Oct 2014
Spicy Quinoa {Crockpot} Chicken Chili

Spicy Southwest Chicken Chili (Crockpot)

There is nothing more relaxing to me than a Sunday afternoon in the fall. Around our house, it means staying in sweatpants all day, watching football, and cuddling under fleece blankets. The last thing I typically want to do on Sundays is slave over a hot stove, so usually a good crockpot meal is in order. This chili is thick, hearty and healthy – and can be made in the crockpot! It makes a ton, so it’s perfect for lunches for the rest of the week. Serve it with my favorite cornbread, and you have the most perfect fall meal.

*If you don’t like quinoa, you can substitute rice.

Spicy Quinoa {Crockpot} Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • 3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime

Directions

  1. Combine the chicken, garlic, onion, quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices in the bowl of a crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours until the chicken is cooked through,
  2. Remove the chicken from the crockpot, shred using two forks or your KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment. Return the chicken to the crockpot, add in the beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice. Cook for 30-60 more minutes until the beans and corn are heated through.
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Source: Adapted from Damn Delicious

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Oct 2014
Honey Cornbread Muffins

Honey Cornbread Muffins

Some people spend their whole life looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, the perfect pizza dough, or even the perfect chocolate cake recipe. Me? I’ve spent years looking for the perfect cornbread recipe. I like my cornbread sweet, but not too sweet, and soft and buttery with no kernels or corn. I’ve made dozens of recipes, but they all seem to turn out dry, bland and crumbly. That is, until today.

022

From this day forward, I will never try another cornbread recipe, as long as I live. The honey in the recipe adds the perfect amount of sweetness, while keeping it moist and tender. It requires no special ingredients like buttermilk, so I can whip up these cornbread muffins in minutes with ingredients that I always have on hand. With the amount of soups and chilli that will be on the menu this fall to keep up us warm in the chilly western PA weather, I see myself making these quite a bit!

Honey Cornbread Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
  3. Place muffin paper liners in a muffin tin, then evenly divide the batter among the tins. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Mix together the extra melted butter and honey, and brush on top of the warm cornbread muffins.
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Source: Food Network.com

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Oct 2014
Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Spicy Chiptole Chicken Tacos

Let’s talk motherhood here for a second. My baby girl is now almost six (6!!) months old., and my, oh my, how life has changed. Before I got pregnant, and even during my pregnancy, I always imagined my life as a mom to be similar to my life before baby, just with an adorable little companion tagging along. Sure, I’d be a little more tired, my house would be a little more messy, and my husband and I would have a few less date nights. But I figured I would be still be able to hit the gym five days a week, keep up with my blog, and be back in my skinny jeans by 6 weeks postpartum. After all, breastfeeding just melts the baby weight away, right?

Laugh. Out. Loud.

Here I sit, 6 months post-baby, struggling to keep my eyes open at 8pm, my house is a disaster, and I can’t even remember the last time I made it to the gym. Even more evident is the fact that I am blogging for the first time in almost 3 months, for something that I cooked probably 2 months ago. Life is busy, but that little girl is so worth it. It’s hard to imagine exactly what life was without here. I just keep reminding myself that the laundry can wait, but my baby will only be a baby for a short time.  I mean, how can you resist this cuteness?

Avery

So, as I continue to find my rhythm with this whole mom thing, I hope to get back in the kitchen and share some more fabulous recipes with you all. This recipe is perfect for all moms – you can have it on your table in 20 minutes flat, and the leftovers make a great lunch the next day. The original recipe is for lettuce wraps, but we used whole wheat tortillas because well, carbs are awesome. ;)

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Take note, it is rather spicy, so if you don’t have taste buds of steel, you may consider reducing the amount of chipotle peppers used in the sauce.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 pound chicken breast (About 2-3 breasts)
  • 2 – 3 chipotle peppers
  • 3 Tbs. adobo sauce (that comes from the jar)
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 10'' flour tortillas
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Arrange the corn on a rimmed baking sheet with a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn on the broiler. Arrange the corn on a rimmed baking sheet with a Tbs. of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. With your broiler set to high, broil the corn for about 5 minutes, until they are slightly charred and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a large pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper then sear for 6 minutes on each side or until cooked throughout. Remove from the heat, and set aside for 5 minutes to rest, then dice the chicken.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, lime juice, chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce until smooth.
  4. Return the chicken to the pain, then toss with the chipotle sauce, diced bell pepper and roasted corn. Serve with warm flour tortillas and top with fresh scallions.
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Source: Bev Cooks

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Jul 2014
Thick and Chewy M&M Cookie Bars

M&M Cookie Bars

As of today, I only have 10 days left of maternity leave. *cries* Where the heck did the past 11 weeks go? And when did my squishy newborn turn into a laughing, smiley almost 3-month old?

While I am so not ready to leave my baby girl, I will admit that I am ready to have some adult interaction, and to see my coworkers again. I am blessed that my coworkers are basically a second family to me, and are essentially another set of sisters to seek advice from, to laugh with, to cry with. They are seriously some of the most amazing, supportive women that I’ve ever met.

M&M Cookie Bars 011

As I said, with the exception a few male doctors and one male secretary, the rest of my coworkers are women. And when you work somewhere that is mostly women in their late 20’s and early 30’s, there is bound to be a baby boom. This summer alone, we’ve had 6 babies born within weeks of each other, with a 7th baby due in August. So last week, one of my coworkers graciously opened her home so we could have a “meet the new babies” party, as well as a play date for all the older kids. Thankfully there was an inflatable waterslide to keep the 25+ older kids entertained, while the moms passed around our newborns and talked about breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and got up on all the work drama that we’ve missed while on maternity leave.

Of course, we couldn’t have a party without food, so I took along these M&M cookie bars, knowing they would be a hit with all the kids AND adults. As the name implies, they are thick and chewy, haha, and super easy to make. You could easily swap out the M&M’s for chocolate chips or peanut butter chips, but I love the bright colors that the M&M’s add.

Thick and Chewy M&M Cookie Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12-18 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 12oz bag mini M&M's, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Grease a 9x13 pan, line with parchment paper so the edges hang over the side, then set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the softened butter and sugars until well mixed. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in 1 cup of the mini M&M's, then spread evenly into the prepared pan using a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining M&M's on top of the batter.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the bars are a light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan. Cool completely before cutting.
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Source: What’s Megan Making

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Jul 2014
Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Hello, Monday. We meet again. Hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. With most of our friends being out of town with family obligations and weddings, we didn’t have any exciting plans for the 4th. We decided against fighting the crowds at the beach, and instead got some things done around the house. We spent the day cleaning out our cars, packing away Avery’s newborn clothes that are too small (SOB!), and going through closets. Exciting right? Later that night we went out to dinner, and watched a Redbox movie in bed while we listened to our neighbors set off fireworks in their backyards. Even though it wasn’t your typical 4th of July celebration, we still had a great day off together.

Don’t worry though, we got our fair share of red, white and blue festivities in the next day at a picnic with Brad’s family. We were having the typical burgers and hot dogs, so I wanted to bring along some sort of potato casserole to contribute to the meal. Most of the recipes that I’ve seen involve frozen hashbrowns and processed cheese, and while they may taste good, I try to stay away from cheese that resembles a Jell-o jiggler. ;)

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole 016

In case it wasn’t obvious by the name of the recipe, this casserole resembles that of a loaded baked potato, as it is loaded with cheesey, bacon-ey, onion-ey goodness. (Yes, those are all words.) The best part is that you leave the skins on, so there is no potato peeling involved. You can also assemble it ahead of time, keep it in the fridge and just bake when you need it. It’s a great dish to take to picnics, or to serve at your next party.

*For a lighter version, you can use light sour cream or greek yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, and turkey bacon.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Loaded Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3 pounds red potatoes, washed and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 scallions, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper until well combined. Add the potatoes, diced onion, garlic and 3/4 of the bacon and mix until well combined.
  3. Spread the potatoes into a greased 9x13 pan, then cover with foil. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove from the oven, stir, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and scallions. Bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
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Source: Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

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Jun 2014
Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

Citrus Herb Chicken 008

Today is my 3rd wedding anniversary, and what a crazy three years its been. My husband finished grad school, we opened his business, bought a house, got a cat, got a dog, and topped it off with the highest of highs with the birth of our daughter in April. Like every marriage, we’ve had our ups and downs, but I love the life that we’re creating and can’t imagine a better guy by my side to walk through this life with. I am so blessed!

My husband also serves as my #1 taste-tester, and thinking back over the 9 years that we’ve been together, he has tasted quite a few of my “creations”, including quite a few failures. Thankfully he is not a picky eater and usually willing to try anything. This chicken dish was a hit in our household. It was quick and simple to make, yet was flavorful and delicious. You simply make a quick marinade, and can either marinate the chicken in it for a few hours, or simply pour over the chicken while you cook. I didn’t marinate it ahead of time, and the chicken still had great flavor. The recipe calls for bone-in chicken thighs and legs, but you can use breasts if you prefer, just reduce to the cooking time from 60 minutes to 40 minutes.

Citrus Herb Chicken 007

Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 whole lemons, one juiced and one sliced
  • 2 whole oranges, one juiced and one sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 10-12 pieces (about 4 1/2 lbs.) bone-in chicken parts
  • 1 medium onion (any kind), thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or fresh chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, or fresh chopped
  • Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley), for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, Italian seasoning, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken in a rimmed 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, skin side up. Pour the olive oil mixture over the chicken, then arrange slices of lemon, orange and onion around and under the chicken. Sprinkle with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked and juices run clear. (If using breasts, cook for 40 minutes or so.) Remove parts to a serving platter and garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs, if desired.
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Source: Comfort of Cooking

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Jun 2014
Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

I’m a huge planner by nature, sometimes to the point where it may even be a bit excessive. Before Avery was born, I had a huge excel document with to-do lists, shopping lists, a list of people to write thank-you cards for, and a huge list of groceries to buy and recipes to make to stock my freezer before the baby was born.

One of the things on my list was to make cookies to freeze. I figured the extra calories that I would need for breastfeeding could easily be easily satisfied with cookies, and really, it was just an excuse to eat cookies. After trying to eat relatively healthy during my pregnancy, I had planned on using the first few weeks post-partum to indulge some cravings before hoping on the “lost the baby weight” train.

To my surprise, our sweet girl showed up 2 weeks ahead of schedule, leaving me with a freezer without cookies in it. So naturally, a few days after she was born, I was back in the kitchen baking cookies. These cookies definitely did not disappoint. They are everything you’d want in an M&M cookies. Soft, chewy (uh, hence the name), buttery and studded with M&M’s. I love the additional M&M’s pressed into the top of the cookie, which I think gives them more of a “professional” look to them.

Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces (about 2¾ cups + 1 scant tablespoon) bread flour*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces (about ¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) whole milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup M&M candies, divided
  • *You can use all-purpose flour, but your cookies might be less chewy

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, melt the butter then aside to cool.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup or small bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Once the dough is well mixed, add in 1/2 cup of the M&M's and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop the cookie dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, and bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
  8. Remove from the oven, and press the extra M&M's into the cookies. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container.
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Source: Brown Eyed Baker

 

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Jun 2014
BBQ Macaroni Salad

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Summertime means barbeques, and what BBQ is complete without pasta salad? This version is a little more amped up than your usual pasta salad. Add in some kielbasa, BBQ sauce and hot sauce, and you have a spicy, tangy version that will knock your flip-flops off. I made this for my husband to take to his annual guys weekend, and apparently it was a hit. According to my husband, guys that normally hate pasta salad were inhaling this. (Yes, I let my husband go away for a guys weekend with a 1 month old at home. I’m still waiting for my “wife of the year” trophy.)

BBQ Macaroni Salad 031

My favorite thing about it is that you can make it a day or two ahead of time, and keep it in the fridge. Perfect to make ahead of time before a big party or picnic. We’ll definitely be seeing more of this pasta salad this summer.

Looking for a more traditional pasta salad? Check out my tri-color pasta salad.

BBQ Macaroni Salad

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 8-12 ounces turkey kielbasa, diced
  • 1 pound macaroni, any shape
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of canola oil over medium heat, than add the chopped kielbasa and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Line a plate with paper towels, then transfer the kielbasa to the plate and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the macaroni until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the pasta then transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the kielbasa, bell pepper, celery, green onion, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper to the macaroni and stir to combine, Add in the mayonnaise and barbecue sauce, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to two days.
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Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Jun 2014
Cheesy Cajun Spiced Corn

Cheesy Cajun Spiced CornAfter a brutally cold winter and snow well into April, I think it is safe to say that summer is finally here in western Pennsylvania. Our yard is blooming with flowers, the grass is finally green, and our weekends are filled with picnics, softball games, and home improvement projects. And of course, trips to the ice cream stand.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to grill and eat dinner on our back deck. My husband usually is the grill-master, while I handle all the side dishes inside of the house. So whenever possible, I try to make our sides on the grill, therefore allowing me more time to sip wine with my feet up while I watch my husband grill. Plus, you don’t have the oven heating up the whole house.

This cheesy cajun spiced corn is the perfect side dish for a summer meal. It’s extremely adaptable, just use whatever veggies or seasonings you happen to have on hand. By using a foil packet, it steams the veggies perfectly, and there is no mess to clean up. You could even make it over a campfire for those of you who like to camp!

Cheesy Cajun Spiced Corn

Cheesy Cajun Spiced Corn

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, or the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. On a sheet of aluminum foil, combine the corn, onion and bell pepper in the center of the foil. Sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Slice the butter into small pats, and place on top of the vegetables, then top with the cheese.
  3. Bring the sides of the foil up, folding the ends to make one large foil packet, being sure to leave some room for air to circulate.
  4. Place on the grill, or in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Open the packet carefully allowing steam to escape, stir to combine, then serve.
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Source: Adapted from Reynold’s Kitchens

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May 2014
Thai Chicken Bites

Thai Chicken Bites

My husband doesn’t grocery shop. Partly because, I am weird and love to grocery shop, and partly because when he does, he either comes home with random things, or I field multiple phone calls regarding the items on my list. It’s just not worth it to send him to the store. Last time he grocery shopped was the day we brought Avery home from the hospital. We literally had no food in the house, as I had planned to do a major grocery shopping stock up trip the day after she was born. Someone had other plans for me. :)

Nevertheless, I sent him off to the store with an extensive list, and I stayed home trying to figure out how to keep our 2-day old alive. He returned with everything on the list, as well as a bottle of sweet chili sauce. I asked him what he planned on doing with it, and he said, “I thought maybe you could make some Asian food with it!”

Sure dude. In my spare time.

Thai Chicken Bites

Now that we’re three weeks in to this whole parenting thing, life is getting somewhat easier, and I’m finding some free time to play in the kitchen. (Thankfully my baby likes to nap.) I made these Thai Chicken Bites for lunch one day, and they were incredible. Super easy to make, just bread some chicken and pan fry it, then top it with the sweet chili sauce. Not exactly the healthiest meal in the world, but better for you than take-out.

Thai Chicken Bites

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 large chicken breast {boneless & skinless}
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Canola or peanut oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • Carrots & cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a deep skillet, pour 1-2 inches of oil and preheat over medium heat
  2. Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In another dish, whisk together the egg and milk. Toss your chicken in the flour mixture first, then into the egg mixture, and once again into the flour mixture.
  3. Cook the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown on each side, approximately 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the sweet chili sauce. Top with shredded carrots and cilantro and serve immediately.
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Source: Lauren’s Latest

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