Chicken Tamale Bake

My husband loves tamales. My mother-in-law Anna makes them in huge batches and brings them up when she visits. It’s a whole involved process that she tried to teach me once (long ago when I was first married), but the thought of authentic cooking was a total brain overload for me back then. I found this recipe and knew I needed to give it a whirl. It starts with a rich cornbread base filled with chilies, topped with enchilada sauce, spiced chicken and cheese. If you like Mexican food, you will love this!

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Summer Slaw

In the summer, there are lots of opportunities to bring salads and slaws to BBQs. I recently brought a sweet & sour apple slaw (light & delicious) and of course there’s always my standby Chinese chicken salad (perfection!) if I’m not sure what to bring. Last weekend I wanted to make something close to a traditional cole slaw, but with a little twist. I dunno why, it has been forever since I had just a cole slaw. I needed that kind of dressing. This is what I came up with. Crunchy apples with moist tender chicken and a killer slaw sauce with a kick from lemon juice and cider vinegar.

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Lightened Chicken Divan With Quinoa

Quinoa is totally the cool kid in school right now. The topic of every conversation. Exotic. Mysterious. You aren’t sure exactly how to pronounce their name. Ok, ok…you totally do know how. But I didn’t. I had an entire conversation calling it “qwi-no-ah”. Then my sister set me straight. She’s been all over this stuff for years. Keen-wah? Seriously? Ok then. Did you know that once you tell a 5-year-old how something is pronounced, there’s practically no earthly way to convince them otherwise? Apparently “Mommy was wrong” doesn’t hold mustard with my kids. I’ll have to be careful what I tell them as fact lest they sprout off totally false information and give me all the credit.

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Baked Honey Mustard Chicken

Quick. Easy. Delicious. These are the words I like when doing a weekday dinner. This moist delicious chicken is all three. I make it all the time. It’s one of my go-to “I don’t really feel like cooking tonight” meals. Throw it in a dish, dump sauce over it and done. No chopping, no prep really at all. I usually serve this with some pasta, but it goes great with potatoes or rice as well.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you think chicken breasts are dry and tasteless it’s because you are cooking them too long. The magic number you’re looking for is 160° F. That’s it. Then get those babies out of the oven.

And enjoy every single perfectly succulent morsel.

Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
from Allrecipes.com

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, basil, paprika, and parsley. Mix well. Pour 1/2 of this mixture over the chicken, and brush to cover.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and brush with the remaining 1/2 of the honey mustard mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear (temp should be 160°).  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Marvelous Marinade

It’s grilling season! Woo-hoo! This tasty marinade is quick and easy and will turn just about any cut of meat into a tender, flavorful mouth party. I know, it’s supposed to be meatless Monday. And obviously that’s a picture of steak. Be patient.

I love to soak some big chunks of steak and chicken in this glorious saucy goodness and then grill them up as kebabs. Mmmmm. Kebabs. Meat on a stick. Does anyone else hear Liam Neeson saying “Sam! I’ve done chicken kebabs!” in his gorgeous “Love Actually” accent? Sometimes, I wish my name was Sam. Anyone?

It’s also incredibly delicious on veggies. But I only bathe them in the marinade for about 15 minutes. Don’t want them to lose their fresh bright flavor. There. That counts right? Meatless veggies on a stick.

Also, am I the only one who keeps my veggies on different skewers? Maybe it’s because I like crisp veg and if they share a stick & stay on the fire long enough to cook my meat, the mushrooms are mostly just mush and the peppers have lost their pep. And that is just wrong. Veggies get their own stick in my house. You gotta keep em separated.

Great. Now I have scenes from Love Actually & the lyrics of “Keep Em Separated” running thru my head simultaneously. Bet that’s never happened to anyone in the history of the world. Since the movie is about a bunch of people getting together, and the song has pretty much the exact opposite goal.

Speaking of getting people together, have a BBQ, make this marinade and cook up some flavorful moist and marvelous meat. Your friends will love it! So will you! It’s fantastic and delicious! Oh, if you don’t have any teriyaki sauce, no worries – I love that I can use up the little bit that’s left at the bottom of my bottles when making this, but it’s great sans the bottled stuff too.

Marvelous Marinade
adapted from Food.com

1 1/2 cups oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 – 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill it almost to the top)
3-4 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/3 cup store-bought teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup honey

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender, food processor or a ziploc bag. Blend, pulse or shake the crazy out of the bag until combined.
  2. This recipe makes 3-1/2 cups of marinade, but may be stored in the refrigerator tightly covered in a glass container for up to 3 weeks.
  3. Pour over your favorite cut of meat for 2-24 hours. Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, venison etc…can be used on almost anything!

Buffalo Chicken Empanadas

Honestly? These are kind of like homemade hot pockets. At least that’s what the hubby tells me. I’ve never personally had a hot pocket. Just add it to the list of things “all” children of the 80’s have eaten that I haven’t. Also included are pop tarts & hamburger helper. What can I say? My childhood was full of home-cooked awesome. I don’t know the origin of hot pockets, maybe a vindictive evil genius in a basement discovered they were the perfect vehicle for scalding the mouths of children across the country? It’s possible. Empanadas on the other hand originated in Spain and eventually made their way around the world in various forms. The name comes from the verb empanar meaning to wrap in bread. Some countries fill the dough with meat, some with sweet fillings or vegetables. I decided to combine the standard fare of the midwest (BBQ) with the Spanish tradition of empanadas. The result? Buffalo chicken awesomeness.

Start by cooking up some chicken, bell pepper and onion.

Then add a hit of BBQ sauce. I’m a big fan of Sweet Baby Ray’s cause it’s so thick and delicious – but you can whatever brand you like.
Roll out some buttermilk biscuits and then start filling. First, some of the saucy chicken mixture.
Topper of cheese (jack, co-jack, pepper jack…all are awesome).
Then fold it up.
And press the edges to seal in all that BBQ goodness. Bake and enjoy!
You can hold these right in your hand and munch away. Glorious! A pocket of bready barbecue goodness.
Mmmmmm. Filled with cheesy, chicken deliciousness.
Yum yum yum!
Buffalo Chicken Empanadas

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed

1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/3 – 1/2 cup barbeque sauce (depending how saucy you like things)
1 (16.3-oz.) can Pillsbury refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream or ranch salad dressing, if desired
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Sautee onions, pepper and chicken in large skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Add barbeque sauce; mix well. Remove skillet from heat.
2. Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Press or roll each to form 6-inch round. Spoon beef mixture evenly onto half of each biscuit round. Top each with a sprinkle of cheese. Fold dough over filling; press edges to seal. Place on ungreased large cookie sheet.
3. Bake at 375°F. for 12 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream or ranch for dipping and a mexican salad.

Creamy White Chicken and Artichoke Lasagna

Sometimes, it’s really awkward to be a food blogger. I always feel really silly when I’m at a party taking pictures of food. But, since some of the best things I make are taken elsewhere to be consumed, I really don’t have a choice. So, I whip out my trusty Canon and snap a couple quick pics so I at least have something to show you when recommending a recipe. Believe me when I tell you that this dinner is creamy, rich and delicious and will be loved by anyone you serve it to. I’ll never give up my red sauce lasagna (which, I just realized I have never posted the recipe for – must do that soon!) – but this was a nice change-up from my regular layered Italian meal.

The really great thing about this recipe is that you could easily change it to suit your preferences. I changed the original a little, including using diced tomatoes instead of sun-dried. You could make it vegetarian friendly by using sautéed zucchini, onions, spinach, mushrooms etc. instead of the chicken. Have fun. Make it your own.

Oh, a little tip – I always put my lasagna noodles in a casserole dish and cover them with boiling water for 30 minutes to cook them. While they soak away in the water, I prep the rest of the ingredients. The noodles turn out perfectly cooked and are much easier to handle than if you actually cook them according to the package directions before layering. Also, I love the golden cheese around the edges of lasagna. It’s pretty much the best food ever.

Creamy White Chicken and Artichoke Lasagna
adapted from Tasty Tidbits

Ingredients

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.)  Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/2 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup milk
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil, chopped, divided
12 lasagna noodles, cooked

Directions
HEAT oven to 350°F.
COMBINE chicken, artichokes, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and tomatoes. Beat cream cheese, milk and garlic powder with mixer until well blended; stir in 2 Tbsp. basil. Mix half with the chicken mixture.
SPREAD half the remaining cream cheese mixture onto bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish; cover with 3 noodles and 1/3 of the chicken mixture. Repeat layers of noodles and chicken mixture twice. Top with remaining noodles, cream cheese mixture and mozzarella; cover.
BAKE 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Let stand 5 min. before cutting to serve.

Perfect Roast Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe has been shared before, but it is absolutely one of my FAVORITE dinners to make.  I love roasting chickens. They are so easy. Yes, easy. If you’ve never roasted a chicken for dinner you are missing out! If the picture in your head requires you to slave over a hot stove, basting and fretting over your bird, you need a reality check. A few minutes of prep and then into the oven it goes. No work required for an hour and a half while it cooks. When it’s done, it looks like Norman Rockwell came and painted dinner on your table. Gorgeous!

This chicken is well-flavored with butter, lemon and garlic. Stuffed inside the chicken roughly chopped, the flavor makers require almost zero prep. As far as the veggies around the chicken go, feel free to use baby carrots if you want to cut out the step of cutting up whole ones. Sometimes, I add a little poultry seasoning to the butter that gets rubbed under the skin. Sometimes not. Either way it’s delectable.

The veggies actually are my favorite part of this meal. My husband says as delicious as the chicken is, it’s really just a side dish to the perfection of the roasted vegetables. Just look at that amazing golden color. Ah-mazing.

Perfect Roast Chicken & Vegetables
(adapted from Ina Garten)

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs (dried thyme can be substituted)
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (melt 2 tablespoons)
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8 chunks
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
3 russet potatoes (or 5 red/baby potatoes)
Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic.

Poke one finger under the breast skin at opening of the chicken. Wiggle around until the skin is separated from the meat. Repeat on other breast. Rub 1 T of butter underneath the skin on each side of the chicken breast. Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Coconut Curry Chicken

Sometimes, you need to try a little something different. In an effort to expose my kids to more than just American cuisine, I decided to make this light and delicious meal with the pungent spices of India. The dish also heavily relies on coconut milk, which mellows it out and gives it a nice sweetness. When I first saw the toppings I was a little skeptical. I don’t think I’ve ever put raisins in my dinner. And, combined with curry? But, I was feeling adventurous and I’m glad I broadened my horizons. It was delicious. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the crunch of the peanuts, sweetness of the coconut and raisins really made the spicy richness of the curry shine.

If you’re feeling stuck in a bit of a cooking rut and are looking for something to spice up the dinner table, this is it. It’s a little unusual and certainly very different than the normal fare that graces my table, but I figured anything that had potatoes AND rice in it couldn’t be bad! The original recipe called for it to be prepared in a crock pot, but it only cooked for 5 hours. Which, I find kind of defeats the purpose of crock pot cooking. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a job that only requires you to be there for half a normal workday, 5 measly hours in the crock pot isn’t really going to help you. Besides, the meal comes together my way in about a half hour – so I don’t see the need for busting out the slow cooker.

Coconut Curry Chicken
adapted from Taste of Home, Healthy Cooking Cookbook

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups hot cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Raisins, flaked coconut and chopped peanuts, optional

Directions

  • In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken on both sides.
  • Remove and set aside. In the same pan, cook the onion and potatoes briefly until softened/slightly browned. In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk, curry, garlic, bouillon, salt and pepper; pour over onions and potatoes. Scrape up any brown bits that are on the bottom of the pan. Add chicken back to the pan. Cover and cook on low for 25 minutes until meat is tender. Depending on the thickness desired for your sauce, add additional coconut milk to thin slightly.
  • Serve chicken and sauce with rice; sprinkle with green onions. Garnish with raisins, coconut and peanuts if desired.
    Yield: 
    4 servings.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Do you ever want to pick up the giant box of frozen taquitos at the warehouse store but have no idea where you would store them? Well, with this recipe you can make your own, in whatever quantity you can manage to make room for in between frozen corn and random half bags of ice leftover from your last party. I made a double batch, half corn and half flour tortillas which ended up making 36 taquitos. Now I have them ready for when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to come up with something for dinner (or lunch). 20 minutes straight from the freezer and you have a delicious homemade meal that you can feel great serving to your family. You could even make them, freeze them and have them for a party appetizer! Yum!

At the beginning of every week I poach a few chicken breasts. It’s really easy. Boil broth in a medium saucepan, add the chicken – making sure it’s completely covered by the broth. Cover and turn off the heat. Allow the residual heat from the broth to gently cook the chicken for about 20 minutes (or until it’s cooked thru). Remove from broth and then shred with two forks or throw it into your Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and turn it on medium for about 30 seconds. Seriously. Shreds chicken perfectly. Like a restaurant. I keep a bag of it in my fridge pretty much at all times. It’s fantastic for throwing into casseroles, soups, making tacos or these taquitos.

So, I took a few cups of my already prepared chicken and added it to some cream cheese, spices, onion, salsa and fresh cilantro. Mix it all up and you’re ready to fill your tortillas.

Heat up a couple tortillas at a time to soften so they don’t break apart when you roll them. Corn tortillas will need a little longer in the microwave than flour. I put mine under a slightly damp paper towel for about 20-30 seconds. Put a couple of tablespoons of the mixture on the bottom third of the tortilla and then roll.

Repeat until all the mixture is used. Then you can freeze for later, or bake them up right away. If freezing, “flash freeze” them in a single layer on a  baking sheet. 15-20 minutes until they’re firm.

Then you can put them in a freezer bag and they won’t stick together. Easy easy.

When you cook these up they get all crispy on the outside with that rich chickeny cheesy filling melted up on the inside and are just divine. Use your favorite tortilla. Flour or corn works just as well. I know. I’ve tried both.

All ready to be devoured by your whole family. Mmmmm.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
from Chef-in-Training

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp sliced green onions
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
  • small flour or corn tortillas
  • kosher salt
  • cooking spray
Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.
(If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)
Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds). Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.
Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone.  Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.
**To freeze:  Before baking, flash freeze the taquitos in a single layer on a baking sheet then place in a labeled freezer bag and store up to 3 months.  To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.  (Flash Freeze means freezing the taquitos in a single layer for 15-20 minutes so that when you add them to the freezer bag, they will not all stick together).
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