Thursday, January 26, 2012

Recipe #4 - Special Lemony Chicken

The name is funny, huh? At least I thought it was. Anywho... I forgot to take a picture of this one, so I don't have anything to pin!! I even tried finding one online, but no such luck. I got this out of a cookbook I've had for a few years - it's called "Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook".

Over the past few weeks, I learned how much we (I) like pasta. It's so easy and versatile, plus Rylan will eat it. I'm really trying to find some non-pasta recipes, just to be different. It is tough since Rusty is such a picky eater. (It's not fair if I don't recognize that I can be picky, too - but Rusty is a LOT pickier than I am.) This was my first attempt at really branching out and trying something a little out of our "norm".

*1/4 c unsifted flour
*1 tsp salt
*1/4 tsp pepper
*6 skinned boneless chicken breast halves
*1/4 c butter
*1/4 c lemon juice from concentrate
*8 oz freshly sliced mushrooms

In a plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time. Shake to coat. (That's always my favorite part... especially after a long day at work!!) In a large skillet, let the butter just melt. Add the chicken and cook until it's brown on both sides. Add the lemon juice and mushrooms. Cover and reduce the heat. Allow this to cook until mushrooms are tender and chicken is fully cooked (about 15 minutes).

I actually also tried a lemon rice recipe to serve the chicken over. I didn't like it. It was way too dry. The rice got pretty sticky - it reminded me of the rice I was served from a large ice cream looking scoop in elementary school... you know when the rice never moved after the server would plop it on your plate? Yeah... I think just some plain, buttered rice would be perfect for this dish!

Rusty and I don't eat mushrooms, so I didn't cook with any. As for the chicken, it was quite lemony. Special, though? No, not really. I'm not dying to make this recipe again anytime soon, but I certainly will keep it on hand for a random day that I want something different. One other plus - the chicken was SOOO tender and juicy. I'll definitely try cooking the chicken this way again, and try some fun marinades and spices for different flavors.

Good luck! TTFN!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recipe #3 - Cheesy Chicken Rotini

So this week, I actually tried 2 new recipes! I didn't like the first one (but the boys really did!) so I tried again with a 2nd recipe. I'll post the other one, eventually, but wanted to start with this one because it was SOOO good!!

I got the original recipe from It really was very easy, and quite delicious! It makes a very large portion, so I would probably only make half of the recipe in the future. (We only ate about half the first night, which made for yummy leftovers!)

*2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
*2 cups of water
*3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
*16 oz frozen veggies
*1 can (10oz) Rotel, undrained
*8oz of Velveeta (half of a small brick)

*The original recipe calls for a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blend. I used all broccoli, because that's what I prefer. I think use your favorite frozen vegetables. :)
*I used the original Rotel flavor. I really wanted to use Hot or Extra Hot, but I didn't think Rylan would eat it if it was too spicy. I bet some of the other Rotel flavors could give it a nice taste twist, too!
*Rather than leaving the Rotel chunky, I actually used a food processor to liquefy mine. The end result was a thinner, runnier sauce, rather than being thick, like Velveeta can often be.

One more note - if you're making the full recipe, use a very large skillet... maybe even a stock pot. (Make sure you have a lid to fit it!!) I found that my batch was almost overflowing from mine.

Spray the skillet or stock pot with a cooking spray, like Pam. Add chicken pieces. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink (about 6-7 minutes). Add water to chicken. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 12 minutes until pasta is tender. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook covered until Velveeta is completely melted (about 8-10 minutes) stirring every couple of minutes.

I served it with some crescent rolls, and it was good eatin'! :) TTFN!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Recipe #2 - Buffalo Chicken Bites

Last night, we tried new recipe #2 of the year... Buffalo Chicken Bites. Here is where I originally got the recipe from: I did make a few adjustments, to better suit our preferences (and what I had). As a warning, this recipe is a little more labor intensive that I would've guessed... and it's pretty messy.

Ingredients (according to how I made them):
*4 cups of chicken, cooked and shredded (approx 2 large chicken breasts)
*2/3 c Frank's buffalo hot sauce (use less, for less "kick")
*4 2/3 reduced fat cream cheese, softened
*2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated
*1 c all purpose flour
*4 eggs lightly beaten
*4 cups Corn Flakes, crushed

First, preheat the oven to 375. Bake the 2 large chicken breasts for approx 25 minutes (until no longer pink). Allow them to cool for approximately 10-15 minutes. Use two forks to separate/shred the chicken.

Line a large cookie sheet with either parchment paper or foil, and set it aside. Combine shredded chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. (To help soften the cream cheese, I stuck it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds, and it was perfect for mixing.) Put flour, eggs and corn flakes into their own separate bowls.

Get a spoonful of the chicken mixture and roll into about 1 to 2 inch balls. I recommend making all of the balls first, and setting them aside on plate or platter until all of them are made and ready to be coated. After forming the balls, dip each of them first into the flour, followed by the egg, and finally the crushed corn flakes. Set each coated ball onto the lined cookie sheet. **Note: For my batch yesterday, 4 cups of corn flakes was not enough, but that will really depend on your preference. I was hoping for a very crunchy final product, which I didn't quite achieve.** Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 20-25 minutes (until golden brown). Serve with ranch or blue cheese (if you like).

A few personal notes:
1. Prep time: 60 minutes total - 15 minutes to shred chicken, 45 minutes to make the bites
Cook time: 50 minutes total - 25 minutes for chicken breasts, 25 minutes for final product

2. The recipe, as stated above, could easily serve 6-8 people (I think). I will make only half of it for a small group of 2-4.

3. In the future, I'll probably try the less healthy alternative of battering and deep frying these, just to achieve a little crunchier final product. If I do, I'll follow up with how they turned out. :)

Happy Cooking! TTFN

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Recipe #1 - BEPs

It seems fitting that the first recipe of the year is Black Eyed Peas, served over rice, with corn bread. :) I'll spare everyone the details of the rice and corn bread and just dive straight into the Black Eyed Peas.

Before I do, though, I'll be very honest up front. Rusty and I are not huge fans of BEPs (the food, that is - we both like the music group). In order for this meal to come off as a success, I really needed to make sure and find a way to spice them up a bit.

First things first - we had some left over ham still in the freezer from Thanksgiving, so I thawed this a few days before, knowing I'd want to use it all up in this recipe.

*1 bag of black eyed peas
*6 strips of uncooked bacon, cut into pieces
*3 cups of ham, sliced or diced
*1 tsp of black pepper
*1 tsp of cayenne pepper (Rusty and I do like our food a little spicy)
*just a bit of garlic powder

I first soaked the BEPs overnight in water. All in all, they probably ended up soaking for about 10 hours. Next, drain the BEPs. Return them to the pot, and cover with water. **Note - for soupier BEPs, use more water. While cooking, do keep an eye on the water level to make sure the BEPs are covered. If too much water is lost, they could burn pretty easily.** Add remaining ingredients to pot, cover. Bring BEPs to a boil over medium-high heat, before reducing heat to low. I allowed the beans to cook all afternoon, over simmer. They took about 5-6 hours to get to the consistency I desire. To cook them more quickly, use a higher heat setting.

Most of the bacon, and the smaller pieces of ham will cook away into the water, providing nothing more than flavor for the BEPs. Any kind of meats can be used, if you don't prefer bacon or ham.

I enjoy serving the BEPs over some rice and just a little bit of butter. To add even more starch, a few pieces of corn bread are the perfect thing to soak up the juices of the BEPs. :) Enjoy!!

New Adventures in the Kitchen

Several weeks ago, I realized I hardly ever cook any more. I mean, I "cook" dinner every night, but it's not the fun kind...

After work, I have the responsibility of picking up Rylan from daycare (Rusty has drop off duty in the mornings). Usually as soon as his sweet little bum cheeks hit the carseat, he starts saying "More!" and doing the sign for it. Rusty usually gets home about 10 minutes before we do, and will begin getting everything out that we'll need from dinner. Once Rylan and I make our grand entrance, he goes immediately to his high chair, and I to the kitchen to begin (or take over) making dinner.

Anything we make in the evenings usually has to be a pretty quick meal, or else we'll have to deal with a whining, starving little boy. What can I say?! Rusty and I do our best to avoid his meltdowns, only because it sets the entire house into a funk for the rest of the night.

I've set out to try at least one new recipe a week. I thought that there has to be at least one meal that I can take over and make cooking "fun" for again. As I try my new recipes, I plan to use this as my tool to share the good (and not so good) adventures... Wish us luck!! :)