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.