Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Loving Leftovers!

If you've been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I hate to waste any leftovers. The other night I made Crunchy Cheddar Chicken - and my family loved it! (As you also may know, when I say "my family" that means that one of them probably dissented. Our boy, in this case.) Anyway, we had just a little bit leftover, but it was so good I had to save it! I mean, it was like, half a cutlet. Today for lunch, though, I found a use for it!

After slicing it into four strips, I heated the chicken in the microwave. On two tortillas, I layered some shredded cheddar cheese, Romaine lettuce, and ranch dressing. I divided the chicken between the tortillas, rolled them up, sliced them in half and served them with baby carrots and more ranch to my big kids! Other than the ranch, everything was an unexpected leftover from a previous meal. I love getting "bonus meals" like that from my groceries! Another thing I loved was that our boy ate it up! He loved the roll-ups even though he had not enjoyed the chicken the first time around. His expression when I told him it was the leftover chicken was priceless!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our Bun in the Oven

I don't post much about my pregnancy here on this blog, because I keep family and friends updated on our family blog. However, I thought y'all might be interested to know that ...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crunchy Cheddar Chicken

One night I had a package of chicken breasts in the fridge, and no idea what to do with it. Then I remembered that I had made some breaded, sauteed chicken at one point that was good, but the recipe needed tweaking. I'm so glad I decided to revisit it! It turned out moist, flavorful, and with a crunchy coating that was just perfect.

Crunchy Cheddar Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine in a shallow dish:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine in another shallow dish:
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons milk

Combine in another shallow dish:
1 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400°. Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken in half cross-wise to make 4 cutlets. Dredge in flour, dip in egg mixture, then press into crumb mixture. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Place chicken cutlets in butter and saute for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip over and immediately place in oven for 12-14 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. (This will depend on the thickness of your cutlets. If they are quite thin, 12 minutes may be too much. Use your judgement!)

Can I confess that I don't like doing dishes? I never have, and I think it's safe to say the chore won't grow on me! Any-hoo, to save dishes, I made up the flour mixture, dredged the chicken breasts, then placed the chicken back on the cutting board while I dumped out the remaining flour. I then mixed the bread crumbs and cheese in the same dish (I used a salad bowl). One less dish = happy me!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Strawberry-Pomegranate Sorbet

Strawberry-Pomegranate Sorbet

1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and frozen
1 container (about 6 ounces) pomegranate Greek yogurt
1 orange
2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, zest of half the orange, and the juice of half the orange. Blend until smooth. Taste and add sugar if needed, also adding more juice if necessary to get a smooth consistency. Pour into a low, flat dish or plastic container. Cover with plastic wrap, or the lid. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then use a fork to stir it up. Allow to freeze for 30 more minutes. Stir again, and serve. You can also keep it in the freezer until ready to eat. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving, and break up with a fork. Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday Night Review, 2-17

It's not easy coming up with recipes that suit a variety of tastes every week. It's tough enough with my own family, but when I add in our college ministry on Sunday nights it gets really complicated! I think if I took a poll, the hands-down favorite would have to be Calzones. They also love spaghetti - and last night's dinner kind of combined the two.

I don't think it's any exaggeration to say that Pizza Pasta Casserole is in the running for new favorite! When they go back for seconds and thirds, and you hear words like "awesome" being tossed around, you know it's a winner. I adapted the original recipe quite a bit, but since this is a pretty adaptable recipe so it worked well. I used ground beef, pepperoni and ham, and I made my own marinara sauce instead of using store bought. There is NO way the recipe as written would fit in a 9x13x3 pan as the author suggests. I cut back on amounts and still had to use a 9x13 and an 8x8.

I often make a big batch of marinara sauce - some to use and some to freeze for later. It doesn't have to always be such a process, though. If I don't have any sauce in the freezer, I simply pour a couple of cans of diced tomatoes (usually Hunt's Basil, Garlic and Oregano along with Spicy Red Pepper) into the blender with a chunk of raw onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper. This is pretty much my go-to for anytime I need sauce for casseroles or dipping, or whatever.

Anyway, for dessert last night I made Homemade Peanut Butter Cups. They were VERY easy to make, though I suspect if my toddler had been "helping" and not at Nannie's for the day they wouldn't have been quite so effortless! I highly recommend these. I made them in mini muffin cups and used two bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips - one for the bottom layer, one for the top, plus the peanut butter mixture from the recipe. I got 46 total mini cups from that recipe.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Creamy Cheese Dip

It's no secret that I consider cheese a major food group of its own. My kids thankfully agree! I've made fondue for dinner before and it's always anticipated and enjoyed by all. Tonight I decided to serve a simple meal of homemade cheese dip and tortilla chips, plus corn on the cob. I figure they've probably had worse, nutritionally speaking, and it's nice to serve a meal once in a while that prompts no complaints! And seriously, you can't go wrong with a recipe whose main step involves melting a bunch of cheese.

Creamy Cheese Dip

1/2 pound ground beef
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilies
8 ounces white American cheese (deli slices)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional, but I highly recommend it!)

In a small skillet, crumble and cook beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. In a small (3 quart) slow cooker, combine ground beef, American cheese and tomatoes. After about 2 hours on low, the cheese should be thoroughly melted. Stir in cheddar and cilantro. Cook until heated through, another 30 - 60 minutes.

This results in a fresh, creamy, mild dip. If you like it really spicy, Ro-Tel makes a diced tomatoes with habanero option that might suit you better! Or add in a diced jalapeƱo for a medium kick.

Note:  Especially if I'm cooking for a crowd, I'll use packaged, pre-shredded cheese for casseroles or taco topping, etc. When I need the cheese to melt beautifully, I always shred my own. The pre-shredded kind has cornstarch or some other kind of anti-caking agent that prevents it from melting nicely.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Image via
A few weeks ago while grocery shopping, our oldest girl spotted pomegranate arils*. They were marked down to what I considered more affordable, so we bought some to try. She ended up loving them! Unfortunately, pomegranate is pretty expensive and I haven't seen those little containers of arils at our store since. We did splurge a buy a whole fruit last time we shopped, and broke it open yesterday.

We followed the simple steps from a brochure provided next to the display of pomegranates. Basically, you lop off the top and bottom, then score the skin along the four wedges. Underwater, gently break apart the sections and pop the arils out. They will sink to the bottom while the pith surrounding them floats to the top. Once you clear out all the arils, scoop the pith out of the water, strain, and serve!

The girls enjoyed them sprinkled on little bowls of cottage cheese. This morning, I added a handful to the granola bars I made - using them just as I would have raisins if raisins weren't gross.

*arils -- juice sacs found inside the pomegranate

The POM Council has a pretty comprehensive website on the fruit, including history, folklore, and recipes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creamy Spinach Soup

A few years ago, The Pioneer Woman had a Spinach Soup recipe on her blog. Intrigued, I decided to give it a shot. It was love at first spoonful! I have since forgotten what her original recipe looked like, and it's no longer on her blog, so I decided to type up the version I make for y'all to enjoy! Now, despite the fact that this soup is mostly spinach, it's really probably not that great for you ... but please don't tell my tummy that. I ate it twice this week because I love it so much! This soup will make two hearty servings, so I make it by half to have for my lunch.

Creamy Spinach Soup

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (to taste, really)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (6 ounces) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: feta cheese

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic and red pepper. Saute for 1-2 more minutes; add in the spinach. Once spinach wilts down, pour in the broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a blender. (Leave uncovered and do not process right away!) Return the empty saucepan to medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes, until it just begins to take on color. Put the lid on your blender and blitz the spinach mixture until smooth. Pour into the saucepan, whisking as you go. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened. If it's too thick, splash in some more chicken broth. When thoroughly heated, stir in half-and-half, salt and pepper. Divide the soup into bowls and top with the feta cheese, if desired.