Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chipotle Cashew Chicken

This is one of our family favorites... I can't believe that I haven't posted it yet! It takes a little prep, but once you get everything chopped, it comes together quickly. Also, it can be WAY spicy or kid-friendly spicy based on how much chipotle peppers you add in... for our kids, I only put in one (with the sauce). Those little peppers pack a lot of spice... once I put in three and wow! ;)

Chipotle Cashew Chicken
adapted from Rachael Ray

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 cup frozen green peas
3 tablespoons chipotle in adobo (2 peppers and their sauce)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 cup raw cashews, plus a some for garnish

Cooked rice (optional: cook rice in chicken broth for some extra flavor)

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add vegetable oil, 2 turns of the pan, then the chicken. Season the chicken with grill seasoning. Brown the chicken on both sides, season with soy sauce then, move off to one side of the pan. (Note: I cook the chicken through at this point, and put it on a plate to the side). Add a little more oil to the pan and add the onions, cook until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and peppers. Cook 2 to 3 minutes then add water chestnuts and green peas and mix vegetables and meat together (add the chicken back in). Add the chipotles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the mixture with honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add in cashews.

Top rice with cashew chicken and serve. Sprinkle with additional chopped cashews. Adam and Grace like to drizzle theirs with a little extra honey.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Banana Frosting

A few years ago Nathan's mom gave me some cookbooks for Christmas. One of them is called Cookies, Brownies and More. It is one of those cookbooks that uses particular brands to make the recipes. It doesn't have any pictures in it so I can't see what things are supposed to look like. Thus, I don't really use it a lot because I need the picture to entice me into trying something.

Anyway, I think Tiffin actually tried this recipe first and then I made them a couple of times. That was way back before we moved, though.

I had some bananas sitting in my kitchen and they were really ready to be used. I also had some leftover cream cheese frosting from the cinnamon rolls I made earlier this week. I was going to make banana bars, but then, as I was getting the recipe out, I saw this cookbook and remembered this recipe.

These cookies taste like banana bread with a little crunch around the edges. They are really yummy. I had just enough left over mashed banana to make 1/2 recipe of the frosting. No big deal though, because I was going to use the leftover cream cheese frosting. Honestly, if I hadn't made the banana frosting and just used the cream cheese it would have been ok. But, the banana frosting takes these cookies to a whole other level. Seriously.

One other thing. I wouldn't really call the dough a dough. It is more of a thick batter. It is really soft and gooey. I'm not sure you can tell from this picture, but I took it to give you an idea of its softness. Still, even though it is so soft, it doesn't spread much at all. I think my chocolate chip cookies spread more than these did.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Banana Frosting

3/4 c. butter flavor shortening (I only had regular so that is what I used.)
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium)
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 3/4 c. quick oats (not instant or old-fashioned)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (I didn't add these because I don't have them.)

Heat oven to 350. Grease baking sheets with shortening. Combine shortening and sugar and beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg. Add banana. Beat until blended. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed until blended. Stir in oats and nuts with a spoon. Drop 2-tbsp size balls onto the cookie sheet. (I just used my cookie scoop.) Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes. Cool 1 minute on the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

2 tbsp butter flavor shortening (I used butter)
1/4 c. mashed ripe banana
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 c. confectioners' sugar
finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine shortening, banana and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time. Beat at low speed after each addition until blended. Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle with nuts, if desired.

Click here for printable version.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

I made this on Sunday and took it to Mom and Dad's for dinner. I was thinking that it was going to be sweeter than it was. I really liked it. I think Caleb and Raef ate half a loaf. Caleb's reaction was that it tasted interesting. I agree. But its a good interesting. :)

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding mix
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, lemon juice and extract. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the zucchini, poppy seeds and lemon peel. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lasagna Rolls

I found this recipe in a magazine ad for Frigo cheeses. Really it is called Baked Chicken Lasagna Rolls, but I almost always (okay always) make them with ground beef now. I prefer them that way, but the chicken ones are really good, too.

I usually buy a big tub (32 oz) of ricotta and a big block of mozzarella and double the recipe so I can freeze half. To do that I place the rolls on a cookie sheet (without the sauce) and freeze them for a couple of hours. I put them in a ziploc bag with some shredded mozzarella and just make sure I have an extra jar of sauce on hand.

Also, something else I've found. You can use the store brand ricotta. It'll taste fine, but the brand name ricotta is smoother and creamier.

Lasagna Rolls
adapted from Frigo cheese and Cooking Light Magazine

2 cups Part Skim Ricotta cheese
1-1/4 cup Mozzarella Part Skim cheese, shredded and divided
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I usually use a couple of TBSP dried parsley.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 lb cooked ground beef  (or 2 cups shredded baked chicken breasts)
8 cooked lasagna noodles (Cook these a couple minutes less than you should. I usually do 6 minutes.)
1 lg jar tomato sauce (I use traditional Prego, but you can use whatever sauce you like.)

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix first eight ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup of Mozzarella for baking, set aside. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on countertop.  Lay noodles on the plastic wrap so they are touching on the sides. Spread some of the cheese mixture on each noodle leaving a little (an inch or less) of each noodle bare. Then sprinkle meat over the top. Spread some sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Starting at one end, roll one noodle at a time and place seam side down in dish. Cover with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes.

Click here for printable version.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted by Our Best Bites from Allrecipes, plus my own cream cheese icing

1 c. milk
4 tbsp. butter, cut into chunks
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg

1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, softened

Icing (the original that came with the recipe)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbsp. milk

Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp butter, softened
3-ish c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp whipping cream

Dough: Place milk and 4 Tbs butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be at least partially melted. Stir and set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 C flour, yeast, white sugar, and salt. When milk mixture has cooled to warm (not hot) add it to the flour mixture along with the egg while the beater (paddle attachment for those using a stand mixer) is running. Beat until well combined, about 1 minute. (Switch to the dough hook now) Add remaining flour only until dough barely leaves the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft and slightly sticky. Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.

Filling: make sure butter is softened well. Mix with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Assembly: Roll dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches. Spread brown sugar mixture (it will be slightly thick, you might have to "crumble" it) over the surface and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to gently spread around.(This was hard for me because it wouldn't stick to my dough. Next time I make these I will spread the butter on my dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar over it.) Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls. Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. In the mean time, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When rolls have finished rising bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. If desired spread with icing while still warm. Makes 12 rolls.

Click here for printable version.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

I don't know if it's the colors or the healthy veggies or the yum factor, but this salad just makes me happy. I love it! And to be honest, the kids won't eat the salad. They like the noodles and peanuts tossed with the dressing, but they won't try the salad. They just have something against salads. So when I make it, I chop everything up, keep the veggies/noodles/sauce in separate containers and eat it everday for lunch for a week for myself (and Mike, too). Yum!!!

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
Recipe by

8 oz Linguine Fini (or regular linguine)
4 C shredded greens: any combo of napa cabbage, romaine lettuce or even spinach
2 C thinly sliced purple cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/2 medium cucumber, halved and sliced (I omit this, not a cucumber fan)
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
3 C diced grilled chicken (I have never added the chicken)
honey roasted peanuts (about 1/2 cup)
Thai Peanut Salad Dressing

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Add a spoonful of salt and then add your pasta. While pasta is cooking, start chopping those veggies. As soon as your pasta is done drain it and run some cold water over it until it's cool. If you're not going to use it right away, add a drizzle of the salad dressing and stir to coat. This will prevent the noodles from getting all clumpy. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.When you're ready to assemble the salad, place noodles, veggies, and chicken in a large bowl. Pour the Thai Peanut Dressing over everything, stirring as you go until you have enough to coat.

1/2 C peanut butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 1/2 t sesame oil
1 T seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 T soy sauce
3 T honey
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T minced ginger
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro (stems and all)
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 t kosher salt*
2-3 t sriracha chili sauce* (I don't add this... I just keep forgetting to buy it)
2-4 T water*

*The need for salt may differ depending on the brand of PB you use. Taste first and then add.
*You may want more or less depending on your preference of heat levels. Again, taste first and then add.
*Lastly, the addition of the water is purely for consistency which again, depends on the PB brand you use. Add water until you get the consistency you want, or leave it out completely. Place everything in a blender and mix until smooth.

Makes about 2 cups.

Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Bowties

I've made this salad 4 or 5 times now and have forgotten to take a picture EVERY time. So, this one is from The Sisters Cafe. We love this salad... it's perfect for summer! Last night I brought it to our RS activity and it was a huge hit there, too.

Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Bowties
Adapted from The Sisters Cafe

16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked and cooled
2 bags of fresh baby spinach
2 small cans mandarin oranges
1 cup Craisins
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup honey roasted peanuts or cashews
1/2 cup fresh parsley (optional-I don't add)
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted (optional-I don't add)
2 cups torn cooked chicken (optional)

1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2/3 cup white wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2/3 C. teriyaki sauce
5 Tbs. sugar

Cook bowtie pasta according to directions, drain/rinse and cool while whisking the dressing together in a large bowl. Marinate cooked bowtie pasta in the dressing for 1 hour or longer in the fridge (I also marinate the shredded chicken along with it, to give it some flavor... I also marinate it for about 4 hours, usually). Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour the teriyaki sauce and pasta over the salad, toss together and serve. If it's just a few of you, make individual salad servings; keeping the salad and bowtie sauce separate for the rest of the week.

This makes a HUGE salad. I made half for our activity last night and we are having the other half for dinner tonight. The spinach wilts quickly, so definitely keep it separate. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Another mixed review.

Matt and Ray LOVED this. I think Matt would have licked the plate if I had let him. Kade didn't care for it. I think it is good, but I actually prefer my plain cheesecake, especially if it has strawberry sauce on it. (That sauce, by the way, makes a really yummy strawberry lemonade and Nathan loves it on his ice cream.) Anyway, for me the deal breaker is the crust. I used chocolate Goldfish because Fry's didn't have chocolate Teddy Grahams and I don't like cooked Oreos. I guess I don't like twice-cooked chocolate cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake
by Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe

Cookie Dough:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp water or milk (I used milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips

4 tbsp butter, melted
2 1/2 c. chocolate cookie crumbs

4 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mini chocolate chips

whipped cream
mini chocolate chips

For cookie dough: Combine butter and sugars. Add milk and vanilla. Add flour salt and chocolate chips and mix well. Form into small balls (a little larger than teaspoon size, but not too big). Place them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze to harden.

Preheat oven to 325.

For crust: Combine butter and cookie crumbs. Lightly grease 10-inch springform pan. Press crust mixture into the bottom and half way up the sides.

For cheesecake: Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and flour on high until smooth. Add vanilla and sour cream. Mix just to combine. Pour half of the batter into the crust. Add cookie dough balls and chocolate chips to the remaining batter, then pour into crust and smooth out. (Mine completely filled my springform pan.) Bake at 325 for 1 hour. Then, turn off heat and crack oven door. Let cheesecake sit for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate over night. Garnish with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.

Click here for printable version.

Chicken Cacciatore

I made this yesterday and the reviews are mixed. Hailey hated it. Kade liked the noodles and sauce, but not the chicken and peppers. Matt and Ray kinda picked at all of it. Nathan liked it and I'm lukewarm about it. I thought it was good, but it had a sweetness to it that I didn't like. The sweetness comes from the white grape juice I used instead of the white wine in the original recipe. In all fairness, the author of the recipe says that real wine makes the best sauce. I'm considering trying it again but using all chicken broth and no juice just to take away the sweetness. Anyway...I'm not chomping at the bit to make it again, but it'll probably make another appearance at our table sometime. Also, Nathan thinks he'd like it better over rice rather than pasta. (How's that for a rave review?)

Chicken Cacciatore
by Our Best Bites

1/2 c. olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or halved (keep it nice and big)
1 lb chicken breasts and/or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 c. white wine (or white cooking wine, apple juice, or white grape juice)
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if using white cooking wine)
1 bay leaf
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c. sliced mushrooms (or more, or if you're like me this is optional)

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions and garlic and stir frequently until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon (this is why you need to keep the onion and garlic pieces big), shake off excess oil and transfer to your blender. Increase heat to medium-high.

In a large Ziploc bag, combine flour, salt, and black pepper. Add chicken pieces, seal bag, and shake to coat. Dump the entire bag into the hot pan and stir quickly to prevent pieces from sticking together. Saute until chicken is golden. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

While chicken is draining, add wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, thyme, marjoram and salt to the onions and garlic in the blender. Blend until smooth. Place chicken and bay leaf in your slow cooker and then pour the sauce over the chicken. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on high for 3.5-4 hours. When you have about 1/2 hour to go, add the chopped green pepper and the mushrooms . Cook until pepper and mushrooms are tender. Remove bay leaf and serve over pasta.

Click here for printable version.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chewy Granola Bars

I've made these granola bars several times now and love them. Recipe is from Make and Takes and are pretty close to the Quaker Oat Bars that I like. Raef and I can eat a whole pan ourselves! We added peanut butter chips along with the chocolate chips.
  • 2 1/2 c. Oats – quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. Rice Krispies
  • 1/4 c. coconut
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Add all of the ingredients and mix together until combined. Press into a 9 x 13 greased pan. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and score into bars. Let it set completely and then cut into bars.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yukon Mashed Potatoes

Sorry, no picture. These were good potatoes, though.

Yukon Mashed Potatoes
Taste of Home

3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 c. half-and-half (per Taste of Home, I used 1/2 tbsp melted butter and enough whole milk to make 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, mash potatoes. Add the cream, butter, garlic salt and pepper; beat until light and fluffy.

Click here for printable version.

Crispy Baked Chicken Strips

I was looking for something to make that used what I had in my cupboard/freezer and that I would have at least a fighting chance that my kids would eat. So, I went searching the food blogs and found this recipe on Annie's Eats. Kade declared that this was "really, REALLY good!" So, I guess it's a keeper. Next time I might add some kind of seasoning to the cornflakes (maybe even just black pepper) but it was pretty good plain. It is salty (not too salty, though) because of the brine, so no additional salt needs to be added.

Crispy Baked Chicken Strips
by Annie's Eats

1/4 c. salt
4 chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch strips (I cut tenders in half, but next time I'll cut them into bite size pieces)
1/4 c. flour
7 tbsp butter, melted (I used a full stick)
2 c. finely crushed Corn Flakes (I used my blender to crush them)

Dissolve salt in 1 quart cold water. Add chicken, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Move oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400. Put an oven safe cooling rack on a cookie sheet. Remove chicken and pat dry. Dip chicken in flour, butter, then corn flakes, shaking off excess each time. Place on cooling rack. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Click here for printable version.