Monday, January 16, 2017

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Candied Pecans, and Honey Vinaigrette

This is a simple and delicious salad. I love the combination of the pears, pecans, and feta. I made this salad for our Christmas Eve dinner. The vinaigrette is also a great sweet and sour dressing that would go well with any mixed greens salad. I got this recipe from The I Heart Naptime Cookbook - which is a fantastic cookbook.

Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Candied Pecans, and Honey Vinaigrette

1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups spring mix (about 1 reg size prewashed bag)
4 cups baby spinach (about 1 reg size prewashed bag)
1 large pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries and blueberries (or just 1/3 cup dried cranberries)
3-4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

In a non-stick skillet combine the pecans and sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted and coated the pecans. You want to cook it on medium low and make sure you remove from heat before the sugar burns.

In a mason jar with a tight lid combine oil, honey, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Screw on the lid tightly and shake until all ingredients are fully combined.

In a large bowl mix together the salad greens. Pour dressing over and toss. Add pears and toss gently. Top with cranberries/blueberries and feta. Serve.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! We've been having a lot of new chicken dishes lately! And fruity ones too! Any saucy chicken over rice is a hit at this house so I keep trying new recipes that have that basic theme. My family loves it. This pineapple chicken is fantastic. It is pretty much pineapple sweet and sour chicken. The recipe is again from Jamie Cooks It Up - I love her recipes. I served it with some humble green beans and everyone loved this dinner. This one is definitely worth a try if you need a new chicken recipe.

Hawaiian Pineapple Chicken

5 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
3 tablespoons oil (avocado, canola, etc.)
1 can pineapple chunks or tidbits
1 1/4 cup pineapple juice (the juice from the can plus enough water to equal 1 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
sliced green onions, optional for topping

In a dish mix together the flour and lemon pepper. Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Dredge the chicken strips in the flour mixture and place on a plate.

In a hot skillet heat 3 tablespoons of oil. In batched brown the chicken in the oil on both sides. Place browned chicken strips in a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking dish.

In a saucepan combine pineapple juice (set the pineapple chunks from can aside for now), apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, bouillon, sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk until combined. Heat and bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour 2/3 of the sauce over the browned chicken in the baking dish.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and spread pineapple chunks evenly over the chicken. Pour the rest of the sauce over all and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced green onions if desired before serving over rice.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Amber's Breadsticks

These breadsticks are absolutely fantastic and really easy to make. They are baked in melted butter and wow does that make them delicious!! I have been making these for a number of years, but realized I never wrote the recipe down with pictures. I usually serve them with Italian dinners or soups. Please do give this recipe a try - it's pretty much fail proof!

Amber's Breadsticks

1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups very warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
garlic salt
grated Parmesan cheese

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and very warm water. Let sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to foam.

Add 2 cups of flour and salt and mix with dough hook for a minute. Add enough additional flour, a little at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer (I added 1 1/4  cups of additional flour). Knead with the dough hook on medium high speed for 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Place 1/2 cup butter on a rimmed cookie sheet. Place in the oven as it preheats to 400 degrees, being sure to watch it so the butter doesn't brown. As soon as the butter is melted remove from oven and tip the pan back and forth to spread butter evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Punch down the dough and roll into a long rectangle on a floured surface. Cut dough into strips with a pizza cutter. Take a strip, fold in the middle and twist, pinching together the ends of the dough. Place the twisted dough pieces evenly onto the butter covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Skinny Orange Chicken

This delicious orange chicken recipe is from Gimme Some Oven and it's a lot healthier than the orange chicken at Panda Express and I think my kids liked it just as much (well maybe not my 12 year old who is obsessed with Panda Express). I thought the sauce was just a little too thick so I cut down the amount of cornstarch - if you like a thick sauce add another tablespoon. This was a fast dinner to get on the table if you cook your rice ahead. Yay for fast tastey recipes!

Skinny Orange Chicken

5 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil (avocado, canola, olive oil...)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch red pepper flakes
sliced green onions, optional for topping
toasted sesame seeds, optional for topping

To make orange sauce: In a bowl whisk together garlic, orange juice, orange zest, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, pepper, ginger and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add chicken and stir fry for 4-6 minutes or until browned and nearly cooked through. Pour in the orange sauce and stir to combine. Let the sauce come to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and let simmer, stirring, for a few minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately over rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

This recipe is from Jamie Cooks It Up and it's great! My kids loved it, especially my 4 year old who thought it was cheesy chicken nuggets - which it basically is. The chicken is moist and the cream of chicken sauce is yummy. I served it with a brown rice quinoa blend from Costco and broccoli. I will definitely be making this again.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

5 chicken breasts
2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Sauce:
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk

Cut each chicken breast into 3 large chunks. Pour the milk, cheese, and cracker crumbs into 3 separate bowls (or loaf pans work well). Toss the chicken chunks with salt and pepper and then dip each piece into the milk, then the cheese. Press the cheese as well as you can into the chicken. Then coat it in the cracker crumbs and press them into the chicken also. (This process is messy and cheese will end up in the cracker crumbs, but it's ok.)

Place coated chicken pieces into a non-stick sprayed 9x13 pan. Sprinkle parsley over the chicken. Cover with non-stick sprayed foil and back at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is golden and crispy.

Prepare sauce by  combining cream of chicken soup, sour cream, butter, and milk in a saucepan. Heat stirring until smooth and hot. Serve over chicken.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Homemade Canned Applesauce

Last Saturday I canned 23 quarts of applesauce with the help of my family. It was a big effort, but in the end it was totally worth it because homemade applesauce is just so darn good. I used a bushel of Jonagold apples and a bushel of Jonathan apples and loved the taste of both apples for applesauce. I made half regular and half with cinnamon - we love both. I used the recipe from my trusty Ball Blue Book canning cookbook. I don't have a food mill (maybe I'll get one for a future birthday present :)), so I used an apple/peeler/corer/slicer to prepare the apples. We had a quart of the Jonagold regular applesauce with dinner last night and my kids called it liquid gold so I think all the effort was worth it!

Homemade Canned Applesauce

2 1/2 - 3 1/2  pounds of apples per quart of applesauce desired
water
Fruit Fresh
sugar (optional)
cinnamon (optional)
canning supplies (canner, quart jars, new lids, rings, etc.)

1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place in a large stock pot with about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot (this is so the apples won't stick and burn on the bottom of the pot). Every so often I sprinkle Fruit Fresh on the apple slices and stir them around to keep the apples from browning. Fill up the pot with apples as they will cook down a lot.

2. Cook apples until soft being sure to stir the bottom vigorously and adding water as needed so apples don't stick to the bottom. At this point I like to transfer the cooked apples to a different stock pot (this is just to assure that any apples that have stuck to the bottom with not be in the finished applesauce).

3. Off the heat use an immersion blender to blend the applesauce to the desired consistency - we like it just slightly chunky. If you do not have an immersion blender you can use a food processor or blender.

4. Add desired amount of sugar to taste or none at all if the apples are sweet enough - I added 2 cups of sugar to each pot of applesauce.

5. Add cinnamon, if making cinnamon applesauce, to taste. I added about 3 teaspoons of cinnamon to each pot of applesauce.

6. Place applesauce back on the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook stirring for 5 minutes.

7. Remove from heat and ladle hot applesauce into sterilized quart size jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Place a sterilized new lid on each jar. (To sterilize lids place them in a small saucepan of just simmering water - you do not want to boil the lids.) Screw on a ring tightly. Place jars into the canner rack.

8. Place rack with jars into canner with boiling water. Water should completely cover the jars. Bring back to full boil, then cover and process at a full boil for 20 minutes plus any additional time needed for your altitude - I add 10 minutes for my altitude, refer to the chart below.

**As a side note: I can on a camp stove in my garage with the garage door open. This helps keep the mess of the canning process out of my kitchen and not on my stove. It's really a great way to can if you have a camp stove.

9. After required processing time remove the rack and jars from the canner and place jars on a towel lined surface (use a jar lifter - they are hot!). Do not move the jars for 24 hours. During this time all the jars should seal.

10. At the end of 24 hours inspect each jar to make sure it has sealed by pressing the middle of the lids to make sure they don't spring back when pressed. Wipe the jars clean with a wet wash cloth. Label the tops of the lids with the year, a chalk marker works great for writing on the lids. Store sealed jars at room temperature - they will last the longest if they are stored in a cool, dry, dark place.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

I think this is my favorite new recipe this year! These rolls are just fantastic. They are soft and moist in texture and taste slightly sweet, pumpkin-spiced, and pumpkiny, but still bready. If that makes any sense. They are perfect for Fall and would go so well with a soup and would be great for Thanksgiving! I served the rolls with honey-butter and it was a delicious combination! The original recipe was from Cooking Classy, but I modified it just slightly.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls with Honey Butter

1 rounded tablespoon instant yeast (SAF or another like brand)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon very warm water, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup softened butter, plus more for brushing tops of finished rolls
4 - 4 1/2 cups bread flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup very warm water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.

Add brown sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon very warm water, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, egg and egg yolk, pumpkin, softened butter, and 2 cups of the bread flour. Mix this with the dough hook until smooth. Add remaining flour, half of a cup at a time, until you have a slightly sticky dough that clears the sides of the mixer bowl, but still sticks to the bottom of the bowl a little - for me I added an additional 2 cups of flour. Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large non-stick sprayed or oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion out on a non-stick sprayed surface (also spray rolling pin and your hands) to about a 10 inch circle, the size of a dinner plate. Cut into 8 equal triangles like a pizza, then starting at long end roll each piece to form a crescent roll. Pinch the pointy ends of triangle into the dough so the roll doesn't unravel and place pinched side down onto a greased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with a silpat. Cover rolls with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 during last 20 minutes of rising time. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Let cool or serve warm with honey butter (recipe below).

Honey Butter

1/4 cup softened butter
3 tablespoons honey

Mix together with a spatula until smooth. Yum!