Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

I have to say, this idea for honey mustard chicken strips was kind of born out of laziness and my desire for cleanliness at the dinner table.  Have you ever watched a toddler dip chicken strips into sauce?  Seriously messy.  So, I thought, why don't I marinate the chicken strips before I bake them in honey mustard, and eliminate the need for dunking?  It was either going to be an epic failure, or a true success.

Mark this one in the success column.

I'm sure I'm not the first mom to think of this, but boy, was I pleased with myself over how well these came out.  I baked them, so they're less fatty and fried than the ones you'll find in a restaurant, but they still have a good crunch to them, thanks to the breadcrumbs and panko, which are a winning combination for baked chicken strips of any kind, in my book.  Not only that, but my husband and I enjoyed these just as much as my son did.

Add these to your menu next week.  Trust me, you will thank me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken and Onions

I've put this item on my menu for several weeks now and honestly, my menu planning has gone to pot lately.  We've done a lot of eating out lately, but darn it, the buck stops here.  Literally.  I'm the one usually who wants to go out to eat, mainly because I don't want to cook or because I'd rather relax in a restaurant with my family than stress in my kitchen about whether or not my kid is going to eat what I so lovingly prepare for him.  So, anyway, I'm getting back on the wagon.  I make dinner.  And I'm coming to grips with how a toddler behaves at mealtime...slowly...and as long as what he winds up eating is healthy (and yes, I consider a bowl of Life cereal with milk healthy enough for me), I'm okay with it.  At least I'm trying to be!

Anyway, I have to say, this recipe smelled so good when I made it that all thoughts of picture-taking went out the window when it came out of the oven.  Not only did it smell awesome, I was thrilled with how easily it came together.  I served the chicken and onions on top of some egg noodles, with some steamed broccoli, and it was a delicious dinner.  Even the Picky Toddler (my son's new nickname, fully unoriginal but also fully accurate) tried some of it, which I really was impressed with.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken and Onions
from Crepes of Wrath

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 an onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line and/or grease a 13x9 baking pan and add the cut-up chicken and sliced onions. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and water until completely smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until combined, bring to a simmer and allow to cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Make sure you keep stirring everything so it doesn't burn while it cooks.
3. Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to make sure everything is well coated. Bake for 25-30 minutes until everything is cooked through. Serve or rice or noodles or with steamed vegetables.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grilled Maple Barbecue Chicken

This was a recipe I found at another blog that I really enjoy, The Local Cook.  She's a lot more adventurous in her cooking than I am, so I've only tried a few of her recipes.  This recipe for Grilled Maple Barbecue Chicken appealed to me for several reasons - I could cut it into chicken strip shapes to appease Toddler, I had all the recipe ingredients on hand, and it sounded ridiculously easy.

The recipe has instructions for baking, grilling and pan-frying, and I did a bit of a hybrid between grilling and pan-frying.  I have a Calphalon grill pan that I love, and I used that, which created those beautiful grill marks.  I also did a lot of basting, just as I would have if I had tried to grill outside (which I've never done, my husband does the grilling in our family).  I thought about having my husband grill this outside, but our grilling experiences are really hit or miss.  This could be because I rarely let my husband grill, so he doesn't get much practice...  Anyway, this is quite possibly one of my new favorite chicken recipes.  I will definitely be making it again.  It was easy, cheap and flavorful.  Try it for dinner tonight, you probably have all of the fixings on hand!

 And yes, it was as good as it looks!

Grilled Maple Barbecue Chicken

3/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp onion powder or 1 tbsp minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 chicken breasts (I used 3 and it worked out just fine)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a tight fitting container.  Shake the container to mix well.  Add chicken.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.
2. Microwave everything together for 5 minutes and remove chicken. 
3. Boil remaining marinade in a small saucepan for 3-5 minutes.  
4. TO GRILL: Grill chicken, turning and brushing with marinade.
    TO BAKE: Pour marinade on top and bake at 350, basting every 15-20 minutes, until done (around 30-40 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken).
    TO PAN FRY: Cook chicken in fry pan.  When it's nearly cooked through, add the marinade, which will carmelize.  Add 3 tbsp of water to the pan, and stir to deglaze.  Serve over the meat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

World Peace Cookies

When I first saw this recipe making the rounds with the Tuesdays with Dorie folks, I wasn't sure I would really be interested in it.  Sure, it's got chocolate in it and it's a cookie, so it sounds good, but in the photos, it looked like a very sandy, shortbread-y kind of cookie. Not my cup of tea.  One night, though, I was truly craving a chocolate cookie, and I came across this recipe printout again.  I thought to myself, Dorie Greenspan has never let me down, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  I'm darn glad I did.  These cookies were awesome.  I can see why she called them World Peace Cookies - they truly could cause world peace, they make you so happy.  Especially if you eat them when they're fresh and warm from the oven, oh yum.  I got in the habit of just baking up a couple at a time so that I could have them nice and warm.  They are still tasty when they're not fresh out of the oven, and I'm sure I would still be raving about them if I hadn't eaten any of them all warm and gooey.  Really, though, if you bake these, do yourself a favor and eat one hot out of the oven!

World Peace Cookies
by Dorie Greenspan
Printer-friendly recipe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tbsp (total of 11 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sguar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel of 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips (or chopped Valrhona feves)

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking soda and set aside.
2. Cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the salt and vanilla and mix to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the batter and pulse a few times to combine, covering the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel to prevent flyaway.  Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Gather the dough and divide into two.  Roll each half out into a smooth log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days (you can shorten the cooling time by stickign it into the freezer for 20 minutes immediately after wrapping and then moving it to the fridge for 30-40 minutes).
4. Preheat the oven to 325.  Slice the cookies into 1/2 inch slices and bake for 12 minutes.  Dough will still be soft.  Serve warm or at room temperature with milk.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

I am still in awe of my SITS day last week.  If you haven't joined SITS yet, please take a few minutes and join these special ladies.  The amount of support I got from my fellow SITSas on my SITS day was just...mind-boggling.  It was truly awesome.  I'm still reading all the comments and trying to say thank you to all of you who were kind enough to visit and comment.  And thank you to all of my new followers, it's great to have you with me!

In the process of having my SITS day, I found a new blog, Irresistible Icing, and I managed to win a giveaway Mimi hosted there, so I've got an awesome new cookbook coming my way.  Make sure to visit Mimi, she's got a beautiful blog full of fashion, trying to watch her weight, and good old fashioned girlie fun!  I was so excited to hear I won her cookbook giveaway!  Talk about a jackpot - a new cookbook and a SITS day?  Wow, it doesn't get much better than this for me!

When I started thinking about what to post next, I was honestly shocked that I hadn't already posted this particular recipe, since it's been around my kitchen for quite a long time - before I even started this blog!  It was actually one of Toddler's very first favorite foods, back when he was not even 1 yet.  I was obsessed with trying to make healthy "treats" for him, and fiddled with my mother's old banana muffin recipe to make it a little more healthy, little being the operative word.  I've never been a huge fan of banana bread of banana muffins, even I like these...especially if you heat them up in the microwave for 10 seconds.  These muffins also freeze beautifully.  To defrost, just stick them in the microwave for about 10 seconds at a time until thawed nicely.  This recipe makes 24 muffins, but you certainly can half the recipe and make just 12 if you like.

He's convinced they're blueberry muffins.  He's also convinced that he can open the clubhouse door on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so much so that he tries to reach through the TV to open it.  Oh well.  At least he loves eating the muffins!

Banana Crumb Muffins
Printer-friendly recipe

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil

Topping (optional):
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place muffin papers into 2 muffin tins, or thoroughly grease all 24 muffin cups.  
2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients - flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, mash your bananas with a fork, and then use a mixer (hand or stand) to beat the bananas with the sugar, oil, and eggs.  Stir the banana/sugar mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened - do not overbeat!
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. 
4. In a smaller bowl, mix together softened butter with brown sugar, then flour and cinnamon.  Mixture will be crumbly, don't worry, this is a good thing.  Sprinkle generously over muffins.
5. Bake muffins at 375 for 18-20 minutes, until tops spring back after a quick tap.  Muffins will still be a bit moist.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

Did you know that blueberries are grown in Florida?  More specifically, they're grown awfully close to where I live?  I've lived in the Tampa Bay area for over ten years, and I had no idea, until I Google-searched for some strawberry picking and found out I was way late on that.  I did, however, find blueberry farms.  I completely made my son's day the first time we went blueberry picking.  We've been several times, most recently on the last weekend of blueberry season at a local blueberry and blackberry farm, and came away with 5 pounds of blueberries.  My mother had told me that when she was little, her mother used to make something called blueberry buckle when they went blueberry picking up north, so I thought I'd do the same.

I did my homework and found several different recipes - some more cake-like, and some more biscuit-like.  I erred on the cake side of things, because doesn't cake just make everything better?  It does in my world.  So, I fiddled around and compiled a couple of different recipes, and wound up with this recipe.  It's got a wonderful streusel topping, and it can be used with fresh or frozen blueberries.  Best part of this recipe?  It's so easy, and blueberries are so wonderful for you, health-wise, that the fact that they're in a cake is perfectly okay!

My husband likes to eat his blueberry buckle warmed up with some half and half on the bottom

Blueberry Buckle
Printer-friendly recipe
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

Streusel topping
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan.
2. Cream together the softened butter and white sugar until well mixed.  Add egg and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients well.  Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with your 1/2 cup of milk.  Gently fold in blueberries, then transfer batter to your greased square pan.
4. To make the streusel topping: Mix brown sugar, white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter well.  This mixture will be a little bit crumbly.  Sprinkle mixture over the top of your batter.
5. Bake at 375 for 28-30 minutes.  Let cool before serving.  My husband prefers it served warm, so he puts in the microwave for a few minutes after he cuts a slice.

P.S. - Stay tuned for my next recipe next week, a marinara spaghetti sauce that reminds me of Maggiano's!  :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh my goodness, it's my SITS day!!

I truly thought I was being punk'd when I spotted an email from Heather last weekend saying that my SITS day had come at long last!  Especially since I'm in the process of doing a market research study right now that requires me having a Flip Cam by my computer at the moment...a small part of me fully expected to have a bunch of cameras and lights pop out of nowhere and perhaps Ashton Kutcher would start laughing at me maniacally.  But, no, it truly is my SITS day.  And phew, I sure could use it right now.  I've been awfully depressed as of late, and as such have been neglecting my blog.  This email from Heather couldn't have come at a better time, it truly put a smile on my face when I really needed one. Best of all, it re-inspired me to work on my blog!

Here are the three blog posts you're definitely going to want to check out while you're visiting:

Brown Beauty Cake - the most famous cake in my family, though not the prettiest...

Double Fudge Cookies - big, chocolatey, and yummy!

Tiramisu Cake - the most wonderful thing I make, according to my husband

And if you're not into baking or desserts...
Beef Teriyaki - one of my favorite dinner recipes

Thank you so much for coming by!  If you like what you see, follow me, I've got some great recipes planned for June, including the second best thing I've ever baked for my husband, Blueberry Buckle.  I've truly enjoyed getting to know many of you through SITS, and look forward to getting to know more of you :)

For those of my loyal followers who aren't familiar with SITS, it's a fantastic blogging sisterhood that is a fantastic place not only to network but to find new blogs to love.  If you are a blogger or if you love to read blogs, you simply must check it out!

P.S. - Have you read a good book lately?  Tell me about it!  I absolutely love to read, and I'm running out of books to read on my To Be Read pile!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love Brown Eyed Baker.  She has some fantastic baking recipes, that's for sure.  Her Better Than Brownies Cookies are filled with intense chocolate flavor and seriously, it's quite possible that they're just as the title says: better than brownies.  I especially love her Top 100 list of things she wants to make, and I fully want to make a list like that for myself.  I always come across recipes I want to try, and then I forget about them, so beware - there's a list a-coming around here!

When I came across this recipe on Brown Eyed Baker, I knew that I had to try it.  Immediately.  It has all of Husband's favorite elements: oatmeal, peanut butter, sugar...and chocolate chips are okay with him in moderation too.  These cookies got a resounding A+ from him, and I enjoyed them a bunch too, especially fresh from the oven and still warm.  Even Toddler is a big fan, and he hasn't yet decided if he really likes peanut butter yet.  I can see myself making these cookies as an awesome after school snack when Toddler gets bigger.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Brown Eyed Baker
Printer-friendly recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.
4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Signature Pizza Crust from All Recipes

I like - I find good things there sometimes.  This is an instance where I found something awesome on  I am always on the hunt for an awesome pizza dough recipe.  I love the recipes I make, but I always love to try new ones.  It's just like how I love to go to different pizza restaurants to try different pizzas.

My first hint that this was going to make for some awesome pizza was that over 2000 people rated this recipe.  Seriously.  That's a lot in my book.  Over 37,000 people favorited this recipe.  That's pretty awe-inspiring.  Given that I have a stand mixer, this recipe was very easy to put together, but even if you don't have a stand mixer, you should be able to accomplish this recipe using a big bowl and a strong wooden spoon (and the necessary elbow grease to go with it).

My second hint was how amazing the house smelled while the dough rose.  I love the smell of yeasty bread doughs.  There's something so homey about that smell.  It just makes you feel good.  This dough was no exception - the only problem was that it smelled even better while it was baking.  So good that when it came out and I put it on the table, I burned my mouth a little, so excited to try it.  It was worth the pain.  Really.  I will definitely make this pizza crust again.  Soon.

Signature Pizza Crust from All Recipes
Printer-friendly recipe

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 envelope)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl (preferably your mixing bowl for your stand mixer), dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in the flour using the dough hook attachment for your stand mixer.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour (if needed) until the dough is no longer sticky.  Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth.  Let the dough rise until doubled - this will take at least one hour, sometimes more depending on how humid and warm your kitchen is.  Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball with the dough.  Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out.  Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately.  If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.  Personally, I split my pizza dough in half and rolled it out, then gently placed it into two 9-inch cake pans that I doused with olive oil.  Make sure to place your baking pans on the lowest shelf in your oven to ensure that the crust fully bakes.  This recipe makes an awesome pan pizza crust.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust and cheese are fully browned.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Oreo Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I love Oreos.  So much so that I've even baked my own home-baked version of Oreos, which are mighty good. These cookies, though, are a good marriage of a chocolate shortbread kind of cookie with creamy white chocolate chunks throughout, heralding back to the creamy white center of an Oreo.  Yum.  My mouth practically waters at the thought of them, they're so good.  There is very little that a good chocolate cookie can't make better.  Like when your husband is going away for a week, and you feel like your To Do list grows exponentially every day.  Like now.  So I'm going to curl up with some nice warm cookies and a nice big glass of milk and it will all be better in the morning.  Phew. 

Oreo Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Printer-friendly recipe

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks or chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 and prepare a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment or Silpat.
2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa together, and set aside.
3. Beat butter on medium-high speed until light, then add sugars, creaming well.  Add the vanilla and beat until smooth.
4. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk, mixing well.  Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes.
5. I used a smaller cookie scoop with these cookies, about a heaping tablespoon per cookie.  Scoop the dough your prepared cookie sheet and bake.  For smaller cookies like what I made, bake for approximately 10-14 minutes.  If you prefer a larger, bakery-style cookie, go for about 3 tbsp per scoop, and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until just set.  Cookies will look underdone - don't be alarmed!  Allow cookies to cool fully on the cookie sheet.
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