Monday, January 30, 2012

Salsa Verde Chicken

Before I talk about the wonders of this meal, let me pause and say this...

Is it really the end of January already?!  I feel like we were just celebrating the holidays last weekend, but here we are at February's doorstep.  I am absolutely in love with my life, every day, and I love to cherish the moments, but when you turn around, they're gone.  I thought life didn't speed up this way until after 40.  Shoot, in my head I'm still 21.  (And now that was more than a decade ago!!  Yikes!)  Maybe I'm just doing the year-end reflection thing a month late.  Sorry for the diatribe.  Now on to our regularly scheduled dinner!

Salsa Verde Chicken Bake - the original recipe is here, from Very Culinary.  Found it on Pinterest, big surprise. Every recipe I've made in the past two weeks has been lifted from there.  I love this continual influx of new ideas.  Although, I do have to say that on Wednesday of last week, there was very little new and exciting info and I was almost disappointed.  Almost.

This recipe does make up for it, however, and it's pretty ridiculously good for you, too.

 Ingredients (of which there are FOUR!)

2-3 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken (I went with the pre-marinated thighs since they are juicier, but I'm sure breast would work as well.)
1 (16oz) jar of Salsa Verde
2 cups of white cheese shreds (I used half queso fresco, and half Mexican 4 cheese mixture since I had them both already)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

That's it.  The directions?  Even more simple.

Lightly spray a 9x13 pan and lay out chicken so it's evenly distributed and not overlapping.  Evenly pour salsa verde on top.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Then, take out your dish and cover it in cheese.  This time, bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  I think the temperature bump is to help brown the cheese.  I wasn't too impressed, so I broiled it for a minute to get that nice crispiness that we so love and desire in our household.

Finally, when you've got your desired consistency, remove it and sprinkle your cilantro on top.  If you're not a cilantro person, use a flat leaf parsley or omit.  Your kitchen, your call.
Throw it in a tortilla if you'd like!

 I served it with whole wheat tortillas and (my very exciting new find) brown Jasmine rice.  I ate some just on the rice and some in the tortilla.  Either way, this was totally worth the effort.  Perfect week night meal for our household.  Be forewarned, though, that Jasmine rice takes about 20 minutes to prepare and brown jasmine rice takes 50 minutes.  I didn't realize that until the chicken was in so I had to work a little more quickly than I expected.  Overall, though, my husband didn't mind eating the brown rice (huge victory), and the entire meal was a smashing success!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pizza Bread

What?!  {I'm sure you're declaring in mock indignation} Another pizza recipe?!!

Yeah, yeah, I know, but I'm on this easy pizza kick.  Sure, it doesn't get much easier than pre-made dough, sauce, and toppings, but putting them together in different ways is what makes it interesting, right?

Regardless, I found this and this and decided to give it a go.  Much like the Pizza Pretzels, you're just taking a moment to assemble and then bake. No biggie.

Ingredients (that I used, substitute at will):
Pillsbury Rustic French Loaf
Turkey Pepperoni
Shredded Cheese (I used a mix of what was in house - Asiago, Mozzarella, and Mexican 4 Cheese)
Italian Seasoning (to taste)
Contadina Pizza Sauce

Steps: Roll out the french loaf dough.  I found this was easier when I chopped it in half.  I made two loaves because this was an appetizer/side dish for the family and I wasn't sure how much we'd eat. Then, sprinkle liberally with cheese, add pepperoni, and more cheese if you'd like.  Then, roll it and place it seam side down on a greased baking sheet.  I then brushed some olive oil, Italian seasoning, and extra cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until nicely golden.  Slice and serve. Best eaten immediately!

So yes, it really is just like the pretzels, just substituting bread and not making the pretzel shape.  We served it with a Chili and a Baked Potato soup.  Those who ate the chili just dipped the bread in that.  I, however, ate the baked potato soup and chose to use the pizza sauce.  Either way it was easy and supper yummy.

Word of caution: I've decided that the only reason I don't like these recipes is because I'm a terrible roller.  I might be a baller, but roller I am not.  That's why cutting the loaf into two short pieces helped because I wasn't rolling and re-rolling the dough to keep up with it.  That's just are probably more dexterous than I am, and if so you can disregard this.  In any case, be quick, then it's easy and (obviously) quicker to enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

*Healthy* Stuffed Pepper Soup

Thank you, Pinterest, for introducing me to Skinnytaste!  This blogger has all kinds of healthy recipes, and most of them are feasible with limited ingredients so you really feel like a master chef while trying to keep yourself fed!


Well, in any case, everyone seems to be pinning this recipe for Stuffed Pepper Soup.  I couldn't resist trying it since I love stuffed peppers, but hate making them!
Ingredients - I tweaked them a little...

1 lb ground beef
2 small green bell peppers (chopped)
1 lg red and 1 lg yellow bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup finely diced onion
2-3 garlic cloves (diced/pressed)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
2 (8oz) cans of tomato sauce
1 box (32 oz) of low sodium chicken broth
Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste
3 cups of cooked rice (Jasmine for me, but there are healthier options, of course.  Almost used Quinoa...  almost!)
Desilu (left) and Schatzi (right) love when I work with bell peppers.  I always give them some of the oddly shaped dices since I don't like how odd they look. I know I'm weird, but the dogs definitely love the benefits of my cooking!

Basically, you brown the meat, add the onions, and garlic.  Then add in your peppers and cook it up until everything looks done (browned meat, al dente peppers, clear onions...).

 Add your sauce, tomatoes, broth and seasonings.

Let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I added a lot of broth because I added lots of peppers and probably a little more than a pound of meat.

I'm not a broth person, so I love condensing the soup down as much as possible.
I cooked the rice while simmering the soup.

You don't need the rice, but if you're like me and like a heartier soup, then it definitely helps.  I just served up the soup, added a heaping spoonful of rice, and stirred it up.

Also, as a side note, I barely salted the soup because I knew I was salting the rice water and didn't want to double dip on the saltiness.  I'm not much of a salt person, but it's healthier that way, anyway!
One bowl is enough!  This soup is so delicious, you'll be tempted for more, but it's filling, so it's all good!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pizza Pretzels!

Trolling the internets, as I'm wont to do as of late, has turned up a recipe for Pizza Stuffed Pretzels, which is actually a slightly harder recipe than the one it's based off of from Rachel Ray.

Seriously?  Why make it more difficult.

Ultimately, here's what I did...
Pre-made whole wheat pizza dough ball
Bag of Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz. of Asiago Cheese
Olive Oil
Dash of Italian Seasoning
Pizza Sauce (pre-made) for dipping

Thomas stretched out dough until it was the size of a cookie sheet.  I cut it (the long way) into four equal strips.

Then, I added mozzarella cheese, a layer of pepperoni, then sprinkled Asiago cheese.

From there, I rolled it into a log shape, and finally into the pretzel shape.

I placed each pretzel onto a greased cookie sheet.  With a basting brush, I lightly brushed each one with olive oil, then sprinkled a combo of the cheeses on top, as well as a dash of Italian Seasoning.

Finally, I baked them at 400 for 15-20 minutes (I love when the cheese is crisp).  I warmed up the pizza sauce in the microwave, and served the pretzels with the sauce on the side to dip.

Pretty simple for a Friday night, and absolutely delicious.  It's a nice change from the standard homemade pizza, and if you're feeling adventurous, then play around with the fillings.  Make a chicken, pineapple, and (pre-cooked) peppers with a BBQ sauce dipper.  Who knows, but the possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

It may seem childish, but it was darn sure delicious!!

This is an all cheese one I made for myself - plus I only bought enough pepperoni for three of the four pretzels!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy 100 Posts!

It wasn't supposed to happen this way...  My 100th post was going to be a recap and something fun.  I have lots of great recipes coming up, and any one of them would have been great for dinner and celebration.

And then life gets in the way.  Family obligations and short planning for dinner equals one FABULOUS pasta dish that takes very little time to make, is low fat(ish), and fairly flavorful!  Maybe we knew I was fated to have a pasta dish as my 100th any way.  We know how I love it!

Here's the original recipe (no, not KFC!)...  I was worried about not apparent sauce, but I was excited because it wasn't a creamy sauce and it wasn't an oily sauce, just noodles, meat, and veg.  A perfect combo for a night by myself, and I knew I could get a ton of leftovers.

Here's what I did...
1 box of Ziti pasta (make as you normally would a box of pasta)
1ish T of Olive Oil

1 pkg of Jennie O Smoked Turkey Sausage (angle sliced)
2 bell peppers (chunky diced)
about 1/2 of a small onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (pressed/diced)
Ground Pepper and Italian Seasoning to taste
3 T of grated Asiago Cheese
1/4 C of pasta water reserved

Heat olive oil, saute onions, garlic, and bell peppers.  Add seasonings.
Add Smoked Sausage and heat through.
Once the Ziti is prepped, mix in the drained pasta to the cooked through meat and veg.
Toss, and if it looks dry, add a little pasta water.  Sprinkle with cheese, then serve with your favorite crusty bread and enjoy.

That's it.  Really.

Yep.  It seems as though my 100th blog entry is just like every other entry.  Simple, easy, and new (for me).  So here's to the next 100.  Here's to new dinners and desserts, and maybe more breakfasts and brunches too.  This has been an awesome 8 months, and here's to many, many more.

Have fun and eat well!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Holy get-me-a-glass-of-milk, Batman!  This is my 99th post, and I thought I'd make something to celebrate.  There is nothing in this world that I like more than peanut butter with chocolate, and since the Brown Eyed Baker has left me drooling over this recipe for a while, I thought this was the perfect time to try it out.

I followed the recipe exactly since the BEB never leads me astray.  At least on her baking recipes.  I've never tried any of her other dinner menus, but I'm sure they are fabulous as well.  Go visit her, she's definitely worth the time.  She's where I snagged my Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from and I've been hooked ever since!

I was feeling nice today (surprise?) and let me assistant frost the cupcakes.  She never gets to try and practice for our events so I figured, why not?  I'm a benevolent boss, I'm sure.

She played around with tips and without, and we put some mini Reese's PB hearts on them anyway, so the frosting is only there for the peanut-buttery goodness.

And it is so velvety smooth, you'll definitely want to pile it on!

Seriously, you guys.

Seriously... how cute are they?!

Just make sure you have some milk handy.  Between the dark chocolate and the peanut butter, you'll be running back to the fridge for a refill!
I heart you all!  Come back for 100 more recipes and joy!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

 As I ramble through Pinterest, I find more and more every day that I want to try.  Luckily, I have a hungry husband to help me eat up my creations, and all of the leftovers!  Unfortunately, he'll start travelling soon and it'll be meals for one with more leftovers than I know what to do with.  Maybe I'll share with my employees to make things go more quickly.  Luckily, what I made for last night's dinner was so wonderful, there were barely any leftovers, and what is left will be gone within a lunch or two!  {Whew! Talk about rambling!}
 Just the same, I came across this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken...  Which happens to be the only dish I'll eat at a Chinese restaurant because I love the way the sauce makes my rice pink (sometimes hot pink), and the veggies.  The chicken is neither here nor there, but I LOVE SWEET AND SOUR!

Here's my recipe, which I tweaked from the other:
LOTS of Veggies!  Such as...
10 oz of sugar snap peas
2 bell peppers
2 celery stalks
10 baby carrots
1 can water chestnuts
1 can pineapple chunks
and I was going to add Manderin Oranges, but changed my mind last minute.

Plus, two pounds of teriyaki chicken breast.  I get this pre-cooked from Fresh and Easy.  The original recipe calls for you to bread and fry, but I wanted less fat, so I chose this as an easy alternative.

The sauce was ridiculously simple, too - why have I not made this before?!?!
1 C sugar - could probably cut this back more
1/2 C ketchup
3/4 C cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
2 T garlic powder - could probably cut this back to
1 1/2 T.

I mixed up the sauce, wok-ed/fried the veggies in about 1 T of olive oil, added the chicken and poured the sauce over the top.  I waited until everything was heated through and then served it up with Jasmine rice.  If it were up to me, I'd almost double the sauce, but I LOVE S&S, so that's a personal preference.  Thomas loved the meal, and the vinegar in the sauce helped to clear his cold-riddled head long enough to enjoy the meal.  Perfect all around.  Plus, it was so simple and took very little time.  Thomas thought I should have breaded the chicken, but when he tasted it, he said it played well, so no breading/frying for this girl!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

{White Girl} Turkey Enchiladas

  Okay, so remember that one time when I made white girl tamales, and people made fun of me for not using any Masa?  Whatever, I can't be so easily persuaded.  My BFFL, Heidi, found this recipe, complete with Weight Watchers points yesterday, and I had to try it IMMEDIATELY. Yesterday was one of those days where my hubs was away on business, so I knew I could try anything in the kitchen, and amazingly, this was perfect!  Plus, it had the added bonus of being only five ingredients, which I knew to be kismet.  Anything that doesn't need a lot of money or effort is always a bonus in my book!

So, as you can see, your five ingredients are
1 lb ground turkey
1, 10oz enchilada sauce
1, 8 oz tomato sauce (I love the new Rotel sauce with chili flavor)
1 pkg of Mexican cheese shreds
1 pkg of Pilsbury biscuits

Now, you can get low fat/light in almost all of these ingredients.

However, I went to Target where that wasn't an option.  Oh well, I guess I'll take one for the team!!  But, if you could get all low fat (and not use as much cheese) you can get it down to 5 WW points per serving, at least according to the old points scale.  Now it could be 500, for all I know.

Steps: 1. Brown the turkey (drain as necessary).
2. Cut your biscuits into quarters.  Like our new over the burner cutting board?  Makes life in the limited counter space kitchen super simple.

 3. Add enchilada sauce and tomato sauce to your turkey meat.  (I also added some taco seasoning and onion flakes, but that would make this 7 ingredients, so pretend I didn't, if that suits you.)
4. Stir in your quartered biscuits then dump into a casserole dish.  (I'm using my DCB, because we know I love it!) I also put about half the bag of cheese in at this point to spread the love.
5. Next, bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
6. Add rest of cheese on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
7. Let set for 5 minutes, then dig in before anyone else can!

Gooey, bread-y, cheesy, and delicious-y!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hawaiian Bread (Machine)

All liquids and salt, first
 I've been in a bread mood as of late.  I think it's because "winter" is finally here and it's dipping below 60 on a daily basis, and by the time I get home after dark, it's under 50.  It's time for nice warm bread for dinner, so I've been researching some new options and am gladly happy to try them all!  (EVERY DAY IN A ROW!!!)  Okay, I'm not that bad, but I would if I could!

Flour and Instant Milk with the Yeast Volcano on top
Ingredients for a "Sweet" Hawaiian Bread
(in this order for my machine, check yours)
3/4 C pineapple juice
1 egg (beaten)
2T Vegetable oil (oops, I forgot this!  Didn't seem to make a difference...)
2 1/2 T honey
3/4 tsp salt
I mixed this in my measuring cup first, then added it to the machine.
Next: 3 C bread flour
2T dry/instant milk
Make a little volcano hole and fill with (2tsp) yeast.

The yeast should never come in contact with salt or the liquids in your recipe, so it's always a good idea to layer liquids, flours/powders, then yeast.  I know that's how my machine works, and the yeast specifically states to not come in contact with the other two, so I'm pretty sure it holds true for most machines.

Then I set it for sweet, 2lbs, and light crust.

 3 hours and 10 minutes later - voila! I was getting worried that it wouldn't rise, but I have no patience for these things.  I've also learned to cover the top of my bread machine with a towel because it seems to help keep the warmth in while the yeast is doing its magic.  This recipe wasn't as sweet as I had expected it to be, but it was sweeter than your average white bread, so mission accomplished?
So good, and I was happy to make a PB&J with it the next day for lunch, too!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Sticky dough

Queso Fresco

 Truth: I LOVE pierogis.  It's a traditional Polish (and then some) food that always reminds me of my father's side of the family.   False?  I never  False?  I never remember anyone actually making them.  

Has it I remember purchasing them and cooking them, but I never remember all-out-from-scratch Pierogis.  Has itbeen done? Potentially, and very probably.  My grandmother had a huge garden and canned fruits, veggies, and sauces like a fiend.  However, I never saw it done.  Doesn't mean it wasn't, just means I never bore witness.  So, when I found this recipe, I thought, PERFECT!  It doesn't seem too difficult, and it's potato and cheese, my favorite!

Flavorful Mash
 First of all, the stuffing is DELICIOUS!  I used, mostly, ingredients I had in the house, like the Klondike Gold potatoes and Queso Fresco.  I didn't want to buy similar items when I had, so I made do.  No biggie.

The recipe (again, listed here) was so easy to follow. By myself, it took about three hours from start to finish, but if I had a partner, it would have gone much more quickly.  As it was, it wasn't that bad, but I'm glad there's lots to freeze.  Seriously, these are three and a half dozen large pierogi (and pretty misshapen, but tasty just the same)!
Rolling the dough definitely helps with portion control.
But of course I never got them exactly round...
They said to stuff while holding.  I found it easier to stuff on the rolling sheet.

These puppies were BIG.  3+" Pierogis are more sizeable than you'd think!

 I rolled and pressed the edges.  I lived in fear that they'd explode once they hit the water.

Surprisingly, they held tight, and only a couple sprung leaks, but it wasn't noticeable when I took them out of the water, with the exception of little holes slightly bigger than the head of a pin.

I was seriously impressed with my first trial run.


I did the flash-boil/set thingee.  Thomas called it something special, but basically you put them in, they float after about a minute, then you keep boiling for another 4.  It sets the dough and makes it easier to save and transport.  At this point, I'm going to make some for dinner and try to freeze the rest.  We'll see how that goes.  Thomas thinks I should individually wrap each one until it's frozen, then unwrap and leave in the freezer.  Seems like a lot of work.  I said if he is so inclined, he can do it later!

After this step, it's just a quick saute (in butter if you know what's good for you) and serve.  YUMMY!

Served it up with Red Cabbage, Mom's Meatloaf, and Homemade Apple Sauce!