One year ago, today, I posted my very first blog entry. I started this blog after my sister, Sarah, casually mentioned that I should start posting some of the recipes I was trying--I certainly never thought I would enjoy it this much! I have met some extraordinary people and have truly enjoyed following so many different blogs...both cooking and otherwise. As you've all probably noticed, I do tend to go in spurts...I'm either posting up a storm or you'll notice a 2-3 week gap in posting. This past year has been quite challenging for so many reasons, but cooking has almost become a therapeutic outlet for me--I love experimenting and becoming more "adventurous" and am always so excited to share recipes that I feel are "keepers". It's also been a fun bonding experience for my family--my husband, son and even my daughter all enjoy helping in one way or another and it's great feeling as if the preparation of dinner was a "team effort" :) I'm anticipating some fairly major life changes in the next couple of months, but once things calm down a bit, I am unbelievably excited to get back on track and post more regularly...and comment on all of your blogs!
In honor of my one year "blogiversary", I wanted to give a little something away to my faithful followers--I am so touched that I currently have over 125 people following my blog! While I was running my errands yesterday, I picked up a new "Taste of Home Prize Winning Recipes", featuring 200 "best-of-the best recipes". I'll have you know...I'm kicking myself right now that I didn't pick up a copy for myself--I mean, seriously...the front picture is of Bacon-Cheese Topped Chicken...does it get much better than that?!? I was flipping through it this afternoon while waiting for my son to get out of preschool and spent the entire time drooling! There's an entire section on muffins, ham, party foods, chicken, one-dish classics, pasta, soups and stews, cakes, and a TON of other assorted desserts. Just at quick glance, I know that I would be interested in trying well over half of the recipes! I will DEFINITELY be stopping back at the grocery store to pick up my own copy :)
To enter for a chance to win this magazine, all I ask is that you leave me a comment, letting me know if you have a favorite recipe of mine that you've tried or if there's a particular recipe you've been itching to try. Winners will be selected at random...more than likely, I'll put each name in a hat and let my son pick--it doesn't take much to excite a four year old :) All comments must be posted by 11:59 EST on Sunday, January 31st and the winner will be announced Monday morning. PLEASE make sure you either include your email address or another way to get in touch with you. If the winner does not claim their prize within one week, another winner will be selected.
Now, just for a quick recap of my first year blogging! Here are some of my favorite recipes...
Oven Roasted Potatoes Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce The above recipes are all exceptionally good and it was VERY hard to pick just a handful to feature! Of all of the recipes I've posted, there were literally only a couple that I wasn't completely sold on--and those were recipes that I thought could in fact have great potential, with a little "tweaking". I hope you all have enjoyed my blog as much as I have enjoyed all of yours and I can't begin to tell you how much I have appreciated all of the very sweet comments and feedback. Wishing you all a wonderful year and I'm so excited to see what everyone has in store!
Stumbling across this recipe could not have come at a more perfect time! I purchased a family-size package of chicken breasts the other day and used the majority for my chicken scaloppine. I had three large chicken breasts left and what do you know...that's EXACTLY what this recipe calls for! :) My husband and I used to enjoy going out for the "all-you-can-eat" fajitas at the local Don Pablos...that is, of course, before we had kids! Dining out is quite the ordeal and not overly enjoyable with the two kids fidgeting around the entire time, so I was excited to find a recipe that claimed to create "the best chicken fajitas", so we could enjoy them at home!
Marinade: 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3-4 limes) 1/3 cup water 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons apple cider or red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1/2 teaspoons chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
Fajitas: 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts) 1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips 1 red (or orange) pepper, cut into thin strips 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered 1 teaspoon soy sauce 2 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice (a quick squeeze of a cut lime) dash of salt and pepper
Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade ingredients over the top. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 2-3 hours.
After marinading, take chicken out of the bag and discard the marinade. Grill or broil the chicken 4-5 minutes per side--I used my indoor grill pan. Remove from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms and peppers. Stir fry until softened but still crisp tender. Add soy sauce, water, lime juice and salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice chicken thinly on the diagonal and toss with the vegetables in the skillet. Serve immediately with flour tortillas and any toppings of your choice--I used Mexican cheese and sour cream, but you could also use tomatoes, lettuce and guacamole!
This recipe was quite similar to a few others that I've recently tried, but it seemed to have that "something extra" that made it stand out. (I'm wondering if it's the addition of the Dijon mustard to the egg mixture?!?) This was an easy meal to throw together...I think I had dinner on the table within about 30 minutes and it's one of those meals that looks like you spent a lot longer preparing it...always a "bonus"!
Chicken Scaloppine with Lemon Glaze
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts; approximately 2 1/2 lbs (pounded to about 1/3-inch thickness) 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 large eggs 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or to taste) ***I didn't have "poultry seasoning", so I just added some marjoram, sage, thyme and rosemary*** 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt 2 tablespoons olive oil (for frying)
1/2 cup chicken broth (I used a chicken bouillon cube, dissolved in boiling water) 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon salt 6-12 thin lemon slices fresh parsley, chopped (to taste)
In a small bowl or shallow dish whisk together mustard and eggs; set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the dry bread crumbs with poultry seasoning, garlic powder and seasoning salt. First dip the chicken breasts in the egg/mustard mixture (shake off any excess egg) and then coat evenly/generously with the crumb mixture.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it is no longer pink inside; remove and transfer to a plate to keep warm. (I had to use 2 pans and added the browned bits from the second pan to the first pan, after I removed the chicken).
For the glaze: in the same skillet add in the broth, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil scraping any brown bits from the pan. Add in lemon slices and parsley; mix to combine for about 1 minute.
Spoon the glaze/sauce over chicken.
Source: Adapted from recipe posted on Recipezaar.com
I've said it before and I'll say it again...I LOVE meals you can get ready the night before and then just throw in the oven the next afternoon/evening! I came across this particular blog "Cooking with Carrie" from Donna's blog, I believe, and was drooling over her recipes! I've made my feelings about whole chickens very clear in previous posts, but lately, they're one of the least expensive types of poultry/meat to buy, so I love finding new recipes. Just to forewarn you...this chicken does cook on a slow oven for about 4 hours, so it's something you'd need to make on a day in which you don't really have much going on--especially if you're wanting it done around a more "normal" dinnertime. Both the white and dark meat were equally moist and flavorful! I did not end up making the gravy, as neither my husband or I are big "gravy fans", but Carrie's recipe sounded good, so I included it. If it's even remotely close to being as good as the chicken, I'm sure you'll love the gravy, as well!
Gravy Ingredients: Chicken drippings 2 tablespoons flour 1 can chicken broth (or 1 cup water and a chicken bouillon cube)
In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture--make sure you use all of it! Stuff the pieces of onion and garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place chicken in a roasting pan (or 9 x 13 dish). Bake uncovered for 4 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees...approximately 4 hours. Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving; discard onion and garlic.
To Make the Gravy...
Carefully remove chicken out of the pan when it's done cooking. Pour all the drippings into a glass measuring cup, leaving any browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan. Let the drippings stand for a minute or two until the fat rises to the top of the measuring cup. Set the roasting pan over medium-low heat (you may need to use two burners at once.) Spoon out 4 tablespoons fat from the top of the measuring cup and put it back in the roasting pan. Sprinkle the flour over the fat and whisk. Whisk flour and fat for 1 to 2 minutes until the flour turns a nice golden-brown color. Pour the measuring cup drippings and can of chicken broth into the roasting pan, whisking and scraping off the encrusted bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer mixture for 2 to 3 minutes while whisking the entire time. Adjust the thickness of the gravy, as desired--if it is too thin, simmer, whisking often until the gravy is as thick as you want it and if it is too thick, whisk in a little more chicken broth. Taste the gravy and season it with salt and pepper if needed.
This recipe apparently was NOT a "winner" with my husband--he took a couple of bites and then asked me if I wanted to finish his portion. I knew when I was making it that there was a good possibility that he may not care for it. My husband has never tried scallops and I made the mistake of using the less expensive scallops for his "first time". Oops! I didn't go out and specifically buy scallops for this recipe--in fact, I've never even cooked with scallops before. I don't know if any of you have seen the little 4 oz bags that go on sale at Kroger periodically for $1.00, but I picked up a couple of packages a while back, figuring I'd give them a try. I, personally, didn't think they were "bad"--they obviously weren't as good as those really big scallops you get out, but the flavor was comparable. I really enjoyed the flavor of the dish and think that if my husband could have gotten past the idea of the scallops, that he might have actually enjoyed it. If any of you try it, I'd love to hear your feedback!
Pasta with Scallops and Lemon Butter Mustard Sauce
1 cup dry white wine 1/2 teaspoon lemon, zest of, grated 8 ounces bay scallops 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1/4 cup low-fat butter 6 ounces pasta, cooked and hot (I used 8 ounces of angel hair and that made enough for 2 people). 1/4 cup chives, snipped (I only had dehydrated chives) salt and pepper
Simmer wine and lemon zest in medium saucepan. Add scallops and cook and stir for 1 minute. Take out scallops, raise heat and reduce wine to about 1/4 cup.
Reduce heat to low, whisk in mustard, then butter, in small pieces. Add scallops and any juice and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve sauce over cooked pasta and sprinkle with chives. (I stirred my pasta in with my scallops to coat it well and then sprinkled some chives on top!)
I remember someone mentioning within their blog a while back that they were big fans of Recipezaar.com and I have since found quite a few great recipes off of that site! I'm almost thinking that I like it better than allrecipes.com! You can either search by recipe name, by ingredients you want to use, etc (much like allrecipes.com), but it seems as if there is a wider variety of recipes. I like that it also allows you to sort recipes by their "rating", much like allrecipes.com. I did a search for recipes that contained boneless skinless chicken breasts and this particular one popped up under the "most popular" section. It was rated by close to 2,000 people and received 4 1/2 out of 5 stars...it doesn't get much better than that! All of the reviews seemed pretty consistent in terms of the comments and I followed the recipe pretty much to a tee. Depending on how heartily you eat, you may want to double the ingredients--I used about 2 1/2 pounds of chicken, but do not think it would have fed more than 3 adults, unless you served something else with it. I served mine over white rice (per their suggestion), but didn't have egg rolls or anything like that to balance the meal. My husband even thought it would have been good to have added some broccoli or pea pods in with the chicken and I do think that definitely would have been good, as the sauce itself had a really good flavor and would have complimented most any veggie you added. I would probably suggest trying it "as is" to start and then you can create your own variation--if I do add veggies next time, I would probably make a little extra sauce, because it was nice having some sauce to spoon over the rice.
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces 1-2 tablespoon olive oil 1 garlic clove, crushed 1/4 teaspoon ginger 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 cup apple juice 1/3 cup light brown sugar 2 tablespoons ketchup 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1/2 cup water 1/3 cup soy sauce
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil; Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
If you were to look up the word "picky" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my husband off to the left. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of different foods and encouraged to experiment with different flavors, but after meeting my husband, I somewhat locked myself into an eight to ten meal rotation and was reluctant to deviate. I have since given birth to two of the least picky eaters on the face of the Earth, thus inspiring me to transform my cooking style. I know many people, like myself, lead such hectic lives, so I strive to find recipes that are quick and easy--especially those that you can whip up with ingredients that you ordinarily have on hand!
A bit about me...I married my husband, Marcus, on June 1, 2003 and we welcomed our son Jacob on March 22, 2005. Our daughter, Madeline, was born on March 1, 2008. I stay home with the kids for the most part, but also work occasional shifts as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I truly hope you enjoy my blog. A special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for giving me the idea! Her creativity is hard to live up to, but I'm a very determined person and hope to make her proud :)