Monday, October 31, 2011

pan fried chicken fingers with spicy dipping sauce

My ears always tickle when my husband says, "Cam, those are good."  That's what he said when we had these last night followed by "much better than the chicken fingers at the hospital".  Okay, that kind of (just kind of) ruined the compliment.  Just a little bit.  My kids gobbled them right up and I found myself snacking on the few left over so now I don't have any left for breakfast this morning.  Dang.

pan fried chicken fingers with spicy dipping sauce (Cooking Light, November 2010)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon water
3 cups whole grain cereal, finely crushed (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 pound chicken breast tenders  (I prefer to slice large chicken breasts)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup mayo
2 teaspoons Sriacha (I used garlic chile sauce)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

To prepare sauce, combine the mayo, Sriacha, lemon juice and soy sauce in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Cover and chill.
To prepare chicken, combine flour, black pepper and paprika.  Place flour  mixture in a shallow dish.
Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt.  Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture.  Dip in egg mixture; dredge in cereal.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add chicken pieces to pan; cook on each side until done.  Serve immediately with sauce.

What I have to say- I've used Shredded Wheat and Grape Nuts and preferred the Shredded Wheat.  This time I used Panko and that was my very favorite.

double baked potatoes

My mom was the queen of double baked potatoes.  She made them all the time and I always requested them with grilled steak for my birthday dinner every year.  I'm not sure why this was the first time I thought to make them but I can't say I made them because my 9-year old daughter made them!  I simply gave her the instructions.  She knows how to season mashed potatoes to perfection.

double baked potatoes (my mom)
We don't really use a recipe because my mom never did.  Just throw some potatoes into the oven and bake them for a couple to a few hours.  Then cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers into a large bowl.  Now make mashed potatoes.  We throw in at least a 1/4 cup of butter, some milk, sometimes a glob of sour cream, salt and pepper.  Sometimes garlic, sometimes green onion.  Make them how you like them.  You can even throw in some bacon if you're feeling a bit on the wild side.
Fill the potato skins with mashed potatoes then top with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

What I have to say- this is and excellent side when you have guests over for dinner because you can assemble these potatoes very early on and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake them.  We did all the assembling before church then baked them afterwards.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

sweet mexican spoon bread

This sweet Mexican spoon bread was at our ward social last night and it looked like the most interesting cornbread besides my pumpkin cornmeal muffins so I had to give it a try.  It reminded me of the little ball of cornbread that used to come on my plate at a Mexican restaurant my family used to frequent when I was a kid.  This bread is really sweet and would be a nice compliment to a big platter full of spicy Mexican food.

sweet mexican spoon bread (The Harpers)
1 can creamed corn
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 can diced green chiles
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients and bake in a greased 8x8 pan at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or less.

manly man's chili

You might look at the chili above and think to yourself, "That doesn't look like chili to me.  I don't see any beans.  It looks like it's all meat."  Isn't that wonderful?!  The way a man's chili (or my chili) was meant to be!  I tried this chili for the first time when my friend Lindsy made it for a frozen meal swap only it was made with ground beef.  I saw a huge roast on sale and figured I should try the recipe with shredded beef.  Mmmm!  It was the best chili on the table last night at our ward party but that's just my opinion.  My husband who does not enjoy chili tried it and liked it.  That's because "it didn't taste like chili".

manly man's chili (my friend Linsy J.)
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin (I used a 4 pound roast cooked all night in the crock pot)
Montreal steak seasoning
20 ounces beef broth
6 ounces tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 ounces smoky barbeque sauce
2 ounces hot sauce (use Frank's!)
6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oil and saute onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes.  Add beef and brown (or add shredded roast).  Season with Montreal steak seasoning.  Add 6 ounces or broth and reduce by half.  Stir in the rest of the broth, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and barbeque sauce.  Simmer 10 minutes (I threw mine in the crock pot for several hour).  Top with cheese, Fritos and green onions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

pumpkin cornmeal muffins

Real Simple did it again.  These pumpkin cornbread muffins are excellent.  Tomorrow night our ward is hosting a chili/cornbread/pie/trunk-or-treat extravaganza and I'm taking these muffins along with Manly Man's chili and pumpkin pie cake.  My husband is not a fan of chili or cornbread but I think he'll take to the pies quite nicely.

pumpkin cornmeal muffins (
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light b rown sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 3ggs
1 (15 ounce) can solid pumpkin
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oven to 350.  If not using silicone pans, lightly coat two 6-cup muffin tins with vegetable cooking spray*.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low, add the remaining ingredients and beat for 3 minutes or just until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the muffin pans.  Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

What I have to say- I doubled the recipe and made about 4 dozen muffins so I'm pretty sure one batch will make around two dozen.

chicken jambalaya

Southern fare like this reminds me of the first part of the ride Pirates of the Caribbean when you're gently floating down the bayou with a soft breeze in the air and the faint sound of a harmonica being played (I love that ride!).  Now it reminds me of the movie The Princess and the Frog.  I've tried a lot of jambalaya dishes over the years and this is by far my favorite.  My oldest remembers me making this dish back in St. Louis which was well over 5 years ago and she was only 3 or 4.  Serve some of these little jewels on the side.

chicken jambalaya (The Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup long grain rice
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
1 bay leaf
2 precooked chicken sausage links (I use a turkey keilbasa sausage)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken

In a large skillet cook celery, onion and sweet pepper in margarine or butter until vegetables are tender but not brown.  Stir in undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, uncooked rice, thyme, garlic powder, pepper, hot pepper sauce and bay leaf.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Stir in chicken and sausage (I usually brown the sausage first for extra flavor); heat through.  Makes 4 servings.

fresh pear bread

This bread is terrific and you can see the bits of diced pear when you slice into it which I think is pretty.  I sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon on top before baking for a crispy, crumbly top.

fresh pear bread (
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups peeled, cored and finely chopped pears
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; mix well.  Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; stir into the egg mixture just until moistened.  Toss pears with lemon juice.  Stir pears and walnuts into batter (batter will be thick).  Spoon into two greased 9-inch by 5-inch by 3-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

slow cooker chicken posole soup

I've always loved green enchilada sauce so much that I could drink it which is precisely what you do when you enjoy this soup.  Definitely one of my favorites and it has been a hit in our home since March 2009.

slow cooker chicken posole soup (Women's Day Magazine, March 2009)
1 can (15 ounces) hominy, drained (sometimes I throw in 1/2 cup raw brown rice instead)
1 can (14.5 ounces) Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1 large can mild green enchilada sauce (use Las Palmas brand!)
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)
chopped chilantro
tortilla chips for sprinkling
sour cream for topping

Combine hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, carrots, onion, garlic and cumin in a 4-quart slow cooker.  Add chicken and stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high 3 to 3 1/2 hours (or sometimes I cook it on low all day) until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.  Skim and discard any fat from the surface.  Remove chicken and shred.  Stir back into slow cooker.  Stir in cilantro, if using.  Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.

What I have to say- I made this soup for my parents when they were in town once and used an "off brand" of green enchilada sauce.  Big mistake.  Definitely use the Las Palmas brand.  It's the best!  Or you could use a good mild green salsa but it would take a couple jars.

Monday, October 24, 2011

crab stuffed chicken breasts

Rich and delicious.  Why go out?

crab stuffed chicken breasts
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 (7 ounce) can crab meat or use fresh
1/4 cup dry seasoned breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika

Cut a deep horizontal slit in each chicken breast.  Cook onion and celery in butter.  Remove from heat and add crab meat and breadcrumbs.  Stuff chicken with crab mixture.  Combine flour, paprika salt and pepper and coat chicken on both sides.  Drizzle with butter and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Pour sauce over chicken before serving.  Serves 6.

1 envelope Hollandaise Sauce
3/4 to 1 cup milk
1/2 cup Swiss cheese

Combine milk and Hollandaise Sauce mix in a small saucepan on medium heat.  When mixture starts to thicken add the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted and ready to serve.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

pumpkin bread

My mom always made the best pumpkin bread.  Here's the really delicious recipe!

pumpkin bread (my mom)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup nuts, optional
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water

Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Mix with chopped nuts.  Set aside.  Thoroughly beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil and water.  Fold in flour mixture.  Pour into 2 greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can add chocolate chips to the batter for a great variation!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

white chocolate dipped pear with pecans

I woke up this morning to this beautiful red pear on my counter and knew I had to do something great with it right away.  My friend Annie sent me a link to these gorgeous caramel pears but after my most recent apple dipping experience I knew I couldn't risk losing this pear to my amateur dipping skills.  I thought about these honeyed pears in puff pastry that another friend told me about but didn't have puff pastry on hand so I decided to make up this fancy(ish) treat.  Dipping fruit in chocolate is sooooo easy.  My biggest problem was deciding what to dip this pear in.  Pecans?  Cranberries?  Edible pearls?  I decided on the pecans.  A row of dipped pears would look gorgeous on a Thanksgiving table.

white chocolate dipped pear with pecans (yours truly)
beautiful red pear
white chocolate, melted in the microwave
topping of your choice

Simply dip your red pear into the chocolate (or spoon it onto the pear).  Dip or sprinkle topping on top and sit on wax paper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

chocolate pizza

My oldest went to a birthday party yesterday and came home with this fun chocolate pizza.  It's so fun to see what the hostess, Kiana does with desserts.  She showed me a photo of the basketball birthday cake and it was absolutely incredible.  Every year she lets her children design the cake they want and she makes their dreams come true.  What a gift.  When my daughter came home stuffed and didn't want dinner I asked if she had eaten anything healthy at all.  A friend of hers who was at our home took over and said, "It's impossible to eat anything healthy at Kiana's house.  She specializes in desserts."  I thought that was cute.  He went on to describe all the insanely creative cakes she has made.

chocolate pizza (my friend Kiana)
Whatever your sweet tooth desires, but there's a rice crispy crust at the bottom.

loaded breakfast casserole

Sometimes breakfast casseroles are fully loaded with carbs but not this one.  This is the way I want to start my day- protein packed!

loaded breakfast casserole (my friend Linsy posted this recipe at blog: Recipe Picnic)
12 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup flour
2 cups cottage cheese
2 teaspoons sugar (I omitted)
4 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar)
2 small cans diced green chiles
2 cups diced ham, sausage or bacon or a combination
1/2 cup butter

Beat eggs until yellow and frothy.  Mix in baking powder, sugar, flour and salt/pepper.  Mix in cottage cheese.  Add melted butter, chiles and ham.  Stir in cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned in 9x13 greased pan.

homemade butter

We went to Shelli's house for preschool this week.  Since our preschoolers have been learning about farm animals when they go to her home, this week they learned about cows and made this homemade butter and strawberry ice cream.  Then of course another button was added to their apron- a cow.  With four kids I've had the pleasure of going back to preschool four times, at least.  I love it!  Doesn't a jar of homemade butter on the table at Thanksgiving dinner sound fabulous?

homemade butter (my friend Shelli)
1 canning jar (or any kind of container with a tight-fitting lid but canning jars are so cute!)
whipping cream, at least 1/2 to 3/4 cup
salt to taste

Pour whipping cream into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Let the kids shake that jar until the cream turns to butter.  Add salt to taste or as Shelli suggested, add some honey to make honey butter.  Mmmm!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ruth's family's favorite breadsticks

These aren't only Ruth's family's favorite breadsticks they're ours too.  These breadsticks are buttery and absolutely essential when a meal contains a yummy sauce that must be sopped up.  They're super yummy on their own.  Hall of Fame!

ruth's family's favorite breadsticks (my friend Ruth D. from my days in Hershey)
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon yeast
about 3 cups flour (half whole wheat)
1/3 cup melted butter

Dissolve sugar, salt and dry milk in hot water.  Add enough flour (1 cup) to make a soupy mixture.  When the mixture is no longer hot but still warm add the yeast and stir well.  Then add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough.  Knead the dough until smooth.  Roll dough into a rectangular shape the size of your baking pan.  Spread half the butter onto the baking pan then place your dough into the pan and spread the remaining butter on top of the dough.  Top the breadsticks with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, salad seasoning salt or whatever you want (I use Pappy's Garlic & Herb).  Cut the dough into breadsticks with a pizza cutter and let raise for 10-15 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

annie's p.f. chang's lettuce wraps remade

I don't know if these taste like the lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's because I've never had them but these are great!  My friend Annie makes the most delicious lettuce wraps and she sent this recipe to me, a newer recipe.  She told me that this recipe is a lighter version and takes half the time to prepare.  Okay, that part had me.  I knew I had to try it.  The verdict:  These lettuce wraps are super tasty!  Everything considered, this is my favorite recipe of the two.  They are so much easier to make and easier to eat too- way less messy.

p.f. chang's lettuce wraps remade  (Annie found this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats)
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/2 medium onion, minced
salt and pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
dash of fresh pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 of 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped (I used celery)
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (I omitted)
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry

Heat a large nonstick skillet on high.  Add chicken, onion, salt and pepper and cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat.  Add in minced garlic and ginger, and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink.
Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, honey, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce and pepper.  Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth.  Add into the skillet and stir to combine.
Add green onions and water chestnuts (celery for me!) into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through.
Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve with cold lettuce leaves.

Monday, October 17, 2011

store bought cheese & crackers

I love Costco.  So do my parents.  Every time they come to visit us no matter where we live they always make a "Costco run" every visit without exception and they usually take my kids with them.  I eat my standard Triscuits and melted cheese with salsa several times a day between meals and never grow tired of them because they're just so good.  These cheese & crackers were a sample and were a hit with my family so my parents brought them home.  Score!  These crackers are delicious!  They are made with whole grains and seeds and are really crisp and flavorful.  Quite addictive, really.  This variety package of cheese also comes from Costco and contains Aged Cheddar, Swiss,  Smoked Gouda and Creamy Havarti.

store bought mary's gone crackers (from Costco)
ingredients: organic short grain brown rice, organic whole quinoa, organic brown flax seeds, organic brown sesame seeds, filtered water, sea salt, organic wheat-free tamari.

Organic and gluten-free!

lemon caper sole

I've been making this dish for at least 6 years now and every time I make it it's as delicious as the last.

lemon caper sole (adapted from Costco)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 (2-4 ounce) sole fillets or tilapia
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
juice of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2-4 tablespoons butter (I always omit)

Season flour with salt and peper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Dredge fillets in flour, shake of excess and place in the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes on each side then transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return pan to high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Add onion and garlic; saute until soft.  Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice and capers; cook to reduce by a third.  Turn off heat, add parsley and gradually whisk in butter.  Serve fillets with sauce.  Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

cinnamon chocolate caramel bars

These are magnificent.  Absolutely divine.  Perhaps the most delicious dessert I've ever made in my entire life.  They take a little work but are SO worth it.  A 1-inch square is all you need to be perfectly satisfied.  A killer dessert.

cinnamon chocolate caramel bars (I got this from a blog and I can't believe I didn't bookmark it!  My print-out says the source is Food Network and Giada De Laurentis although I couldn't find it online, sorry!)

12 whole cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

chocolate layer
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the crust:  Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch pan with parchment or waxed paper.  Spray the paper and sides of the pan with cooking spray.  Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar nad butter.  Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden.  Cool for 15 minutes.
For the caramel: While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar and water.  Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
For the chocolate layer:  Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes.  Remove the pan from the freezer.  Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm.
Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Using a warm, slightly wet knife, carefully cut around the edges of the chocolate layer.  Release the side of the pan and remove the paper from the bottom.  Cut into 1" squares.  Store in an airtight covered container.