Monday, December 20, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmigiana

Pretty much everything Pioneer Woman cooks is amazing. Thing is, sometimes her recipes are a little too "gourmet cook" for this time-strapped momma. But when I found this one, I thought it looked do-able. And, like every recipe I've ever tried of her's, it turned out amazing. The only thing I'd change a second time around is less sugar. It was really sweet. I usually like my pasta sauce a little on the sweet side, but this was too much for me.

Oh, and I obviously didn't include the wine. I know, I know - the alcohol cooks out. But, shockingly enough, I didn't happen to have an extra bottle of wine sitting in my kitchen cupboard. Like I said... no gourmet cooking in this house! :)

The changes I've made to her original recipe are below.

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmigiana

4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cups olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped (I only used a half)
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used about a tsp. of garlic powder - mincing garlic is something I rarely do)
3/4 cup wine (My magic substitution: 3/4 cup chicken broth. Tasted great.)
3 14.5-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. sugar (Like I said, I'd use less - like maybe a little less than 1 Tbsp.)
Chopped fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used the pre-shredded Italian blend you can buy from the grocery store)
1 pound thin linguine

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate. Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.

At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm. Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine (or chicken broth :)) and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine/broth to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. (I was out of time by this point and only let it cook for 10 minutes - still great.) Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.

Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated cheese. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.

Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.

Quick Pasta Carbonara

This is one of my favorite "no-meat" meals. Okay, technically it still has meat (bacon). But I get really tired of cooking hamburger or chicken for every meal and this is a nice break.

I got the recipe from Real Mom Kitchen, one of my favorite recipe sites. I made a few changes to it, the biggest being that I used turkey bacon. It was way cheaper, so I decided to try it. It was actually pretty good - especially mixed into something like this.

Quick Pasta Carbonara

1/2 lb. medium-sized pasta (my 2-year old really likes the twirly ones seen above)
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I like to use more like 1 tsp.)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanshile, cook bacon in large skillet until crisp; remove with slotted spoon to paper towels, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet.

Add remaining ingredients to drippings; cook on low heat until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended and heated through.

Drain pasta; place in large bowl. Add cream cheese sauce and bacon; mix lightly.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Sloppy Joes

This is probably in my top 5 go-to meals. It's cheap, I usually have the ingredients I need already in the house, and it's really yummy. I used to just make sloppy joes with a mix or a store-bought can, but this recipe is a million times better.

Not sure where I got it, though. I've had it for years, but it didn't come from my mom. It's a mystery recipe!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

1 lb. hamburger
1 cup celery, diced (optional, but I think it gives it a unique "crunch")
1/2 cup onion, choppped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4-1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper

Cook hamburger, celery, and onion together until hamburger is no longer pink; drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thick. Serve on hamburger buns with a slice of cheese.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken Salad

I get asked for this recipe all the time. I think it came from my dad's side of the family, but not totally sure about that one. It's a little different than your normal chicken salad in that it doesn't have grapes. What?! I know! Shocking, isn't it? But I tend to make whole batches of it just for myself (hubby doesn't like any kind of salad with mayo in it... he's weird) to eat on sandwiches and/or crackers.

I've given measurements here, but there's no exact science. I usually just throw stuff in and adjust it to taste.

Chicken Salad

4 cups chicken, shredded (I usually splurge and buy the canned chicken for this one - it's easier)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
1/4 cup sweet pickles, chopped (I buy a jar of sweet relish. Same thing, less work. :))
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 3/4 cup mayonnaise (I'm a Miracle Whip girl, so I usually go half mayo, half MW.)
1/2 Tbsp. dried onion
1/2 Tbsp. dill weed
1 1/2 Tbsp. mustard

Mix ingredients together and serve... easy as that!

German Chocolate Cake Frosting

One taste of this and you'll never go back to the store-bought canned stuff. This comes from my husband's family and we have it for almost every birthday (as you can see by the obvious picture of a birthday cake above - the only picture I thought to take of the yummyness that is this frosting).

German Chocolate Cake Frosting

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Combine milk, sugar, egg yolks, and butter together and heat over medium heat. Boil until thickened, stirring constantly (about 10 minutes).

Remove from heat and add vanilla, nuts, and coconut. Mix until thick enough to spread.

You may be tempted to just eat this plain. It really does belong on a chocolate cake, though. :)

Clam Chowder

I don't have a picture for this one. No good excuse, I just forgot. But you've all seen clam chowder, right?

This is a family recipe. Not sure where my mom got it, but I love it. There's nothing like a hot bowl of clam chowder during cold weather, if you ask me.

Clam Chowder

1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cups potatoes, cubed
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1 quart half & half
2 small cans minced clams, with liquid
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Combine onions, celery, and potatoes in medium saucepan, add water, and boil until vegetables are tender. Drain half of liquid and set aside. In large saucepan, melt butter. Slowly wisk in flour to form a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thick. Slowly add cream; cook and stir until thick, stirring constantly (about 10 minutes). Add vegetables along with undrained water, clams, salt, and vinegar.

Great in bread bowls!

Chicken Puffs

See what I mean about getting stuck in chicken ruts? This would be one of them. We've had a lot of chicken lately. But these are good, so I couldn't not post them. Don't judge by the sickly looking picture up there, either. My kitchen is dark-ish and there's obviously no daylight at 6:00 at night anymore. Hence, the non-appetizing pictures. (Also, wondering what those funny looking veggies are over there? Brussel sprouts. They came in my "Bountiful Basket" and I forced the fam to try them. They weren't impressed, but I didn't think they were too bad.)

I got this recipe from one of my co-workers a few years ago. They were one of his family's favorites. Since then, I've seen different versions all over the place. The only thing I don't love about them is that it's a little time-consuming to shred the chicken and form each little individual "puff." And remember how I don't do time-consuming? Yeah. So there's that. But otherwise, they're great!

Chicken Puffs

4 or 5 chicken breasts
1 small bunch green onions
6 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 cans crescent rolls
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Boil chicken (easiest way, I think) and shred. Set aside. Chop onions and mix with cream cheese and garlic salt. Add shredded chicken to mixture; mix until well blended. Open crescent rolls and spread on baking sheet. Place a heaping tablespoon of chicken mixture in center of each roll. Roll until dough looks fairly even with no holes. Spread melted butter over rolls and sprinkle with a generous amount of bread crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve plain or with hot gravy over them.

Chicken Lo Mein

This is one of my favorite meals to make. I got the recipe from Kraft's Food and Family magazine a long time ago. It's simple, and I love the "Asian" flair. It seems like around our house we tend to get stuck in a taco/pasta/casserole/chicken rut. This one has chicken, yes, but it's different. And I really like the peanuty (should totally be a word, shouldn't it?) flavor mixed with the red peppers.

Chicken Lo Mein

1/2 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
1/4 cup Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (I actually use about another 1/4 cup towards the end because I always think it's a little too dry)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced (I just use about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder)
1 16-oz. pkg. frozen bell pepper and onion strips, thawed and drained (I actually prefer fresh red peppers and onions, although frozen would probably be easier)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts

Cook spaghetti in large saucepan as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat dressing in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; stir-fry 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add peppers, onions, broth, and peanut butter; stir-fry and additional 3-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Drain spaghetti; return to pan. Add chicken mixture, soy sauce, and extra dressing if mixture looks too dry; mix well. Spoon onto serving platter; sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slow Cooker Chili

This recipe comes from the 101 Things To Do With A Slow Cooker cookbook. It's definitely my favorite chili recipe. And, once again, I love that it's so easy. The only real cooking comes in browning the hamburger. After that, you just dump a bunch of ingredients in. Awesome!

The original recipe was way too big for our little family. So this is my modified version, cut down to fit in my smaller slow cooker. It probably still serves 4-6 people and we always have leftovers. (Which, by the way, are awesome on Navajo Tacos the next day!)

Slow Cooker Chili

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1/4 cup dried minced onion OR 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 16-oz. can kidney beans, with liquid
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies, with liquid
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in greased slow cooker (mine is about 4 quarts and it fits perfectly). Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours or on low heat for 4-6 hours. Garnish with sour cream, chives, and/or grated cheese.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

I realize you can't really see the dressing on the salad in this picture. That's because it's really thin and blends right into the lettuce. But it's there.

I found this recipe on a website called Copykat. It didn't taste exactly like Olive Garden salad dressing, but it was close. I hope to make it a lot in the future simply because it was easy and cheap - my two favorite things! The recipe calls for Romano cheese, but I couldn't find any in the store that wasn't $6 for a teeny tiny container. So I just used 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and it turned out just dandy.

I also didn't put sugar in it. I like my dressings a little tart.

1/2 C. Mayonnaise
1/3 C. White Vinegar
1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp. Corn Syrup
2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp. Romano Cheese
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt – or one clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Parsley Flakes
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender until well mixed. Can be enjoyed for about 10 days if stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Apple Crisp

I participated in Bountiful Baskets for the first time a couple of weeks ago. One of things I got was apples. I love to eat apples, but unfortunately these weren't the best eating apples. They were a little sour and didn't have much flavor.

So I made apple crisp. They turned out to be perfect apples for apple crisp. Add a couple scoops of ice cream, and voila!

Apple Crisp

4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/3 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup melted butter

Put apples in shallow pan (I used my 8 x 8 square pan). Sprinkle lemon juice over apples. (If you happen to be using bottled apples - which I never have - lemon juice isn't needed.) Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl, then add melted butter. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over apples.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until apples are soft.

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for best results. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

Have you ever tried cinnamon chips? I hadn't until the other day when they were on sale at the store. On impulse, I grabbed a bag and I'm really glad I did. These cookies (which is the recipe found on the back the bag... I know, I'm so original!) taste like your basic oatmeal cookies, but the cinnamon flavor is found in the chips, of course, and is a lot more pronounced. I really like cinnamon, so I was sold.

(I also didn't include raisins. But a certain husband of mine turns up his nose at raisins baked into things. So, yeah... no raisins for us.)

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chips Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg) cinnamon chips
3/4 cups raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugars in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This is not the most flattering picture, but these are super creamy and delicious - trust me. It makes a ton of sauce to pour over the top, so if you don't like your enchiladas drowning in sauce, you could probably take out one of the cans of soup and reduce the sour cream a bit.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

4 cooked chicken breasts, shred into pieces
2 large cans canned chicken
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 - 1 pound cheese, grated
3 tbs. butter, melted
10 8-inch flour tortillas
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can diced chilies
16-oz. container sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together soups, chilies, onion, and sour cream. Brush one side of tortillas with melted butter, then place chicken and cheese on top. Roll up snugly leaving ends open. Place side-by-side in a 9 x 13" pan. Pour soup mix over tortillas and top with any remaining cheese.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cookies and Cream Fudge

We love fudge at our house, and we also love Oreos. Especially my husband. Since Oreos have been dirt cheap lately at our local grocery store, we decided to put the growing number of packages we have around our house to good use. My husband found this recipe from Nestle Toll House and we gave it a shot. It turned out pretty good, but you definitely have to be a fan of white chocolate. It's very rich (as in, have-a-full-glass-of-milk-handy kind of rich) and actually reminds me of Hershey's Cookies and Cream candy bars.

Cookies and Cream Fudge

3 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) evaporated milk
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream
1/2 cup finely crushed Oreos
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup crumbled Oreos

Line 9-inch square baking pan with foil.

Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in white chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, finely crushed Oreos, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle crumbled cookies on top. Gently swirl cookies into fudge using a knife without touching bottom of pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Mmm... is there anything that says fall and cold weather like beef stew? This recipe is about as easy as they get, but my husband loves it. We've tried the recipes that have more of a tomato flavor, and he's not as much of a fan. But he requests this one all the time. The thing that makes it simple? We use a package of Western Family seasoning mix. It's only about $0.70 at the store (or cheaper if it's on sale), and it's the perfect blend of beefiness and spiciness. And this way, I don't have to worry about if I have the right spices!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

2 T oil
3 T flour
1 pkg. stew meat (I just buy the ones that come pre-cut from the store. I probably should be more frugal and cut up my own, but I'm all for easy when it comes to this recipe!)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 onion, diced into small pieces
1 package beef stew seasoning mix
3 cups water

Add oil to medium skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add flour to resealable Ziploc bag, then stew meat and shake until meat is completely covered. Add meat to oil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

Add cooked meat, cut-up vegetables, water, and seasoning mix to crock pot. Stir then cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 5-7 hours.

*This could also be cooked over the stove. Just bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until vegetables are tender.

Dish it up and enjoy a yummy, hot bowl of stew.