Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Queso Fresco Chicken (aka "Popcorn Chicken")


Yummers! 
Who doesn't love Chicken Smothered in Cheese?
Need I say more?

One of my favorite dishes at a Mexican restaurant is something generally called a "Rice Bowl" which is typically a protein (I choose Shrimp!) served over Mexican rice and covered in Queso. 
Then, I add in some of the salsa from our chips and dip...awesome.
Yeah, it IS that good.

So, when I seen a recipe for Queso Chicken, I definitely pinned that one.


I found this recipe over at Negle's Nest's blog. 
Queso Chicken is an easy recipe requiring very few ingredients. 
Negle's Nest's recipe is only for the chicken itself, so, I chose to serve Queso Chicken with Mexican Rice (see above favorite Mexican Dish) and mushrooms. YUM!

Okay, so, I also referred to Queso Fresco Chicken as "Popcorn Chicken."
WHY?!?!?!
For some strange reason, the husband noted that it "kind of tastes like popcorn."
After he mentioned that, I kind of agree.
I am not sure why, but this chicken had a buttery-corny taste like popcorn.
I dunno.
I've "googled" the different types of Queso cheese for a descirption of their taste to see if it's the cheese, I wondered if it was the cheese plus the browning of the chicken, but, honestly, I dunno. (I welcome any explanations to this unknown wonder).
But, I DO know, it was tasty! 
I mean come on, this dish has cheese AND chicken
'Nuff said. 
From this point onward, in our house, this dish is referred to as "Popcorn Chicken." :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts
  • Half of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced and seeded
  • 4-6 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  • Chili Salt ------> 1/4 cup sea salt, 1/4 cup pure chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, pinch ground oregano. Mix together and store in an airtight container. (This makes 1/2 cup of chili salt.)
  • 8 ounces of Queso Cheese (I found this at Wal-mart near the butter, cream cheese, etc).
  • about 1/3 cup of milk (just enough to "loosen" up the cheese to make a sauce)


Directions:
1) In a lightly greased large skillet or dutch oven, saute onion, jalapeno, and mushroom until onions are translucent. Remove veggies from the pan and set aside. 
2) Season chicken breasts with the chili salt. Cook chicken in the same large skillet until cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet. Set aside. 
3) Whisk together queso and milk in the skillet until smooth. Add chicken and veggies back into the cheese/skillet. 
4) Serve and Yum!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Pizza



Again, I apologize for the less than stellar pictures.
And again, this recipe for Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Pizza is way better than the pictures. That's a promise!

This is a quick, tasty, and different from the usual "at-home" pizza. 
At first bite, the hubby and I both thought, "Man, this IS spicy! What is causing this to have such a "kick"?".
Then, I checked the salsa jar...I purchased HOT salsa by mistake. 
Don't misunderstand, this Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Pizza is delicious, just be mindful (and not distracted, like me) enough to grab the correct type of salsa according to your "heat" preference. 
Can we say "Caliente?"

I found this recipe on EatCakeForDinner's blog and immediately thought, "Tasty!" and pinned for later cooking. But deviated slightly from the recipe. 
One thing I changed, instead of making my own pizza crust, I used Mama Mary's Whole Wheat Pre-made Crust - purchased at Walmart. I really like that crust. Definitely would buy it again. 


Spicy Chicken & Pepper Jack Pizza
Ingredients:
Pizza Dough for 1 pizza (Again, I use Mama Mary's)
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 large Onion, diced
1 cup + 1/2 cup of jarred salsa (I really like On The Border salsa)
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups of Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
Cilantro, to taste

Directions: (With pre-made crust)
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) While oven is preheating, sautee red bell pepper and onion in a skillet until onions are clear and soft. Add 1/2 cup of salsa. Remove veggie/salsa mixture from heat.
3) Top pizza crust with remaining 1 cup of salsa. Top with veggie/salsa mixture, then, chicken, then cheese.
4) Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
5) Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cilantro if desired. Let cool slightly. Serve and YUM!

Overall: I would make this again. Tasty, differently and spicy (with HOT salsa, of course :)). I really don't think this would be spicy at all with mild salsa. Yummy!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Random Eats & Reviews



(Okay, don't be fooled, I actually doubled that recipe to make one GIANT blueberry muffin.)
Husband review: Tasty indeed, but needs more sugar.

***




My Review: Pretty Darn Tasty. I have to say, I was suprised at the tastiness and quality of the ingredients. There was not "weird" sausage pieces. If the price were a bit cheaper (Currently, $4/meal), I'd buy it more, but for now, I will buy it if I again have a coupon. (Yeah, I know, I'm a cheap-skate.)

***



Simple Smashed Avocado on a Toasted English Muffin 
*Drool* This is darn tasty and simple. Just Toast. Mash. Top. 




1) Toast an English muffin (I like Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat),
2) Mash up 1/2 of an avocado and some salt (Trust me the salt is necessary - Do Not Leave Out the Salt!)
3) Top the english muffin with the smashed avocado and salt. Oh, my. Truly, truly yummy.

My Review: Obviously, tasty.



Enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps

       
Whoa, sorry for the blurry picture!
                           

It seems I have really been "breakin' out" my George Foreman grill lately...check out those grill marks on these Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps
The "catch" with these is that this is made "healthier" with a Low-Carb Tortilla (80 calories) and doesn't require one to shape the ground beef into a patty - "easier" (and not as "icky").

Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps can be found at Semi-Homemade's Mom's Blog.
I would have used Worcestershire sauce like the recipe lists, however, I had a case of "the Butterfingers." *sigh* Luckily, I have found not stray pieces of glass on our kitchen floor after "the incident."
Also, I had some thick-cut (organic and local) black pepper bacon in the refrigerator that I cooked, diced, and added to our Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps, so, I guess I made them Grilled Bacon Cheeseburger Wraps. :)


Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (Um...I dropped mine and broke the bottle, so, I didn't get to use. Yeah, go me.)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 5 flour tortillas (I used Ole Low Carb Tortillas)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (or 2% American Cheese slices, whichever you prefer or have "on hand")
  • Optional toppings: sliced tomatoes, yellow mustard, pickles, and cooked, diced bacon


Directions:

1) Brown ground beef in large skillet and drain. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, dried onion, and salt and pepper to the beef and simmer for 5 minutes. 
2) Sprinkle shredded cheese down center of each tortilla. 
3) Add a few heaping tablespoons of the beef mixture on top of the cheese. 
4) Spread some mustard on top of the beef along with some slices of tomato. 
5) Roll up tortilla burrito-style and place wraps on preheated indoor grill (I used my George Foreman). 





The result? Average - Good, but nothing too different. I think I prefer our Juicy Lucy's (on a whole wheat bun). But I would make this again, if I had the ingredients hanging out in my "stash".

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nummer-Nummy Nut & Date Balls


Nummer-Nummy (translation: Yummer-Yummy) Nut and Date Balls are indeed delicious!
The inspiration for this recipe came from SkinnyMs
However, I only used SkinnyM's recipe as a guide for these Nummer-Nummy Nut and Date Balls and decided to make it "my way." (Yeah, like that's a big surprise...) 
This recipe was a "tester" recipe.
And I was kind of "winging it."
The result?
Success!!! It's Darn Tasty!!! (and, not to mention, healthy).

I gave one to one of my co-workers and just said, "Oh, this is something I made and decided to give it a try-hope you like."
She came back to me a few minutes later and told me that she loved 'em.
She was equally shocked when I mentioned the "healthy" part. 
Winner-winner, got me a nut-ball winner! (har)

So, I shall make these again, and probably for a (work) crowd. 
Nummer-Nummy Nut and Date Balls are the perfect make-ahead snack and/or sweet bite at the end of a meal (without all that guilt 'cause I have one heck of a sweet tooth). 

Nummer-Nummy Nut and Date Balls
Makes about 12 Balls @ about 80 calories each

Ingredients:
1/3 cup oatmeal, uncooked
2 Tbs chocolate protein powder
4 oz chopped dates
1 Tbs Peanut Butter 
1/2 cup of sliced almonds 
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of cinnamon
1-2 Tbs of water (just enough to reach desired consistency)

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sliced almonds on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 5-6 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and let cool. 
2)  In a food processor, pulse oats until crumbled. 
3) Add in remaining ingredients and pulse
4) Scoop out and roll into balls
5) Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
6) Serve and YUM!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tender & Juicy Chicken Breast {for Caesar Salads} & Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash

Looking for a nice tasty and light dinner?
How about Caesar Salad with Tender Chicken and Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash?
YUM! 
(I know.)
His
Hers
The hubby and I went to Fresh Market this past weekend and found our inspiration for tonight's dinner:
Hence, the "His" & "Hers" Salads

This dinner was easy to fix with minimal clean-up. Plus, it didn't "weigh you down" afterwords. (There's no "rock in ma' stomach" tonight!) 
My hubby loves Caesar salad, but have you ever looked at the nutrition of "the Caesar's" at restaurants?
Yeesh.
So, making a Caesar Salad at home is generally far better-for-you - It dosen't hurt that this version is served with a side of deliciousness!

***

Now, if you buy your own Caesar dressing, making a Caesar salad itself isn't rocket science.
However, to me, the most challenging part is making a Tender and Juicy Chicken Breast with which to top the salad.  'Cause, in the husband's  my opinion, Chicken makes a Caesar salad more of a "dinner" meal.

***

I highly recommend following this recipe for making standard chicken breasts - It's amazing was marinating the chicken overnight in milk + vinegar + salt will do. No more dry chicken breasts!
Hoo-rah!


Tender and Flavorful Chicken Breasts:
Ingredients
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into strips
3/4 cup milk
1/2 Tbs white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 pepper

Directions:
1) Place all ingredients in a large storage baggie in the refrigerator. Let marinate overnight.
2) The next day, heat a dutch oven (or skillet) on the stovetop. Add 1/2 Tbs olive oil to dutch oven and      remove chicken from storage bag. Cook chicken on medium until cooked through.
3) Set chicken aside to cool. Slice and serve.

***

Now to the delicious side - Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash
Before tonight, I have never taste Acorn Squash. 
I didn't know what I was missing!
I really like this stuff!
It's kind of hard to describe because it has a flavor that's a bit different from other squash varities, but, if I had to compare it, I would say the texture is similar to a spaghetti squash (but not as stringy) and the taste is like a hint of summer squash + spaghetti squash + pumpkin-ish.
Sorry, not real clear, I know, but Acorn Squash really is it's "own" squash variety. 
I will definitely cook it again. (I like it better than Butternut Squash).



Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 2
1 Acorn Squash
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs Rosemary, dried

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Slice Acorn Squash in half and clean/scoop out seeds.
3) Coat halved squash with olive oil and salt. Cover with foil. Roast for 20 minutes
4) Remove squash and fill the cavities with brown sugar, butter, and rosemary. Return to oven, covered, and bake for 20 minutes.
5) Remove foil. Baste the squash with the butter/brown sugar/rosemary mixture. Bake uncovered the last 20 minutes.
6) Cool and serve.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gyro Panini on Spinach & Feta Bread


Oh, I wish I had a better picture of this deliciousness!
This Gyro Panini combines two great culinary loves of mine - Lamb Gyros & Paninis!
I love, love, love me a good gyro. And smother that sam'mich with all that tzatziki? 
Oh, yum, and fly me to the moon
Amazing.
Not to mention...who doesn't love an ooey-gooey ,crispy & toasted panini?
Now, combine those two...and Bam! You have yourself a Gyro Panini.
(FYI: controversy exists on how to pronounce "Gyro": "Jai-Roh," "Yeer-Oh," or "Heer-Oh"...take your pick...Who Cares?! As long as it's delicious, I say!)



I have to admit, part of the reason this dish is so tasty is due to a few great products:
Spinach & Feta Bread from our local Stonemill Bakery
Ground lamb, organic from our Schneker Family Farms
(And these were delivered right to my front door - talk about service!)
However, I'm sure any good quality lamb and bread would also work fantastically.


Here's the recipe:
Serves 4 generous portions

Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Lamb
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Panini:
8 slices of Spinach & Feta Bread (Makes 4 sandwiches)
3/4 - 1 cup of crumbled feta OR Goat cheese (we used Goat Cheese)
3/4 cup Tzatziki sauce (<---Click for recipe)
2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced


Directions:
1) For the gyro meat, combine all ingredients and mix well. 
2) Place in a loaf pan. Cover with foil. Cook on 360 degrees for 45-55 minutes until cooked through. While hot, drain excess grease from pan. Set aside and let cool. Once the lamb meat has cooled, slice into 16 pieces.

4) Assemble each sandwich follows:
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1/4 (ish) cup of crumbled feta OR goat cheese
  • 3 Tbs Tzatziki Sauce
  • 2 slices of Tomato
  • 1/4 lb of Sliced Lamb Gyro
5) Heat Panini Press (I used our George Foreman). Spray Press with non-stick spray. Cook paninis until lightly browned. 
6) Serve & Yum!

I Served ours with a side or Roasted Asparagus (Now, $1.88/lb!!!!!) seasoned with Mrs. Dash Tomato & Basil & Olive Oil. 



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easy-Cheesy Baked Ravioli & Cheater Hot Dog Bun Garlic Bread


Yep.
You read the title correctly.
Easy-Cheesy Baked Ravioli & Cheater Hot Dog Bun Garlic Bread 
Trust me - This combo is both super-delicious and easy!
It's such a low-maintenance dish that it doesn't seem fair that it tastes so good (But, IT IS!)

It's so easy, I feel like it's not really "cooking." 
Anybody can make this. 
Really. 
If you can turn on an oven and assemble food, You can make this.

I found the Easy-Cheesy Baked Ravioli via Pinterest (naturally). 
The original recipe post for Baked Ravioli can be found at Tasty Kitchen
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag (25 Oz. Bag) Frozen Ravioli
  • 1 jar (26 Oz. Jar) Marinara Sauce
  • 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese, For Sprinkling
Directions:
1) Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
2) Spread 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce in baking dish. Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in a single layer over the sauce; top with half of the remaining pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once, starting with ravioli, using all of the Pasta sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
3) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.



I've renamed mine to be Easy-Cheesy Baled Ravioli simply because I like to be different I use the frozen Cheese ravioli (cheese ravioli the only type of frozen ravioli we ever purchase), but you could certainly make this dish with beef ravioli if you choose.

***

Now, for the Cheater Hot Dog Bun Garlic Bread. 
Do not judge, I promise hot dug buns make awesome garlic bread. Hot dog buns are soft just like a Fazoli's breadstick; The bread is so soft and chewy - the perfect vessel for all that butter and garlic.



Plus, Cheater Hot Dog Bun Garlic Bread takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish to make. Yeah, seriously.

Ingredients:
4 Hot Dog Buns, split in half
4 Tbs melted butter
2 1/2 tsp of minced garlic

Directions:
1) Preheat your oven's broiler, or a toaster oven.

2) Separate the bun halves, combine the melted butter and minced garlic. On the cut side of each bun, brush the buns (ha) with the butter and garlic mix. 

3) Broil or toast until golden brown, about 4 minutes.




Once you try these, just remember, "I told ya so." *wink*

So simple it's unreal. 
YUM!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Protein & Blueberry Oat Bake


Yay! It's getting to be "Berry Season!!!!"




Okay, I'm going to be upfront and admit these pictures aren't that great. Sorry...phone pics!

Although the pics aren't stellar, this is a healthy dish for grubbin' and goin'.


This Protein & Blueberry Oat Bake was my "take" on combination of 2 recipes....from SkinnyTaste and Amanda Kopeski. Well, actually, this recipe is a take on Amanda Kopeski's recipe which is a take on SkinnyTaste's recipe. Kind of like so-and-so told so-and-so who heard it form so-and-so.....Well, nonethless, cooking is about experimenting and making this work for you.

I combined all the ingredients the night before I baked, covered it with saran wrap in the refrigerator (unbaked), and cooked it in the a.m. as I got ready for work.
That way - minimal work in the morning! ('Cause that's my workout time, yo.)

"The Unbaked Oat Bake"


The finished product!

Obviously, I didn't eat all this at once - I've kept this stored in the refrigerator, just cut a slice as needed, heat it up for about 30 seconds, and "Hello, breakfast."

Here's the recipe:
Ingredients:
2 scoops of Optimum Whey Nutrition Protein Powder - Banana Flavored 
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1 cup of almond milk
1 Flax Egg (1 Tbs Milled Flax Seed + 3 Tbs Water)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of butter or vanilla extract
About 2/3 cup of blueberries (I'm not going to lie, I just "eyeballed" it)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) Combine all ingredients except walnuts. 
3) Spray an 8x8 casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour mixture into dish. 
4) Top with Walnuts
5) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
6) Remove from oven. Let cool. Yum!

**For the overnight version, just complete steps 2 & 3, cover and place in the refrigerator until baking the next morning.

Remember, grub & go!

*****

This recipe is a perfect compliment to Tina Real's Best Body Bootcamp
It's kickin' my boo-tay! (And making me a starvin' marvin!)
Really, you need to check it out.
I *love* it!
$25 for an 8-week detailed workout plan that you can accommodate to your fitness level, minimal equipment, and PRIZES!!!!




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes



Surprise! 
Simply Scrumptious Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Brought to you by the letter "S."
Ha ha - Sesame Street, anyone?

Guess what my favorite part about a Snickerdoodle is?
Cinnamon
(Which, oddly, begins with a "c," but sounds like a "s." Let's not confuse the kiddos, Ernie.)

I love, love, love cinnamon!
A sprinkle here, a sprinkle there...
I kid you  not, I go through cinnamon the most out of all spices 
(that, and garlic - on the opposite end of the spice spectrum.....--.AHH! More "s's"!!! I cannot stop!).

If you are a fellow cinnamon lover, how can you go wrong with Snickerdoodles
And, Snickerdoodle + Cake = Eermergerdddd? (omg)

This was my first "go-around" with Snickerdoodle Cupcakes and I use a recipe from the blog, Momadvice
I followed her directions exactly  mostly and it was tasty.

Ingredients
Cupcake:
  • 1 package plain white cake mix or yellow cake mix (I used white)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used 2% milk and it still tasted delicious)
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and flour & grease or line your cupcake tin.
  2. Place cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend for three minutes (stop to scrape once).
  3. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into your cupcake tin and then bake for 22-25 minutes.
  4. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  5. For the frosting, beat butter until fluffy.
  6. Add all other ingredients. 
*The Cook's Notes: The frosting was mega-sweet with tons o' cinnamon. So, I added a dab of sour cream to help balance the mega-sweetness. Next time, I'll reduce the amount of cinnamon in the frosting to 2 tsp and reduce the amount of powdered sugar/add sour cream (?). However, the cake itself wasn't overly sweet, so, the sweet frosting wasn't an overkill of sweet - remember, adapt to how you like your frosting. 
Overall - good cupcake. 
Grade: B

***
Check out my SWEET cupcake carrier!!!
I *love* it!
Present from my Granny for Christmas. 

It kind of looks like a UFO, but I don't care - it is the perfect cake/cupcake carrier!
If you're interested., this can be purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond 
Why is it awesome?
Just a few brief bullet-points...
1) The top collapses for regular, shorter cakes (and storage purposes)
2) The cupcake holder itself also collapses and can be removed from the carrier.
3) It has a handy-dandy handle for easy carrying and secure snap-lid