Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27-Slow-Cooker Latin Chicken with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes

There is something wonderful about cooking from a cookbook. Don't get me wrong, the internet is fantastic, but lately I've been inspired to break into my cookbook collection that has been collecting dust above the kitchen cupboards.

The first cookbook I ever purchased was "Fast Weeknight Favorites" by Good Housekeeping. I had just set out on my kitchen-venture and figured that I couldn't go wrong with something that promised to not only be fast, but also turn into a family favorite. Tonight I rediscovered this collection of quick and easy suppers and found this tasty recipe. Another home run!

Slow-Cooker Latin Chicken with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes
Recipe below contains a few slight adaptations; Original Recipe on Good Housekeeping
1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken tenders
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 can black beans, drained
1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small jar roasted red pimento peppers
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
lime wedges

1. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp cumin, salt, and pepper. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add chicken and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken to plate and remove skillet from heat.
2. In the same skillet, combine paprika, allspice, broth, salsa, garlic, and remaining 1.5 tsp cumin.
3. In a slow cooker, combine beans and sweet potatoes. Arrange chicken in a single layer on top of the potato mixture. Pour broth mixture on top. Cover slow cooker and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
4. Remove chicken with tongs and place on a large platter. Gently stir roasted red pepper strips into potato mixture. Spoon mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
5. Enjoy!

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23- Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew

I had no intentions of cooking tonight. As much as I love the kitchen, this week called for a night of vegging at home with a box of Thai takeout, watching TLC specials. 

My plans changed when I found this easy recipe in Real Simple's "Quick and Easy Meals" mini cookbook. The directions promised that it would only take 15 minutes to prep and cook...I figured it couldn't get any easier than that. 

Let's be real. I'd much rather cook that eat out anyway (Seriously. My hubby will vouch for me.).

I am in love with this stew recipe! I usually don't like sausage (something about the texture I think) but this sure hit the spot. This is not the last time I'll be making this!

Bean and Chicken Sausage Stew
Recipe by Real Simple
1 tbsp olive oil
1 13oz package chicken sausage links (fully cooked) thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 19oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinse
1 14.5oz can low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale
Kosher salt and pepper
Crusty bread (optional). I served this stew with Nabisco Triscuit crackers.

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, without turning, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn, add garlic, and cook 2 minutes more.
2. Add the beans, both, and tomatoes and their liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-high heat.
3. Meanwhile, cut out the tough stems and center ribs from the kale leaves and discard. Tear the leaves into large pieces. Add the kale to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2-3 minutes.
4. Season with 1/4tsp each salt and pepper.
5. Serve with bread (or crackers) if desired.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14- Banana Mocha Oatmeal

Despite the plethora of dinner recipes on this blog, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.
I love breakfast. I mean really, truly love it. 

If I had to choose between two scenarios: 
A. Sleep in an extra 30 minutes in my cozy bed...
B. Spend that 30 minutes enjoying a delicious breakfast while catching up on the news...
 I'd pick B. Hands down. 

Old-fashioned oatmeal is my breakfast of choice. It's warm, filling, healthy, and you can dress it up however you like. Below is one of my favorite, filling, post-workout friendly oatmeal combos. Enjoy!
Banana Mocha Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/4 large banana, mashed
1 spoon instant coffee
cocoa-roast almonds, crushed (amount as desired)

1. Mix oats, protein powder, and instant coffee in a bowl. Add 1-1.5 cups water, depending on desired consistency.
2. Microwave oatmeal as directed.
3. When 30 seconds cooking time remains, remove oatmeal from microwave and add mashed banana and almonds. Mix thoroughly.
4. Continue cooking additional 30 seconds.
5. Enjoy and be filled with goodness. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12-Pizza Bites & Zucchini Fries

I have a love-hate relationship with the month of August. It's always a crazy, busy, roller-coaster of a month for me, yet at the same time it's a beautiful, warm, fantastic farewell to summer. While planning this week's menu, I wanted something simple that both my husband and I would enjoy. I came up with these tasty pizza bites, drawing inspiration off my mom's delicious recipe for Chicken Crescent Rolls

My husband loved them, which for me is the best gage of success. I made two varieties to satisfy each of our palettes. Delicious!

For a side, I made Zucchini Fries. These were the highlight for me! I ate about half the batch and would have been happy just eating these. So yummy.

Kristin's Pizza Bites
1 8 oz can crescent rolls
2-3 tbsp melted margarine
1/3 cup bread crumbs
pasta sauce
pizza fillings (see below for suggestions)
His: Shredded Italian cheese blend, black olives, pepperoni
Hers: Veggie cheese, diced chicken, black olives, and diced red onions

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Separate crescent rolls on a baking sheet, coated with nonstick spray. 
3. Place desired fillings (cheese, toppings, etc) in a bowl. Add enough pasta sauce to coat ingredients and stir through. I recommend starting with small dollop of sauce and add more as needed. You do not want the filling to be too saucy, or the liquid will seep through the rolls. 
4. Place a small amount of mixture into the center of each triangle. Starting at the small end of the triangle, roll to the opposite point. Tuck in the sides to seal completely.
5. Dip each roll in melted margarine and roll in bread crumbs. If the rolls are flimsy and you are afraid of them falling apart, you can also spread butter on top and sprinkle with bread crumbs. 
6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. 
7. In a small sauce pan, heat the extra pasta sauce. 
8. Enjoy the rolls, dipped in pasta sauce. 

Zucchini Fries by Health Magazine
2-3 zucchini
1 egg white
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I only used 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Cut zucchini into 3-inch strips.
3. In one bowl, whisk egg whites and add milk. In another bowl, combine parmesan and bread crumbs.
4. Dip each zucchini stick into the egg mixture and roll in the crumb/parmesan mixture.
5. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay zucchini on sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.
6. Serve with ranch dressing and/or marinara for dipping. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 6-Mediterranean Baked Chicken

Whenever I need inspiration, I turn to Pinterest. This week while contemplating what to make for dinner, I found this recipe by The Clever Carrot. 

The flavor in this dish is phenomenal! I savored every bite. Thanks for the inspiration!

Mediterranean Baked Chicken
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 14oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, reserving 2-3 tbsp of marinade for later
4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped (I used dried oregano)
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, left whole
1 14oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1 small tub marinated bocconcini (I couldn't find bocconcini at my local supermarket, so I substituted this for 6oz fresh mozzarella cheese)
olive oil
salt & pepper
basil & parsley

1. Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving about 2-3 tbsp juice in a small bowl or gallon ziplock bag. Set artichokes aside. In the bowl, combine garlic and oregano leaves. Cut chicken into 1 1/2 inch strips and add to the marinade. Mix well to coat. The original recipe suggests marinating the chicken for 1 hour minimum, 3 hours maximum. My chicken marinated all day while I was at work and it still turned out great.
2. Preheat oven to 400. In a large roasting pan, add sliced onions and tomatoes. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until onions are soft and tomatoes begin to burst, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 1 tsp of olive oil over moderate heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches. The chicken will be a little undercooked.
4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. The onions should be somewhat soft. If not, bake additional 5 minutes.
5. Add chicken, artichoke hearts, beans, and olives to the pan. Roast about 5-7 minutes or until chicken is done. 
6. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with basil, parsley, and cheese. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

August 3- Chocolate Cupcakes w/Gooey Rolo Centers

There is no woman that I admire more than my mom. People always told me that I'm just like her. As a teen I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but as I grow older I realize it is one of the best compliments I could receive. 

Tomorrow the entire family will be gathering together to celebrate my parent's birthdays, as both of their birthdays fall in the same week. I called my mom earlier this week to ask if what I could contribute to the birthday luncheon. She assured me that most everything was taken care of and that she had it all under control (I am my mother's daughter).  I insisted that she should not make her own birthday cake. She told me that the cake was covered; She would be making my dad's favorite cherry-vanilla dessert. 

I have no complaints about this (that is MY favorite dessert too, after all), but I know that my mom is a triple-chocolate-chocolate lover when it comes to desserts. After I had hung up the phone, I decided to make something chocolate to bring to the birthday celebration. 

Besides, who would complain about double desserts?

My mom loves Chocolate Turtle Candies; The ones with the nuts and caramel with the chocolate coating. Inspired by her favorite treat, I set out to create a nutty-chocolate-caramel cupcake.

It's quite simple.
Follow your favorite recipe for chocolate cupcakes.
Before baking, place one Rolo candy into the center of each cup and smooth batter to cover.
Top with crushed nuts.

August 3- Fiesta Chicken Flatbread

One of the reasons I love cooking so much is because it allows me to be creative and to tweak recipes to meet my tastes, cravings, and even my dietary restrictions. A few days ago, this lactose-intolerant gal was craving pizza. I looked through my refrigerator, collected ingredients I already had on hand, and whipped up this delicious lunch. 

I've eaten this four times this week, including today. So yummy!

Kristin's Fiesta Chicken Flatbread
1 Flatout Flatbread (flavor of your choice)
1 slice Go Veggie! Alternative Slices Pepper Jack Flavor, broken into pieces
1/2 cup cooked chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 avocado, cut into small pieces
salsa (about 4 tbsp)
Optional veggies (any odds and end you may have in your kitchen- minced garlic, chopped onion, chopped zucchini, chopped snap peas, chopped broccoli...they're all great additions!)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lay flatbread on a baking sheet and top with salsa. Spread salsa evenly so that entire surface is covered.
3. Sprinkle remaining ingredients evenly over the surface.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes.

July 28-Shrimp Fajitas

On Sunday night, my husband and I were wiped after a full day of church activities and a trip to the Orange County Fair. We weren't really hungry until later in the evening, thanks to the variety of deep-fried-oddities at the fair. Once we realized we were both hungry, we scrounged through our kitchen for options. 
Frozen dinners? Top ramen?....Mmm, what about shrimp fajitas?

I had a few bell peppers and an onion in the fridge, as well as frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer. Thirty minutes later we had ourselves a pretty tasty meal!

Shrimp Fajitas
1/2-3/4 lb cooked shrimp
1-2 bell peppers, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
fajita seasonings (pre-mixed or homemade with spices you probably have on hand)
1. In a large skillet heat oil. Sauté vegetables until crisp. 
2. Add shrimp, fajita seasonings, and a little water to help seasoning coat. Heat through.
3. Serve with rice and/or tortillas.