Italian Chicken Pasta Salad


Tonight’s dinner is one of those super simple dishes that can be thrown together with little effort and very little actual cooking as well, which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.  It also makes great leftovers for lunch the following days.  This is yet another recipe that takes advantage of the ever-convenient and delicious rotisserie chicken…. one of my favorite cheats!  I suppose you could make your own chicken if you wanted, but last I checked there were no awards being handed out for causing yourself unnecessary hassle and making it from scratch lol.

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The concept of this dish is pretty basic, with many of the usual Italian ingredients… and that’s ok.  Sometimes you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.  I really enjoyed this salad, and would definitely make it as is over and over again with complete satisfaction.  I can also see room for embellishments too if you wanted to mix things up from time to time.  Perhaps some crispy proscuitto, maybe some parsley or lemon… or whatever other Italian ingredients you like.  The only change I made to the original recipe was to use half kalamata olives just because they are my favorite and I happened to have some of both in the fridge I needed to use up.  Another area of versatility is in the dressing.  With so many options out there this could easily take on a lot of different flavors.  I used some Olive Garden Italian dressing I had on hand which I really love because it’s so creamy and cheesy.  You can also use whatever type of pasta you prefer.  I used some orecchiette, which is great for catching the dressing in the little bowl shaped centers.  The only downside is that they tend to stack up in there.

I cut the recipe in half and still had LOTS of food, so take that into consideration.  This would feed a lot of people, but like I said it can also make good leftovers.  I actually made mine earlier in the day and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours before I served it.  I did sneak a taste right away before putting it in there, and I gotta say I really liked it with slightly warm pasta.  However, it’s still very good totally chilled.  It’s not a bad idea to reserve a bit of dressing to mix in later on just in case it seems a bit dry after sitting so long.

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Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients :

  • 1 pkg. (16 oz) pasta
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, diced
  • 1 can (6 oz) sliced black olives
  • 1 tub (8 oz) mozzarella pearls
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup torn or julienned basil
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bottle (16 oz) Italian salad dressing, divided

Directions :

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain well.  Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving about 1/2 cup of the dressing.  Mix to combine.
  3. Serve or refrigerate until ready to use.  (Pasta may dry out upon standing. Add reserved dressing if needed)

Recipe from In Good Flavor

Thai Quesadillas With Grilled Chicken


You know the feeling…. the one where you made the effort to plan well thought out meals for the week, made your grocery list and then find out the grocery store doesn’t have one of the ingredients you so desperately needed for that new recipe!  This happens to me fairly often actually.  Living in Portland, OR I could likely find whatever ingredient I needed by going to one of the many choices I have for markets around here.  However, as a busy mom, that is not always practical, so like most of the world I just make do and find a substitute if I can.

Tonight’s recipe called for red chili peppers.  I’ve seen them, and even bought them before, but apparently it wasn’t at my main store.  In the past I have just substituted serranos or even jalapenos, but I just felt like it wasn’t enough for some reason.  Maybe I just wanted more color… forgetting that it would be blended up anyway.  Anyway, for some reason unbeknownst to me I grabbed some habaneros….. if you know much about peppers you know they are HOT.  I apparently wasn’t think about that, and was surprised to find out they are more like doubling up on your jalapenos.  OOPS.  Too late, I decided to just go with them, and use less than the recipe called for.  Like a good chef I tested a piece before I put it in there…. yep, definitely hot lol.  It worked out though, as the rest of the ingredients in the sauce mellowed it out nicely and it really wasn’t hot at all.  My husband would have liked it hotter, but I like it where you can taste the heat at certain points but not be overwhelmed by it so it was great for me.

The dish in it’s entirety was AWESOME!  Great Thai flavors for sure, and a nice combination of textures with the bit of crunch from the peanuts and carrots.  Everything comes together very quickly, and even more so if, like me, you opt to use rotisserie chicken.  Why not take a shortcut when you can?!  I did taste my sauce after first mixing it and decided to add a bit more of the more acidic ingredients (vinegar and lime juice) because it was almost too peanut buttery still.  I also threw in some lime zest…. no sense in wasting it!  I used about 1.5 T of the sriracha.

Having a child with peanut allergies (obviously  he doesn’t eat things like this lol), means extra work.  I am not a minimalist cook, and use a lot of dishes/surfaces to create my masterpieces.  Especially if I am blogging the dish and want it to look as good as it tastes as there are sometimes extra steps to ensure that.  This means peanuts of some form likely touch MANY surfaces in my kitchen before I am done.  That means EXTRA cleaning up after it’s all done, and definitely not being able to take the lazy approach and swear to myself I will get it later.  But a great Thai dish with a peanut sauce is ALWAYS worth it for me!  Such a fantastic blend of flavors!  If you have never tried it, I suggest you dive right in and make this dish ASAP!

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Thai Quesadillas With Grilled Chicken

Ingredients :

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used about 8oz shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 T. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T. peanuts, crushed
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used about like 6 oz)
  • 4 (10″) flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup + peanut sauce (below)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  • cilantro for garnish

Sauce Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili peppers, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 T. olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime (throw in zest too optional)
  • 2 T. water
  • 1-2 T. sriracha

Directions :

  1. To make chicken, preheat an indoor grill over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and place on the hot grill. Grill each side until cooked through and the juices run clear, about 4 minutes per side. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest.
  2. While the chicken is resting, prepare the peanut sauce. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add additional Sriracha for a spicier sauce. Set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with a little cooking spray and add the onions. Cook until the onions start to soften, then add the carrots.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat. Set aside.
  4. Cut the chicken into strips against the grain. Toss the strips with about ¼ to ⅓ cup of peanut sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for drizzling.
  5. Assemble the quesadillas by topping a tortilla with half of the chicken in peanut sauce, onions, carrots, cilantro, and cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Place the tortilla on a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Once the quesadilla is golden on the first side, carefully flip the quesadilla over. Cook until the cheese has completely melted and the second side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings.  * a tip for flipping it is to slide it out of the skillet onto a flat surface so you can better get a spatula and hand under it without burning yourself.  This way you can also respray your skillet to ensure better browning on the second side, then just flip it carefully in.
  6. Top the quesadillas with cilantro, crushed peanuts, and a drizzle of the remaining peanut sauce. Serve immediately.

Recipe from That Oven Feelin’

Tex-Mex Taco Pasta


If you’re like most people you probably find a recipe you like and then make it over and over until you eventually know it like the back of your hand.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  As some would say, why fix it if it’s not broken?!  I, however, look at things a little differently and rarely do I make the same recipe twice unless it was just so amazing that there is no question in my mind of whether a different version could ever top it… and even then I still might try.  Because of this, I have found that though a recipe can essentially have the same ingredients and even be prepared similarly, it only takes a small change to sometimes make a more substantial difference in flavor.  This allows me to not only find “better” (or sometimes worse) versions of a dish, but I guess i get to enjoy many good versions of a good dish without it ever seeming too familiar or boring.

This dish is one of those dishes.  I have made plenty of taco inspired pastas or casseroles, and they use basically the same things, but each is a little different from the other.  Some are more punchy or spicy in flavor, some more cheesy and indulgent, textures vary, etc.  I would consider this version a family friendly version which we really enjoyed, with all the great flavors you would expect but somehow in a mild form if that makes sense.  This one is also quite simple to prepare, which I guess most are, but this one especially so, making it a perfect weeknight meal.  There was enough for us to have this two nights which is always a bonus during a busy week!  Even my picky child…. ok BEYOND picky…  said he didn’t totally hate this.  Which actually means he kind of liked it and just won’t admit it and eat new foods.

My only issues with the recipe were minor things.  The first being the rotel tomatoes… it called for 15 oz, and I could only find 10 oz cans.  No biggie, I just went with 2 and I think that worked out perfectly.  The second issue was during the step where it says to season the browned meat with the taco seasoning.  I have seen recipes that go both ways, and this one did NOT state whether I should use the water as directed on the packet.  However, it did say to simmer, which I imagine couldn’t happen very well without the water so I decided to go with it and I am glad I did.  Whether or not it was intended it worked out great that way and I would suggest for sure using it as directed on the packet.  The last small thing was that the recipe said to add the beans, corn, and rotel at the end of simmering the meat and turn off heat.  I wanted to be sure everything was heated through so I just left the burner on medium-low and kept it stirred until my pasta was done.

I used an organic 85/15 beef, and a taco blend of Mexican cheeses.  I also opted for the original rotel tomatoes, which I am sure has a lot to do with my mild flavors, but if your family is all ok with some heat feel free to use a spicier version. Of course I could add various things to this to make it better, or different at least to better suite our tastes…. but that would be a new recipe… and perhaps one I will come across later on!

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Tex-Mex Taco Pasta

Ingredients :

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet low sodium taco seasoning (plus water suggested on packet)
  • 12 oz. farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 15 oz rotel tomatoes (or 20 oz in my case), drained of excess liquid
  • 15 oz can sweet corn, drained
  • 15 oz. can black beans (low sodium), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • cilantro

Directions :

  1. Cook farfalle according to package directions in salted water.
  2. Meanwhile brown your beef in a high-rimmed skillet over medium-high heat.  Drain the excess grease off.  Add taco seasoning (and water) and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add rotel tomatoes, corn, and black beans.  Reduce heat to a medium-low or low and stir occasionally to keep things heated through until the pasta is done.
  4. Drain pasta, and put back into pot.  Add the meat mixture, cheese, and heavy cream.  Stir until cheese has melted in. 
  5. Serve with chopped cilantro to garnish.

Recipe from catz in the kitchen

Published in: on January 9, 2015 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Meatloaf Burgers


Let’s say it’s the middle of the week, and you have a craving for meatloaf.  Let’s also assume you don’t have the time or patience it takes to cook a traditional meatloaf…… which in my experience is forever and even then I often get it wrong.  If this sounds like you, this is probably the perfect recipe for you!  It may not satisfy the pickiest of meatloaf fanatics, but my husband and I definitely felt it had a meatloaf taste without all the hassle.  In fact, I don’t even like meatloaf all that much…shhh…. but even I liked it in this burger form with the BBQ sauce slathered all over it.  Heck, this even saves all those people that end up eating their meatloaf as a sandwich a little extra time!

These definitely comes together quickly and simply.  I used my double burner cast iron grill indoors tonight because it’s Fall and not worth trekking out in the chilly, often wet, weather to uncover the grill and clean it just for a couple burgers.  I couldn’t live without my stove top grill!  Anyway, for some reason I tend to make my burgers rather thick, and occasionally have issues getting them to then cook all the way through, but these turned out well.  I did about 5-6 minutes a side, and then used a roasting pan lid to cover all of them at once with the cheese on at the end to get it nice and melted.  This also probably helped ensure I got them cooked through…. I do NOT like pink in my burger!

I have to admit I was kind of skeptic that these would resemble meatloaf all that much with so few ingredients added and so little of them, but somehow it worked.  The sauce is very sweet, so if you prefer your BBQ sauce a little less so, just adjust the sugar or even leave it out if you want.  I used some potato buns for ours and topped it only with the sauce.  IMO it didn’t need anything more, but I am sure you could add whatever floats your boat.  All in all these were very good and the perfect compromise between my meatloaf loving husband and I.

Not much to the picture… I got a little cheese happy and the burger was almost entirely encased it it lol.  But here is a little peek if you look closely….

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Meatloaf Burgers

Ingredients :

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used grass fed 85/15)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 8 saltines, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic sauce
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese

Sauce Ingredients :

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bbq sauce
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard powder

Directions :

  1. Mix burger ingredients, minus the cheese, together by hand and form into one big ball.  Score the meat with the side of your hand to make 4 even sections and form those sections into patties.
  2. Grill on medium heat until cooked through, about 4-6 minutes a side.  Once done, top each burger with a slice of cheddar and either close the grill lid or form a tent with a lid or foil if using a stove top grill to allow cheese to melt.
  3. To make sauce combine ingredients in a microwave safe dish and heat for about 45 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave until sugar is melted, Whisk to remove any lumps.
  4. Top each burger with sauce and enjoy!

Recipe from Noshing with the Nolands

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Broiled Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce


Rather than drag the kids to the store with me, which let’s face it is a nightmare, I like to wait until my husband is home before I go grocery shopping.  This is fine, except that by the time I am done it’s getting a bit late, and I often don’t feel like cooking anymore.  This is where super quick and easy meals come in!  Fish is a great option because if you buy fresh you need to use it right away anyway, and most preparations of it are fast.  I had planned to make some roasted potatoes with this, which admittedly would have added a good deal of time to the process, but luckily for me I forgot the potatoes.  I did get some asparagus though, and I knew between the two of us we had more than enough salmon so I just decided that would be dinner.  It ended up being plenty for me, but I am sure my husband would have liked to have the potatoes too.  Anyway, I sauteed the asparagus up while the salmon broiled and this meal came together lightning quick, and with very little work!

I actually can’t recall whether I have broiled fish before.  I have baked it plenty of times, but I guess I worried that the high heat of the broil on the top only would leave the middle uncooked before the top started to burn.  I am happy to report, at least this time, that is the not the case.  It was perfectly cooked through without being dry and had a nice bit of crust on top.   The recipe was originally for a much larger fillet of salmon, but for the two of us I halved the recipe.  That’s still 1.25lbs of fish!  Mine were cut into 4 individual fillets, so they cooked faster than the suggested time, so watch it closely when you put it in.  The sauce is easy to throw together, but if you want to save even more time, or allow for more time for the flavors to marry you could make it that morning and throw it in the fridge or even the night before.  Just make sure to give it a good whisk before serving it.

The flavors, though simple, were fantastic.  I was a little surprised by the step to rub soy sauce on the salmon, but whatever purpose it serves must be worth it because the salmon alone was great.  Combine that with the creamy sauce with that bit of grain and spice of mustard and the tang of the dill and you have a perfect pairing.  I used some of the sauce to drizzle on my asparagus as well.

Salmon isn’t the cheapest protein out there…. I think for 1.25lbs I paid close to 20.00!  To me that’s a lot, but we don’t eat salmon that often so I don’t mind splurging every once in a while.  Because it doesn’t fit into most people’s daily budget, however, I think it often becomes a “company dish”.  This not only has great flavor, but looks beautiful on the plate and would be great to serve to your guests.  I would just suggest rounding out the meal with something like… oh I don’t know… roasted potatoes and asparagus! lol.  Just don’t forget the potatoes like me and you’re golden.

 

Broiled Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce

Ingredients :

  • 2.5 – 3 lb salmon fillet
  • soy sauce for rubbing the salmon
  • fresh bay leaves and thyme sprigs for garnish (I didn’t bother)
  • 1/2 cup coarse-grained mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, or to taste

Directions :

  1. To make sauce, in a bowl combine the mustard, water, cream, oil, sugar, and dill.  Whisk together until well combined and set aside.  If making ahead be sure to chill in fridge, and re-whisk before serving.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Rinse salmon and pat dry.  Arrange skin side down (mine were skinless) on a foil-lined pan and rub thoroughly with soy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and broil about 4 inches from the heat for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through.  Transfer salmon to a platter and garnish with herbs.
  4. Serve salmon warm or at room temperature with mustard dill sauce.

Recipe from A Chow

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Green Apple & Bacon


For many years now I have heard people talk of putting cheese and apples together….. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I was definitely curious.  When I came across this sandwich I finally got up the courage to give this age-old combo a try.  Honestly I was nervous lol.  I had put it on the menu, bought the stuff, but because it was a busy week I kept pushing it out further and further and I was both anxious to try it, and worried that it wouldn’t be to my liking and we’d have to have a back-up plan.  Another thing that kept me from trying it earlier was my husband’s distaste for cooked apple anything.  Seeing the simplicity of the recipe, and figuring that bacon makes EVERYTHING better I went for it.

I was pleasantly surprised!  I actually found myself really enjoying the combination of flavors and textures in this simple sandwich.  The crisp and salty bacon, the gooey sharp cheese, and the slightly sweet/tart and juicy apple work really well with each other and you can’t go wrong with buttery toast.  Who knew!?  Oh yeah, most of the population lol.  Even my cooked apple hating husband enjoyed these.

I used the very large slices of sourdough from the middle of the loaf, so I just eyeballed the ingredients to cover the surface.  I think for two sandwiches I used about half the apple, and 3-4 slices of bacon per sandwich with 4 slices of cheese per sandwich.  I am just going to copy the recipe as listed below and you can make adjustments as needed like I did based on your bread size or preference.  I would definitely make these again, and maybe I will find other ways to try this flavor combo as well now that I am not afraid anymore lol.

Grilled Sandwich with Green Apple & Bacon

Makes : 1 sandwich

Ingredients :

  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 T. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 2 big slices medium or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 thin slices tart green apples
  • 2 bacon slices, crisp cooked and drained

Directions :

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of the sourdough bread. If using mustard, spread mustard on the interior side of one of the buttered slices of bread.
  3. Place a cheese slice on the mustard, followed by apple slices and bacon. Add another cheese slice on top of that, and close the sandwich with the other piece of buttered bread.
  4. Grill the sandwich until crisp and browned on each side and until the cheese is melted (if your cheese is not melting, covering the sandwich with a lid can help, but turn down the heat so that the bread doesn’t over-brown). Remove the sandwich from the pan, slice on the bias, and serve promptly.

Recipe from Alaska From Scratch

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Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole


If you are looking for simple, quick and delicious comfort food, casseroles are definitely the way to go.  They are such a versatile dish, with so many fantastic flavor combinations.  This particular one is a southwestern inspired casserole, and I promise your entire family will love it!  As long as they aren’t as picky as my kids who wouldn’t even try it that is lol…..

There is a lot of flavor in this casserole, but not a lot of heat which makes it even more family friendly.  It is nice and creamy from the yogurt and sour cream, but  has lots of texture from the beans, corn, chicken, and rice.  The cilantro adds a nice freshness to the whole thing, and the the cheese…. well you know how I feel about cheese lol.  As with most casseroles, this heats up beautifully the next day and could be a great thing to make ahead for quick lunches throughout the week.

I used brown rice like it calls for, but if you prefer white go ahead and use that. I did change things a little though and used a  Mexican blend cheese.  And, you can probably guess, I used rotisserie chicken.

As for low FODMAP or not…. you’ll have to be the judge.  I can handle some sour cream and yogurt so it was no problem for me, but it depends on your triggers.  Generally though this is pretty low FODMAP friendly.

Perhaps the one downside to casseroles, from a photographer’s standpoint anyway, is that it kind of just looks like a blob of stuff.  It’s pretty hard to get creative with the photographs for them, so bear with me if pretty much all my casserole images look the same lol.  I promise they all taste wonderful in their own unique ways!  And the smell…. you may want to have someone “conveniently” stop by for a minute so they can get a whiff and sing praises to your culinary skills.

 

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

Serves : 6-8

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup corn, frozen or canned is ok
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used lite)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar + more for topping

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir well to combine, and pour the chicken mixture into your prepared dish.
  3. Top with about a 1/2 cup of extra shredded cheddar cheese.  Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until nice and hot.
  4. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

Recipe from Little B Cooks

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Easy Lemon Chicken


Any recipe with the word Easy in the title draws my attention.  I like to cook and try new things, and don’t mind an involved recipe now and again.  But there are nights when I barely want to cook, let alone go through a bunch of complicated steps.  The next thing that caught my eye about this particular recipe was the use of lemon curd.  I have had lemon curd on desserts in the past and really enjoyed it, but I had never thought about using it in a dinner type meal and thought it was really ingenious.

This recipe definitely came through on the easy part!  I also enjoyed the lemony flavor of the curd, though it wasn’t quite as lemony as I thought it would be.  I am not complaining though because I have made lemon dishes in the past and though they taste great it can be a bit complex at times and I loved that all the lemon flavor in this recipe came from a jar.  It’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you are pressed for time.

Easy Lemon Chicken

Serves : 4-5

Ingredients :

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of lemon curd
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup (approx) flour
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions :

  1. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and coat each piece with flour.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan or wok and stir fry the chicken until it’s browned.  Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan along with the ginger, garlic and diced white section from the green onion.  Stir fry until the onion is softened.  Turn the heat down to about medium and add the chicken broth slowly and stir constantly.  Gradually add the lemon curd one spoon at a time, stirring frequently until it’s combined and the liquid is now slightly thick, but smooth.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan along with a pinch of salt and pepper, lemon zest and the greens from the onion.  Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Recipe from Create-Celebrate-Explore

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Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Good Morning Muffins


Sorry it’s been so long since I posted… got a little busy and things had to take a back seat for a while.  Anyway, I made these muffins a couple weeks ago and man were they good!  This is a recipe I found while watching Pioneer Woman’s cooking show.  I really enjoy her show and the type of food she makes.  So much of it is just good, simple, comfort food!  While watching the episode I was a bit skeptic about her use of TWO jars of marmalade in one batch of muffins, but I did the same and I really liked the balance of flavor and texture.

On the recipe she suggests using less if you don’t like the bitter taste of marmalade, but I don’t really feel like it is bitter so don’t be afraid to use it all.  The recipe I followed was also slightly different than what I watched her make on the show (I imagine it got altered a bit) and only listed 2 cups of marmalade, but on the show she says she just goes ahead and uses the two jars as it’s close.  Another difference I found when searching was the use of either just butter, just shortening, or a mix.  On the show she states that she likes the mix best so I went with that.

The muffins are nice and moist, with a great orange flavor, and have a little bit of sweetness and crunch on the top.  She uses a good deal of nutmeg in the topping, so you might consider cutting back a little if you aren’t a big fan.  She also uses salt which I found to be a great addition that sort of cuts through the sweetness a bit, but if you don’t like that sort of thing you can leave it out.  This recipe makes a lot of muffins, perfect for sharing, or just portioning out through the week for breakfast or a quick snack.  I think you can freeze them too if you like.

 

Good Morning Muffins

Makes : 24 muffins

Ingredients :

  • 4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 4 T. unsalted butter (cold)
  • 1/4 C. shortening
  • 1 1/2 – 2 C. marmalade (or 2 jars)
  • 1 C. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Topping :

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • wheat germ

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut in the butter and shortening until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine your wet ingredients, then gently stir into your dry ingredients.  Use very few turns of the spatula to combine it. 
  4. Mix your toppings in another bowl and sprinkle a heaping tsp. over each muffin.  Also sprinkle about a 1/2 tsp. of wheat germ on each muffin.
  5. Bake 20-22 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

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Patty Melt


In all my years I have not once tried a Patty Melt, until today that is.  It was my mom’s favorite thing to order when we’d go out if it was on the menu and I never even really knew what it was.  I was thinking about her, and it came into my head, and I was suddenly very curious.  So I searched it out, and was surprised to see it was just a burger/grilled cheese.  I figured I could do that.

I decided to go with a pretty basic recipe, though I found others that seemed a little more complex and I am sure great.  I think my mom liked hers on a dark rye, but I couldn’t for the life of me find any at the store, so went with a Russian Rye instead.  I can see why my mom liked them, though I felt this particular version could have used a good deal more cheese.  It is a melt after all and I do love my cheese!  I liked the nice buttery golden bread though and the juicy burger and caramelized onions between.  I think I may try some of the variations out there because it was such a simple yet satisfying sandwich.

 

Patty Melt

Serves : 2

Ingredients :

  • 8 oz. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices rye bread
  • 4 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. butter, room temperature (or warmed slightly in the microwave if you forgot to take it out like me)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions :

  1. Divide the meat into two balls. Form each one into a 1/4-inch patty that is just slightly larger than the slices of bread. Season each patty generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes or so. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When it’s hot, add the burger patties. Cook for about 2 minutes per side. They should be well browned, but still slightly medium or medium-rare inside. Set aside.
  4. Top two of the slices of bread each with some onions, a slice of cheese, cooked patty, another slice of cheese and finally a slice of bread. Slather each sandwich on top and bottom with the butter.
  5. Wipe out the skillet. Then turn the heat to medium. Add the sandwiches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes a side, or until the bread is golden browned and the cheese has melted.Slice in half diagonally and serve.

Recipe from Dishing Up Delights

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Chicken Nacho Soup


I may have mentioned before that I am not much of a soup person, but that doesn’t stop me from trying them from time to time.  In doing so, I have actually found a couple I really like, which is a pretty big change from hating all soups.  Tonight’s soup was pretty good, but I am not sure it will become a favorite for me personally.  I think I would have liked it to be a tad creamier somehow, or a little less hot sauce since that was the dominating flavor to me.  I did like it with the chips for dipping though, and as far as soups go I would probably eat it again just to keep things different once in a while… perhaps with the changes I mentioned.  Jeff eats soup a lot more often than me and he said it was good, so perhaps he’s a better judge for this one.

It comes together quite easily, and doesn’t need a lot of time to cook which is always a good thing on those busy weeknights.  I love that it uses rotisserie chicken because that’s even less work you have to do, and I just really like rotisserie chicken.  At first I wasn’t sure what the recipe meant by “nachos”, but I decided it must have meant tortilla chips since the article also mentioned dipping them in the soup and some were pictured with it.  So anyway, I went with an Artisan Toasted Southwestern variety and they were perfect for this.  For the cheese I used Monteray Jack, but I bet cheddar, mozzarella, or even pepper jack if you really like the heat would also be good.

Chicken Nacho Soup

Serves : 4-6             Time to make : 40 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 (8 oz) package cream cheese (I used fat free)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 1 T. hot sauce
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 1 C. nachos, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • cilantro or parsley for topping (optional)

Directions :

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook onions in hot oil until translucent.  Add garlic and jalapenos and cook a minute more.
  2. Add water and cream cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.  Add crumbled nachos next, this helps to thicken the soup.  Add chicken, corn, and salsa and stir to combine.  Then add your broth, hot sauce, and tomato paste and stir again.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, cilantro, and more nachos for dipping.

Recipe from Jo Cooks

chickennachosoup

Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese


I only need one word to describe these…. AMAZING!  I’ve been so good with my diet lately that I felt it was time to have a bit of indulgence to stay motivated.  I had come across these the other day while browsing recipes and knew I had to try them.  In our house we don’t often have goat cheese because my husband claims he is allergic…. though I am not sure if I believe him or if this is one of those allergies that comes around out of convenience for not wanting to eat a specific food.  I have only had it a handful of times, and always enjoyed it, but one time stands out in my mind as noteworthy and that was the time in Tahiti that I had it deep fried…. OMG!  I have to say these are as good if not better than those were with the addition of the buffalo sauce.  Each gorgeous ball is packed with perfect balance of tang, creaminess, crunch, and heat!

I have a pretty sketchy track record when it comes to breading and frying things…. more often than not I lose all my breading in the pan.  It usually ends up fine, at least as far as taste, but darn it if it doesn’t look terrible!  This is the most successful I have ever been with breading and it was so easy.  I think the cheese is the perfect soft/sticky for the breading to stick, and by double breading it allowed for a nice thick coating.  Because you are frying soft cheese I would recommend getting your oil fairly hot before you start since this is not something you want to cook for very long or you will get cheese escaping out the sides.  I went with medium-high heat, and once I put them in (working with only three at a time so I could really watch them closely) I only needed to fry them for maybe a minute total before they were nice and brown.  I just carefully rolled them around with a slotted spoon so that they cooked evenly and avoided spilling out the sides from staying on one side too long.  My advice is just to watch very closely.  Another bit of advice…. the original recipe which I halved called for me to use a cup of panko crumbs for my breading and I probably used less than half of that which then leaves the rest wasted.  I understand wanting enough to be able to roll them around in, but if you would prefer not to waste so much start with half of it and see how much you can coat before adding the rest to your dish.

These would be a fantastic appetizer to serve for any party, but I am thinking especially for the superbowl.  They really are easy to make, and once you get them all prepped, cook in very little time at all.  I think a fresh veggie tray with ranch would be the perfect accompanying appetizer for these, and with that you also have the perfect vegetarian spread as long as they are ok with the eggs anyway.

Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese

Makes : about 12                        Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 4 oz. log of soft goat cheese
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see note above)
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying (I didn’t measure, but just put about a half inch in the bottom of my skillet and I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce

Directions :

  1. Cut off 1/2 inch slices from your goat cheese log and roll them into balls. 
  2. Roll cheese ball into egg mixture, taking care to evenly coat the entire thing before then rolling into a dish of the panko very gently pressing into the crumbs to help them stick.  Roll in egg mixture again carefully and then into the crumbs a second time.  Repeat with all the cheese balls before you start frying.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat, and test before you start frying your cheese balls by dropping in a piece of breading.  It should float and bubble.  Carefully drop a few balls into the pan and gently roll them around with a spoon for a short time (maybe a minute or so depending on how hot your oil was) until they are a nice even golden brown.  Read above for a more detailed tip on this.
  4. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.
  5. Toss your fried cheese balls in the wings sauce gently and serve warm on a bed of greens.

Recipe from a Bitter Sweet Wife

buffalofriedgoatcheese

Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Quesadillas


I started with a recipe tonight for these, but altered the already small ingredients list enough times that I think it is no longer the same recipe, so I will just share mine instead.  I was sort of concerned before making these that not only would there not be enough filling for each quesadilla (compared to past quesadillas we’ve made), but that we’d be hungry still after eating them as our dinner tonight.  It’s a fine line some nights to come up with a dish that is low enough in calories for my dietary needs while still being filling, but also high enough and filling for my husband as well who gets a lot more calories a day than me.  Quesadillas are a pretty light meal in general, but just looking at the ingredient amounts I was concerned these would be even more so.  It turns out that I was wrong, and these were more than satisfying.  I actually started to feel pretty satisfied after one to tell you the truth, but I managed to eat that second one somehow lol.

The flavor on these is awesome.  The little bit of heat from the tortillas, matched with the creamy smoked flavor of the cheese, and the sweet smokey bacon and fresh spinach is just perfect.  I think serving these with a bit of sour cream would be even better, but it’s definitely not necessary if you are hoping to keep the calories down.

I want to take just a moment to talk about the bacon…. if you have never cooked your bacon in the oven you don’t know what you’re missing!  Not only is there no splatter of oil to clean up and ruin your clothes or burn you, but each piece is perfectly done with ease, and stays nice and straight and looks amazing!  Thick cut bacon works best, but you can certainly do it with any bacon you have.  You just have to watch it closely because the time in which is crisps happens so quickly.  I am going to go ahead and say every oven is different, and so is every bacon so there is no cut and dry temperature/time combo that will work best, but I will list what I used tonight as a guideline to get you started and you’ll just have to try it for yourself to find out what works best in your oven.

Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Quesadillas

Serves : 2-4                            Time to make : 10 minutes (not including bacon preparation time)

Ingredients :

  • 4 Jalapeno Cheddar Tortillas (they are large and the brand is Mission)
  • 3 oz. nonfat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded gouda
  • 8 strips of thick cut bacon, crispy
  • 1 cup of fresh baby spinach (or basically a large handful)

Directions :

  1. First make your bacon… either in the skillet if you prefer, or in the oven as mentioned above.  To make it in the oven line a large cookie (with sides) with foil and place a rack on top.  The foil should come up the sides a bit to catch all your grease for easy cleanup.  Spray rack a bit with non-stick cooking spray.  Lay bacon on rack making sure not to overlap them for the best results.  Bake in a 350 degree oven (not preheated) for about 25-30 minutes or until done, paying close attention starting around 15 minutes and flipping them once or twice for even crisping.
  2. Once bacon is done, combine the cream cheese and gouda in a small microwave safe bowl and heat for about a minute until melted stirring about halfway through.  Watch closely so it doesn’t burn or anything, but it should be fine as long as you stirred it.  You’ll end up with a sort of sticky, ball of cheese rather than a truly melted sauce.
  3. Split the cheese among the four tortillas and spread on one half of each.  Next layer on the bacon.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add about a T. of water and throw in the spinach stirring gently.  Cook just until it has wilted down a bit, and then remove it.  Layer that into your quesadillas last before folding them over into half circles.
  5. Wipe out any moisture in your skillet left from the spinach and spray with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.  Heat over medium-high heat and then cook your quesadillas in there either one at a time, or if you are brave and have a large skillet go for two at a time but it will make it harder to flip them.  Again, watch closely because once they start to brown they will burn fast if you aren’t careful.  It will probably only take a minute or so for the first side to brown up and start to get crispy, then flip it and cook the other side.  Note: the other side will brown even faster so pay attention.
  6. Cut in half and serve warm.  Optional to serve with a bit of sour cream as well.

cheesyspinach&baconquesadilla

Sticky Glazed Chicken & Couscous


Another aptly named dish!  This is one of those recipes where it would be very helpful to have everything measured out and ready ahead of time since towards the end things come together rather quickly, and if you want to time everything to be done together you may end up flustered at the end as you try to get your couscous going, keep an eye on the chicken and onions  (which were getting very close to being overdone in my case), and measure out the sauce ingredients.  Especially if you are like me and seem to always end up in a rush to get something like your brown sugar, only to find you are at the end of the bag and it’s pretty clumpy so you have to take extra care to break it up first.  And the slow pour of things like vinegar can be agonizingly worse when you are in a hurry.  So I like to just have things measured out into little dishes sitting next to me for convenience.  Back to original point… because I did NOT have it all ready I was a bit flustered as mentioned and in trying to get it all together and plated I found out just how sticky it was when my hands became a serving utensil…

Anyway, this is a very tasty recipe for sure, and a very attractive looking dish as well.  The recipe I followed called for regular couscous, but Jeff is not a fan and I had been wanting to try the larger pearl variety so figured this would be a good time.  This of course added to my flustered state since I didn’t realize it was cooked slightly different from regular couscous which you just boil the liquid for, dump it in, cover it and leave it.  For the pearl couscous (I used a tricolor variety) you actually have to cook it on low for a little longer and stir it occasionally, so just be aware of that before you start.  I definitely prefer the large variety now that we’ve tried it and think I will use that whenever I can, especially since Jeff seems to agree.  If you are not familiar with couscous you may be concerned that the amount of food seems small for two people, but like rice it fills you up pretty quickly because it expands.  If you do decide to go with the larger variety though you could get away with making a cup rather than 2/3 as stated in the recipe.

Jeff said this reminded him a lot of sweet and sour which is no surprise given the vinegar and sugar based sauce, but it’s a little different with the sundried tomatoes and red wine vinegar.  It is nice and sweet and it coats the chicken wonderfully so you get all the flavors in each bite.  I did notice afterwards that I misread a portion of the recipe off my phone and used 4 T. of sugar instead of tsp. which could have made a substantial amount of difference, so I am just going to go ahead and list it as I made it since I had great results.  I encourage you to add  a good handful of spinach or even two since it cooks down so small.  Another great thing about this recipe… at least for me, is that other than the spinach, all the ingredients are things I typically have on hand so I can easily throw this together any time.

 

Sticky Glazed Chicken & Couscous

Serves : 2                  Time to make : 20 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin (about 12 oz)
  • 2/3 cup dry couscous
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 8 or so sundried tomatoes, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • handful of spinach
  • 6 T. red wine vinegar
  • 4 T. brown sugar
  • cooking spray or olive oil

Directions :

  1. Spray skillet with cooking spray or put a bit of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, cook for 1 min. stirring until slightly browned.  Season and add your chicken, cook about 6-7 minutes until  browned and mostly cooked through.
  3. Boil the water for your couscous  as directed on the package, then add couscous and cover.  If you chose to use the large variety you will need to keep the burner on a lower heat and stir occasionally for about 8-10 minutes (or as directed on package) otherwise it can sit there for about 5 minutes untouched if you used the small kind.
  4. To the chicken, add your vinegar and sugar, and stir it well to get it all mixed.  Throw in tomatoes, and cook a couple of minutes until sauce comes together and gets sticky and thick, and chicken is fully cooked through.
  5. Throw in your big handful of spinach and stir until it just wilts down and remove from heat. Serve chicken over the warm couscous.

stickyglazedchicken&couscous

 

Pulled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches


Tonight’s recipe comes from foodgawker again… yeah I go there a lot lol…. and while I wouldn’t say it was a new favorite it was definitely good.  I think it has potential to be great, but in it’s current form is just a bit simple for my tastes.  However, simple is not always bad, and this is a great way to change things up a bit without getting too adventurous in the kitchen for those that are newer to culinary exploration.  I think the addition of maybe some green peppers would be really good on this, or maybe even some smoky bacon or ham, or jalapenos would help take this recipe to the “great” status.  As I knew he would, Jeff also suggested using a white bun for these, and I agree it would be better, but I was trying to boost the health and cut back on the calories for tonight so went with wheat.  I bet a nice specialty type roll fresh from the bakery would be even better for these; something a bit harder than your basic burger bun.  I also want to point out, that for convenience, I use a counter top grill about 99% of the time and it’s possible that once in a while it sacrifices just a bit of flavor in a dish, but that’s debatable I imagine.  I just think that you get way better char marks on the real thing and that might have pushed this over the “good” status a bit too.

I didn’t have as much fun photographing this dish, but I still think I managed to come up with something drool worthy to share with all of you.

Pulled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

Makes : 5-6 Sandwiches

Ingredients :

  • 1 Lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup heinz 57 sauce (not ketchup which is a common misconception)
  • 2 T. agave nectar or honey (I used honey)
  • Tabasco
  • Fresh pineapple, cored and sliced into 7 1/2″ rings (I used pre-cut spears and just sliced them thinner)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 5-6 buns or sandwich rolls

Directions :

  1. Heat grill to medium heat.  Place one ring of pineapple in a small food processor and puree until you get a sauce-like result.  Place into a medium bowl and add to that your heniz 57 sauce, agave nectar or honey, and a couple of dashes of Tabasco.  Taste at this point and add some additional honey as desired.  Remove 1/4 cup of the sauce to use for basting and reserve the rest for serving later on.
  2. Brush pineapple rings with a bit of olive oil before placing them on the heated grill.  Cook for 5-7 minutes on both sides until the sugars begin to caramelize and you get nice grill marks.   Pound chicken out slightly to achieve and even thickness before seasoning with salt and pepper and then brushing on half of sauce you pulled earlier to your first side.  If you used a countertop grill like me, you can go ahead and baste the other side once you put it on the hot grill, otherwise you’ll need to remember to baste the other side once you flip your chicken halfway through cook-time.  Cook until chicken is completely done, then set aside and cover with foil to allow the chicken to rest for about 5-10 minutes before shredding with two forks.  (during this time you could toast your buns if you want, which is what I did, but the recipe did not call for it)
  3. Add shredded chicken to the bowl of sauce and toss to coat evenly.  Divide among your buns and top with the rings of grilled pineapple.

pulledhawaiianchickensandwich