Monday, July 29, 2013

Kid Friendly Chicken and Broccoli Nuggets

So I came across a post a while back about a theory that one of the reasons that kids like processed chicken nuggets and patties is that the blended nature of the chicken makes the texture easier for small mouths to true. Well, that, and all the yummy yummy additives. So I decided to make my own chicken nuggets! And I also had some broccoli that needed to be used up. So while I was blending up chicken, why not steam and blend in some broccoli too? I decided to experiment by mixing in the broccoli into half the nuggets. This made them slightly crumblier, but still good and tasty! Try it with spinach or kale too! My kid likes SPICY food so I added a little hot sauce and cayenne. Totally optional! He also really likes to dip them. So a little ketchup, homemade ranch, or homemade honey mustard (as easy as it sounds. A little honey and a little mustard mixed) goes a long way

You can add the broccoli or not! Either way they are yummy. I think adding some cheddar cheese in with broccoli ones would be super yummy too!

You can use a whole chicken (toss in the crock pot. Easy peasy) and double the rest of the ingredients to make a huge amount you can freeze and use for weeks and weeks.

Kid Friendly Chicken and Broccoli Nuggets

Makes 16-20 depending on size.

2 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and cut into large chunks (I just baked in a 350 oven for 45 minutes, covered)
2 eggs
1 tsp hot sauce (optional for the spicy guys)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup broccoli, steamed soft and cooled
2/3rds cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8tsp cayenne pepper (again, optional)

In a food processor, place the cooked chicken chunks and pulse gently until chicken is shredded into small pieces. Maybe the size of rice.

Place chicken, eggs, garlic and onion powders, salt, parmesan cheese, and broccoli (and hot sauce) in a bowl and mix until well combined.

In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, and cayenne (if you want).

Take a glop the size of a ping pong-golf ball smush into a nugget shape in your hands. Its a loose mixture, so be firm with it and pack it down. Place in the bowl of bread crumbs, push down, and flip to the other side and press firm. Repeat with all the chicken.

Now you can either place on a sheet pan and freeze through. Then transfer to a ziplock. My 2 year old eats 2-3 of these in one sitting.

Or you can lightly spray a sheet pan, and pop into a 425 oven for 5-10 minutes (10+ for frozen)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Mini Peppers

These little gems are AMAZING. This is my husbands favorite stuffed pepper. And that is saying something. You could always use a regular bell pepper of course, but these are fun and also great as a appetizer at a party. 

For the steak, you can pop the steak into the freezer for a hour and use a really sharp knife to cut thin slices. OR, you can fully freeze the steak and VERY CAREFULLY use a mandolin to slice very thin slices! It was amazingly easy. Or you can ask the butcher to slice for you.

Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Mini Peppers

10-12 mini bell peppers (or 4 regular, blanched for 3 minutes in boiling water) cut in half and deseeded and deribbed
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, fine diced
1 half green bell pepper, fine diced (optional. I liked the addition because the mini's lacked the green bell pepper taste that is so vital.
1 cup mushrooms, fine diced
1 6-8 oz sirloin steak, sliced very thinly
1 tsp dried mustard
2 tsp worchestershire sauce

6 slices provolone

Dice the veggies very small. This is a small pepper we are stuffing!

Preheat oven to 375

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add butter, mushrooms, onion, and pepper

Cook 5-8 minutes until softened. Remove from skillet into a bowl.

Turn skillet to high.

Toss the steak slices in the dried mustard and worchestershire sauce. Add to the skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes until done, breaking the steak up a little with your utensil.

Add steak to veggies.

Shred cheese into strips. Place some cheese inside the pepper halves and top with filling. Once all are completed, place in oven for 20 minutes.

Put out tray, top with more cheese slices and return to oven for 5 minutes until cheese melts.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Basic Fried Rice

Fried rice. Such a yummy thing. Its actually pretty easy to make. The biggest trick is to make the rice the day before. Chilled day old rice will make this dish turn out just right and not a mushy mess. This is a standard basic take on the dish, but there are many ways to add to it!

Fried Rice

4 cups cooked day old rice, lumps broken up
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari

In a large skillet or wok, heat to medium. Once hot, add 1 tbsp oil. Add the onion and cook a few minutes until soft.

Add eggs and move around the pan a lot, until barely cooked. Remove from pan.

Wipe pan clean with paper towel. Turn heat to high. Once very hot, add oil

Add rice and stir around. Let rice sit undisturbed a minute to fry. Toss rice and let sit again.

Add soy sauce, peas and carrots, and egg/onion and toss well. Let all ingredients heat up and remove from heat. Taste and add a splash more soy sauce if desired.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

Sometimes its nice to be able to make a asian influenced meal without paying the $$$ for take out. I LOVE asian veggies. Cannot get enough. But unless you get a plain veggie meal, there isn't nearly enough veggies in the dishes I like to satisfy me. So this made me happy. You can easily leave the chicken out for a meatless meal.

Chicken and Veggie Stir Fry

2-3 chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red/orange/yellow pepper diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knot of ginger, grated
2 tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sriracha (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 can baby corn, drained, rinsed, and chopped
1 can diced water chestnuts, drained

In a slow cooker, put the chicken and soy sauce in and cook on high until shreddable. 3-4 hours on high. Cool and shred. Can be done in advance

Put 1 tbsp sesame oil in a large skillet on medium. Add onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Cook 5-8 minutes until softened.

In a jar with a lid, put 1 tbsp sesame oil, the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, and cornstarch. Shake well. Add to pan.

Add chicken, baby corn, and water chestnuts. Cook 5 minutes until heated through and sauce starts to thicken.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicken and Herbed Dumplings

Can't get much more comfort food than this. Super comforting, filling, and flavorful. Use home made stock for even more flavor! I put a whole chicken in the crock pot the day before. Shred the chicken and put the bones and some veggies back in the crock pot overnight for some intense stock. Learn more here

Chicken and Herbed Dumplings


Shredded meat from one whole chicken. (Can use rotisserie. Or about about 3-3 1/2 cups shredded chicken from breasts, thighs, whatever you want)
2 onions, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp dried parsley
8 cups low sodium chicken stock (or home made ;) )
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1 cup frozen peas

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley and/or chives
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup milk or half and half

In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat butter over medium. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook 5 minutes.

Add thyme, turmeric, and parsley. Stir well.

Add chicken stock and chicken meat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 20-30 minutes.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs together. Add milk and butter and mix until just combined

Drop by heaping spoonfuls in a even layer into the soup. They will expand as they cook.

Cover and cook 20 minutes. Do not peek. Uncover and test dumplings with a tooth pick. Should come out cleanly.

Add peas and half and half and cook 5-10 more minutes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baked Ziti

Ooey gooey cheesy pasta. Nothing to not like about this recipe. Roasted red bell peppers and fresh mozzarella set this dish apart. Buff it up (or make vegetarian by replacing the sausage) even more by adding mushrooms and spinach. Add the mushrooms in with the onion while cooking and add thawed and drained frozen spinach with the cheeses.

Baked Ziti

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 lb sweet italian sausage
28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 14oz can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound ziti pasta, cooked to box instructions minus 1 minute cook time
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 16oz container whole ricotta
1 8oz package fresh mozzarella pearls (pictured below)
1 egg
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Heat the butter in a deep skillet on medium. Add onion and garlic and cook until transparent.

Add the sausage and cook until well browned. Drain a little, but not all, of the fat off.

Add the tomatoes, herbs, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer while the pasta is cooking. Preheat oven to 350

Combine the parmesan, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, bell pepper, and egg in a large bowl.

Rinse off pasta in cool water to slow cooking.

Toss pasta and cheeses.

Add 4 cups approximately of the tomato sauce to the pasta and combine.

In a deep lasagna or 9x13 pan, ladle a little of the sauce onto the bottom. Just enough to lightly coat.

Spoon half the pasta into the pan. Spoon half the remaining sauce on top. Repeat. Sprinkle mozzarella on top.

Cook 30 minutes until bubbling. Top with herbs and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Example of the mozzarella I used. Its in the special cheese section

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dill Pull-A-Part Bread

There is something about dill bread that is just so warm and comforting. Same is true about monkey bread. Combing the two couldn't have been a better idea.

This makes a mini loaf or larger ramekin sized amount. Double it for a full loaf pan and just adjust the timing accordingly. (Just add 5-15 minutes to the cook time, until it gets the golden brown top)

Dill Pull-A-Part Bread
Adapted from BlueEyedBaker

2 1/4 flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp dill
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter

Dill butter:
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp dill

1 tbsp butter, melted for brushing.

In a stand mixer, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and dill.

Turn to 2 and add egg, milk, and butter.

Mix well. If too dry, add a splash or two of milk. Too wet, add a tbsp of flour at a time.

Knead in machine for a 2 minutes

Remove from mixer bowl, spray bowl with oil, and place dough back in. Cover with a towel and let rise 45 minutes.

Combine butter and dill.

Punch down dough.

Roll into ping pong sized balls. Dip in dill butter and place into loaf pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat to 375.

Cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with butter.

Let cool a few minutes and dive in!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sautéed Zucchini with Garlic, Basil, and Feta

Its always good to have a few more zucchini and summer squash recipes in your arsenal. Husband isn't huge on squash, or basil for that matter, but he actually loved it! It has a really good flavor, and its a nice layered flavor.

Sautéed Zucchini with Garlic, Basil, and Feta


2 medium zucchini, cubed
2 medium summer squash, cubed
1 onion, small diced
4 large cloves of garlic, thin sliced
4 large basil leaves, fine chopped
2 tbsp butter.
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium.

Add all the ingredients, minus feta, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat, toss with feta, and serve

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

The combo of butter and oil in this helps the potatoes brown, but not boil.

You can use the store-bought ranch powder or make your own

This is a hearty but simple side dish that you can make from staples.

Ranch Roasted Potatoes


3 pounds gold or red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp oil of choice
3 tbsp ranch powder
3 tbsp grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425

Mix butter, oil, and seasoning together. Toss with potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Cover with foil and cook 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook until fork tender and browned.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Salisbury Steak

I am not much for things made from ground meats, but this is a nice comfort food and pretty economical and easy to make.

You can substitute the homemade gravy with a can of condensed french onion soup mix if you would like. The gravy takes little effort, but does take time so plan for that.

Salisbury Steak


2 1/2 cups beef stock (homemade or THIS)
2-3 yellow onions, sliced thin into rings
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder

11/4 pounds ground burger (I used 90/10)
2 tbsp onion soup mix (bought or make it )
2 tsp dried mustard
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Place stock in a small sauce pan and boil for 10-20 minutes until reduced to 1.5 cups.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium and add onions. Cook, stirring often until well softened.

Remove around 1/4 cup of stock and whisk with cornstarch.

Add cornstarch slurry and onions to the stock and simmer on low for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the patty ingredients except the meat. Add the meat and mix with your hands gently, but thoroughly. Form into 4 oval patties.

In the skillet, brown patties on medium high heat until no longer pink in the middle. It will depend on the thickness of the patty. 5-10 minutes. Drain fat.

Add gravy to the skillet (coating the patties) and simmer for 5-10 minutes.