Archive | May, 2011

Zucchini Oven Chips

29 May

These zucchini chips were a fun and different side to go alongside some grilled chicken.  The original recipe called for plain breadcrumbs but I decided to substitute panko bread crumbs to add an extra crunch.  They were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside and would be great dipped in marinara sauce. 

Baking them on a wire rack  helped crisp both sides without needing any butter or oil.  With about 61 calories per serving (3/4 cup) they are a pretty healthy side and a great alternative to a potato or pasta dish.

Zucchini Oven Chips
recipe adapted from myrecipes.com

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet.
3. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Baked Beans

26 May

These baked beans are a favorite side dish throughout my husband’s family and the recipe has been passed down to me.  They are present at every barbecue we host or any that we attend with my husband’s family.  My parents are now addicted to them and serve them all the time.

These take minutes to throw together and bake for a couple of hours.  If you don’t want to heat up the house during the summer, I have had great success cooking these in a crock pot for 3-5 hours on low.  They do not get as thick this way but still taste amazing.

Make sure to bring these to your next get together if you are looking for a great, simple side dish that is sure to impress.

Baked Beans

1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 (28-oz.) cans Bush’s Beans
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
Cooking spray

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a roaster pan coated with cooking spray. Cook covered at 300 to 350 degrees for 3-5 hours until thickened (if you are baking them for 5 hours, cook at 300 degrees). Stir occasionally.

Quick and Easy Dinner: Peanutty Sesame Noodles

23 May

This is one of our favorite quick, go-to meals around our house. I never thought I would like peanut butter in a savory meal but turns out I love it.  The addition of soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and hot sauce tones down the peanut butter taste and rounds out the sauce nicely.

I have adapted this recipe that I found at food.com to suit our taste. To make it more of a meal, we serve it warm with grilled chicken. This is also great eaten straight from the fridge.

The original recipe calls for 1 pound of noodles but I use less because we like ours saucy. If you want your pasta a little drier, make a whole pound and add as much as desired.

Peanutty Sesame Noodles

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Fresh ginger, grated or minced (about 1/2 Tbsp, I use the minced ginger that comes in a jar)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I sometimes add a bit more for a kick)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
hot water (to thin to desired consistency – I usually add about a teaspoon)
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled
12 oz. fresh Chinese noodles or 12 oz. spaghetti
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 scallions or 4 green onions, sliced thin on diagonal
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater (about 2/3 cup) (optional)
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Grill the chicken as you boil the noodles.
2. If you are unable to find toasted sesame seeds, toast the sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrants. Reserve 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in a small bowl.
3. In a blender or small food processor, puree the remaining 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add hot water a bit at a time until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 tablespoons; set the mixture aside. If you wish, add the crushed red pepper for a little zing.
4. Slice chicken into bite-size pieces.
5. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the sesame oil until evenly coated. Add the chicken, scallions, carrot, and sauce; toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls, sprinkle each bowl with a portion of reserved sesame seeds.

Linked to the folowing linky party:
This Week’s Cravings

Cucumber Salad

21 May

This is one of my favorite foods ever.  I love cucumbers and this is such a delicious, vinegar-y side dish that I could eat all by myself.  And I do since my husband doesn’t like cucumbers.

I’ve never had a recipe for this salad.  It’s one that I learned watching and helping my mom in the kitchen.  I once again had to measure as I made this so that I could give you all the correct ingredients. This is really one that I just taste as I go and add more of an ingredient until it tastes just right. 

The amount of ingredients really depends on your tastes.  I love vinegar so I put quite a bit in to make it zippy.  If you prefer a more mellow cucumber salad, add less.  The sugar also helps balance the zing of the vinegar.

Cucumber Salad

1-2 English cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayo (I use light)
1 1/2 – 3 Tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. milk
1 1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper, freshly ground

Combine mayo, vinegar, milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in cucumbers. This is best if it’s made the night before.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

18 May

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 2
Somehow my Joel and I missed out on Girl Scout cookie season.  They weren’t knockin’ on doors, they weren’t at the grocery store….  When I stumbled across this recipe it reminded me of the missed Do-si-dos (also known as Peanut Butter Sandwiches) and I knew we had to try them.

Luckily, I came out with an odd number of cookies so we had to eat the extra.  These were amazing on their own and would be off the charts with mini chocolate chips.  But I have to say they are best with the filling.  They would also be really cute if you rolled the edges in mini chocolate chips.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 3
With the peanut butter in the cookies and the filling, they turn out to be pretty rich so I think next time (and there will be a next time) I will make these smaller so they are more of a bite size cookie.  They definitely need a glass of milk or water to wash them down.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 1
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Filled Cookies
recipe from allrecipes.com

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1. In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1/2 cup peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg and beat well.
2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir. Add oatmeal and stir.
3. Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet, and press each mound down with a fork to form 1/4 inch thick cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown.
4. To Make Filling: Cream 3 tablespoons butter or margarine with the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, and the cream. Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.

Quick and Easy Dinner: Chicken Satay

16 May

This is an incredibly simple and amazing meal that we eat at least once every two weeks during grilling season.  It’s perfect for busy weeknights since you can mix the marinade in the morning and throw in the chicken then simple come home and grill.

The soy, sugar and ketchup combine to bring a sweet and savory flavor to the chicken.  This recipe is also great because it has simple ingredients that most people already have in their pantry.

To make this healthier, substitute Splenda for the sugar. When I’ve done this, we haven’t been able to tell the difference. If you aren’t a big fan of chicken, you can switch out the chicken for thinly sliced beef or pork for equally delicious results.

Serve this chicken with steamed broccoli or chinese noodles sauted with a bit of sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce.

Chicken Satay

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white sugar or Splenda
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. onion powder
Wooden skewers

Combine all ingredients in a resealable bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes (I marinate it all day). Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes so that they don’t burn while grilling. Thread the chicken on the skewers and grill until juices run clear.

Recipe linked to This Week’s Cravings.

Mini Corn Dogs

13 May

Total guilty pleasure.  Fried foods are not regular meals in our house and this is the first time I have ever made homemade corn dogs. But it won’t be the last.  I won’t be making these as often as my stomach would like but they will be on our occasional dinner menu.

These were surprisingly quick and easy and tasted sooo much better than any store-bought corn dog.  They made me feel like I was at the carnival or fair…without the carnies.

I used cheese hot dogs and cut them into thirds to make mini cheese corn dogs, mmmmm!

Mini Corn Dogs
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
2 (16 ounce) packages beef frankfurters
flour for dusting
16 wooden skewers, if making full-size corn dogs

1. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder. Stir in eggs and milk.
2. Preheat oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Insert wooden skewers into hot dogs, if using, or cut hot dogs into thirds. Roll hot dogs in flour then in batter until well coated.
3. Fry 4 or 5 corn dogs at a time until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Linked to Sharing Sundays.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

11 May

This is the ultimate comfort food in our house.  Whenever I eat this, it totally takes me back to my childhood.  We very rarely had the “blue box” and I plan to keep it that way in my house.  The love of mac-n-cheese was almost ruined for my brother and I when my dad didn’t dice the onions small enough and we detected them.  Remember the drama and over exaggeration from the sloppy joes?  I’m sure it applied in this situation too.  Since then, we have gone onion-less so I continue to keep it that way but you can surely add them to taste if you wish. 

This is something I learned by watching and helping my mom in the kitchen.  I have never actually seen a recipe for this written out so I actually had to measure out ingredients to share this with you all.  This is just the ultimate reminder of family and it means so much to us.  This is another family dish that is at every holiday and special occasion table.  Special days wouldn’t be the same without it.

This recipe can be changed up so easily and can be made into a meal by adding shredded chicken, broccoli or crumbled Italian sausage.  We usually use all cheddar (16 oz.) but occasionally I like to change it up by substituting some of the cheddar for gouda or pepperjack (or any other cheese that you love).  This time we went with pepperjack for an added zing.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz. pasta (we usually use shells or cavatelli)
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk (I use skim and it’s still satisfying and creamy)
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz. pepperjack, shredded
2 oz. Velveeta (for added creaminess without a “processed” taste), optional

Topping:
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles according to al dente directions.
2. Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour to make a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook away the flour taste.
3. Slowly add the milk to the roux.  Cook for several minutes until the mixture has thickened. Stir in salt and pepper.
4. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
5. Mix cooked noodles and cheese sauce in a 13×9 baking dish. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over mac-n-cheese.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Linked to This Week’s Craving and Sharing Sundays.

Sloppy Joes

9 May

These delicous sloppy joes are made in less than 30 minutes for a simple weeknight meal.  The addition of barbeque sauce makes these a little smoky adding a new twist and tang to the standard sloppy joe.  Pile this high on a bakery bun and serve alongside creamy coleslaw or pasta salad.  To make these a little healthier switch out the ground beef for ground turkey or chicken.  Yum!

This is one of those meals that I claimed to hate as a child.  There really isn’t anything to not like about a sloppy joe so I was probably just being complicated and dramatic.  I’m known to do that sometimes……

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
2 -3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar

1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef, celery and onion. Drain the fat.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Linked to Everyday Sisters!

Strawberry Pancakes

7 May

Happy early Mother’s Day to all the momma’s out there!  This is my first Mother’s Day and I am very excited to spend it with my boys.  This recipe would be great to make mom for breakfast in bed!  It’s easy, uses ingredients most have on hand and tastes soo good.

The addition of strawberries is great but the cinnamon really put these over the edge for me.  I love anything cinnamon or strawberry so they were pretty much a dream come true.  This is a great base batter too if strawberries aren’t your thing.  Blueberries, chocolate chips, bananas, apples…go crazy!

The strawberries give a sweet punch and a unique texture to the pancakes.  I’m sure these would be delicious and decadent topped with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.

Strawberry Pancakes
recipe from Food.com

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup strawberries, sliced
Non-stick cooking spray

1. In a bowl, add the first 6 ingredients and stir to combine.
2. In another small bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Stir to combine.
3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients; stir just until combined.
4. Gently fold in the strawberries.
5. Spray a large skilled or griddle with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Pour enough batter into the skillet to make a 5-inch circle; cook the pancakes until the tops are covered with tiny bubbles, then flip them over and finish cooking.

Recipe linked to This Week’s Craving.

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