Monthly Archives: May 2015

Crispy Chicken Summer Salad

This is a summer staple in my home.  The salad part does it for me and the crispy, fried chicken gets my husband to eat it ;). Seriously though, the crunchy chicken gets me too…

I thought I’d just “make a salad” one hot day and then one thing led to another and I’m in the kitchen with my cast iron frying chicken and making candied pecans..so much for just an easy salad, right?  However, I am super glad that I did!  The flavors are just right, the textures are perfect together and since I got a pan out, I can consider this ‘cooking’ and write it up!  

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg chicken tenderloins (or breast cut into strips)
  • 1 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten w/ tbsp water
  • Romain, spinach, iceberg mix, chopped
  • 1/2 Cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup candied pecans
  • 1/2 Bleu cheese crumbles
  • Raspberry vinaigrette dressing 
  • Croutons (optional)
  • Blueberries (optional)
  • Canola oil
  • Salt & Pepper  

I like to prep all my veggies/fruit first with this simple recipe.  So that once I am finished frying up the chicken, all you have to do is toss it in a bowl together.

So clean and chop your lettuces, hull and quarter your berries, and slice and dice your cucumbers and onion….Normally, I suggest buying premade candied pecans for ease, but I forgot.  Soooo, I made some real quick by toasting my chopped nuts in a bit of oil in a skillet with a good dash of sugar and cinnamon.  Tasted just fine.

Onto the meat-of-the-matter, or in this case would it be poultry-of-the-matter??  Anyway, have three dishes ready and 2 plates (1 plate for the precooked/coated chicken and the other for the finished chicken).

In your first dish, add a cup of flour and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  In your second dish, beat your one egg with a tbsp of cold water till frothy.  In your third dish, add a cup of Panko breadcrumbs and also sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Going in order, dredge your chicken lightly in the flour, then the egg and finally the Panko.  Set coated chicken onto a plate.

  
In a large pan (preferably cast-iron) heat enough oil to come up 1/4 of the side to med/med-high heat.  Add in your tenders a couple at a time.  Do not overcrowd.  Depending on thickness, cook each side of tender for 2-3 minutes or until they’re a nice golden, crunchy brown!  Set cooked chicken aside on a paper towel lined plate.

 

Assembly time!  In a bowl, layer your lettuce along with the strawberries, cucumbers and onion.  Slice your chicken and place on top.  Sprinkle with Bleu cheese crumbles and the pecans and a bit of the raspberry vinaigrette.  I like a few crunchy croutons as well myself.  Enjoy this sweet, tangy, crunchy and refreshing salad…it’s delightful! 

 

Turkey, Brie & Apple Pockets

The options of fillings on these are limitless and trust me..I’ve tried a few, even breakfast.  However,…..nothinnggg that I’ve found and tried beats this one.  These are knock your socks off good!!  Did I just sound old there?? 😉

This is barely even considered ‘cooking’, besides the fact that you have to turn on your oven for 20minutes.  The great thing is no one will be the wiser.  This tastes like a picnic at the park or fancy bistro fare.   It’s kind of impressive.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cans crescent roll dough
  • 1/2 lb quality, deli turkey breast, thin slices
  • 8oz of Brie cheese, 8 thin slices
  • 1-2 apples, thin slices
  • 2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly spray. With the first roll of crescent dough, which I have my husband open due to my irrational fear of them ‘popping’ open (hell, I’d even walk to a neighbor before I opened one of those alone), start taking the precut triangles apart. You will place 4 on each baking sheet.  However, first you must stretch them to literally double in size.  You can either gently pull and press with your fingertips or lightly flour and use a rolling pin or wine bottle.    Now with 4 dough triangles on each sheet, let’s cut them apples!  I have no rhyme or reason to how I cut them, but I just like them in thin slices.  I also prefer to leave the skins on.  Do what you wish..  After your apple(s) have been sliced, just toss in the spicy brown mustard, the honey and the cinnamon.  Mix well…these are weirdly delicious.  Like seriously..     While my apples are soaking up that sweet & tangy concoction, I slice the Brie cheese, thinly as well!   Assembly time!!!  Take 1-2 slices of your turkey (I’m sure any turkey would work here, but I honestly use our grocers REAL oven-roasted, sliced at a 1 or 2..it’s way, way better than Boars Head, etc even!) and lay lengthwise on your dough.  Follow that with 3-4 Apple slices and your Brie Cheese.       With your second can of crescent dough, do the same as above.  Carefully press or roll out till doubled. Make an egg wash with the 1 egg and a splash of water.  Beat together till lightly frothy. Lay each of the 8 extra dough triangles overtop your assembled “pockets”.  This is where you realize how great it is to thinly slice all of your ingredients.  Press each side together and crimp with a fork.  Do not worry AT ALL about it looking pretty, you know I like things rustic!  Also, if you have any tears on the top, you can always mend it with a bit of extra dough from the corners or just let that gooey Brie ooze right on out!  Brush the tops and crimped edges with the egg wash you just made.  This will make a beautiful golden crust and keep it slightly crisp.  Bake these for 12-15 minutes till beautifully browned!  They’re best served straight out of the oven or at room temperature…just be careful because that cheese is hot!  These are soooooo good!!! 

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pasta

Traditional marinara sauce can get boring..but a roasted red pepper sauce??  Let’s try!!  This is easy to make and will give your tastebuds a nice treat and dinnertime a kick!

While watching some of my favorite shows on my beloved Food Network, I saw two “chefs” have similar recipes like this (I use the word chef loosely because they’re not formally trained, but fantastic cooks nonetheless).

Anywaayy, I combined the two ideas, tweaked a few things and the end result has won rave reviews with my friends and family.  Again, even my two toddlers approve and that’s saying something!

So feel free to give this recipe a try when your family’s response to what they’d like for dinner is “I don’t care..” Man, I hate that one 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, sliced
  • 12oz+ penne pasta
  • 15oz jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Basil, fresh torn
  • Kosher salt & pepper 

We’ll start this pasta delight with prepping some of the veggies.  Slighty chop up the roasted red peppers (drained from jar), dice the onion and mince those garlic cloves.


Now, start the water for your pasta.  Bring to a boil and cook till one minute under your package directions.  They will finish cooking in your roasted red pepper purée.

You’ll also want to start the sliced Italian sausage links in a separate pan.  Cook till browned.


Now to make that rich and creamy sauce!  In a heavy bottom pot, heat 1/2 of the butter (2tbsp) over med-high heat.  Add in your onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Next add in the roasted red peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes till heated through.

*your water should be boiling about now to add in your pasta.

After the veggie mix is softened and hot, spoon into a food processor (you can use a blender as well, just make sure to secure the lid while holding a hand towel.  The hot liquid and normal blenders don’t mix well and can explode).

Pulse this mix till pretty smooth.  A few veggie chunks left are still great for texture.

  

In the same heavy bottomed pot on med heat, add in the last two Tbsp’s of butter.  Pour the pepper purée back in with the chicken broth/stock, heavy cream, salt and pepper.

  
The noodles should be just about done now, so really quick, grate 3/4 cup of parmesan and give a rough chop to your parsley & basil leaves.  Ladle your pasta noodles directly into your sauce along with the chopped herbs and 3/4 cup cheese.  Toss together.

  

Lastly, mix in your now cooked Italian sausage straight into your dressed pasta and get garnishes ready to serve!

Plate your pasta with an extra serving a grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle of torn parsley and basil.  Enjoy!

Twice Baked Shepards Pie

Wow!  This is honestly such a cool recipe in both taste and presentation.  Plus, if you have some hungry people in your life, these are sure to fill them up all while being inexpensive too!  

A fancy Sunday dinner in my home consists of steak and twice baked potatoes…crunchy, salty potato skin filled with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes!   …and then I thought about how your normal Shepard’s Pie has that same mashed tater ‘crust’.  So why not combine the two??  Duh!! Genius I tell ya 😉💡

You can also make these a healthy way too!  Why not use a sweet potato, ground turkey or double veggies and a cauliflower mash on top?!   I’ll stick with my comfort version, but the healthy one can be all yours 😉 

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk or heavy cream 
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil  

Let’s bake some potatoes friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  With a fork, poke your potato about 6-8 times.  Coat each of these ginormous potatoes with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt.  Place the potatoes DIRECTLY onto the oven rack.  You can put a baking sheet under them on the rack below to catch any drippings.  These will bake for 1 hour. 


While the potatoes are baking, chop up your onion, carrot & garlic.  Chop the vegetables in uniform size to ensure they cook evenly. 


In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat.  Toss in your carrots and cook till just about soft (5 minutes).  Next add in your onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. 

  


Once the onions start ‘sweating’ their juices, add in the ground beef, thyme and salt & pepper.  Cook the meat till browned, about 10-12 minutes.


After your ground beef is cooked through and onions & carrots are soft, drain just a little of the grease (reserve some in pot).  Sprinkle in the flour one Tbsp at a time.  Quickly mix this in with your meat & veggie blend.  The flour will bind it all together and really thicken it up fast! 

   

Now to finish up your Shepards Pie filling!  Add in your broth, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire, peas & garlic.  Give it a good stir and bring heat down to a simmer.  This will cook down quite a bit and thicken up after 20-30 minutes.  It has SUCH a great, rich color to it!

   

While your filling is simmering away, your baked potatoes should be done.  Remove after the hour is up and allow to cool a bit, you need to be able to handle them.  Also, bump that oven up to 400 degrees.

Have a large bowl ready with the remaining butter already in it.  Cut each potato in half lengthwise.  With a spoon (carefully) scoop out about 90% of the potatoes flesh and put into the bowl.  Careful NOT to break that potatoes skin!  *I like to almost ‘outline’ where I’ll be scooping out, keep just enough flesh against the potatoes skin to keep its shape.  Place these hollowed out skins onto a baking sheet.

 With the potato flesh and butter now in the bowl, pour in your milk or heavy cream and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Now mash away!!  Or for creamier mashed potatoes, use an immersion blender if you have one available. 

Have ready your shredded cheddar and chopped parsley.

   

Once you’ve finished the potatoes, your meat filling will be cooked down and ready to go!!  The assembly step can be a bit messy, but that’s ok!  That just means it’s going to be good….

Scoop a hefty amount of your meat & veggie mix straight into your potato skin shell.   Next is the mashed potato layer.  Go ahead and be liberal with that amount as well!  What the heck right? 😉  *you of course can make this “pretty” and use an icing bag to add the mashed potato layer, but I like it more rustic myself.

 

Top each filled, potato off with a good amount of cheddar cheese and pop these bad boys in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Oh my, my, my…. 

 

Once time is up, remove from the oven and sprinkle with some chopped, fresh parsley for added flavor and color.  There you have it…Twice Baked Shepard’s Pie!! Enjoy! 

 

Raspberry Chipotle & Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken

You know that appetizer at holiday parties where the host has a brick of cream cheese and pours the sweet, yet spicy raspberry chipotle sauce over top and serves with crunchy crackers??  Well, here’s the dinner version!

I was craving that flavor combination and just knew it would be great with chicken!  I was correct! 😉 An awesome thing about this meal is A. There are just a few ingredients and B. With prep time and cooking time, it was on the table in an hour!  Excellent!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, slightly flattened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup raspberry chipotle sauce
  • 1 bunch green onion, sliced
  • Chili powder
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Jalapeño, sliced (optional)
  • Butcher twine or Toothpicks

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Liberally season each side of the chicken breasts with your kosher salt & pepper and chili powder.

Butterfly your chicken breast and if they’re pretty thick, flatten just a little bit with a roller, mallet or heavy bottomed pan.  Season the inside with a bit more chili powder. *If the breast are on the thinner side, you can just make a “pocket” in the center of each breast, instead of fully butterflying them.

In a small bowl, combine your softened cream cheese with about a 1/3 cup of sliced green onions and a pinch of salt & pepper.

After your cream cheese mix is combined, spread equal amounts down the middle of each breast or into the “pocket” you made. *Here is where I was a dummy and forgot to take a picture for ya..oops!  Roll or fold the breast to almost conceal the cheese mix and either toothpick shut or tie with butcher twine.  Lay each stuffed chicken breast onto your baking sheet.


Now glaze your chicken AALLLL over with a good coating of the raspberry chipotle sauce.  If you have any extra sauce, leave at room temp (or warm) and drizzle over your finished, cooked chicken.

Place the chicken (on the baking sheet) into the oven.  This will cook for 30minutes (here’s where I finish up my sides and pick up the used dishes) 🙂

Once chicken is cooked through, but still juicy, remove from oven and cut off the twine/remove those toothpicks.  Be careful, it’s hot!!

Plate your creamy, sweet and spicy stuffed chicken with seasoned black beans and rice, yum!! *I prefer to garnish ours with an extra drizzle of sauce, the rest of my sliced green onions and a couple thinly sliced jalapeños for some added heat!

 

Lakeside Esquites 

Growing up in in Arizona & San Diego, now living in Tejas and visiting the real deal Mexico..Esquites is a great ‘thing’ and like dessert for me.  It’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s spicy, great with a cerveza, & an all around treat!

Mexican Street Corn is crazy easy to make, not too much involved, but what is there is complex enough for the best of them!!

All who know me, know I love and enjoy cooking for my friends..but given we live lakeside, I also like casual meals and snacks too..this one is great on the dock, trust me!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 ears of corn, husked and silks removed
  • 3/4 cup of Mexican sour cream or crema 
  • 5 Tbsp butter, softened unsalted
  • 1/4 cup cotija or queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground chili powder
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges
  • Awesome white mini-cup and plastic spoon optional, it’s authentic in my hood! 😉

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

We’ll start this street vendor delicacy by cleaning up the corn.  Remove the husks and silk the best that you can..if you have the teensiest bit of ‘silk’ left, no crime has been commited.  Place the corn cobs onto a baking sheet and spray or coat lightly with oil and salt.


Turn the oven up to broil now.  Place your tray of corn about 6″ under the broiler and let cook and brown!  Check frequently and turn corn often.
 Remove from your oven once cooked (but still crisp, about 10-15 minutes).  Let sit until cool enough to touch.  They’re pretty dang hot at this point!

Meanwhile, in a large bowl add in your softened butter and sour cream/crema.

Cut the corn kernels off of the cob and scrape into your large bowl.  Once all cobs are done, mix well to evenly distribute the cream, butter and corn.

   Now you’re welcome to serve this however your heart desires..as a ‘casserole’ with all garnishes atop the large bowlful or individually in cute cups.  Top either with a healthy dose of ground chili powder, crumbled dry Mexican cheese, chopped cilantro and a lime wedge for squeezin’!

Today, I went with individual servings…luckily for myself, #HEB grocery store had the perfect white “street” style cups on sale!!  Yep!  I also had red plastic spoons on hand from Parker’s 2nd birthday party.  All that combined and the garnish…the most PERFECT Esquites (Street Corn) this side of Mexico!  We’re ready for cocktails and the lake!


*Absolutely feel free to grill or boil your corn!  You can even use frozen cobs or frozen kernels in general on a baking sheet or sauté pan! 🙂

Cranberry Granola Breakfast Cookies

Trying to figure out what to call these was harder than making them..is it a cookie?  A teeny tiny scone?  A fluffy granola bar?  So yeah, it’s kind of a delicious hybrid.

How this came about was my sweet, sweet lil boy was sick and wouldn’t eat a thing!  In turn making me feel horrible..then one morning he told me he wanted a ‘cookie’!  At this point I would of given him whatever he wanted to get food in his belly, but…. I figured why not add some nutrients??  *disclaimer, I’m not claiming these to be “healthy” but they’re more nutrient full than your average triple chocolate chip! 😉

All in all they’re pretty yummy and I can promise you that if your picky child won’t eat breakfast, offer him one of these cookies..and a piece of fruit of course! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 cup granola
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl we’ll start with some of our dry ingredients.  Mix together the granola, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. 

Next up, your stand mixer..in goes your softened butter and both the granulated & brown sugars.  Beat those together about 4 minutes till light & creamy.  Slowly, add one egg in at a time and your pure vanilla extract.

Once combined evenly, pour in your dry mix (little by little) till the beater has fully incorporated it. 

Ok, the hard part is done and you’re getting closer to your reward… Take the bowl off of the stand mixer base and fold in your cranberries, chocolate and chopped nuts. 

Roll 2″ balls of dough and place about 1-2 inches apart on prepared, parchment-paper lined baking sheets.  This dough is a lil sticky, recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies. 

Bake your goodies for 10 minutes, then allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!! 

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