Saturday, March 31, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli

 Like a lot of people I know, buffalo style anything is just an absolute favorite of mine.  This is so awesome for a game day football season is a long way off, but hey, we have the Final Four this weekend, so that'll work!  Any excuse to make this, really.  Luckily I always have homemade pizza dough (click to go to the recipe) in my freezer or fridge so that makes this just even better.  You will need to take the chill off the dough if it was in the fridge, so let it come to room temperature and then let it sit in a bowl with a dish towel on top to let it rise a bit.  If it's in the freezer, pull it out the night before and put into your fridge to thaw out.  

I use ranch because I can't stand blue cheese.  You could very easily substitute blue cheese if you prefer!  Also, I used about a 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and 1 cup of a Mexican shredded cheese blend which had Cheddar and Monterey Jack mixed with taco seasoning.  This is where you can get creative...use the kind of cheese you like best!  Just be sure to load it up, that's what makes this so good.  You could even do blue cheese crumbles at this point.

Stretch out your pizza dough to about the size of a 9x13 baking pan.  I used a pizza stone this time, but I have used a baking pan in the past and both work equally as well.  My only obstacle was getting the filled stromboli over to the pizza stone...maybe I should have assembled it on there?  Can't quite figure that one out because I keep my pizza stone in the oven as it is preheating.  I just used 2 spatulas to lift it onto the stone...kind of awkward but it worked for the most part!

2 large chicken breast, cut into cubes
2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup ranch
1 1/2 cups cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add cubed chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook chicken completely, breaking up into smaller pieces as cooking.  Meanwhile, heat the hot sauce and butter in a small pot until the butter is melted.  Remove from heat and add ranch.  When the chicken is done, remove from heat and add hot sauce mixture.

Using a slotted spoon*, place chicken right down the middle of your rolled out dough leaving about 2 inches uncovered at either end.  Top with cheese.  Fold up the ends first and then pick up one side to place over the top the chicken and cheese.  Carefully place the other side of the dough and tuck underneath so it's seam side down.  Slice a couple of holes in the top of the dough to release steam.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the dough becomes light golden brown and the cheese is melted completely.  Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

*Use a slotted spoon because if you add the chicken and all of the hot sauce mixture, it will be so soggy on the bottom of the stromboli.  Use it as a strainer. Print Friendly and PDF

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

It's not quite Summer yet - it's only been officially Spring for 10 days - but in Savannah, we've already been to the beach a couple times and it sure feels like Summer to me!  Fresh asparagus makes me think of the warmer months and this just went great with chicken we made on the grill the other night.  Easy and healthy and I guarantee that your entire family will love this recipe.  Kiddos and all!  

Serves 2-3

1 pound of asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Snap off the woody end of a piece of asparagus and use that as a guide to cut the ends of the rest of the bunch.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to make sure they are all covered.  

Roast for 12-15 minutes, until tender.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

I LOVE Mexican food...oh my goodness, I could eat it almost everyday!  These chicken enchiladas are a huge hit in my house and are just as good as anything you can get out to eat.  They don't take much time to prepare or assemble (hey, if I can do it while I have a 5 month old on my hip, then anyone can!).  The chicken is pan-steamed so there is no added oil or fats and pulls apart really easily.  

They are incredibly spicy.  You can cut the amount of chipotles in adobo or omit that all together if you want.  They add a nice smokey flavor, but the cumin and chili powder give these enchiladas most of the flavor anyway.   The cheese I used was a Mexican style blend that had Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses blended with taco seasoning.  

Serves 4

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

2 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 can reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes and sour cream (optional toppings)

In a large pan that has a tight-fitting lid, bring 1 inch of water to a boil.  Add chicken and cover; reduce the heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes then remove from heat.  Let chicken steam for another 5-10 minutes until cooked throughout.  Shred with two forks and set aside.   

While the chicken is cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Add flour, cumin, chipotles and chili powder and whisk about 1 minute.  Whisk in broth and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil.   Reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally until the sauce has thickened, 5-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and pour 1 cup of the sauce over the shredded chicken.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or something similar - I used my oval baking dish).  Warm tortillas by stacking them and wrapping with a damp paper towel; microwave for 45 seconds.  Place about a 1/3 of a cup of the chicken mixture down the middle of each tortilla and roll up.  Arrange in your pan seam side down.  Cover with remaining sauce and top with cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is hot and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(Source:  Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food)

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mini Banana Pancakes

I'm a big advocate for pancake mix in a box.  Perfect pancakes everytime and done in a flash!  Great for a weekend morning when you have a toddler, baby and 3 dogs all running around (well, not the baby...) and you need a quick breakfast.  On one occassion, I had leftover bananas and decide to throw them in.  After that instance, we never looked back.  Whenever we have bananas and we are making pancakes, they HAVE to be banana pancakes!  And these mini ones are just too cute.  Perfect for your kiddos!

 This particular cooking technique for our pancakes comes from my father-in-law (Poppi!).  Lots of butter in between each batch and you get these crispy edge pancakes that are just too good.  You don't even have to butter them after they're done!  Just add your favorite maple syrup and enjoy.  The ingredient measurements are from the pancake mix we use in our house (Krusteaz).  If you are going to make more than 4 servings, you may want to add more banana.

Makes about 18

Mini Banana Pancakes

1 1/2 cups pancake mix
1 cup water
1 banana, cut into chunks
4-5 tablespoons butter

Add a tablespoon of butter to your pan or griddle and heat on medium.  While the butter is melting, whisk pancake mix, water and bananas together.  Mash the bananas as stirring.  

Using a small cookie scoop or ladle, drop about 2 tablespoons of batter into your hot pan with the melted butter (we fit about 4 pancakes in our medium size pan - remember these are mini!).  Flip when bubbles form, about 2-3 minutes, then cook on the other side an additional 1-2 minutes.

For the next batch, put another tablespoon of butter in the pan and wait for it to melt.  Add more pancakes. Repeat until your batter is gone.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easy Lemon Bars

There is just something so refreshing about a lemon dessert made from fresh lemons.  These lemon bars definitely did not disappoint.  And to make them is a breeze!  No mixing your own dough, just use store bought sugar cookie dough - super simple!!  They were gooey and sticky and I think the ones on the edge were my favorite.  They set just a little more than the ones in the middle and had a nice little crust to them.  These bars make such a nice little treat, especially now that it's getting warmer.  The sweet and sour of the lemons totally reminds me of summer!

Makes 36 bars

1 roll sugar cookie dough
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 13x9 pan, break up the sugar cookie dough and press into the bottom of the pan with your fingers to form the crust.  Bake 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and butter until combined.  Stir in the lemon zest and juice.  Pour over warm cookie dough crust and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until the bars are set and the edges are a light golden brown.  

Let cool for about 30 minutes and dust with powdered sugar.  Use a knife dipped in hot water to cut bars.  
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Lately I've had quite the peanut butter and oats obsession.  And not necessarily together, just anything peanut butter and anything that has oats in it!  But, of course, together is excellent.  I stumbled across these on Pinterest (well, where else?) and adapted it to the ingredients that I had in my pantry.  I am in love.  Not only are these super simple but they are definitely way healthier than any other cookie I make.  Or anything I make for that matter.  Bananas, yum.  Peanut butter, yum.  Chocoloate chips?  Double yum.  No eggs or sugar...see?  Healthy!  Yay!  Thanks Lux Hippie for the inspiration! 

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

3 ripe bananas, mashed
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups oats
1/2 cup flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer) combine the bananas, maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla until creamy.  In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  These don't spread, so you can put them pretty close on your baking sheet. 

(Source:  Adapted from Lux Hippie)

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Carbonara with Fresh Fettuccine

I am incredibly addicted to my KitchenAid mixer...I feel like I use it practically everyday.  There are a ton of attachments that you can purchase for it and the one that I have been wanting for YEARS is the one that makes fresh pasta.  I asked for it from my dad for Christmas and had not had a chance to use it yet (mainly because I just didn't have the time or the energy) but finally decided this past weekend it was about time!  It was SO much fun!!!  I was practically giddy.  It brought back so many memories of my Italian grandma...her kitchen just littered with racks of drying pasta.  We used to sneak pieces of it to munch on, what a great memory.  She was my Nona (although I know that the correct way to spell it is Nonna) and now my dad is Nonno to my babies!  

Anyway, Nonno was visiting and we thought what better way to break in my pasta maker.  And, this is what we made!  So creamy, so decadent and just delicious.  Certainly not good for you, but a little indulgence is good for ya every once in awhile!  :)  The recipe for the dough said it made 1 1/4 pounds of pasta.  I just tried to judge and use about a pound of it for us, so if you're using dried pasta, use a pound also.

6 servings

1/2 pound bacon
5 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cream or milk
1 1/4 cups of Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound of fettuccine (fresh or dried)

Cook bacon until crisp and can be crumbled.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, cream, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to directions (fresh pasta takes 2-5 minutes).

Drain pasta, but do not rinse.  While the pasta is still hot, return to the pot and quickly toss with the bacon and egg mixture.  It's important to work quickly so the heat from the pasta will cook the egg mixture but not curdle.  Toss with remaining Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.   

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos

Are you ready for how freaking simple this is?  I literally assembled the first steps of this in maybe 2 minutes. And it makes a ton!!  Six large burritos is definitely being generous...I probably had enough to do closer to 8.  Needless to say, we ate this for a couple nights in a row and were lucky enough to have my dad visiting so we could share it with him, too!

My daughter, who is 2, also learned a new word, "spicy."  Jules is so good about eating whatever we make, but sometimes if I feel like something is too spicy for her, I will make her something separate.  Honestly, I shouldn't even be worried about it...Jules loves her chicken spicy (ha, Seinfeld)!  She could not get enough of these burritos and then kept fanning her mouth like it was too hot (but kept going back for more).  It all depends on the type of salsa you use because that is the only thing adding any heat to this.  I used medium and it had just the right kick. 

6 servings

Crock Pot Chicken Burritos

2 large frozen chicken breasts
2 cups salsa (your favorite)
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 8oz brick of reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light ranch dressing
Cooked rice
Large flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (I used a taco blend, but it's your preference)

With your Crock Pot on high, put in your chicken breasts followed by the black beans, corn and salsa.  Let cook for 5-7 hours until the chicken is cooked through and can be shredded.  

Once cooked through, remove your chicken, shred and put back into the Crock Pot.  Add the cream cheese and ranch and continue cooking on low until the cream cheese is melted, for at least 1/2 hour.  Meanwhile, make your rice for the burritos.  

On the flour tortillas, place a layer of the chicken mixture, followed by the rice, then cheese.  Roll and Enjoy!!  
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Balsamic Vinaigrette and Marinade

This is my go-to dressing for salads, sandwiches or marinading chicken.  It's super simple and amazing on a Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil).  We also do our version of this as a sandwich, just tomato, fresh slices of mozzarella on ciabatta rolls.  A little mayo, spoon the vinaigrette over the mayo and assemble your's to die for!  Use it as a marinade for grilled chicken - I would double or triple this recipe if you use it for that so you have enough.  There are just so many uses and possibilities!  As I make new and different things with this, I'll continue to share and post recipes.  Enjoy!

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt (use Kosher or freshly cracked sea salt)

Combine all the ingredients and whisk together!  Serve over your favorite salad or use as marinade for chicken. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Glaze

These pumpkin cookies are so soft and the glaze is just the right touch to put these right over the top. This is a classic pumpkin recipe from Libby's Pumpkin, but I did substitute the original spices for pumpkin pie spice.  These are like mini spice cakes!  I have quite an excess of pumpkin in my house because I tend to overstock when it comes out around fall time.  I don't know about where you live, but I cannot get canned pumpkin until it's like September!  So, I have a can or two in the pantry and even some in the freezer...I think I'm good for another dozen or so pumpkin recipes!  Guess I'll have to get thinking!!   

Makes 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl.  With an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until well mixed.  Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla until combined.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until firm.  Cool completely on wire cooling rack and drizzle with glaze.  

Combine all ingredients until smooth.  Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over the cookies by dipping it into bowl and waving the spoon back and forth over the cookies.  
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Spicy Mayonaise Chicken

Sounds weird, right?  I don't know if I would have made this if I had not watched Bobby Deen make this on Paula's show...and sorry the picture doesn't really do it justice!!  This recipe is adapted from the Deen brothers and I really only tried it because I make something really similar with mayo, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese...and anything spicy is ok in my book.  As I was making this, I was really unsure because the combination of the all the ingredients didn't really seem to fit one another - lemon zest and cayenne?  But, oh my, this was unbelievable.  And the  mayonnaise mixture that you spread on the chicken is AMAZING mixed with mashed potatoes.  You gotta try this!! 

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup mayo
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the chicken breasts in half so you are cutting like you are opening a book (this will make 4 thin chicken breasts).  

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon zest, paprika, celery seeds, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a baking dish and slather the mayonnaise mixture over the chicken.  Bake about 20-25 minutes until the chicken is done (juices should run clear when pricked with a fork).  
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Granola

What a great snack this is!!  My husband has been on this healthy, yogurt and granola parfait kick lately and I thought I would give homemade a try - so much cheaper than buying it at the store!  And you can add your own mix-ins to make it your way.  I was thinking dried cranberries would be a great addition.  Dried apples, walnuts, almonds, chocolate chips, dates, even pumpkin seeds...I could go on and on.  This turned out really sweet and good, but I think I would've liked it to be a little clumpier.  Like so you can eat it in bite size pieces.  I'll have to try adding a little more liquid (probably the maple syrup) next time.  If you want to add more than one type of nut, I would do 3 cups of oats and 1 cup each of the nuts.  

Makes about 5 cups

4 cups rolled oats (I had the quick cooking kind in my cabinet)
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut and brown sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and salt.  Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  

Remove from oven and transfer to a big bowl.  Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed (if adding chocolate chips, I would wait until it cools so they don't melt!).

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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