Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Make-Your-Own Sweet and Sour Chicken

How is your first week of fall going?

Pretty exciting week around here...after quite the wild and winding road called life, my big brother is finally getting married.

Couldn't be happier for him and his bride, their family and farm.  We can wait to celebrate with everyone!

But before we pack up and head out, I have a few more recipes that I want to share with everyone.

As you have probably guessed by now, I'd much rather feed my family at home than pay someone to do it for me.

So, in an effort to keep up with their ever-changing favorites, I attempted my first ever sweet and sour chicken...which was a success, if I do say so myself!

Perhaps a little tedious, but I still prefer that over eating out, 
at least on MOST occasions.

For starters, I took a package of chicken tenders, nearly 2# which was about 12 tenders, 
cut them up into bite size pieces,
 doused them with 1/2 cup of corn starch and tossed to coat.

Easy enough!

Next, I whipped up 3 eggs to serve as my batter or wash before par-frying (partial or pre-frying) 
in 1/4 cup of canola oil, for starters, more was added as necessary.

Before moving on, make sure that your oven is preheating at 325 F.

Just using a toothpick, the chicken was dipped in the egg and then placed in the pan.  

Frying for 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned, giving great texture.

Until both sides are browned. 

Then, they are placed in a 9x13 baking pan to hang out for a bit before finishing off in the oven.

Now, for the sweet and sour sauce, combine
1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce 
and 1 tsp garlic powder.

Whisk together until smooth.  

When all of the chicken was browned, 
1 chopped green pepper, 1 can of pineapple chunks and the sauce
were added to the chicken.

Top with sauce and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.  
Flip, turn, or stir and give them another 20 minutes of oven time.

Just serve over rice
enjoy all of the flavors and textures of this Asian inspired dish!

RECIPE: Serves 6. 

1 Package of chicken tenders (roughly 2#)
1/2 cup of corn starch
3 eggs
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tsp garlic powder
1 chopped green pepper
1 can of pineapple chunks

Garnish with:
Green Onion 
Sesame Seeds

Preheat oven to 325F. 
Cut up chicken tenders into bite sized pieces. 
Coat with corn starch. 
Preheat oil in sautee pan. 
Whisk up eggs. 
Using a toothpick, dip chicken into eggs and then add straight to pan for par-frying, 2-3 minutes on each side. 
When both sides are browned, place in 9x13 pan. 
Mix up sauce with sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. 
After all chicken is coated and browned, add pineapple, green pepper and sauce. 
Bake for 40 minutes, stirring after 20. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Naked Fish Taco Bowl

These naked fish taco bowls were another amazing meal.  Perfect for all seasons and occasions.  

I love making up all the parts of a dish and letting everyone put their own finishing touches on their meal.  Something about that lets everyone feel like they had a hand in the cooking.  

The rice, the beans, the corn, the fish, the toppings...just keeps getting better and better!

I won't keep you waiting any longer….

Started by grilling 4 - 6 oz cod loins over medium heat
then seasoning with chili power, cumin, salt and a little bit of ground red pepper.
(gotta love me some SP.403)

Flip and continue to grill on the other side until the fish were sufficiently 
opaque and flaky.  
Probably about 5-7 minutes on each side.  

Once the fish were done, they were plated and set aside…
in my favorite warming box, the microwave.

Next, it was time to grill up the veggies, right in the same pan.  

One tablespoon minced garlic, 2 cups of corn,
 1 medium onion and 2 medium tomatoes - chopped 
and 1 can of rinsed black beans 

were all tossed together and seasoned with the leftover fish seasonings.  

As for a dressing, just stir up
 1/3 cup sour cream with 1/3 cup salsa and juice from 1/2 of a lime 
for the perfect consistency and flavor. 

To put it all together, this bowl started with about 1/2 cup of cooked rice
and a healthy layer of grilled veggies.

Then the chunks of seasoned and flaky cod…

Finished with a couple of spoonfuls of the creamy salsa dressing, 
as well as some chopped avocado and cilantro.  

So good!
So fresh!
So healthy!  


4-6 oz cod loins
Chili power - to taste
Cumin - to taste
Salt - to taste
Ground red pepper - to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups of corn
1 medium onion - chopped
2 medium tomatoes - chopped 
1 can of black beans - rinsed
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup salsa
Juice from 1/2 of a lime 
2.5 cups of Spanish Rice - cooked
1 avocado - chopped
1/4 cup cilantro - chopped

Grill the fish over medium heat, season with chili power, cumin, salt and a little ground red, to taste. About 5 minutes per side. 
Once opaque and flaky, remove from pan and keep warm in microwave. 
Then add garlic, corn, onion, tomato and black bean to the pan to grill up. 
While that is grilling, mix up the salsa, sour cream and lime juice dressing.
In a bowl, layer rice, veggies, fish, dressing, top with avocado and cilantro.  

**We can't wait for Naked Fish Taco Bowl night again in our house!**

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Creamy Smashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

This recent experiment with Smashed Potatoes and Cauliflower was a wonderful surprise!

They were delicious (of course!) and also much easier than I expected!  The boiling took the longest, but that didn't bother me much because I was just working on the rest of the meal while the water boiled.

Only thing I'd do differently next time is make more, a LOT more, for my growing, hungry family.

Not sure if I should take this as a compliment, but I was told that they were MUCH better than the school's.

Starting with about 3 cups of cauliflower florets, boil for 5-6 minutes.

Drain well, but do not rinse.  
The hotter the cauliflower the easier it will mash.

Dry between layers of a clean dish cloth.

Remember, this is not supposed to be 'watery' mashed cauliflower!

Blend with 1 oz of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

There is also a chicken bouillon cube in the picture that never did dissolve, 
so, truth be told, I ended up throwing it away. 

Set aside while the potatoes finish cooking.

As for the potatoes, chop up 3-4 potatoes...the smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.

I would never bother with peeling potatoes.  
So many vitamins in the skins and they add some texture to the dish.

After boiling in salted water for about 15 minutes, drain and add them to the cauliflower.

Add 3 more ounces of cream cheese, 1 tbsp of minced garlic and a half stick of butter.

This was the consistency I desired!
Blend 'em all up together to desired consistency.

If you want them smoother, add milk just a tablespoon at a time until as creamy as you desire.

Serves 6

3 cups of cauliflower florets
4 oz of softened cream cheese - divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3-4 baking potatoes - chopped
1 tbsp of minced garlic
Half stick of butter

Start two pots of boiling water, one for the cauliflower and one for the potatoes. 
Once boiling, add the vegetables. 
Boil the cauliflower for 6 minutes. 
Drain, dry and blend with 1 oz cream cheese and Parmesan. 
After 15 minutes, drain the potatoes, add to the cauliflower along with more cream cheese, garlic and butter. 

Blend up and serve!  

You may want to give serious consideration to doubling this recipe!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole with Poached Chicken

Greetings and Salutations…

Anyone else remember what book that is from?

I have very fond memories of Charlotte's Web, just wish I could find my original copy to enjoy with my own kids.

Speaking of books, have you read any good books lately?

I'm in a bit of a reading slump myself, haven't cracked a new one since school started.  I'm still fumbling around with my schedule a bit to settle into a routine and the best time of the day for me to carve out some reading time…which, if I'm honest, is right before nap time!

So, while reading is at a bit of a stand still…thankfully, cooking is still going strong!

This Cheesy Enchilada Casserole and all of it's delicious layers of Mexican goodness was a big hit around here.  And, the leftovers were equally sought after.

If you have leftover chicken in your fridge, this is an ideal dish for you!

Since we didn't have any leftover chicken, I wanted to go with the fastest way to cook chicken so that it would be tender, juicy and easy to shred.

Poaching was the answer.  

Started by adding 6 chicken breasts to the salted, boiling water.

They simmered for about 10 minutes….

Or, until the internal temperature was 170F. 

Then, let the shredding fun begin.  

Ok, so maybe it is not that much fun, but I certainly think it is worth the effort.

Once the chicken was ready, the rest of the dish could get underway. 

Started with about 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce as the first layer in 
my beloved 9x13 stone baking dish. 

Then, about 4.5 corn tortillas were arranged in a layer, 
topped with 1 cup black beans and 
1/2 cup sweet corn

Before 1 cup of shredded chicken was added, 
one sliced scallion was tossed in for some extra flavor. 

The first series of layers was completed by 1 cup of shredded fiesta blend of cheese

And, we begin again, with the corn tortillas and 1 cup of enchilada sauce. 

More veggies (black beans, corn and scallion). 

And chicken…

Finish with the rest of the sauce and cheese. 

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. 

Garnish with some scallion and parsley, if you like. 

If you don't care what it looks like, just devour!

6 chicken breasts
28 oz can of Enchilada Sauce
9 white corn tortillas
2 cans of black beans - drained
1 cup of frozen sweet corn - thawed
3 scallions - sliced
2 cups shredded cheese
Parsley - optional

Boil chicken breasts in salted water for 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 170F. 
Shred the chicken breasts with 2 forks. 
Spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the pan. 
Layer 4-5 corn tortillas. 
Top with 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup corn, 1 sliced scallion, 1 cup chicken and 1 cup cheese. 
Another layer of tortillas, then 1 cup of sauce, 1 cup black beans, 1/2 cup corn, 1 sliced scallion and the rest of the chicken.
Finish with the rest of the sauce and the rest of the cheese. 
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. 
Garnish with sliced scallion and parsley. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Caramel Apple Crisp

This healthy and delightful Caramel Apple Crisp is just one more reason to love cooler temperatures.  It is quick and easy with just 6 ingredients!

It is during these early fall days when we are all holding off on turning on our heat that I always opt for baking so that the oven can do double duty...warm our house and our tummies!  

There is nothing better than being warmed inside and out by the best tastes and scents of the season. 

Additionally, we had the boys' grandparents in town on Friday, so wanted to have the perfect seasonal dessert that would keep us all, both more and less young, at the table just a little longer.  

This apple crisp started with about 4 peeled and sliced Zestar apples that we picked up at the
 The Apple Barn in Elkhorn, WI last weekend.  

Tricky thing about knowing how much fruit was used was that once I started peeling and slicing, I had kids coming from all angles for a few slices of their own.  

That is one of the best things about fruit based desserts!  
I'm always happy for my kids to munch on fruit. 

The apples were topped with 1 tsp cinnamon and the juice from 1/2 of a lemon and gently tossed.

Since caramel topping was part of this dessert, I did not feel the need to add any sweeteners to the apples at this point, or any point, for that matter.  

As for the topping, 1/2 cup almond flour, for the gluten free option, 
or standard wheat flour will also work just fine, 
1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/2 stick of softened butter.  

Again, no sugar here, but if you aren't going to top with caramel or serve with ice cream, I wouldn't blame you for adding some sweetener to the topping as well.  

Using a fork, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until it crumbles.  

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples and bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  

Serve with ice cream and caramel sauce for the perfect fall dessert!  


4 baking apples - peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon - divided
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 cup flour, almond for gluten free, or wheat
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 stick of softened butter
Caramel Topping
Vanilla Ice Cream

Peel and sliced at least 4 apples. They bake down, so looks can be deceiving
Layer into 9x13 baking dish, top with cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss gently. 
Mix flour, oatmeal and blend in softened butter. 

Sprinkle topping over apples. 
Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. 

Serve with caramel and ice cream.