Monday, September 21, 2009

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken is one of my FAVORITE chinese dishes... I first experienced it at P.F. Changs years ago and fell in love on the spot. I have been looking for a good, easy recipe for it and stumbled upon this one. We were so excited to eat it that I forgot to put my chopped green onions on top for presentation, so just imagine them there for a little splash of green...This recipe is soooooo easy and has just enough heat for flavor, but it's not too overpowering. My kids loved it and they don't like spicy things. You obviously could up the HEAT to your own level, but we liked it just the way it was.

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast, diced into bite sized chunks
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sesame oil
4 green onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don't want it really spicy)
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
White rice, prepared per instructions

Prepare rice. Combine chicken and cornstarch in a bowl and toss until evenly coated. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in another bowl and set aside for later. Heat a large skillet or wok with sesame oil over medium high heat. Once the pan is smoking hot add the chicken and stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper and green onions (leaving a few for garnishing) to the pan and stir fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar mixture to the pan along with the cooked chicken and peanuts. Coat the chicken and peanuts with sauce and heat thoroughly. Serve over rice and top with remaining green onions. Enjoy.

Microwave Apple Crisp

The funny thing about this recipe is that it's one that I learned in my "home-ec" class in like 8th grade. (do they still call it "home-ec"?). It is a recipe that is so quick and easy that I pull it out all the time when I am in a pinch, or when I am just craving something sweet and I don't feel like pulling out all the pans and mixing know those kind of days???
Microwave Apple Crisp
4 c. sliced, peeled apples (I use granny smith's and I don't always peel them - again depends on my mood).
2 T. lemon juice

Mix together in a 8x8 or 9x9 glass (or other microwave safe material) casserole dish. Microwave until apples are tender-crisp. (About 4 minutes). Set aside.

1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. butter
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Mix together in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave until hot and bubbly (2-3 minutes), stirring after half the time. Be careful! Mixture will be hot!!! (I know from personal experience because I like to eat the crumb topping plain, and usually can't wait for it to cool before I pop a bite into my mouth!)
Sprinkle mixture over apples and let cool slightly. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

There is not a lot of words to describe the deliciousness I am about to shar with you....Just look at the pictures, wipe the drool off of your face, and MAKE THESE CINNAMON ROLLS!!!! (Look at the caramel just dripping off of the Thank you "Pioneer Woman" for another keeper!!! These were very good reheated for breakfast the next morning....

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Caramel Topping:
1 stick regular/salted butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown corn syrup
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons apple brandy OR apple juice (optional)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced.
To make the dough: heat milk, oil, and sugar until warm (do not boil.) Allow to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle in yeast and 4 cups flour. Stir gently and cover with a tea towel, allowing it to rise for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add remaining flour and dry ingredients. Set aside.
To make the caramel topping: add 1 stick butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, and optional apple brandy or apple juice. Allow to melt over low heat until totally combined. Allow to boil for a few seconds, then remove from heat. Set aside.
To make the rolls: roll out half the dough into a large rectangle. Pour on half the melted butter, half the sugar, and half the cinnamon. Roll into a long roll, then slice into rolls.
To assemble: Spray 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Pour in half the caramel topping. Sprinkle dice apple over the top, then arrange sliced rolls all over the pan. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, covered in foil for the first 25 minutes.
(Repeat with other half of dough if desired, or save dough in the fridge for another use.)
Invert on a cake pedestal or serving plate. Rolls will be very hot at first; allow to cool slightly before serving.

Uncle Craig's Rattlesnake Chile

This has been a long, long love affair. My husband and I have been in love with this chile since we first tasted it a little over 5 years ago. My Uncle Craig made it for us one Halloween night and we have been dying for the recipe ever since. He finally handed it over, and I literally ran to the store for all the indredients. It is the perfect recipe to kick off the fall/winter season. We had it with some navajo fry bread and followed up the meal with caramel apple cinnamon rolls. So turn on the fireplace, grab a good book and a warm blanket and serve yourself up a bowl. It won't disappoint!!

Look at the steam rising up...This will warm you down to your bones!!

We were at first coaxed into believing that this was made with real rattlesnake meat, (hence the name), and we try to keep the joke going. So make this for Halloween and let your guests in on the "secret ingredient".... :)

1 six foot rattler, skinned, boned, and de-rattled (Or for those without de-rattling skills: substitue 1 lb. lean pork shoulder, cut into bite size pieces)
1 15 oz can mild roasted green chiles
4 c. onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound bacon
2 T. corn meal
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
4 T. mild chile powder
5 jalepeno peppers
1 T. cumin
1 t. oregano
1 T. smooth peanut butter (yes, I'm serious.)
1/3 oz semi sweet chocolate (again, trust me.)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 15 oz. can pinto beans
1 15 oz can black beans
optional: 1/2 c. tequila

Fry the bacon until crisp, and set aside to cool. In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in about 2 T of the bacon drippings until transparent. Add the corn meal and chopped tomatoes with their juice, the chopped green chiles, cumin, chile powder, oregano, and 1 cup of water, simmer for half an hour.
Meanwhile, seed and chop the jalapeno peppers (avoid touching the seeds and any part of your face or body while doing will burn if you do!) Add the chopped pepper and 1/2 c of water to a blender and puree. Add about half of the water/pepper mix to the pan saving the rest to be added to taste later. Continue to simmer the chile base for another 15 minutes.
Drain the beans and stir them into the pot. Remove about 1/2 c of the chile and puree in a blender with the peanut butter and chocolate (these ingredients mellow the acidity of the chiles and allow the flavors to come thorugh, without imparting any of their own flavor). Return the blended mixture to the pan.
Using another tablespoon or so of the bacon drippings, saute the diced rattlesnake (or pork) until done. Chop the cooled bacon and add all of the meat to the chile. Simmer for another 1/2 hour, or until the meat is tender. Add more water if necessary, and add more of the blended jalapeno's if the chile needs more kick. Salt to taste. If using tequila, add at the end.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions if desired.

*Side note: we may try ground pork next time because we weren't sure about the big chunks of meat. Or maybe cut the pork into smaller pieces.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheesy, Creamy Pasta with Summer Veggies

I love summer veggies!!! Especially fresh from the garden...yum, yum!! This casserole from "Pioneer Woman" uses a lot of my favorite veggies and then adds cheese and pasta! What could be better????? Kids loved it, husband loved it...Try it and you will love it!

16 ounces medium pasta shells (or other short pasta)

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (avoid tough parts)

1/2 pound broccoli, cut into small florettes

1/2 pound zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini), diced

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts)

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

20 to 22 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Extra olive oil, for drizzling

Cook pasta until extremely al dente—with still quite a bit of bite.Melt butter with the olive oil over medium-low to medium heat, then add in the garlic.Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for five minutes. Sprinkle in a little salt. Add the broccoli and cook for one minute, then add the zucchini and cook for one or two more minutes. Add the frozen peas, stir together, then turn off the heat. Set aside.In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined.To assemble, butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Add half the pasta, then spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the surface. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan over the ricotta, then 1/2 of the vegetables. Repeat with the rest of the pasta, the rest of the ricotta, and another 1/3 of the Parmesan. End with the rest of the vegetables and the rest of the Parmesan.Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons olive oil, then bake for 25 minutes on 350 degrees or until nice and hot.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

This is my kid's new favorite sandwich!! They gobbled them up one after another!!! PErfect to serve with soup or a green salad for a light dinner! Another gem from "The Recipe Club"! I am going to try it with different meat and cheese combinations.... The poppyseed sauce is TO DIE FOR!!!

24 good white rolls
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices swiss cheese
1/3 mayo
1/3 cup miracle whip
{poppy seed sauce}
1 1/2 TBSP poppy seeds
1 1/2 TBSP yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBSP minced onion
1/2 tsp. worschestershire sauce
in a small bowl, mix together mayo & miracle whip. spread into both sides of the center of each roll. place a slice of ham & a slice of swiss inside of each roll. close rolls & place into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. place very close together.
in a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. let sit 10 minutes, or until butter sets slightly. cover with foil & bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. uncover & cook for 2 additional minutes. serve warm.
** sandwiches can me assembled a day ahead & kept in the fridge ready to bake.

Aloha Salad with Pina Colada Dressing

I HEART salads and love to try new ideas! This was a perfect, refreshing treat, that took me to a tropical island somewhere!! I found this salad on "The Recipe club" blog and will be making it again for sure!!! Would be a great BBQ salad!!

Found the pina colada mix in my regular grocery store by other drink mixes...easy easy!

3 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
2 large cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 large can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups tortilla strips
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled & cubed
toasted coconut, optional
Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl or layer on a platter. Serve with Pina Colada Vinaigrette dressing.

1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/3 cup mr. & mrs. T's pina colada drink mix
1/3 cup rice or apple cider vinegar- rice will make it more mild or
apple cider will make it stronger tasting
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a blender combine all ingredients except the oil. Blend well until light & frothy. With the blender still on, slowly add oil in a steady stream. Keep blending until the dressing is emulsified & thickened.

Going Greek!! I was feeling a little greek the other night and searched the web high and low and found some gems!!!! I found a recipe for "homemade flatbread" that I used to make pita like coverings from "My Kitchen Cafe", I used Ina Garten's greek panzanella recipe, which was TO DIE FOR!!! A meal in itself! I couldn't stop snacking on it! And then for the star, I made Greek chicken with creamy cucumber yogurt sauce also from "My Kitchen Cafe" ( you have to check out this cooking blog - it is so fun, with great ideas! I am a regular!) . SOOOOO amazing!! The only thing missing was some lemon rice.....the search is on!!!

Greek Panzanella from Ina Garten:
Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Soft Wrap Bread

3-31/4 c. flour

1 1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. potato flakes or buds

1 1/4 t. salt

2 T. vegetable oil

1 t. instant yeast

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl. Pour boiling water over flour, stir until smooth, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, wisk together potato flakes and 1 cup of remaining flour. with the salt, oil, and yeast. Add to cooled flour/water mixture. Knead together for several minutes to form a soft dough. ( I just used the kneading hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer for about 5 minutes). Let the dough rise, covered for 1 hour (or 2 if you have the time). Divide the dough into 8 pieces, cover and let rise for 15-30 minutes. (the longer it rises the fluffier it will be after you cook it...) Roll each piece into a 7-8 inch circle and DRY fry them about 1-2 minutes per side in a medium hot saute pan. Stack on a wire rack to keep soft and warm.

*These were so good with just butter or butter and honey.... I ate a LOT of them plain.. Next time I will double the recipe to have some leftover to snack on... :)

Chicken and Yogurt Sauce:


4 cloves garlic, smashed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 t. red wine vinegar

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 heaping T of plain greek yogurt (found in the grocery store)

1 T dried oregano

salt and pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper. Wisk until mixed well. Add chicken, cover, and refridgerate for at least an hour. Cook the chicken as desired (grilled, skillet, or broiler), until cooked through. Slice and serve on pitas with yogurt sauce (recipe to follow), diced tomato's, and diced red onions.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

16 oz. plain greek yogurt

1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeded

2-3 cloves garlic finely minced

1 t. red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

splash of extra virgin olive oil

Shred cucumber and squeeze in paper towels to get out all of the moisture that you can. Mix together with all of the rest of the ingredients and drizzle lightly with olive oil. refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

*start with 1 clove of garlic and work up from there to taste.

Peanut butter cup Cake

The title says it all!! Chocolate+peanut butter = heaven. You can't go wrong!! It is very rich, so pour a big glass of milk to wash it down!!! I got this recipe from Aunt Sharon, who is the cake goddess. You can't go wrong with any of her cake recipes!! Just make sure that there are others around to share.... Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Make 2 batches of your favorite chocolate cake in 9” pans. Use only three of the layers. Fill and top with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Cover sides with fudge frosting. Top with chopped Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups. Refrigerate.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

½ cup peanut butter
¼ c. shipping cream
1tsp. vanilla
1 8 oz. cream cheese softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
Mix until fluffy and spreadable

Fudge Frosting

¾ c. melted semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c. melted butter
Mix together and beat in 2 c. powdered sugar and 1-2 TB milk. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Salad with Teriyaki dressing

This salad is AMAZING! You can add a grilled chicken breast for protein, and to make it into a meal. A delicious twist on an asian style dressing using bottled teriyaki sauce. I had seconds and thirds!!! Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for sharing this one with me!!!

16 0z bow tie pasta
1 bag baby spinach
3 cans mand oranges
1/2 c chopped parsley
1/4 c sesame seeds
3 c cooked chicken
1 6oz bag of craisons
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 cup honey roasted peanuts

1 c oil
2/3 c white vinegar
2/3 c teriyaki sauce (Kikkoman)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 tbs sugar


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