{good eats} a few fave chicken dinners

That looks pretty good doesn’t it? And no I didn’t take the photograph (one day I hope I’ll be that skilled with a camera!). But I’m about to let you in on little secret….

Ever heard of the site How Sweet it Is? You need to know about it. Read it. Follow it. Laugh your booty off from it, but most of all, cook from it!

I don’t know Jessica. But I HAVE tried a number of her recipes, OH MY GOODNESS YUM! And the kids love ’em too.

That one in the photograph up there? THAT one is now firmly on our Favorites list. We made it last night. Easy peasy. Super flavorful! Without a doubt it was approved by the little punks, Hubs, and moi. Click here for the recipe ~ Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders. Make it this weekend. I dare you to have leftovers!

Next up, General Tso’s Chicken. This one isn’t actually Jessica’s recipe, but she does share a step by step photo tutorial over on Tasty Kitchen. OH.MY.WOW!

In our house, we make Chinese food at least once a week, if not more.  It always seems to be a winner with all 5 peeps in the family.  My go to for recipes 99.9% of the time is The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. Simple, fast, and packed with flavor…EVERY recipe! (Jaden has an awesome site too!) But when I saw this post for General Tso’s Chicken, I knew we needed to try it. SOLD a million times over. Make this tonight, this weekend, next week. I don’t care when, but make it SOON. You will not be sorry.

I have never made these. Never tried them. Never saw the recipe before yesterday. But I will be making them soon. Maybe this weekend???  I mean really folks, can there actually be ANYTHING wrong with cheese + beer + tacos + a crockpot???  I think not. Cheddar Beer Tacos, you are now on my list!

Be sure to check out How Sweet it Is!!

Happy weekend!

{Photo Credits: Jessica ~ How Sweet it Is}

favorite salad ~ crunchy romaine toss

I love this salad.

For those that know me in person, you know this is HUGE to say.  I’m just not a big salad eater.  I really wish I was, but it’s just not my thing…{bizarre too since I have one sister who is a vegetarian and the other who CRAVES veggie sandwiches like I do pizza…}

But me?

Yeah, I’m all about meat, cheese, potatoes…..yep, that stuff.

Kinda wish I craved  salad every now and then.

So when I find a salad recipe that makes my skirt twirl, it’s bound to be good.  It just needs good “stuff”.  A good dressing, and/or good things in it.  Otherwise it’s just all a bowl of paper to me.

Sorry.

This salad will make you twirl ’til you’re dizzy.  It’s super simple, very few ingredients, and a great mix of salt and sweet.  The dressing is so dang good I just keep it in a mason jar to enjoy all week.  It’s not the healthiest dressing, but a little goes a long way, so enjoy the treat.

On Tuesday this week I did my once every 3 months venture over to the AWESOME Whole Foods Market by our house.  Grabbed a couple DELICIOUS smoked chicken quarters (let me say that again ~ DELICIOUS), and whipped up this salad for dinner….

Throw some walnuts, crushed ramon noodles, and butter in a pan (did I say butter? Yep, there is BUTTER) in this…

While that’s getting all tasty on the stove top, I mix up the dressing….

Go back and check those super tasty buttery morsels.  They are probably done about now, so turn them off to cool.

Give some attention to the chicken you picked up at the market this AM.  I used smoked chicken breasts because it just sounded good.  Obviously this salad can go with anything.

Dump the now cooled buttery goodness into a bowl with lettuce (yes I use the packaged spring mixes, variety helps me…), chopped broccoli, and green onions.

Save the crunchies you don’t use in a container in the fridge for the next day.

Pour on a little dressing and toss it up (remember, a little dressing goes a long way…)

Yum, yum, yum!

Hubs asked for his chicken cold on the side

I shredded mine and tossed it in (the kids ate chicken taken from both of our pieces with some fruit & mac and cheese ravioli)

Yep.

It’s good.

We had the leftovers the next night.  Hubs grilled a flank steak, and then I mixed together the same spring mix, the crunchy buttery bits, cucumber, feta, leftover whole wheat pasta, and the dressing. Honestly, you could add anything with this dressing and those crunchies, the world just ends up perfect when you do.

Yum all over again!

Click this for the recipe and make this soon.  Take it to a potluck. Your friends will love ya (and your skirts will twirl!)

(Haaaa, just noticed the name says “romaine toss”, I normally use spring mixes…. just sayin’).

A whole new take on fried chicken

I love fried chicken.  When I lived in Dallas, my sophamore year at SMU, I lived across the street from Bubba’s.  If you live in Dallas, you KNOW what I’m talking about.  To this day when I visit Dallas I have a certain food circuit that must occur, and one of the stops is at Bubba’s for fried chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a biscuit with honey.  HELLO, roll me over and stick a fork in my heart, I’m done!

All that is to say, I have a weakness for fried chicken.

Well, I’ve been making my way through Rocco Dispirito’s, “Now Eat This!!” cookbook, and I was excited to see a recipe for “Flash Fried Finger Lickin’ Chicken“.

Ohhhhhh

This could be a winner.

Now stick with me.  It may seem complicated, but it really is not. I think this whole process took me 35 minutes TOTAL.  And mind you, my favorite guy was not home from work yet, and I was running back and forth from the kitchen to the front room trying to keep the kids from entering the hole in the wall contstruction zone.  All that to say, I probably could have done it in under 35 minutes.

While the kids took their nap I mixed up the flour mixture in a Ziplock – flour, paprika, celery salt, black pepper, salt and cayenne.  Then when I was ready to make this in the evening, I dumped it into a shallow dish.

As with any recipe, when you’re ready to make everything, in order to make the process go smoothly and quickly, definitely get EVERY POSSIBLY ingredient, untensil, pot, bowl, dish, etc out and in one place in the kitchen.  You will be AMAZED how much faster the whole process goes!

Once it’s all out and waiting for ya, then you can get started…

I cut the chicken breast into little nuggets (more kid friendly than the thighs the recipe calls for).  Added the chicken to a pot with broth and brought it to a simmer to poach (if you said poach for anything else, my face would turn green and I would have to turn my head. But I went with it, and am so glad that I did!).  While the chicken was simmering, I poured the oil into a pot to start heating up.  Once the chicken was cooked, about 15-20 minutes for nuggets, I dumped em all into a bowl with the buttermilk.

Addie was a little intrigued by this step….

Addie: “How come mama, how come?”

Mom: “You’re guess is as good as mine Punkin!” (I say this as it’s totally reverse from most fried chicken recipes.  You would normally marinate in buttermilk, often overnight, then bread, THEN fry/cook, but not in this case.).

Grab each chicken piece, dunk it in the bread mixture (the one I made during nap time and had now poured into a shallow bowl). Dunk it back in the buttermilk, and then back in the bread mixture, and then onto a cookie sheet.

Once all the chicken has been breaded, the oil should be plenty hot.  I set a plate with a paper towel next to the stove top.  I’m showing you the photo below so you can see the pot I chose to fry in.  The recipe called for a pot with tall sides, but this worked fine for me, I think I had 2″ of oil that I had heated on med-high.

Now here is the awesome part of this recipe.  It will take you about 2 minutes to fry up all the chicken. You literally drop the chicken in and in about 5 seconds you take it out and place it on the paper towel.  Remember the chicken is already cooked, all you’re doing now is getting that outer super yummy crunchy layer.  So you place it in the pot and the minute it’s golden, you take it out. (This also cuts the fat WAAAAY down!) My Fave guy came home at about this point and was popping them into his mouth like candy.  We both agreed that the chicken was super juicy and VERY tasty!  This will become a regular one for us.  I want to try it next time using other bread coatings too.  This one was great and we all loved it (kids had it with a side of ranch), but the recipe seems easy enough to be able to adapt with different flavors and breading options.

The photo below is only to show you the pot.  We did make the Faux mashed potatoe recipe (which uses Cauliflower) but it didn’t go over well with either us (I’ve had a better one, from the South Beach Diet I think).  In the end we decided we would rather cut the calories in the chicken, but eat real mashed potatoes!

Seriously, do not be afraid of this recipe or the steps.  It’s easy and tasty, AND good for you! (and if I WAS making mashed potatoes for this, I would have put them on to boil in the beginning when poaching the chicken, and then drained them and set aside just before I started frying the chicken.  When the chicken flash frying was done (2 minutes later) I would have prepared the potatoes which would give the chicken a chance to cool for the kids mouths.  Then everything would be ready, with no time wasted!

In the words of Yo Gabba Gabba, “Try it!  You might like it!”

Flash Fried Finger Lickin’ Chicken
Adapted from ~ “Now Eat This!
” Rocco Dispirito

*** TIP: If you want to print this recipe (or any other on this site), click the “Share It” link at the bottom of the post, then scroll to “printer friendly”, then print!  This is something I’m hoping to make easier in the updates, but that should help you for now!

Ingredients:

3 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
Salt
4 skinless, bone in chicken thighs (I used 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts)
2 quarts grapeseed oil (I used 1 quart canola oil)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium sauce-pot over high heat, seasoning it generously with salt.  Add the chicken to the pan and bring the broth to a simmer.  cover and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer gently until the chicken is tender, about 40 minutes (for thighs, I used breasts cut as nuggets and it was about 20 minutes).
  2. While the chicken is cooking, pour the oil into a large pot and bring it to 400 degrees over high heat.  Set a plate with a paper towel (or a wire rack) for draining chicken next to pot. In a shallow dish combine, the flour, with the paprika, celery salt, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne.  Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and pat dry (I bypassed this step and lifted the nuggets straight from the pot and dropped them in the buttermilk bowl). Cover with buttermilk, then dredge in the seasoned flour mixture.  Dip them back in the buttermilk, then back in the flour mixture.
  4. Fry the chicken, I did about 5 nuggets at a time, in the hot oil until golden brown.  Drain and serve immediately.

Happy Frying my Friends!!

1 dinner, 2 meals ~ bowls & burritos

I absolutely LOVE when I can make 1 dinner count for 2 meals!  Such a time saver, not to mention budget friendly…

Crock Pot Chicken Bowls are one of my favorite meal staples.  If I don’t make this once a week, then at least every other week. (Sad I know, but like I said, EASY).

This past week I threw everything into the crock pot, and by “everything” I mean, all that I’ve listed as an ingredient, plus any leftover chicken or beef that I found in the fridge. (We had grilled chicken and Oven Tri-Tip both ready and waiting for me…)

But then I got a wild hair and decided to make kid friendly burritos.

I wrapped a couple of damp paper towels around a stack of flour tortilla and nuked them for about a minute.

Then scooped some of the meat & bean mixture into the middle of a tortilla and rolled them up, kid friendly, and little hand style (sorry I didn’t photograph the “how to”. You just fold over opposite ends of the tortilla towards the mixture, then take the 3rd side and pull it over the mixture and the folds you just created, tuck it in and ROLL – Hope that makes sense….I’ll take a pic next time.)

Be sure to add the toppings you like – avocado, cheese, jalapenos, etc…

Served ’em on a plate with fruit.  Dinner was fun and the kiddos LOVED holding it all in their hands.

Then a few nights later, I reheated the leftover mixture and we had the chicken bowls…

Simple, easy, affordable, and FUN!

this girls got a steamy kitchen, and it’s good

I am seriously in-love with Jaden Hair from The Steamy Kitchen. (Not in a stalker kinda way, cuz that’d be weird.  But in a “this-lady-can-cook-and-I’m-not-quite-sure-I-WAS-really-cooking-before-I-read-her-book” kinda way)

WHAT!?!?  You haven’t heard of her???  OHHH, you HAVE and I’m the last person on this earth that didn’t know about her before a few months ago..

oh.

Well, now that we have that cleared up, if you don’t already follow her BEAUTIFUL site with LOADS of amazing recipes and photos that will make you want to eat your computer screen…

I encourage you to do so.

And if you don’t already own her cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, go buy it now.  You wont be sorry.

Here’s the tag line, “101 Asian recipes simple enough for tonight’s dinner.” And she’s not kidding. I did go out and purchase a few pantry items to make my life easier (Oyster Sauce, Hoison Sauce, Coconut Milk, Sake, Rice Vinegar).  But once I had that taken care of, almost any dish could be ready in minutes (honestly, MINUTES).  As usual, I tend to prep things in the morning while the kids play, but you certainly don’t have to to have her dinners on the table super quick.

I’ve been reading through the book since last month (I’m kinda weird that way, I like to take it all in before I start to tackle things).  Anyway, we’ve tried the Lettuce Wraps, Coconut Rice (OMG, best ever!!!!), & Perfect Shrimp Fried Rice.  And the Grilled Lamb Chops with Asian Pesto are up for this weekend. (But not the same day as the Foodie Fest because that would be food overload…).

Kids loved it, I loved it, hubs loved it, the floor loved it

(which wasn’t love for me, but the rice was so good it was worth it!)

Make this this week!

(As I’m writing this post, I’m eating leftover lettuce wraps….hmmmmm GOOD!)

Flat Belly Diet ~ Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cobb

From the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook ~ p 223

4 Servings / 199 Calories / MUFA: Canola Oil Mayonnaise

This is a GREAT alternative to butter and salt!  I served this for a Memorial Day dinner, so YUMMY! Perfect for summer BBQs.

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn (Pick up some fresh corn at a Farmers Market or produce stand, LOTS of extra flavor!)
1/4 cup canola oil mayonnaise (I used Best Foods Light)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Remove the outermost husks ans silks, but leave the tender inner husks on the corn.  Soak the ears in cold water for 15 minutes. (For a pretty presentation, I used one of the peeled husks to tie a knot around the inner husks once I had removed the silks.  EASY. Took a few extra seconds each.)
  2. Combine the mayo, lime juice, and chili powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Grill the ears of corn over direct heat for 10 minutes, turning to prevent charring.  Move to indirect heat and grill for 1 minutes longer, or until a kernel pops easily when pressed.  If the corn appears dry, it’s overcooked. (You can also wrap each husk in foil, or use a piece of foil on the grill to prevent burning.)
  4. Peel back the husks and spread 1 teaspoon the reserved mayo mixture over each cob.  Dust with 1 teaspoon of cheese and serve hot.

Campbell’s Chicken & Noodle Casserole

You will all laugh at me for this recipe! But honestly, when you’re in a pinch sometimes…..

I had something completely different planned for dinner one night, but just ran out of time and energy. I took a quick stock of what I had and pulled an emergency can of Cream of Mushroom soup from the pantry and flipped it around to see if it had any recipes….TADA, a new simple winner!

Honestly, it was super easy, not really heavy, baked in 20 minutes, and everyone loved it!  Serve it with a big salad and warm rolls and you’re the champion!!

Campbell’s Chicken & Noodle Casserole:

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 (10-3/4 oz) can Campbells Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I had a Costco Rotissiere Chicken shredded in the freezer, I added it frozen)
2 cups medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Stir soup, milk, vegetables, chicken, noodles, Parmesan cheese and black pepper in 1-1/2 qt casserole dish.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot, stir.
  3. Top with Cheddar cheese.

crock pot chicken bowls

I have a fabulous mom friend of 4 grade school & high school girls.  She has to have her act together to keep everything running in their house!  And although she says she doesn’t cook, she has shared more than a few great, quick recipes with me.  This one she does on the stove top, but I’ve found that by throwing it in my crock pot on low it keeps it warm and can be served to the Littles, Hubby and me when we have to eat dinner at all different times…it is so easy, you can heat it up anyway you want!

[singlepic id=64 w=320 h=150 float=none]

Ingredients:

1 Rotissierie Chicken, shredded or diced (can also use left over steak cubed, or taco meat, but my favorite is chicken)**
1 to 2 cans of Herdez Cesera Salsa
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups Costco frozen brown rice
1-2 diced avocados
optional – sliced jalapenos

Directions:

This is the tough part…throw everything in the crockpot, stir and let heat on low for an hour.  Serve with warm tortillas (heat on a plate for 1 minute in microwave wrapped in damp paper towel) or cheese quesadilla wedges.

(Hubby likes his served in a bowl with sliced jalapenos and avocados, Addie and I pass on the jalapenos.)

** I often buy 1 or 2 rotisserie chickens from Costco on the weekend, shred them and freeze in a large ziplock bag.  Then I have it to use throughout the week in whatever dish I choose.  You could put any of the above ingredients in the crockpot frozen.

BBQ chicken salad

There is no secret to this BBQ chicken salad…I just throw it together. And for some reason we all like it!

Ingredients:

Romain lettuce OR Spring Mix
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
medium onion, cut into quarters and separated
BBQ sauce
corn kernals
avocado, diced
tomato, diced
smoked gouda, small cubes OR blue cheese crumbles
bacon bits
red onion, diced (optional)
dressing of preference – Hubby likes ranch (if we are being “good” then Girrard’s light Champage Dressing)
croutons

Directions:

1.  Place chicken breasts in baking dish, an scatter onion.  Dizzle all with olive oil.  Cover chicken with BBQ sauce.  Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.

2. Meanwhile add remaining ingredients, except dressing, to salad bowl.

3. When chicken is done, cut up and toss in with the salad.  Add the dressing and serve.

so much yumminess

Pioneer Woman White Chicken Enchiladas

Oh goodness, it’s been a crazy Thursday afternoon!

But I have got to tell you, the White Chicken Enchilada Recipe that is on next week’s menu is

HEAVEN!

Thank you Pioneer Woman – you are and always will be my hero!

(Second only to my amazing mother who is your talent twin!)

The recipe is a few more steps than I normally do
(not really, just kinda felt like it),
but I’ve been snacking on it the whole time

DELICIOUS!!

PW Chicken Enchilidas 3

To fill you in, pre-blog writing days (when I actually had 5 extra minutes in the day – but now with writing this blog, have SWIFTLY disappeared, and then some) I used to prepare a menu for our family, just like I give to you, each Friday.

Some have asked how I come up with these menus….
you’re assuming of course that I’ve thought that much about them
!

This is what normally happens:

1. I look at what we are doing the next week and figure that we will be eating at home at least 4 nights.  Which leaves room for pre-exisitng plans, last minute invites, and spontaneity.  I also know that there will always be some kind of leftover if we needed it, and honestly, there is enough food in the house to wing it, we wont starve, and neither will you. A quesadilla and soup will always work.

2. I pick 4 meals that sound good to me.  My hubby could honestly not care less what we eat, luckily, so it’s up to me and my moods, and being pregnant for 3 of the 3 1/2 years we’ve been married means we have had to fill a lot of cravings!

3. I normally scan a few favorite cookbooks, try to keep it simple, try for recipes that will work for Addie as well as us, see where I can use leftover meat from one dinner in another and then make up my shopping list.

I was asked if I have some kind of check off plan, like Italian on Mondays, Tacos on Tuesdays.  Or a plan for so many crockpot meals in a month.  Or maybe a list of dinners I like that I plan in a month for how many times I will prepare them.  NOPE.  All sound like good ideas, just more planning than I can typically do.  But each family really needs to do what’s best for them.

5. I plan by what sounds good, what will give us variety, what I can wing with in a week…knowing that I may not eat the meals Monday thru Thursday, that they are really fair game for any of the 7 days.

6. Once I figure out what we are having, I typically shop and prep on the weekend, & make Hayden’s food and freeze it, and then we are  ready to go for the following week with only 1 or 2 straggler ingredients needed if it needs to be fresh. This limits store visits and at least makes me feel prepared.  (Please note that I said it makes me feel prepared…didn’t say that I was!!)

HOWEVER, now that I’m sharing recipes with you all, I prep the menu a week ahead so that our family can eat it and make sure we like how it all works.

(OH THE PRESSURE!!!  WILL YOU LIKE IT???)

So the long and the short of this explanation is that we are having next week’s enchiladas on Thursday night and although it is a bit more steps than normal, I was able to easily make today.  Remember how I said today was crazy??  I worked a consulting job this AM, got home at noon, had to write 3 posts (because I had help today), make Hayden’s food (as I wont have much time this weekend), work on my mother in laws re-decorating project, make the enchiladas early (since I have a holiday bookclub tonight), and finish about 5 loads of much needed laundry…

but I was still able to make these….so I KNOW you can too!

PW Enchilada 2

AND YOU ARE JEALOUS, believe me!!

So have a great weekend everyone!

Check out next week’s menu,

Get your gifts wrapped by an Elf.

Cotton Idea Gift 2

or wrap them yourselves

Amazon scotch tape gun
(I LOVE my Tape Gun!!)

Think about buying a camera for yourself or as a gift…
(and Enter the session Giveaway from Sandy Heit!)

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Figure out what beautiful tablewear you will have on your table for the holiday.
(And enter the Juliska Giveaway, it ends TONIGHT).

Juliska pewter buffet ad

Be sure to check back this weekend for more fun tips & the Juliska winner…

And most certainly spend some time with you Littles, your grand-Littles,  your friends Littles!

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and enjoy the season!

(Please note the photos of the Chicken Enchilada recipe were not taken by me (I wish) that is one of the many talents of the Pioneer Woman! And she is so nice to share them with her recipes!)