March 30, 2015

Melting Potatoes



Spring break is here!  Finally!  I might be more excited about it then my daughter.  It seems like it's been such a long time since out last break. Do you have any big plans for your spring break? 

One thing I'm always on the look out for is a great side dish.  We usually end up with the old standby of some frozen veggies or a salad but once in a while it would be nice to have something a little, you know, fancier. 

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew I wanted to make it.  I did, that night and guess what? I used a glass baking dish and it shattered into a million pieces in my oven.  But on the bright side, they smelled really good even though it was smeared on the inside of my oven.  Yea, sometimes I don;t read the ENTIRE recipe thoroughly first.  This might have cured me of that bad habit. 

Cut to a week later when I tried it again using a METAL baking dish.  Amazing how well it worked and with no glass to clean up!  Yay!  This recipe does take a little time but it's very worth it.  The crispy flavorful potatoes really do melt in your mouth.  Great flavor from the butter, seasonings and broth.  Great side dish. 

Melting Potatoes


Ingredients
  • 3 pounds gold potatoes, peeled
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 500º
  2. Place the rack in the upper middle position.
  3. Mix the melted butter, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. 
  4. Cut the peeled potatoes into 3/4 inch to 1 inch sized slices.  Square off the ends to allow for easier flipping.   
  5. Toss the potatoes in the prepared butter mixture and arrange in a single layer in a 9x13 inch metal baking dish.  Reserve the remaining butter mixture.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes. 
  7. Use a spatula to flip over the potatoes and cook for an additional 15 minutes. 
  8. Use a spatula to flip over one more time but this time add the garlic and chicken broth as well. Cook for another 15 minutes or until they are tender. 
  9. Baste the potatoes in the remaining sauce and serve. 
*The first time I made this recipe I used a glass baking dish, when I added the broth it exploded. Don't be like me. Use metal. 

March 23, 2015

Homemade Reese's Candy


Easters sneaking up on us so I figured I'd better get started making some deliciousness for you guys.  This one has been on my list to try for a while.  Those little chocolate covered peanut butter eggs are addictive and so are these!  I personally think they taste even better than the store bought kind. 

No baking required, if you don't have a mixer that's OK too.  There's nothing stopping you from whipping some of these up for Easter (or anytime). Lots of sweetened peanut butter yumminess in the middle, covered in a layer of chocolate.  Feel free to use whatever is your favorite type of chocolate too.  I really want to try these with some dark chocolate next time. 

Perfect little treat for the kids this Easter!

Homemade Reese's Candy
Recipe from The Recipe Critic


Ingredients
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1-2 bags milk chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the powdered sugar, peanut butter, melted butter and milk. Start mixer on low speed until it begins to incorporate, then turn to medium and mix until combined.  The mixture will look a little dry and that's OK. 
  2. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface or on some waxed paper until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a cookie cutter (egg shape for a traditional Reese's Egg) or any shape.  You can even use a knife to cut a design. 
  3. Place the shapes on a cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour. 
  4. Melt a bag of chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp of shortening until smooth.  Usually you can microwave in 30 second increments and then a stir, repeat until smooth. 
  5. Dip each cut out piece in chocolate and place on wax paper until set. Place leftovers in an airtight container or bag and refrigerate or even freeze. 

March 20, 2015

Chinese Orange Chicken



Another chicken recipe that I'm in love with.  I'm really getting into this chicken idea.  I might end up liking it after all. I could eat this chicken recipe every week, and I would if it weren't for the frying part.  Not that I mind eating fried stuff, but that act of actually frying is more than I could do on a weekly basis. 

I absolutely adore how crunchy the chicken gets and then it's covered in this delicious thick orange sauce.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Traditionally served over rice, I skipped that step.  I needed all the extra room I could get inside my belly for this deliciousness. 
Chinese Orange Chicken
Recipe from Cooking Classy


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 Tbsp grated yellow onion, and the juices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce (optional)
  • black or white pepper, finely ground to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • diced green onion for garnish
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan add the chicken broth, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, onion, garlic and sriracha.  Whisk together and then pour out 2/3 of a cup. 
  2. In a gallon sized zip lock bag add the chicken pieces and pour the 2/3 cup of reserved sauce over the top.  Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. While the chicken is marinading, turn the heat on under the saucepan full of sauce, bring to a boil.  In a small bowl add together 2 Tbsp of the cornstarch and 2 Tbsp of the water and then add it to the sauce.  Heat on medium low for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit until needed. 
  4. Pour enough vegetable oil in a dutch oven to measure about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep.  Heat to 350º. 
  5. Meanwhile whisk the eggs in one dish and put the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cornstarch in another dish. 
  6. When the oil is ready, remove the chicken from the bag and dump out the leftover marinated from the chicken bag. Roll the chicken in the egg and then the cornstarch and then put in the oil.  Let fry until golden brown, remove to a paper towel lined cookie sheet.  Work in batches until they are all cooked.  
  7. Roll the fried chicken around in the thickened sauce and serve hot.  Top with green onions if desired. 

March 18, 2015

PW's Homemade Frappuccino




I don't even like coffee.  But I like coffee ice cream and this recipe is more like that flavor.  Creamy, chocolately, cold and delicious. 

Mind you, there is nothing skinny about this drink.  Think of it more as a drinkable dessert. I even made a tiny version for my daughter and she loved it.  I used decaffeinated coffee and didn't make it as strong as The Pioneer Woman suggested, mostly because I'm not a normal coffee drinker. 

You might be wondering why I even bothered trying this if I'm not a coffee drinker. 

Well, I like coffee ice cream.  I like the smell of coffee.  With enough cream and sugar poured in I'll even drink coffee on occasion. So, that's why I tried it.  I was having a hankering. I'm very glad I did try it because now I have a coffee drink that I actually like.  I might even try to order one at an actual coffee shop.  Baby steps. 


My daughters mini version.  She loved it!

PW's Homemade Frappuccino
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 12 ounces very strong coffee or espresso
  • 8 ounces whole milk (or any milk)
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • whipped cream
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Make the very strong coffee or espresso and refrigerate until cold.
  2. Mocha Frappuccino: Pour the coffee into a blender and add the milk, condensed milk, and vanilla extract.  Top off with ice and blend until smooth.  Add some additional half n half if you'd like to make it creamier. Top with whipped cream and some chocolate sauce. 
  3. Vanilla Frappuccino: Pour the coffee into a blender and add the milk, condensed milk, vanilla extract and chocolate syrup to the blender.  Top with ice and blend until smooth.  Add some additional half n half if you want it a little creamier. 
  4. Mocha Chip Frappuccino: Pour the coffee into a blender and add the milk, condensed milk, vanilla extract and chocolate syrup and chocolate chips to the blender. Top with ice and blend until smooth.  Add additional half n half to make it creamier. 

March 12, 2015

Lemon Chicken Piccata



The weather in the South is schizophrenic. One day of 70's, the next day of 40's. I know you are all experiencing the same thing.  I never know how to dress from one day to the next! Although, I do feel like spring is almost upon us.  A couple more cold days in the ten day forecast but for the most part its definitely warming up. 

I continue to try to amp up my taste for chicken.  I made a very important step in that process by brining the chicken first.  Great improvement.  Not that I would sit down and eat a brined grilled chicken breast anytime soon but it's getting better. I need lots of flavor on chicken.  This recipe has that. 

First off, I love that you cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise first.  This allows for more lemon flavor and less big chunks of meat.  That's part of my problem with chicken breasts, too much white meat in a bite.  I need more sauce on less chicken.  That's just how I roll. 

Secondly, this is easy to put together and even though there are some steps, they aren't major.  You can get this ready pretty quickly.  I enjoyed it very much, and coming from a non-chicken lover, that's sayin' somethin'.
Lemon Chicken Piccata
Recipe from jo cooks


Ingredients
  • 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half length wise.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1/4 to 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dredging
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup brined capers
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley flakes, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter and the olive oil.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken and then dredge in the flour, shake off the excess. Place in the hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown, flip over and do the same to the other side.
  3. Remove from the pan and remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice, broth (or wine) and capers and place back over the heat. Heat to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
  4. Add the chicken breasts back in and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken again and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Whisk until slightly thickened.
  5. You can either add the chicken back into the pan and put the parsley on top or you can plate the chicken and pour the sauce over the top and add the parsley.

March 10, 2015

Creamy Spinach and Tomato Tortellini


So, this daylight savings change has really screwed me up this time.  I mean, it's been harder than usual.  Waking up while it's still dark outside just seems so wrong.

On the upside, I made this Tortellini dish on Saturday, before the sleep deprivation kicked in.

There are lots of reasons I love this dish.  It doesn't take long to make, less than 30 minutes.  It tastes fantastic and even though it's main component is cheese tortellini it also has spinach and tomato so I'm still classifying it as healthy-ish.  Just kidding, it's not skinny food, that's for sure. The creamy sauce is so delicious and comforting. Perfect meal to just snack on or to have as a side.  I made it at a cookout I was invited to (yes we had a day nice enough to cook out in) and I thought it was a great accompaniment with burgers.


Creamy Spinach and Tomato Tortellini
Recipe from Bombshell Bling


Ingredients
  • 1 (8 oz) bag dried or (16 oz) fresh Tortellini
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated or finely shredded
Cooking Directions
  1. Follow the instructions on the tortellini to cook the pasta.
  2. While the pasta cooks, use a large skillet to briefly warm the minced garlic. About 30 seconds.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, spinach, salt and pepper, dried basil and onion flakes. Cook over medium heat until it bubbles. 
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the half and half until mostly smooth. 
  5. Add the half and half mixture to the skillet along with the Parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated.  Heat to a boil and then reduce to medium low heat and let thicken, about 5 minutes. 
  6. Add in the drained tortellini and stir well.  Serve. 

March 4, 2015

Basic Chicken or Turkey Brine


8:00 am
As I've mentioned several times on here before, I'm not a huge fan of chicken.  Especially boneless skinless chicken breasts.  So, I decided to try a brine, I'm told it's life changing.  I've read that once you brine you never go back.  I'm looking forward to all of this being true.  I'm obviously having chicken for dinner so I'll get back to you. 

5:30 pm
Well, I can tell you that I had a delicious dinner tonight.  Really really good, moist and juicy. I made Lemon Chicken Piccata, which was yummy.  I still have two brined chicken breasts that I plan to cook tomorrow, but based on tonight's meal I think I'm going to enjoy it very much. 

Basic Chicken or Turkey Brine
Recipe from Food.com


Ingredients
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (1/4 cup table salt)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Marinate your chicken in this liquid for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  2. This recipe can be used with parts as well as the whole bird.