Saturday, February 15, 2014

Crazy Good Smothered Chicken

♥♥♥ Advanced

We're just going to call it "Crazy Good Smothered Chicken" because it is CRAZY GOOD. As in, it was the perfect Valentine's Dinner. And was crazy good. Are you getting the idea?

I'm not usually a mushroom eater. (I usually slide them all off of my chicken piccata.) But I ate every.bite.of.this. So if there's an ingredient here that you just find to be repulsive, try it anyway because you'll likely like it.

What you'll need: 

1 Large Bunch of Spinach Leaves
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 C. Parmesian Cheese, shredded
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

8 Oz. Package of Mushrooms, Sliced
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 C. White Wine ****
Salt & Pepper to taste

4-5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
8-10 Slices of Mozzarella cheese, cut thinly
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

How it's done: 

1. Preheat oven to 350*F, and season both sides of chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.

2. While chicken is in the oven, make the creamed spinach. Over medium heat heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add in the onion powder, garlic, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. When it's cooked through, add in the cream cheese and Parmesan. Continue cooking, stirring continuously, until the cream cheese has melted. Remove from heat.

3. In another skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the mushrooms and cook until browned. Do not season with salt until after the mushrooms have browned, or they will never brown. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and then add in the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until most of the wine is cooked out.

4. Now it's time to assemble your chicken! Divide up the spinach and mushrooms and cover over each breast. Top all of the chicken breasts with the slices of Mozzarella cheese. Cook in the over for another 12-14 minutes until the cheese has browned.

Seriously, this gets 5 stars in my household. I hope your's likes it too!

**** For my friends who choose not to cook with wine, you can substitue 1/2 C. Chicken Stock + 1/2 Tbsp. of White Wine Vinegar.

Adapted from this recipe here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

♥♥ Intermediate

It's no secret that I'm not much of a casserole person. I do however, love Chicken Cordon Bleu. And the thought of an easy, inexpensive, and tasty way to enjoy my beloved dish sent me over the moon. It was a big hit with the kids, only took a minor amount of preparation, and was pretty good. Try it for yourself and see what you think. (Sorry, no photos of it on a plate - it was super messy coming out of the pan, and really wasn't very pretty!)

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole - Love with recipeWhat you'll need:

1 Rotisserie Chicken (roughly 4 cups chopped)
1/2 lb. Deli Style Honey Ham, thinly sliced and rough chopped
1/4 lb. Baby Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced

4 Tbsp. Butter
4 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
3 + 1/4 C. Milk
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Pinch of Paprika

3 Tbsp. Butter, Melted
2 C. Panko Bread Crumbs

How it's done:

1. Grease a 9x13 Cooking Dish, and preheat oven to 375*F.
2. In the following order, layer the ingredients in the dish. Chicken, Ham, and Swiss Cheese. Set dish aside.
3. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over med-high heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Once combined, add the cold milk and whisk until combined and starting to thicken. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and paprika. Whisk constantly while sauce thickens. Once it begins to lightly boil, remove from the heat.
4. Pour sauce on top of the swiss cheese in your dish, making sure to get it around all sides.
5. Melt remaining butter, and combine with Panko. Spread on top of dish.
6. Cook for 45 minutes, and let stand for 5-10 before serving.

 This recipe was adapted from here.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wonton Soup

♥ Beginner

When I was at the store a week or so ago, I was just looking for ANYTHING that didn't include dyes and preservatives. Somehow a package of wonton wrappers made it's way into my cart, and home with me. I've never had any desire to make wonton anything. I didn't even know how to use them. I guess I was just excited by the prospect of something that I could actually BUY.

Anyhow, they've sat in my fridge, just staring at me ever since. I've combed Pinterest looking for ideas of fun desserts that I can make with them, or something that was creative. Alas, I settled on just trying our own Wonton Soup. It actually turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. 

For being a 'foodie', I really shouldn't be called that, because I've never used ground PORK before. Ever. It's embarrassing really. It surprisingly tasty, and fairly easy to work with. And the fat content... wow, that stuff could hold anything together. 

Wonton Soup is not something that I would ever order at a Chinese restaurant. It's not a soup I "have to have" or even really care to make, but it was a really great dinner on a super cold winter night. The extra helping of Soy Sauce may have helped some too. 

What you'll need: 

1/2 lb Lean Ground Pork
1 Large Egg
2 Green Onions, Chopped
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
Approx. 30 Wonton Wrappers
2 Liters of Low Sodium Chicken Broth

How it's done: 

1. In a large bowl, combine the Pork, Egg, Soy Sauce, and Green Onion. (If you use a wooden spoon to combine it, it will hold together much better. 
2. Lay out all of your wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Place 1 teaspoon (it doesn't seem like enough, but it is!) of the pork mixture on the middle of the wonton. *Note: You don't want to over-stuff them or they won't cook through completely!) Moisten edges of wonton with water and your finger. Fold opposite corners together and pull back the opposite corners. 
3. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Drop in wontons and let them cook for 15 minutes. 
4. Garnish with green onions and enjoy! 

And extras too! 
The kids loved it. Score!
**If you want to get really creative, you can add things like garlic, red pepper flakes, or sesame oil to your filling.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blue Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Burgers

♥♥ Intermediate

I'm always looking for a new way to introduce foods to my kids without them being intimidating, and this is a great recipe for that. P.S. Both of my oldest kids now love spinach & blue cheese!

What you'll need:

1 lb. Ground Beef (Don't get anything leaner than a 90/10 sirloin, or you'll be sorry. the fat content helps it stick together.)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
3 oz. Crumbled Blue Cheese
1 C. Fresh Baby Spinach
Hamburger Buns of your choice

How it's done: 

1. In a large bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, ground beef, and pepper to taste. On waxed paper shape 4" round patties.
2. Chop up 4 leaves of spinach as small as you can, ad combine it with your blue cheese.Leaving the remainder of spinach as a garnish.
3. Drop 1-2 Tbsp. of blue cheese mixture onto half of the patties. Top with remaining patties, and press edges closed to seal.
4. Grill burgers on medium-high heat for approximately five minutes per side. Brush buns with olive oil and grill until toasted.
5. Assemble burgers and garnish with remaining spinach. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Chips

♥♥ Intermediate

These are a huge hit at my house - and in all honesty they are beginner level cooking. The only reason that I gave it an intermediate level is because you may want to use a special tool called a Mandolin, AND they take a bit of time in the oven.

My kids love these. So much so, that I made them three nights in a row. Super easy, and super tasty!

What you'll need: 
3 Apples, Cored and Peeled (I use a mandolin to slice them 1/8" thick)
Cinnamon & Sugar mixture to taste

How it's done:

1. Core, peel, and slice your apples. I prefer 1/8" thick. They get really crispy if they are thinner.

2. Preheat oven to 170* or as low as your oven will go.

3. Put all of your apple slices on a cookie sheet that's lined with parchment paper. Do not let any of them touch! Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste.

4. Bake for 1 hour on each side (I sprinkle on the other side when I turn them over), with the oven cracked. They will harden up even more once they have cooled.


Homemade Taco Seasoning

♥ Beginner

We were starting to see behavioral problems in our four year old recently, and knew that we needed to make some changes. ADD & ADHD run very strongly through my family, and we were begining to notice some traits of it in our daughters behavior. I'm not a fan of diagnoses' like ADD, because sometimes I think it's easier to change the activities or nutrition to see if that can help eliminate the problems we were having without medication.

ADD & ADHD are on the rise in America. We're diagnosing hundreds if not thousands of children a day, some as young as two years old. So I went to work, doing some homework on how to assist my daughter in eliminating the behavior problems.

What I found, was that WAY back in the 1990's there was a study done that equated food dyes and preservatives with increases in ADD symptoms. It's been validated for the past 20+ years by parents all over the country who have followed a plan of eliminating food dyes and preservatives, and have seen ridiculous improvements. So here we are, embracing the elimination of those things in our diet as well. It's not been easy, but we're managing okay. I'm finding it's harder to control their eating habits outside of our home than inside it.

One of the things we are up against, is prepackaged foods like Taco Seasonings. Tacos are a favorite around our house, yet those seasonings are packed with preservatives. I did some research and found that making your own seasonings really isn't that hard. So off to work I went. And the results were fantastic!

What you'll need:

1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper

How it's done: 

1. Combine all ingredients in a small container. Cover & label. Instructions: 2 Tbsp. to 1lb Meat!

Broiled Tilapia with Parmesan and Herb

♥ Beginner

We have never been "fish people" in this house. Sadly, I think it's mostly my fault. I would much prefer to cook with chicken over any other protein. Funny thing is, I can't resist a good meal that includes cheese. That's a fact. So when I saw this Tilapia recipe on the Whole Foods website, I knew I had to try it.

The first time I made it, I only made two fillets (thinking that the kids wouldn't eat it). To my surprise, they each had a few bites of ours and loved it. After that, I've made three fillet's and let the kids share one. It's a great family dinner, and super healthy (if you can get past all of the cheese....).

Let me know what you think of it too!

What you'll need: 

1/2 C. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Sour Cream (Or greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Basil
1/2 tsp. Terragon
1/8 tsp. Onion Powder (I sub. for Garlic Powder... yummo!)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste.
4 Tilapia Fillets (6-8 oz. each)

How it's done:

1. Combine 1/4 C. Parmesan and all remaining ingredients (except fish) in a bowl. Place fillets in a shallow baking dish or broiler pan. cover fillets in the mixture and let marinate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, and place in broiler (approximately 5" from broiler). Broil for 5-8 minutes until fish is white and flaky. I like to lift the fish up with a spatula to check the bottom for pinkness.

We like to serve the fish with steamed veggies or a salad. Enjoy!

Adapted from the whole foods recipe, here. 

Bourbon Chicken

♥ Beginner

There's this Asian fast food place in the mall that I've loved ever since I was a kid. I hardly ever go to that mall anymore, but whenever I do, I make sure to stop and get a free sample of the Bourbon Chicken. Now that our family is getting serious about eliminating food-dyes and preservatives, we're learning how to make much more of the food that we love at home. Bourbon Chicken being no exception. 

I'm not going to lie to you, when I read the ingredients list I thought to myself 'no way this tastes good'. I'm glad we made it anyway, because strangely enough it's delicious. Dare I say, even better than my fast food joint at the mall? Try it for yourself, this was a big winner at our house. 

What you'll need: 

2 Lbs. Boneless Chicken Breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/4 tsp. Ginger
1/4 C. Apple Juice
1/3 C. Light Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp . Ketchup
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 C. Water
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch. 

How it's done: 

1. In a large skillet, brown all of your cut-up chicken breast. While the chicken is browning, combine all of the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. 

2. Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Pour sauce mixture into the skillet and bring to a rapid boil. Let boil for 2 minutes, and then add chicken back to the skillet. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. 

Serve over hot rice, and enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Honey Almond Chicken

♥ Beginner

Slow-Cooker Honey Almond ChickenOur Thursday evenings are pretty crazy, and we are typically pulling into the garage around 6:30pm. Anyone with kids (especially more than one) knows that at that point you just shove something onto a plate and expect them to eat quickly because you've still got bath's to give, PJ's to put on, a story to read, and the typical 1 hr. routine of putting them BACK to bed. So I've resorted to "Crock-Pot Thursday's" as it's affectionately known around my house.

My family loves Crock-Pot Thursday because it means that we get to eat a warm, home cooked meal, that didn't take an hour to prepare. It also means that we get to have a few of our favorites that are on rotations far enough from each other that they only come around every once in awhile. One of those favorites is Honey Almond Chicken.

What you'll need:

2 Large Chicken Breasts
1/4 C Slivered Almonds, plus more for garnish
1/4 C Soy Sauce
1/3 C Honey
1 Tbsp. Canola Oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced (Or about a Tbsp. of the already minced stuff)
1 tsp. Fresh Ginger, Minced
1/2 C. Snap Peas
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
Cooked Rice, for serving

How it's done:

1. Place the chicken breasts, and almonds in the slow cooker.
2. In a bowl, whisk to combine soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and oil. Pour over chicken and stir to coat.
3. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.
4. Fifteen minutes before finished, remove the chicken to a plate. Whisk the cornstarch into the sauce, and return the chicken back to the crockpot & add the snap peas. Finish cooking for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
5. Serve over rice and garnish with almonds.

Recipe adapted from