothing more to say, just make them OK?

Cookies 'N Cream Brownies
{Slightly adapted from}

1 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 cups sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t vanilla
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups oreos, coarsely chopped (approx 20-24)
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and grease lightly.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate, stirring occasionally. Whisk in sugar, salt, and vanilla then turn off heat. (At this point I chose to dump it in my stand mixer and go from there, but you can certainly continue by hand) Whisk in eggs one at time until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Stir in flour and cocoa powder until mixture is uniform. Set aside some of the oreos for sprinkling and fold in remaining chopped oreos and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with set aside oreos and more chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, but not coated in batter.

Cool brownies in pan for 20 minutes, then carefully lift brownies out of the pan using the aluminum foil as a handle and place on wire rack to cool completely before slicing into squares.
(I recommend the cut brownies be on the smaller side as they are very rich-a little goes a long way!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches {Crock Pot}

Talk about a throw back to my childhood. We often had roast for Sunday dinner growing up and my grandma would sometimes use the left over meat for french dip sandwiches afterwards. I loved them. This is my interpretation of one of my favorite childhood dinners. And you know, I think it's safe to say it's becoming a childhood favorite for my kids too!

The au jus is so flavorful thanks to the roast imparting it's juices all day long and the meat itself is fall apart tender and juicy. Broil up some good crusty rolls and melt some provolone or any other white cheese you like and you have sandwich dipping heaven. And some of the most outlandishly good leftovers one could ever hope for.

French Dip Sandwiches {Crock Pot}

1 2-1/2 pound beef roast, trimmed of excess fat
1 carton (32 oz.) beef broth
1 package au jus mix
1/2 a package onion soup mix
garlic salt
black pepper
veggie oil

Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet on med-high heat until piping hot. Meanwhile sprinkle roast with garlic salt and black pepper. Sear on all sides. Pour beef broth and mixes into medium crock pot (it's best of the crock pot style allows for the roast to be mostly submerged). Whisk together and add some fresh ground pepper. Once roast is seared gently place in broth mixture and cook on low 8-10 hours. 30 minutes to an hour before serving remove roast, shred, and place back in broth. Serve meat on toasted rolls with melted cheese (we just put ours under the broiler for a bit) with a generous bowl of au jus for dipping. Delicious!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spicy Pineapple Salad

I swear fresh pineapple is sent from heaven above. Is there anything better? I think not. This simple salad is a little taste of the islands and it's made unique by a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Strange concept I know, but let me just say that it somehow really heightens the flavor of the already delicious pineapple. The toasted coconut and crunchy macadamia nuts make it all the better. Such a great and healthy little side dish to round out almost any meal.

Spicy Pineapple Salad

4 cups cubed fresh pineapple (I like mine a little on the smaller side)
1 cup halved red grapes
2 T fresh orange or lime juice
1 T honey
1/8 t cayenne pepper
dash of salt
2 T toasted coconut
2 T chopped macadamia nuts

Combine pineapple and grapes in bowl. Mix orange (or lime) juice, honey, pepper, and salt in separate small bowl. Drizzle over fruit. Sprinkle with coconut and macadamias.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thai Peanut Noodles

I'm a huge fan of asian noodle dishes. They are inevitably what I gravitate towards at any asian restaurant. But I'd never even considered making them at home until a couple years ago when this recipe showed up on Our Best Bites. The list of ingredients has absolutely nothing bizzare, no fish sauce or oyster sauce in sight. Just basic ingredients you can find in any well-stocked pantry and an amazing flavor with a little heat (to taste of course), crunch (thank you peanuts) and refreshing toppings that really make the dish (hello green onions, cilantro, and lime). If you love noodles you're gonna love these, guaranteed.

Thai Peanut Noodles
{Original recipe from Our Best Bites. I've adapted it to our tastes, mainly by doubling the sauce ingredients. We like things saucy, plus I find the noodles soak it up pretty quick and less seemed like it would be non-existent. Feel free to double or not according to your families tastes. However, doubled amounts are what I've written out below}

1 cup chicken broth
6 T peanut butter
2 t sriracha chili sauce
3 T honey
6 T soy sauce
3 T fresh minced ginger
5-6 cloves garlic minced
12 oz linguine noodles
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
chopped peanuts

Cook noodles in salted water. In the meantime combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Toss cooked noodles with sauce. Add chopped peanuts to taste. On each serving sprinkle green onions, cilantro, and squeeze a wedge of lime.

*If desired, you can add meat to this dish by stir-frying shrimp or thinly slice (partially frozen first helps) chicken in some veggie oil with a couple cloves of minced garlic, some fresh ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and a small squirt or sriracha chili sauce.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

Whoever thought up combining BBQ chicken and pizza was a genius! I first had this tasty combo at California Pizza Kitchen and I can't lie-I was a little skeptical. Pizza's supposed to have pepperoni and tomato sauce right? Not right. Since that fateful day long ago, I've had numerous out of the way combinations on pizza {shaved asparagus for starters} and I can say in all honesty they surpass the "typical" italian style we've come to think of every time. Tangy barbeque sauce, crispy crust, grilled chicken, and refreshing cilantro don't get any better. And just so we're clear-I still eat my fair share of italian-style pizza:0)

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

1-2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup bbq sauce
1/3 cup tomato sauce
Thinly sliced red onion
Mozzarella cheese, grated
One recipe of your favorite pizza crust (see mine below if needed)

Prepare pizza dough.

Heat grill. Sprinkle garlic salt or other seasoning on chicken. Brush with a bit of bbq sauce on both sides and grill until cooked through. Set aside and let rest before chopping. Mix bbq suace and tomato sauce together in small bowl. In separate bowl mix chopped chicken, crushed garlic, and just enough tomato/bbq sauce to coat.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Shape pizza dough on pizza stone or pizza pan sprayed with cooking spray and dusted with cornmeal. Spread generous amount of bbq sauce/tomato sauce mixture all over. (May not use it all.) Top with chicken and red onions. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes depending on desired doneness. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

PW's Pizza Dough
{Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook}

1 tsp active yeast
4 cups flour
1 t kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

Pour water in small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and gently stir. In bowl of electric mixer combine flour and salt. On low speed, gradually drizzle in olive oil into flour/salt. Add yeast/water. Knead with dough hook for a few minutes. Dough should be soft and tacky but not super sticky. Drizzle separate bowl with a little bit of olive oil. Add dough ball and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place for 1-2 hours, or store in fridge for up to 2 days. When the time comes stretch and shape dough with your hands, the thinner the better!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Chops

Another crock pot recipe that's a hit and so easy! You can never have too many you know. 3 ingredients+the meat are all you need for a hearty, home-cooked, low-fuss meal. There's chatter around that using canned cream soups is gross and well I'm not buying it! I'll use them till the day I die and this recipe is all the better for it. The pork falls apart after spending all day in a slightly tangy sauce, thanks to the addition worcestershire and ketchup. Serve it with some buttered egg noodles and a green vegetable and you've got an exceptional week-night meal.

Slow Cooker Chops

4 boneless pork chops, left whole or cut in half
1 regular size can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup ketchup
2 t worcestershire
Garlic salt and pepper for seasoning

Sprinkle chops with garlic salt and pepper. Place in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours. Serve with buttered egg noodles.

Variation: May add one sliced onion.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Basic Hummus

Remember the whole wheat pita post from 2 days ago? Well this hummus is what I made to go along with them. I've come late to the hummus club, but I'm so glad I'm now a member! In full disclosure I made, tasted, and was undecided about this recipe. But then I put it in the fridge and the next day it was better and the day after that it was somehow even better and I couldn't stop eating it and so I decided it was blog worthy!

Hummus is a lovely middle-eastern dip that is healthy and full of flavor. It's a bit tangy (lemon juice), has an interesting texture, and goes great with pita wedges or chips, carrot sticks, and I'm sure any number of other things I haven't thought of yet. If you have something you love to use it on or dip in it please share...

Restaurant-Style Hummus
{Not sure why it's called that but the original recipe from Annie's Eats called it that so I'll stick with it, my version is only slightly adapted from hers. Also a few ideas: a friend of mine who makes terrific hummus (without a recipe mind you, so she doesn't have amounts to share, darn it) uses a dash of vinegar in hers, she also flavors it with things like green bell pepper or cilantro blended right in as opposed to just used for garnish-it's to die for and I plan to add some of those things when I make this again}

3 T juice from 1-2 lemons
1/4 cup water (I used chicken broth though)
6 T tahini, well-stirred
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 (14oz) can chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 T minced fresh cilantro

Combine lemon juice and water (or chicken broth) in a small bowl. Whisk together tahini and 2 T olive oil in a second small bowl.

Process chickepeas, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne in food processor until almost fully processes, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in lemon juice-water/broth mixture. Scrape down bowl again and continue process for 1 minute. With machine running do the same with oil tahini mixture, and process until hummus is smooth and creamy about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Taste and adjust seaoning if needed. Refigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. And if you can plan ahead and make a day before needed, that much better the next day!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Homemade pita is new to my repertoire but it's here to stay. This bread is puffy, soft, flavorful, and even healthful thanks to the whole wheat flour. Fresh from the oven we (or more correctly, I) couldn't stop tearing off pieces and stuffing them into our mouths. The leftovers we kept in the fridge and re-warmed the next day didn't disappoint either. Will definitely be making them again and again and may not be able to do store bought ever again.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
{Recipe from Annie's Eats. These would be terrific stuffed with all kinds of amazing things like gyros for a start. Not to mention they are so great cut into wedges and dipped in hummus, tzatziki sauce, spinach artichoke dip, and the list goes on}

2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1 T honey
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
1 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 t salt
Cornmeal, for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir gently. Whisk 1/4 cup each of bread and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and return bowl to mixer stand, fitted with dough hook. Add in the remaining 3/4 cup warm water, 1 1/4 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 cups wheat flour, olive oil and salt. Knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let rise in a warm draft-free place, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured surface and punch down dough. Divide into 8 equal parts. Form each into a ball. Flatten each ball and use a rolling pin to gently roll into 6 1/2-7 inch circles. Transfer rounds to a baking sheet lightly dusted with corn meal. Loosely cover rounds with plastic wrap or kitchen towels and let stand at room temp for 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.

While rounds are raising turn oven onto 500 degrees and place rack in middle position. Place a pizza stone (or cookie sheet) on rack and let heat with oven.

Transfer pitas onto heated cookie sheet or baking stone, about 3 at a time. Bake 2 minutes until puffed and lightly golden and then gently flip and bake for 1 minutes on remaining side. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This here recipe is one of my most frequently made meals. My friend Carolee is the one to thank for it and really we can't thank her enough! I realize that everyone most likely has a tortilla soup recipe they swear by, and if you do I dare you to give this one a try and not make the switch! It really is that good. It's tomato-y, spicy, chock full of flavorful chicken, hearty beans, and sweet corn. But the best part are the crispy fried tortilla strips that grace the top. To. Die. For. Make away my friends!

Carrie's Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 t ground black pepper
2 t dried basil or 2 T fresh basil, chopped
1 t kosher salt
15 oz tomato puree
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked chicken
1 can black breans, drained and rinsed
10 flour tortillas cut into 1/2 inch strips
vegetable oil for frying
Optional garnishes:
avocado slices
lime wedges

In a stock pot, saute onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in 2 t veggie oil. When soft add broth, black pepper, basil, salt, and tomato puree. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add chicken, beans, and corn and bring to simmer again. While soup is finishing up, heat vegetable oil in separate pot. When hot enough add tortilla strips in batches and fry until light golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve soup hot, topped with fried tortillas and other garnishes if using.