Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quick Idea: Quesadillas

I love to make quesadillas with leftovers.  If we have any kind of meat leftover I will put it in a baggy and freeze it usually.  Then when we want to have quesadillas I just have to pull it out and defrost it. 

All I have to do is soften a tortilla in the microwave, spread a little refried beans on half the tortilla (sometimes I mix in a little enchilada sauce with the beans), sprinkle with meat, and cheese.  Sometimes I saute up some veggies but if your wanting quick these are still good without all the work.  Then fold the tortilla over and fry up on the stovetop with a little butter or cooking spray. 

Butter taste better of course and gives it that crunchy texture, but cooking spray will work if your watching your calories.  Also if your counting calories, or carbs for that matter, you can skip the tortilla and use a sheet of lavash.  We did this earlier this week and they were very yummy. 

Serve with some shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and/or guacomole. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Asian Grilled Chicken

We love to grill out.  For the past month or two we have already grilled out almost every weekend.  I was excited to find a different type of recipe to try out on the grill.  I am partial to a charcoal grill but because I don't know the first thing about grilling on it and my husband was possibly going to have to work I was going to make them on my griddle/grill inside and I think they would of turned out fine.  Luckily he didn't end up having to work the extra hours and was able to cook these for me.

The marinade was easy and I just made it the night before.  All I had to do was combine all the ingredients and pour it over the chicken.  Then let them soak it all in, I turned my chicken over in the morning so it soaked in more evenly.  I also made some fried rice and egg rolls to go with the dish.  Everyone in the family loved this meal, it was excellent.

Printable recipe:

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Asian Grilled Chicken
Adapted from
Serves 6

3 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

4 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp sesame seeds

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 green onions, minced

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

2 tsp honey

4 tsp sesame oil

Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl to make marinade.  Pour over chicken, cover and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or even over night (the longer the better).  Turn chicken after a few hours so both sides soak up the marinade.

Grill.  Can be done on an indoor or outdoor grill.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grape and Almond Chicken Salad

We had company recently and need a quick light lunch, this sandwich is what came to mind. It's fancier than just a lunch meat sandwich but still easy. It can also be made in advance which is plus in my book. Not to mention it's a good excuse to use yummy croissants (I love those things). You can use frozen chicken breast (boiled and cubed), my preferred method, or to make it even easier you can use canned chicken, shredded. Serve with some chips and/or fresh fruit and you've got a yummy lunch. And once again I don't have any pictures, I forgot to pull out the camera, it was a crazy day.

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Grape and Almond Chicken Salad

4 cup cooked, cubed, chicken breast
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 - 2/3 cup Miracle Whip
1 1/2 cup red grape halves
1/2 cup almond slices
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Chop the celery and scallion. Mix with the Miracle Whip. Cut the grapes in half then toss everything together. Chill for at least 1 hour.

I like to serve on Croissants, in pitas, or even on Triscuits for a snack.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crockpot Pasta Fagioli

This soup was amazing!  It really did remind me of the Olive Garden soup I used to love.  The one I ate before I had children and actually went to Olive Garden.  Not much to tell on what I did, since crock pot meals are so easy there are not really any tips or tricks I have to share.  So here it is.  I had company this weekend and forgot to get any pictures of this soup.  I plan on making it again in the next couple weeks though, so I will try to update this post with pictures next time we have it.

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Crockpot Pasta Fagioli
From A Year of Slow Cooking

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes do not drain
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (I use northern)
4 cups beef broth
1 jar (16.5 oz) pasta sauce
2 tsp oregano
1/2 T Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dry pasta, to add at end of cooking time

Brown your ground beef and drain well. Let it cool a bit.

Place your chopped carrots, onion, and celery in a 6 quart crockpot.

Drain and rinse the beans then add them. Add the tomatoes, pasta sauce, and beef broth.  Season with your salt, pepper, oregano, and Tobasco sauce.  Stir in the meat.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  About 45 min - 1 hour before you are ready to serve, add the dry pasta and cook til tender.

I served with garlic bread, and a little parmesan.   This makes a lot of soup so we even had leftovers with grilled cheese a few nights later.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sweet Hawaiian Pizza

Last night I made Sweet Hawaiian Pizza.  I found the recipe at Mommy Hates Cooking recently.  It was really good, even my pizza snob Elizabeth ate it, after some coaxing to get her to try it.  I changed it up just a little bit, I almost always do with any recipe.  I figured it wouldn't quite feed all of us so I made some Quick Bread Sticks and just added some cheese to them.  We will definitely be having this again and probably soon, I just got a coupon in the paper for the bread and saw them on sale this week.  Perfect timing!

I think this has to be one of the fastest meals I've ever cooked.  All I had to do was cut the bread loaf in half, I trimmed a little off the top also so it would sit on the cookie sheet more level.  Of course, I snacked on the top part the whole time I cooked dinner, shhhh.  Then I put both halves, crust side down, on a cookie sheet.  Topped them with 1/4 cup pizza sauce on each pizza, drained the can of pineapple chunks and put them evenly on each pizza.  Placed 10 canadian bacon slices on each pizza and then finished off with 3/4 cup of cheese on each pizza. 

I then made the Quick Bread Sticks and put them on my cookie sheet with the pizza.  I topped them with the remaining cheese from the bag about 1/2 cup then put everything in the oven together for about 10 minutes.  I served with a little marinara sauce for dipping.  And it was a quick, easy, and delicious meal.

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Sweet Hawaiian Pizza
Adapted from Mommy Hates Cooking

1 King's Hawaiian Sweet Bread Loaf
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 small can pineapple chunks
20 pieces of pizza style canadian bacon
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a 5 cheese italian blend)

1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Cut the bread loaf in half, place crust side down on a cookie sheet.
3.  Spread 1/4 cup pizza sauce on each pizza.
4.  Split the remaining ingredients between each pizza and top.
5.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

White Chicken Chili

Yummy!  I had forgotten how good this chili was till I made it for the first time in quite a while the other night.  I got this recipe from my mother in law and have changed a few things to fit my families taste.  I know I said I was pulling out my crockpot recipes and this is done on the stovetop, but this can easily be done in the crockpot instead so that's what made me think of it.  This time I did this meal on the stovetop though, so I will put in the recipe instructions what you would do differently to make this in the crockpot also. 

No matter if you do this stovetop or crockpot you will start off the same way, toasting the tortillas.  This will make your kitchen smell wonderful, and it works on either a gas or electric stovetop.  After your tortillas are toasted, cut them up into bite size pieces and set them aside. 

Now you will be cooking your chicken unless your like me and have it already cooked in the freezer.  Almost everytime we grill out I have my husband put a few extra chicken breast on the grill for me to freeze for meals later.  It's a time saver and I love grilled chicken in almost anything, we had some in our pasta earlier this week and I used some in this soup.  If you do end up cooking your chicken, after its ready put it off to the side with the tortillas.  At this point if you're using the crock pot you will just put everything in the crock pot, except for the milk which we will substitute with extra broth and the oil, turn on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.  And your done till it's time to get out the garnishings and to serve.

If you're cooking on the stovetop you will add the rest of your oil to the pan and cook the onions until softened, then add in the chilies, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook this for about 1 minute.  Now add in the broth and milk then let it start to boil.  Add in the hominy, tortilla pieces, and chicken then lower your heat and let it simmer.  Stir it every once and a while until it has thickened, about 20 mintes.  Toppings we like to use are sour cream, shredded cheese, and/or lime wedges.  This is a very filling meal and can be easily customized to your own taste, if you want a little kick to it add some pepper jack cheese instead of regular shredded or add a little sour cream to cool it off a bit for the kids. 

Printable recipe:

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White Chicken Chili

Time: about 30 minutes  Serves: 6

6 corn tortillas
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked (I like to use grilled) and shredded or cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil divided
1 medium onion
1 (6oz) can green chilies
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
2 cups skim milk (omit for crockpot recipe and use another can of broth instead)
2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed

Serve with:
Lime wedges
Shredded cheese or pepper jack cheese
Sour Cream

Place a tortilla directly on stovetop burner (gas or electric), set on medium low, and toast.  Turning frequently with tongs until golden and fragrant. about 30-60 seconds.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Cut into bite sized pieces and set aside. 
In a deep skillet or dutch oven heat 1/2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. 
Add chicken and cook stirring often until lightly browned.  Transfer to plate and set aside. 
Add remaining oil to pan along with onions and cook until softened, add chilies, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook about 1 minute. 
(If using your crockpot put all ingredients except for the milk, we will use an extra can of broth instead, into your crockpot and cook for 6-8 hrs on low or 4 hours on high, and you're done.  If cooking on stovetop disregard this message and continue on)
Add broth and milk and bring to a boil. 
Stir in hominy, tortilla pieces, and chicken.  Reduce heat to low. 
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened, about 20 mintes. 
Garnish with lime wedges, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese if desired.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baked Ziti

Well, I am getting good use out of my new freezer.  I made baked ziti Saturday night and froze half of it for later.  Since this dish serves 12 then it is perfect for freezing.  Sometimes I will just keep a 1/3 out for us and freeze 2/3 for when I have company or just do it in half and Matthew will get to take leftovers once or twice.  This is another dish that takes some planning as the cooking time is long but your actual time in the kitchen isn't bad.  You can get other things done while it's going, but it's not a good meal to make if you've been gone all day.  It is absolutely worth it though if you have the time.  The sauce is best if it simmers for a few hours, or even all day in the crock pot, and it takes an hour in the oven.  Ok, I won't make you wait any longer here's the recipe.

The sauce!  Brown you meats with the onion and garlic.  Drain if needed.  Then you're gonna stir in your spaghetti sauce and tomatoes.  Then the simmering begins, let it simmer, stirring every once in a while for about 30 minutes.  I have learned with any tomato based sauce the longer it simmers the better, I sometimes make the sauce earlier in the day then put it in the crock pot to simmer til I'm ready for it.

While that's simmering, cook your pasta and then mix your cheese mixture.  Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, half the mozzarella, the egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

After that you just need to layer the ingredients in a 9x13 pan (or two 8x8's if you will be freezing half) and top with the remaining mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and you have plenty of time to clean up and even get something else done before dinner time. 

This is very good with Quick Bread Sticks, and a salad.

Printable Recipes:

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Baked Ziti
Serves 12

1 lb ground meat (1/2 beef, 1/2 pork sausage)
1/2 medium onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 26-28oz jar spaghetti sauce
15 oz ricotta cheese
16 oz tubular pasta, cooked and drained
16 oz Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 can petite diced tomatoes (drain half the juice)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook meat, onions, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes, cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, 8 oz mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper.

In a greased 9x13 baking dish, spread 1 cup meat sauce. layer 1/2 the pasta, 1 cup meat sauce, and one half the cheese mixture.  Repeat layers (pasta, sauce, and cheese).  Top with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

**sometimes I will put a grated zucchini and/or carrot in the sauce during the simmering to add a few more veggies to the dish, just depends on what I have on hand.  If you add vegetables though, drain both cans of diced tomatoes.

Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No-Bake Cookies

I really needed a sweet fix.  It's just been one of those days, what am I saying its been one of those weeks.  So I made Brown Eyed Baker's: No-Bake Cookies.  I've made other no bake cookies before but these just can't be beat.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

If you haven't noticed already, I love easy meals.  I like to cook but sometimes I'm just busy, but I still want a good meal on the table at dinner time.  My crock pot is my friend and I am trying to pull out and go over my crock pot recipes now that it is starting to get warmer, because who wants to use the oven much when it gets hot outside.

Today was a semi-busy day, I ran around town shopping, I can't remember the last time I went shopping for just me.  So before I left the house I put 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (I want to make my own sometime but didn't have the time today), 1 can of chicken broth, 2 cans of water (use the broth can for this not the soup), salt and pepper (I don't usually salt cause of the soups but I do put in pepper), 3 medium size frozen chicken breast, 1/3 cup of each frozen peas and frozen carrots, and 1/4 cup of frozen chopped onion (you could use fresh or omit these altogether but frozen are faster for today).  Put the lid on and turn it on low for 4-6 hrs.

When I got home I did a few things around the house while the girls napped, and Anthony was at the park with a friend of his. Then I turned the crock pot on high and took the chicken breast out. I placed them on a cutting board and they easily shredded, then back in the pot they went.

About this time Elizabeth woke up and I brought her in the kitchen to color in her highchair while I cut up the biscuits on a floured cutting board.  I like a lot of biscuits in my chicken and dumplings but I have seen other recipes that use about the same about of liquid and other ingredients but only use 1 can of biscuits so you could cut this down to 1 if you would like.  After they are all cut, dump them in the crock pot and put the lid on, don't stir them.  I know you want to, but don't do it :).  After about an hour check them and then if they are not cooking well stir them slightly and try to get them under the liquid if you can.  Just make sure not to stir much because they may still be doughy at this point.  After the dumplings have been in for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs check and see if you need to add any salt or pepper and that your dumplings are cooked.  That's it, an easy dinner for a semi-busy day. 

Printable Recipe:

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Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
total cook time 5 1/2 -8 hours

3 chicken breast
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
2 cans water (broth cans not cream of chicken)
1/3 cup frozen carrots
1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup frozen peas
2 cans biscuits

Put all ingredients except biscuits in the crock pot. 
Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Shred your chicken after 4-5 hours.  Turn the crock pot on High.
Flatten biscuits and cut into 4-6 pieces (your preference I like mine into six pieces)  Place in crock pot quickly but try not to stir them much if it all, after about an hour check and see if they need to be stirred.
Cook on high for 2 hrs.

*note: On occasion my biscuits have not cooked well (maybe I left the lid off too long, or cut my biscuit to large, who knows) or I need to get dinner on the table quicker than 2 hrs from putting the biscuits in.  You can still use the crock pot for the everything up until the biscuits, let the flavors simmer all day, yum.  But about 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner put the whole thing in a large pot.  Bring to a boil. Cut biscuits and drop into boiling broth. Cook on medium heat approximately 10-15 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quick Idea: freezer burrito mix

I love to cook and I love to freeze meals.  It's always nice on a busy day to not have to do a lot of extra work.  Days like that is when my freezer is my friend.  I actually just upgraded to a huge upright freezer today, I love it!

Well, earlier this month we had some family over and per Anthony's request I made tacos.  We ended up with quite a bit of leftover meat, refried beans, and rice/bean side.  So I put it all together in a ziploc bag and stuck it in the freezer for later. 

I told you there was quite a bit leftover
Tonight we are having freezer burritos, from the above referenced ziploc bag mix that is.  All I have to do is pull out the ziploc bag, defrost, and assemble with some flour tortillas and a little cheese.  So easy and you're not throwing away a bunch of leftovers.  Plus it's a nice cheap meal to use at the end of the month (especially if your at the end of your food budget like me)

I hate throwing food out.  It feels so wasteful, so I try to repurpose food when I can.  I freeze individual portion sized meals for Matthew to take to work.  I'll also freeze small amounts of meat to add to quesidillas for the kids lunch or individual portions of veggies for me to have with my lunch.  Don't get me wrong we actually like eating leftovers but this was on a weekend and I knew we wouldn't eat all that was left within the next couple of days, so that's when things go in the freezer. 

The only thing I don't like about this kinda cooking is about 4:30, when I normally start cookng, I'm walking around the kitchen feeling like I should be doing something, but have nothing to do.  So I may just organize my pantry tonight, who knows. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Santa Fe Rice and Beans

I absolutely love this meal. It is so easy and versatile. It's also a crowd pleaser, so I like to make it to take to our church potlucks on Sundays.  This weekend was crazy so we didn't stay for potluck but I made it anyway for us to have at home.  And of course I forgot to take pictures til the end so all I have is the one.

This is without the cheese since I plan on serving it cold, I will add the cheese later

First start your rice cooking. Then open and drain all the cans except for the Rotel.  After that, get out a big mixing bowl and start dumping in cans, sounds easy huh? My 8 year old loves to help with the dumping part. 

If I'm putting meat in it, I will cut it up and put it in at this point.  We grilled this weekend, so I had my husband grill a few extra chicken breast, and I put those in for my meat. 

Then in goes the rice and cheese, stir to combine.  If you are heating it put it in a 9x13 pan or a large casserole dish.  Bake for 20 min at 325 degrees.

It's also good served cold, so you could make it in advance.  All you have to do it pull it out of the refridgerator when you're ready to serve.  The only thing I like to do differently if I serve it cold is just don't add the cheese till I'm ready to serve or it will melt some with the rice since it is still warm when I first mix it. 

This is very good served with tortilla chips, over a green salad, or with flour tortilla shells.  I've also doubled the rice before and just served it alone, like I said it's very versatile. 

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Sante Fe Rice and Beans

2 cans of pinto beans, drained
2 cans of black beans, drained
1 can Mexicorn, drained (or use a can of regular corn and add chopped bell peppers)
1 can Rotel, not drained
1 small can of sliced olives, drained (optional)
2 cups cheese
1 cup brown rice, cooked
salt and pepper to taste
This can be prepared with or without meat. I like to add part of a rotisserie chicken, or a pound of pork chops cooked and cut into bite size pieces.

Prepare meat and rice.  In a large bowl mix olives, beans, corn, salt and pepper, Rotel, and meat.  Add in rice, and if heating add in cheese as well.  If serving chilled, add cheese when ready to serve.  Combine well.  Either leave it a cold dish, or bake it in the oven for 20 min at 325 degrees.  I serve this with tortilla scoop chips, or also good in a flour tortilla or over a salad with some salsa or ranch as dressings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken Monterey

This is a dish my husband's been requesting for a little while now and I finally decided to make it for him.  I'm so glad I did, I forgot how good it was.  It's really fairly simple and I've done it a few different ways, like this time I forgot the taco seasoning till everything else was almost done so I just added it into the sour cream and you couldn't tell a difference except for the orange sour cream of course. 

This dish is not too spicy, but I use mild taco sauce and mild taco seasoning, so it can easiely be spiced up if you prefer.  I usually serve this with refried beans and salad.  You could also serve with tortillas and make burritos out of it, I've done that with leftovers before but there were no leftovers this time.

Printable recipes:
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Chicken Monterey
Serves 4

2 chicken breast
2 cups cooked brown rice
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices pepper jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup taco sauce
envelope taco seasoning

Put the rice on the bottom of a casserole dish. 
Place chicken on top of the rice.
Mix oil, taco sauce, and taco seasoning then pour over chicken.
Place cheese slices over chicken then top with dollops of sour cream.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

I serve with refried beans and salad.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The other night we had Sweet and Sour Chicken, Fried rice and so I made eggrolls to go with it.  This was the first time I've ever made them and wasn't sure how it would go.  They turned out really, really yummy.  I wasn't thrilled with the texture. I baked them instead of frying and didn't set the timer before we had a catastrophe (we'll just say involved a diaperless 1 year old on the loose, and leave it at that).  So most likely I didn't cook them long enough, I can be a little impatient sometimes, or they would of been fine.  Like I said though they were still excellent.  Oh and I forgot to meantion, they were super easy.

You start off with 1 lb of ground pork or chicken, though I think I will only use 1/2 lb next time.  My husband liked all the meat but it was a little too much for me, either that or I will try to get it into smaller pieces next time. 
While browning your meat sprinkle with the soy sauce and spices.  After your meat is cooked add in your bag of coleslaw mix and let it cook down some about 3 minutes.  You still want your cabbage to be a little firm but not quite crisp. 
Using a 1/4 measuring cup scoop out some mix onto your wrapper and tuck the sides in then roll tightly.  Seal with your finger dipped in a little water. 

 Now if your like me I didn't even know you could buy these wrappers.  So you don't have to search all over the place for them I found them in the produce section very close to the bagged salads.  Also you can add in other vegetables, sprouts, or whatever you want to.  Next time I think I am going to try my hand at making my own wrappers.  Not sure though since these were so easy, we'll see. 

Prinable copy:

Egg rolls
adapted from

1/2 - 1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, pork or shrimp or any combo)

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 package 16 oz coleslaw mix

10 - 20 egg roll wraps ( I used 20 and was able to freeze some for later)

Place meat in a large skillet (remember your cabbage is going in here next too) and sprinkle with soy sauce and spices.  Brown meat, breaking it up into small pieces, the smaller the better.
When meat is cooked and drained, add the coleslaw mix, cook, and stir for 3 minutes or until the veggies are crisp tender.
Place 1/4 cup of mix on a wrapper, if you want bigger egg rolls use 1/2 cup.
Fold the sides over.

Bring the bottom corner up and wet the top of the wrapper with your finger dipped in water. Roll the rest of the way up.

You can either fry them or you can bake them.  If you choose to bake them, brush them with olive oil then place in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

*Edited:  I froze the extras I had and they did not reheat as well as I would of liked.  Next time I will probably use 1/2 lb of meat,  fill them a fuller (1/3-1/2 cup), and not make quite as many.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken, fried rice, egg rolls, and extra sweet and sour sauce for dipping

We had Sweet and Sour Chicken, with egg rolls, and fried rice.  It is a time consuming dish so be prepared, it does take 1hr in the oven and probably about 30 minutes of prep and time at the stove.  Needless to say we don't make this often but it is a favorite.  If a recipe keeps me in the kitchen that long it better be exceptional or it doesn't last on our menu long. 
Also I have used just the chicken recipe without the sauce and added in a little garlic powder and onion powder to the flour mix to make chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer for the kids lunches.  It is cheaper and much better than store bought chicken nuggets.  I enlist Matthew's help and we do a whole 6 lb bag of chicken at once.  They love it, and Matthew and I even made a few for ourselves last time by adding a little Cajun seasoning to the last of the flour.  But back to the actually recipe.


Start off by cubing 3-4 chicken breast. Then put your flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. And your beaten egg in another shallow dish. I use 8x8 pans. I like to double dip my chicken, because of this I use about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of flour instead of the 1 cup the original recipe calls for. Start off in the flour, then egg, then flour again. While you are dredging your chicken you can start your oil heating up on the stove. When you oil is heated enough to sizzle and bubble at a pinch of flour tossed in, you can add your chicken. Now don't cook your chicken all the way just get it brown, the oven will finish where the skillet leaves off. Oh yeah on that note nows a good time to preheat your oven to 325 degrees while you finish up the chicken.   Remove your chicken from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate, drain, then transfer to a 9x13 dish. 

Now you get to mix up your sauce.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of vinegar but this is just too much for my family so we cut it down to 1/3 a cup.  If your family isn't turned off by that much vinegar, Matthew and Anthony liked it fine with 1/2 a cup, but the girls and I like it better with a little less.  Now if you don't want to take the hour for the oven, you could cook completely in the skillet, then heat your sauce in a saucepan for about 10 minutes on a low heat.  It really is worth the wait to do it in the oven though, the flavors blend so much more that way.  So with your chicken placed in the 9x13 single layered, pour your sauce over the chicken, and bake for 1 hour turning about every 15 minutes so they are coated well.

So I got distracted and this is the last picture I took till my actual plate sorry.
 We like this with fried rice and for the first time I made egg rolls.  I also doubled the sauce so we had the extra to dip our egg rolls in.

Printable Recipes:

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Sweet and Sour Chicken
adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Serves 4-6


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup canola oil


3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons ketchup

1/3 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. 

Mix salt and pepper into flour in a shallow dish I use a 8x8 glass pan.

Dip chicken in flour and then in egg then back in flour.

Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through.

Place in a single layer in a baking dish.

Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.
Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes so it is evenly coated with the sauce.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick idea: Quick Bread Sticks

With grilling weather fast approaching (ok, I can dream) here is something you can do with those extra hot dog buns.  Why do they never match up with how many hot dogs in a package?  We may never know, but I choose to take advantage of this.  Anytime there are extras I throw them in the freezer and pull them out when I need quick bread sticks.  Separate the two sides, place on  a cookie sheet bun side down, spread butter, sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little shredded Parmesan cheese, or top however you like.  Place them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, this time is if they are frozen, if they are room temperature reduce time to about 5 minutes.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Manicotti

Spinach Stuffed Manicotti

I love manicotti and typically I see it without meat, but our family are big meat eaters, so I came up with this recipe and added hamburger to it.  Manicotti used to intimidate and frustrate me, till I learned a few tricks anyway.  So here is how dinner went for me.

I started off by browning 1 lb hamburger (actually I only did 3/4lb but didn't get to fill 2 of my noodles so changed the recipe to include a little more meat and ricotta for your benefit.) 

After the meat was browned and drained I added about 2 cups of fresh baby spinach, 1/3 jar pasta sauce,1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 cup ricotta cheese, and 1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese to my skillet. 

I cooked this mix till the spinach was reduced and the cheese was melted.  Then I set it aside to cool so it is easier to handle while stuffing. 

While the meat and cheese mixture was cooling, I boiled the pasta making sure not to overcook it.  I cook mine for about 6 minutes so they are still a little firm.  I drained, then rinsed the pasta with cool water to stop them from cooking.

I placed the remaining sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish and started stuffing the shells.  Using a gallon sized ziploc bag with one of the bottom corners cut to pipe the mixture in the shells.  This method is a little messy and  I should of made sure to let my meat and cheese mix get cool enough but I was impatient and just held my ziploc bag with a towel to help with the heat.  You can also rip your noodles down one of the seams, spoon some the mixture in, and roll them up.  Place them in the pan seam down and no one will know the difference.  These two methods have helped keep my sanity with stuffing manicotti. This time I piped them because I had never tried it that way before.  If any started to split while I was piping, I just finished off the split and rolled them instead.

After all the noodles were stuffed and in the pan I topped with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.  All that was left to do was bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

We had this with salad, fried zucchini, and Quick Bread Sticks

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Spinach Stuffed Manicotti
Serves 6-8

1 box Manicotti noodles
1 lb hamburger
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 jar pasta sauce, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 pkg Italian blend shredded cheese
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Brown hamburger, drain and return to skillet.

Add about 2 cups fresh baby spinach, 1/3 jar pasta sauce 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, ricotta, and 1/2 pkg of shredded cheese to skillet.  Heat until cheese is melted and spinach is reduced.

Set aside to cool.  Boil noodles for about 6 minutes make sure not to over cook or they will be difficult to stuff.

Pour remaining pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish.

Put meat and cheese mixture in a gallon ziploc bag and cut a corner to pipe into the noodles.  You can spoon it in, its not as messy but the noodles tend to rip more for me with a spoon.  Also you could tear down a seam of the noodle spoon in the mix then roll and place in pan seam down .  No one will know you didn't "stuff" them, it can be our little secret.
After all noodles are stuffed and in pan top with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quick idea: Stuffed French Toast

After I posted my Cinnamon French Toast  recipe a friend of mine sent me this quick idea on how to make them extra special.  I made this last Wednesday for Brinner, breakfast for dinner.  They were so yummy my husband asked me, "your going to put this on your blog, right?"

We really like breakfast foods at our house, can you tell!?

All you have to do is spread softened cream cheese on your bread just like you're making a cream cheese sandwich, then dip in your egg and continue with the recipe as usual.  I did a little more by leaving out the cinnamon from the original recipe and taking 8 oz of cream cheese, about a cup of strawberry jam, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract mixing that together and spreading the mix between my bread.  I served it with frozen berries, whipped cream and syrup.   Mmmmm so yummy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken Fried Chicken

This one is for my Bro-in-law Jeremy. He was asking for a chicken fried chicken recipe and it sounded good to me also. So I did a little research and this is what I came up with. We had these for dinner tonight with my mother in law and father in law over to help taste test too. They were a hit.

This was only about a third of one of the "monster" pieces of meat I used

Now I tried to find the smallest chicken breast I could but still ended up with HUGE pieces of meat. Even my husband only ate half of one and I didn't even finish my half (that's saying a lot). So I am putting the recipe for "normal" sized chicken breast not the monsters I used, but if you can't find "normal" ones you may have to double the breading and egg mix like I did. But my freezer has 4 individual lunches for my husband, even with leftover mashed potatoes, and a dish with a whole dinner's worth of chicken for our family, all I have to do is provide the sides.

I used 8 boneless skinless chicken breast and started off by putting a piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flattening it with a meat mallet or you could use rolling pin, you want to make them about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. If you've had a stressful day make sure you don't over do it or your chicken won't stay together while you handle it, I got a little over zealous with one of mine and had trouble keeping it together for all the dredging.

In a shallow dish combine 2 cups bread crumbs, 3 Tbsp flour, 3 Tbsp potato flakes, 1/8 tsp of onion powder, 1/8 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper.  In another shallow dish, I used 2 8x8 pans, whisk together 3 eggs and 1/3 cup milk.

In a deep skillet pour about 1/2 inch thick oil and heat on medium high for a few minutes. If you drop in a bit of flour and it sizzles at you, it's ready. Dredge your chicken in bread crumb mix, egg mix, then bread crumb mix again. Place the coated chicken in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. After drained I placed mine in the oven at 275 degrees while I cooked the rest and just added them to the dish in the oven as I went.

You can make gravy with this if you choose, we did but it wasn't picture worthy. Probably cause I burnt the drippings, but oh well, the chicken was good enough it made up for it. I also don't usually use a recipe for gravy and dinner was running late so I didn't measure anything out this time. Next time I make it I will try to get a gravy recipe on here.

Printable Copies:

Chicken Fried Chicken

8 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp potato flakes
2 cups plain bread crumbs
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk

1. Start off by putting a piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flattening it with a meat mallet or rolling pin, you want them to be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

2.  In a shallow dish combine bread crumbs, flour, potato flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and, ground black pepper.

3.  In another shallow dish whisk together eggs and milk.

4.  In a deep skillet pour about 1/2 inch thick oil and heat on medium high for a few minutes.

5.  Dredge your chicken in bread crumb mix, egg mix, then bread crumb mix again.

6.  Place the coated chicken in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

7.  Place in the oven at 275 degrees to keep warm as you go.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poppy seed Chicken

Poppy seed chicken is an absolute favorite around here.  The girls even like it, but won't just dig in themselves we actually have to feed it to them.  This can be a pain but once you taste it you will realize why we bother and make it anyway, it's just that good.

You start by boiling 2-3lb of chicken, I like mine on the meaty side so I go with 3 lbs.  While the chicken is cooking, in a large bowl I put together my 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, 12 oz of sour cream with salt and pepper to taste.  After the chicken has cooked, remove from pan, and cube into bite-sized pieces.  Stir into your large bowl with the soup mix you've been working on.

In a seperate medium bowl combine 2 1/2 - 3 sleeves of ritz crackers, crushed, 2-3 Tbsp poppy seeds, and 2 sticks of melted butter.  Stir till well coated with the butter.

In a 9x13 pan spread half of your cracker mix on the bottom of the pan the pour in your chicken mix.  Top with the other half of the cracker mix and place in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

We love this served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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Recipe without picture

Poppy seed Chicken

Oven Temp: 375 degrees  Time: 30 minutes  Serves:8-10

3lb Chicken cooked and cubed
12oz sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 - 3 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
2-3 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 sticks of butter, melted

Boil your chicken then transfer to cutting board and cube in bite-sized pieces.  Mix together the chicken, sour cream, and chicken soups.  In a separate bowl mix crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter.  Layer 1/2 the cracker mixture at the bottom of a 9x13 pan.   Then pour chicken mixture on top of that.  Top with remaining cracker mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

    Oh wow, what a day!  The girls are still sick and clingy so I decided to do a crock pot meal that I could start during their nap time and just put some tator tots in the oven about 20 minutes before dinner. 

    This is just how cooking dinner went for me, it will give you an idea of how the rest of my day went.  I started by browning my meat, which I forgot to pull out of the freezer to defrost, not so bad but all the mishaps add up.  Then I drained the meat and decided to dump some on the counter and spill grease all over the place.  I cleaned that up and then put the garlic, onions, and green peppers in the skillet cooking them till they were tender.  Normally I would put the salt that the recipe called for in here too, but I just now realized as I was typing this that I forgot it.  We never noticed it was gone so I took it off the recipe (its not really needed with all the sodium in the ketchup anyway.) 

    After that I placed all of the ingredient in the crock pot and finished off the ketchup bottle with only 1/2 a cup instead of the 1 cup I needed.  I was just going to put tomato sauce in for the rest of it till I realized I didn't have any of that either.  Luckily I found a new bottle of ketchup while looking for the tomato sauce, whew.  I think I need to clean out and re-organize my pantry, but that is a project for another day.  So now I have all my ingredients in the crock pot cooking on low for 4-6 hrs til dinner time. 

    Also just a couple tips: this can be done in the skillet if you don't want to use the crock pot or don't have the time,  just make sure to use the full 4 Tbsp of water.  In the crock pot don't put too much water in or they will be really "sloppy" joes as the liquid won't evaporate like it will in the skillet.  Also you can put in a few shoestring carrots if you want to add more veggies to this dish, I meant to, but of course forgot till it was too late.  Make sure to cook the carrots in the microwave til tender before adding to the dish, you don't want crunchy carrots in there, or I wouldn't anyway. 

    This is such an easy meal and if you've never had homemade you won't go back to the can after trying this.  I serve this with tator tots, sometimes green beans or a salad.  And if you've never tried it this sandwich is really good with cheese, pickles, and mustard as condiments or that's what my family likes anyway.

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Recipe with picture

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/4 diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup ketchup
2-4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Brown your hamburger along with the garlic, onion, and green pepper.

Place all ingredients in the crock pot for 4-6 hrs on low.

I like to serve on hamburger buns or occasionally just over tator tots with cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chicken Enchilada

We have had a crazy couple weeks with our girls sick.  So I have been using lots of go to meals, and I will admit pizza and sonic have come into play and even my wonderful mother in law brought over some chicken noodle soup last night for us.  Here is one of my favorite go to recipes, we used it tonight.

Start off boiling 2lbs of chicken breast.  While the chicken is boiling, cook 1 cup of brown rice according to package.  Once rice is cooked stir together rice and 1 block of cream cheese.  Shred or cut up chicken and add to rice mixture.  Mix in 1/3 cup green enchilada sauce (save the rest for later).  And sometimes I will put in half a can of black beans, and you guessed it put aside the other half can for the girls to eat. 

Take 8 burrito size tortillas and heat them in the microwave til they are warm.  I put the stack in for 30 sec then flip them and put them back in for 30 sec, flip them again and nuke them one more time for 30 sec. 

Fill your tortillas with chicken and rice mixture and put into a 9x13 pan, or I do 2 smaller casserole pans and put one up for later. 

Cover with the rest of your enchilada sauce and 2 cups of cheese.  Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Printable Copies:

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 8

2lb Chicken breast
1 cup minute brown rice, uncooked
1/2 can black beans drained and rinsed (optional)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
8 burrito size flour tortillas
2 cup shredded cheese
2 (10 oz) cans green enchilada sauce

1. Boil then shred chicken breast

2. Cook rice according to package

3.  Mix cooked rice, cream cheese, chicken, and 1/3 cup enchilada sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Then add in 1/2 can black beans, don't over stir after adding beans or they will mush

4. Warm tortillas then roll mixture up in tortillas and place in 9x13 baking dish

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top and then shredded cheese on top of that.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes
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