Monday, August 30, 2010

Easy Chicken Tacos

Another winner from Cook's Country magazine! We loved these tacos! I had all these toppings ready to add to the tacos but we liked them plain the best. I made these last week then made them again yesterday but doubled the recipe. I am not sure what happened but they weren't as good when I doubled it. Maybe I had too much chicken in my skillet and it didn't cook properly. These are easy and so delicious.

Easy Chicken Tacos
Serves 6

12 flour tortillas (6-inch)-homemade or the kind you cook for the first time are the best
3 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper
Optional taco toppings such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced avocado, and sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in 350 degree oven for fifteen minutes.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chipotle and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 cup cilantro. Bring mixture to a boil, and then add chicken. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue to simmer in the covered skillet until the chicken is done (160 degrees) about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover it with foil to keep it warm; set aside. Increase the heat under the skillet to medium-high and cook until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and whisk in the mustard. Set the skillet aside.

Uncover the chicken and using two forks, shred it into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the remaining cilantro and stir until everything is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with tortillas and desired taco toppings.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deli Style Pasta Salad

This is a great summer pasta salad and is so good and so easy to make. That is the beauty of salads is you can throw in whatever you want and call it a salad. I have added different kinds of cheese, broccoli, pepperoni, calamada olives and other things I can't remember right now.

Deli Style Pasta Salad

1 package (16 ounces) tricolor spiral pasta
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned
8 ounces sliced salami, julienned
8 ounces provolone cheese, julienned
1 small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 jar (5-3/4 ounces) pimiento-stuffed olives, drained
1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 bottle (8 ounces) Italian salad dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.  

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tomatoes, salami, provolone cheese, onion, olives and Parmesan cheese. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving stir pasta. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 12 servings.

Recipe source: Taste of Home

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Special Spanish Rice

This is a family recipe that goes way back, before I was born. I grew up eating this, well kind of, I hate green peppers and every time my mom would make this I dreaded it because of the peppers. I enjoy it now, and my family enjoys it, probably because I don't usually add the peppers.

Special Spanish Rice
Makes 4 servings

3 strips bacon, cut up
*Bacon drippings, approx. 1/4 cup.
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium green pepper, diced
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 1/3 c. instant rice
1 3/4 c. hot water
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper

Fry bacon in a skillet and let drain. To bacon drippings add onion, green pepper, beef and instant rice. Cook and stir over high heat until lightly browned. Then add water, tomato sauce, bacon and seasonings. Mix well. Bring quickly to a boil.

*I usually microwave my bacon and just spray my skillet with non stick cooking spray instead of using the bacon drippings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ham and Cheese Sliders

I couldn't get enough of these little sandwiches. The sauce that goes over the top is so good. These would be perfect for a luncheon or a birthday party.

The recipe came from one of my favorite food blogs, Annie's Eats.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

For the sandwiches:
24 slider rolls (mini Hawaiian rolls are also recommended, or you can make your own rolls)
24 slices honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese

For the sauce:
1½ tbsp. yellow mustard
8 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. finely minced onion (or 2 tsp. dried minced onion)
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Split the slider rolls and spread the insides lightly with mayonnaise.  Fold a slice of ham to fit on each slider bun, and top with a slice of Swiss cheese.  Replace the top bun to assemble the sandwiches.  Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except the poppy seeds in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle the sauce over the tops of the slider buns.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Remove the foil and bake 2 minutes longer.  Serve warm.

Source: slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

I like my cookies a little fluffier so I added an additional 1/4 - 1/2 c. flour. Without the extra flour I got flat crispy cookies so if you like that, don't add the extra flour.

White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 (12 oz.) package white chips
1 c. macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 375.

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until creamy. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.

Blend flour, baking soda, and salt on speed until mixed. Stir in white chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire racks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BBQ Chicken Braid

In my hurry to get dinner on the table I forgot to take pictures of my creation so I am adding pictures strait from the source, My Kitchen Cafe.  Her pictures are much better than anything I could do anyway.
I was a little intimidated by this recipe due to the length of the recipe and the amount of steps but it really was quite easy and well worth the effort. If you don't want to make your own dough you could probably get away with using a couple of Rhodes dough loafs.

BBQ Chicken Braid

*Note: the amounts of chicken, onions, barbecue sauce, and cheese in the recipe can be altered based on your preference – simply add more or less to your liking.

*Makes 2 large braids

1 recipe French Bread Rolls
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 red onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the french bread roll recipe has gone through the first rise, split the dough into two parts. Lightly cover one portion and set aside. Roll the other portion into about an 11X17-inch rectangle (I roll mine out directly on a silpat liner to make for easy transfer to the baking sheet and oven). Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut 1-inch wide strips in towards the center, starting on the long sides. There should be a solid strip about 3 inches wide down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side. Spread half of the barbecue sauce down the center strip. (I put about a 1/2 c.sauce down the center then mixed about another 1/3 c.sauce with the chicken before adding to the dough.It keep the chicken moist.) Top with the chicken, onions and cheese. Fold the side strips over filling, alternating strips from each side and pressing them into the dough on the opposite side, forming a braid. Pinch or twist to seal.

Place the braid on a lined baking sheet (or simply transfer the silpat liner to a baking sheet) and let rest for 15 minutes. While it is resting, follow the same steps above for the second portion of dough. Bake the first braid for 15-20 minutes (while the second braid is resting), until golden brown and bread is baked through. Remove from oven and bake the second braid.

Let the braids rest for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut braid into sections and serve warm.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Braid How-To
With one half of the french bread roll recipe, flatten or roll the dough out to about 11X17 inches. I roll it out directly on my silpat baking mat for easy measuring and then transferring to a rimmed baking sheet. If you don’t have a silpat liner, use parchment paper or press the dough directly onto a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet.

After the dough is rolled out, start cutting strips along each side, leaving a wide strip, about 3-inches across, in the middle. I use my pizza cutter to speed through this step.

After the strips have been cut, layer all of the ingredients down the center strip and start braiding by folding alternate strips across and pressing them down to stick.

As you get to the end, you’ll likely be wondering how to finish this whole thing up.

Keep braiding like normal until you have two final strips extending one from each side.

Fold one side over and press it into the other strip.

Grab the final extending strip and bring it over to lay across the bottom of the braid and gently press it into the dough on the other side. It won’t look perfect, but that’s ok.

Then, using your fingers, pinch the dough together to seal the long seam at the bottom of the braid and any other small seams you may see. It may look a bit lumpy but I promise you won’t care once it is baked to golden perfection.

Finally, pick up the silpat or parchment paper and transfer it to the baking sheet. Ready to bake!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

The recipe calls for cooked chicken. I just cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper, then cooked them in the skillet right before cooking the onions. Remove the chicken from the skillet before adding the onions.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta
  Serves 6-8

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (10-oz) cans green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce
1 can large black olives, cut in half
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
16-20 oz. penne pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender. Add the cooked chicken, green chilies, spices, enchilada sauces and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don’t boil!). Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions or crushed tortilla chips.

Recipe Source: adapted from Suzie and My Kitchen Cafe

Monday, August 16, 2010

Maple Glazed Baked Beans

Very easy and very good!

Maple Glazed Baked Beans

2 28oz cans baked beans
1/2 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup. Use the real maple syrup)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp sweet hot mustard
 1/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.In a large bowl combine all ingredients together until well blended.Pour into 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 1 to 1/2 hours until thickened.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

This is the cheater way of making sugar cookies. Usually making sugar cookies is an all day process but these are quick and easy and can be done in a couple hours with cooling time included.

Sugar Cookie Bars
Yield: about 4 dozen bars

For the cookie bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise ( didn't add this because I didn't have any on hand. The cookies were still good.)
Zest from 1 lemon
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. shortening (if you really like the butter flavor you can just add another 1/2 cup of butter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.   Grease a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet (mine was 12 x 17″).  Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla, seeds from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir together with a fork to blend.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer.  Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the milk.  Tint as desired with food coloring.  Spread over the cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.

Source: adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef , Annie's Eats and my own changes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paula Deen's Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

As with any Paula Deen recipe it is anything but healthy. You can modify ingredients with a lighter version to make you feel better about eating this. You can use fat free or light sour cream, 2% milk, and only add 1 or 2 eggs or use egg beaters.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8 oz. box isn't quite 2 cups)
4 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. sour cream
1 (10 oz.) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Boil the macaroni in a 2 qt. saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Do not cook all the way. It will continue to cook in the crock pot. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts.

In a slow cooker, combine cheese and butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You can also cook this on high for about 1 1/2 hours.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Chicken and Rice

This has been a dinner favorite of mine for a long time. It probably has something to do with the amount of sugar in the sauce. I have a serious addiction to sugar.

Sweet Chicken and Rice

1/2 c. egg beaters (or 2 whole eggs)
2-3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. fat free chicken broth
1/2 tsp. light salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 (1 lb. 4 oz.) can chunk or sliced pineapple, undrained
1 c. sugar (or 1/2 c. sugar and 6 packets of Sweet N' Low)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
3/4 c. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sodium reduced soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 large green pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

2 c. white rice, cooked

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 dish with non stick cooking spray. Drop chicken pieces into egg beaters and then into flour mixed with salt and pepper. Coat well.

Heat chicken broth in a non stick skillet and brown chicken pieces. Don't cook them all the way though or they will come out tough. Place chicken in 9x13 dish.

Drain pineapple, pouring syrup into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add water to make 1 1/4 cups. Set pineapple aside.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, pineapple syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Pour over chicken pieces.

Bake, uncovered 30 minutes. Add pineapple slices and green peppers and bake an additional 20-30 minutes or until chicken cooked through. Serve over fluffy white rice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

I LOVE this popcorn. It is great all by itself or you could add stuff to it like: peanuts, marshmallows, drizzled milk chocolate, or drizzled white chocolate.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

12-16 c. popped popcorn
5 Tbsp. margarine or butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 c. peanut butter

In a saucepan, bring butter, sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in the peanut butter and immediately remove from heat when mixture is smooth. Quickly pour over popped popcorn and mix well. Allow to cool. If desired, spread out on waxed paper and drizzle with chocolate.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Smothered Chicken Burritos

For the rice, you can use any Spanish style rice but I used the Tex-Mex Rice recipe I posted a couple of days ago. These would be very easy to make a lot of and keep in the freezer.

Smothered Chicken Burritos

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (28 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
1 c. red salsa
1/2 c. sour cream (fat free works fine)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together except chicken. Place chicken in crockpot and pour sauce over top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. When you are ready to eat, remove chicken and shred. In tortillas, layer a spoonful of sauce, rice, beans, and shredded chicken. Fold over "burrito style" and place in a pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Broil until brown and crispy on the top. Then spread some sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese. Broil a few minutes longer just until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tex-Mex Rice

If you can't find a poblano chile, you can substitute it with an Anaheim chili or a green bell pepper but you will want to add 1 more jalapeno. If you like it really hot, leave the seeds and ribs in the peppers.

Tex-Mex Rice
Serves 4-6

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. long grain white rice
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 poblano chili (see note), seeded and chopped fine
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

Process tomatoes in food processor until smooth; set aside. Place rice in fine mesh strainer set over large bowl. Rinse under running water until water runs clear, about 1 minute. Drain rice well.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, poblano, and jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 minutes; reserve 1/4 c. pepper mixture. Stir rice, cumin and oregano into pot and cook, stirring frequently until rice is deep golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add broth, processed tomatoes, and 1 tsp. salt and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in reserved pepper mixture. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and season with salt.

Recipe source: Cook's Country Magazine, Aug/Sept 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Muffins

My boy is completely obsessed with peanut butter and honey sandwiches right now. He wants them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have been complying with his requests but I thought a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast probably isn't the best thing. I thought maybe trying a few variations of peanut butter might be good for a change. I found this recipe for peanut butter muffins on the Jif website. It was a success. I made half the batch as mini muffins, because mini muffins are always more fun to eat. The other half of the batch, I added chocolate chips. It makes a great mid day snack.

Peanut Butter Muffins

2 c. all purpose flour (I added 1 1/2 cups all purpose and 1/2 c. whole wheat)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
2 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. salt (next time I might omit the salt)

Heat oven to 400. Spray muffin pan with no stick cooking spray. (For mini muffins heat to 350.)
Stir together flour and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
Place milk, eggs, sugar, peanut butter and salt in a blender; cover and blend to combine. Pour over dry ingredients; stir just until moistened.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 minutes (for mini muffins bake 10-12 minutes).

Yield: 12 regular muffins, 24-30 mini muffins
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