Monday, April 30, 2012

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

And yes, they are healthy!!  I added the chocolate chips because I have to have chocolate, but really, the mini chocolate chips compliment all of these flavors so well.  What a great way to get fiber, protein and lots of energy from these tasty, good for you muffins.  The wheat germ is optional, I just threw that in for an added nutrient...if you have it, throw it in for sure.  Wheat germ is an excellent way to get iron, vitamin E, calcium, vitamins A and B...the list goes on and on.  SO good for you!  I highly recommend having it around anyway.  I love how moist these muffins are in the middle.  I also liked having the banana mashed but still a little chunky so you get a bite of it here and there, not just the flavor of it.  These are great for breakfast or as an after school snack...I know you're whole family will love them (this recipe is very easy to double).  

Makes 6 muffins

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 banana, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 6 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, light brown sugar, baking powder and kosher salt.  Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Mix the ingredients together.  Add in the mashed banana, peanut butter and chocolate chips. Combine all of the ingredients.  Using an ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop, fill each cup on the muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 25 minutes.


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Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls

Don't you just love Chinese food?  We order out a couple of times of month...those nights where there's no way I'm cooking.  We've all had them, right?  I always order an egg roll with my chicken and broccoli (my husband and I are such creatures of habit - we ALWAYS order the same thing) so I was extremely excited to discover that you can buy egg roll wrappers at the grocery store.   I've made Southwestern egg rolls many times and was actually planning on doing that again as a fun Saturday night appetizer (or dinner), when I realized that I didn't have any black beans.  Yea, I could have done without, but I don't think they would've been as good.  We LOVE barbecue chicken in my house...on the grill, as a sandwich, on nachos...you name it.  So, this is what I came up with.  They were scrumptious!!  Crispy on the outside and just that right amount of softness in the middle that is typical of a traditional egg roll.  

Definitely use your favorite or go-to barbecue sauce.  We love Sweet Baby Ray's, so tangy and such a great flavor.  Monterey Jack cheese would be great in these also; I used a Mexican blend with 4 different types of cheese and some taco seasoning mixed in.  I was horrible at rolling egg rolls until I took time to read the instructions on the back of the packaging...seriously?!  It's so easy.  So, you can read my instructions because I took them right off of the egg roll package, but there are pictures too, so definitely refer back to that once you're ready to roll em' up.  It's so fun!!   



 Makes 6-8 Egg Rolls

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1/2 tablespoon spicy Montreal grill seasoning
1 tablespoon minced jalapenos
3/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
3-4 cups vegetable oil 

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken and grill seasoning and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through, breaking up into smaller pieces as it cooks.  Once the chicken is done, add the jalapenos and saute for another minute.  Remove from heat and add cheese and barbecue sauce; stir until the cheese is melted.

In a medium, deep pot, add the vegetable oil (enough that the egg rolls will be completely covered) and heat between medium and medium high heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, start assembling your egg rolls.  Place each egg roll in front of you so it looks like a diamond and add about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture across the center.  Fold bottom corner over filling and roll snugly half-way to cover filling.  Tightly fold in both sides against filling and moisten edges of last flap.  Roll up and seal top corner, lay flap side down until ready to fry.  

Once the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees, add half of the egg rolls and cook until crispy and golden brown on the outside, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Repeat with remaining egg rolls.  Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.  


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Coconut Shrimp

I love me some shrimp.  Any which way...steamed, fried, roasted, in pasta, you name it, I'll eat it!  Like Elaine on Seinfeld, who said, "I love shrimp.  I'm a shrimp eater.  You put shrimp in front of me and I'll eat it until my stomach pops!"  Don't you feel like anything you do in your daily life can be referenced back to Seinfeld?  I don't know, maybe it's just my family...

Anyway, these coconut shrimp are just amazing...sweet and crunchy and the perfect size to just pop into your mouth.  This took absolutely no time to prepare or make.  I mean, shrimp literally take minutes to cook, any which way you make them.  I served mine with a sweet chili sauce, right out of the bottle.  It added a little more sweetness and some spice, which was just perfect.

Serves 4

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on or off)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
4 cups vegetable oil 

In a large, deep pan, heat oil between medium and medium high heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, combine the coconut and panko in a shallow bowl and the beat the eggs in another shallow bowl.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  

Dip each shrimp in egg and shake off excess before dipping into coconut mixture.  Set aside.  When oil reaches 350 degrees, fry shrimp in batches (about half at a time) for 2-4 minutes until they are golden brown.  Use a slotted spoon to remove shrimp from oil and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Bring the oil temperature back up to 350 degrees and fry remaining shrimp.  Serve with Sweet Chili Sauce.  
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

 We make pizza at home a lot, almost every week, so I like to come up with new and different ideas for my family to try.  When I made pizza dough (click to go to recipe) last weekend, I knew that I wanted to do something with chicken.  I thought about going with the old staple in our house, Buffalo chicken stromboli, or maybe turning that into a pizza, but then I remembered seeing a recipe for an Alfredo pizza, which sounded so good.  In order to keep it as simple as possible, I used a jar of Alfredo sauce, only kicked up a notch...I used a Four Cheese Rosa sauce.  Like a white sauce, only it's pink because it has tomatoes mixed in.  I sauteed the chicken with a little spicy Montreal grill seasoning (as usual!) which added incredible flavor to the whole dish.  Top it off with a ton of mozzarella cheese and your family will flip over this!!  

I'm loving my pizza stone (it's so awesome! I highly recommend one if you make a lot of pizzas, strombolis, etc) but you can very easily roll this out to a 9x13 inch baking sheet for thicker crust or a 13x18 inch baking sheet for a thinner, crispier crust.    




Pizza dough (about 1 pound)
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon spicy Montreal grill seasoning (or salt and pepper)
1/2 cup Four Cheese Rosa sauce (by Bertolli - or you can use regular Alfredo sauce)
3 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil.  Once hot, add the chicken and season with grill seasoning or a generous portion of salt and pepper.  Cook chicken until completely done throughout.  Set aside.  

If using a baking sheet, spray with Canola or Vegetable oil cooking spray.  Roll out dough to fit your pizza stone or baking sheet.  At this point, pull pizza stone out of the oven and place dough on warmed stone.  Or place dough on greased baking sheet.  Top dough with sauce, leaving about a 1 inch border the whole way around for the crust.  Sprinkle chicken evenly over sauce.  Top with Mozzarella, Parmesan and garlic salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is done and golden brown.    

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

I have been making these for years and I have to let you in on a little secret...these are just as good when made from the bag of frozen sweet potato fries.  They may even be better because, hey, you're not peeling and chopping up a sweet potato (not that it's hard, but I'm just sayin').  


But, either way, from a whole sweet potato or from the bag, these are the best side dish.  The mix of sweet, spicy and salty is such good combination.  And once under the broiler, the brown sugar caramelizes and makes them so crispy.  We like them extra salty so I always give them a good helping of more salt right when they come out of the oven.   


On a side note, if using frozen from the bag, omit the oil and initial salt and pepper...just follow the instructions for baking until they are pretty much done (about 20-22 minutes), then follow the instructions for the broiler and seasonings.  

4 servings

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch sticks (or 1 bag of frozen fries)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place cut sweet potatoes onto a 9x13 baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to ensure the sweet potatoes are completely coated.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Take out of the oven and turn on the broiler.  Sprinkle with chili powder and brown sugar and toss to coat.  Place baking sheet under the broiler for just a couple of minutes until the brown sugar starts to caramelize and the potatoes start to crisp.  Sprinkle with additional Kosher salt if desired.  


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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flourless Fudge Cake with Glaze

Talk about a rich, decadent dessert!  Wow.  Such a deep chocolate flavor.  Instant espresso powder is added to the batter, which completely brings out the chocolate flavor.  This recipe was adapted from the King Arthur Flour website (which I thought was kinda funny - a flourless cake?  Get it?).  The only difference between theirs and mine was that I only added 2 eggs - and that was because I only had 2 eggs left.  It turned out great and not at all crumbly like it says on their website.  My cake stayed completely intact when I flipped it over out of the pan.  


The steps and instructions are so easy, too, right up my alley.  Semi-sweet chocolate chips right out of the bag and the microwave too!  I made this cake in the matter of time it took me to cook up a grilled cheese for lunch for my daughter.  Do not forget your glass of milk with this cake..  

12 servings

Flourless Fudge Cake with Glaze

1 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the glaze
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a round 8" cake pan.  In a medium microwavable bowl, combine the chocolate chips and butter and microwave for 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips have melted completely.  Pour mixture into a mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, salt, espresso powder and vanilla extract.  Add the eggs and mix until smooth.  Add cocoa powder and mix until combined.  
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes.  The top will start to look like the crust of a brownie.  Let stand 5 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate.  It can remain upside down.  Let cool completely before glazing.  
Glaze:  In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate chips and cream and microwave for 30 second intervals until the cream is hot and the chocolate chips are melted.  Pour into the middle of the cooled cake and spoon in a circle until the top is completely covered.  You can also let some drip down the sides. 
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caramel Sea Salt Brownies

My husband loves most things that I make, but let's face it...he just doesn't have the sweet tooth that I have.  I have to eat something sweet after lunch and dinner.  I have to have some chocolate at least twice a day.  Whether it's homemade or store bought, there is always some form of cookie or candy in our house (although I am trying to get better, but it's a long road ahead).   He does taste everything I make, but honestly I end up eating most of whatever the dessert is...yikes!  These brownies were a different story...he flipped over these!  And so did I.  I literally had an "Oh.my.God" moment when I bit into the chocolaty, gooey, salty goodness.


Did you ever see that show on the Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"?  Each episode has an ingredient or a theme and the celebrity chefs talk about...wait for it...the best thing they ever ate.  I think this was the Salty episode and Claire Robinson (5 Ingredient Fix) was talking about this Sweet and Salty brownie she had somewhere in Brooklyn.  It looked to die for.  And I had to figure out how to make it!  Turns out, it wasn't that hard!  Using brownie mix from a box (make sure it's extra fudgy) and wrapped caramels, I think I was able to create a pretty good thing here.  I don't own a candy thermometer, although I need one, so I couldn't make my own caramel.  If you do and you want make it a bit more homemade, go for it!  Be sure to look on your box of brownies because often they will have a way to make cake-like or fudgy brownies...you definitely want as fudgy as possible for these guys.     
                                                                                                                                                                                          
Makes 16 Brownies

Caramel Sea Salt Brownies

1 box of fudge brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Fudge Chunk)
ingredients as it calls for on the box (egg, water, oil)
1 bag of wrapped caramels
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 pan with cooking spray.  Mix brownies according to instructions on box and pour half into the 9x9 pan.  Bake until just set, about 15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, unwrap all the caramels and place in a medium saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water.  Heat over medium-low heat until completely melted and stir in sea salt.  Once the first layer of brownies is done, pour melted caramel over the top.  Then, over the caramel, pour the rest of the brownie mix.  Bake for another 15 minutes until the top brownie part is done (do not overbake!!).

Let cool completely (I know it's hard to wait but otherwise they won't cut well!) and cut into 16 squares.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Breakfast Pizza

My in-laws were visiting over Easter weekend (also my husband's birthday!) and because they were leaving on Easter Sunday to head back to Pennsylvania, we decided to put a brunch together rather than do a whole big dinner.  We had fruit, cinnamon rolls, mimosa's and this delicious breakfast casserole, which is way more like a pizza than a casserole.


I threw it together in a matter of minutes, they only thing I had to cook was the sausage...and I use the word "cook" lightly because, Jimmy Dean makes these sausage crumbles that are already cooked and just need heated through.  And it's turkey sausage, too!  I browned the turkey sausage and threw that, the cheese and tomatoes all on top of the crust (crescent rolls) and baked it until it the eggs were set and the crust was puffy and golden brown.  We sliced it into squares and ate it with our hands, just like a pizza.  


I can only imagine all the goodies that you could throw into this.  I mean, just think about what you like in an omelette...peppers, mushrooms, ham?  This is a whatever you like, that's how you make it type dish.  I hope you'll try it your way and let me know!    

 12 - 16 slices

Breakfast Pizza

1 package of crescent rolls
1 1/2 cups cooked crumbled sausage
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Unroll the crescent rolls onto a 9 x 13-inch baking sheet and press down to close the seams.  Top with the cooked, crumbled sausage, tomatoes and cheese.  Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined and pour over the top of the casserole.

Bake 15-20 minutes until the eggs are set and the crescent roll crust is golden brown.  Cut into squares and serve.  

(Source:  Adapted from Bran Appetit!)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Etsy Shop

If you are joining me from Pinterest - welcome!  I do hope you'll sign up to follow my blog and my Facebook page!  


(See how cool the note cards look in just a black frame with white matte?)

As a Stay at Home mom, busy as I am, sometimes (sometimes!) I have down time to just do something for me.  That is how I came up with the idea to sell my artwork as note cards and prints on Etsy.  I started dabbling in painting and drawing back in high school, 15 years ago (oh.my.God. Really?  Where does the time go?).  It was a class that was required to take, you know, "Art" class.  But, I found that I actually had quite a talent for it.  Something that just came naturally.  I won a couple of awards and then decided to continue throughout college, where I took a couple of Fine Art classes.  The last painting I did was for my daughter's nursery and I completed it about a month before she was born (which was now over 2 years ago).  

If I had the time or the energy, I would absolutely continue drawing and painting.  But, now I can use Etsy as my creative outlet to share my artwork in my Etsy shop.  Believe me, I'm no Picasso or Monet, but I think my art is fun and easy to display in your home, whether it's an 11x17 print or a notecard in a frame, like I have pictured here.

The note cards make super cute gifts and I can even add initials to personalize them for yourself or loved one or friend!  These are just a few of the styles that I have in my Etsy shop.  I hope that you will check them out and pass the word along!  Feel free to Pin away!!  :)




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Monday, April 9, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

I am constantly on the hunt for delicious, quick and easy dinners...especially for the Crock Pot.  Are you ready for how fast this one is?  I mean, like 5 minutes to put together.  Crazy, right?  Why wouldn't you make it?  Seriously, mix it up before you go to work, turn on the Crock Pot and dinner is ready for you when you get home!


I've seen quite a few variations of this recipe online and on Pinterest, and I have to admit that this recipe came about because I read one of the original recipes wrong!  That, or because it was one of those times where I thought, "Oh, I don't need a list to go to the grocery store."  And we all know how that usually turns out.  :)  So I thought it called for a packet of taco seasoning, when it really called for a packet of ranch seasoning.  Upon getting home without the ranch dressing mix, I had to make do.  And really, now, I wouldn't do it any of way! This has become a staple in our house.  My husband likes to eat it with tortilla chips, almost like a dip.  This "chili" is thick so it definitely works that way, but honestly, I like to just dig right in with my spoon.  It also reheats great the next day for lunch!

Serves 4

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

2 frozen chicken breasts*
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes (either plain or spicy red pepper works great too)
1 packet of lower sodium taco seasoning
1 cup reduced fat ranch dressing, divided
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
Reduced fat chicken broth, optional

Place the chicken breasts in the Crock Pot and pour black beans, corn and tomatoes (both undrained) over top.  Add taco seasoning, 1/2 cup of ranch and stir all together.  Place cream cheese on top and cook on high for 5-7 hours until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken when done, shred and return to Crock Pot.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of ranch and serve.  If it's too thick, add chicken broth to taste and stir.

*if your chicken is thawed, cook on low for 5-7 hours instead of high Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Penne with Blackened Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Sauce

There's this recipe that I found for Cajun Chicken Alfredo (from Guy Fieri) that I absolutely love and make a lot in my house.  I am now addicted to blackened chicken and the fun thing for me is that I get to break out my cast iron skillet!  I also stumbled across another recipe for a Tomato Basil Cream sauce on Pinterest and I thought - well, what if I sort of combined the two together?  It was genius, I must say.  What a great tasting dish!!  At the end, when you combine the chicken and that blackening spice gets all throughout the pasta, it is heavenly.  Salty and spicy and delicious!  Both dishes that I took inspiration from contain a lot of the same ingredients...sun dried tomatoes, white wine...but with my dish, I get to use sauce from a jar and it makes it super, super simple without losing any of the flavor.  


A tip - watch out for that blackening seasoning!  Make sure you have some sort of ventilation throughout your house (open window, ceiling fan, oven fan) because it always makes the air in my house smoky and spicy and we all end up coughing and sneezing.  :)

If you are using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet to blacken your chicken, you can omit the oil.  If not, just be sure to use a heavy-bottomed skillet and follow the instructions below.  Pound out the chicken breast so they are pretty thin and it will really help to blacken without over cooking.  I actually just took one really big chicken breast and sliced it through the middle so I had two thin pieces.  Also, serve with good bread...you don't want to waste a drop of this sauce!   

    

Serves 4

1/2 pound dried Penne
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin
1/2 cup blackening seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 15 oz jar of Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo sauce (Classico is the only brand that I found that makes this)
1/4 cup white wine
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook Penne according to directions.  Meanwhile, heat skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Dredge chicken in blackening seasoning and blacken both sides of chicken, cooking all the way through.  Slice strips on the bias and set aside.  

While the chicken is cooking, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan.  Pour wine into sauce jar, replace cap and shake well.  Add wine mixture into saucepan.  Add tomatoes and basil and cook until heated through.  

Toss with pasta and add the Parmesan cheese.  Top with blackened chicken and serve as is or stir chicken throughout (I recommend doing it this way!).  
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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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