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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No-Bake Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I have been looking for a no-fail, easy homemade granola bar recipe for a few weeks now. Fall is coming and my sweet Madison is starting Kindergarten. How did that happen so fast? I blinked and suddenly she was 5. Crazy. I cannot wait for after school snack time. I remember that being the best thing ever. Come home from school to a glass of cold milk and some kind of treat? Oh yeah. This recipe is going to be made every single week I’m sure. It takes 5 minutes, you don’t have to bake anything and they are incredibly delicious.

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Braided Spaghetti Bread

I totally need to go to the grocery store. Big time. I’ve been stalling for days. I don’t know why. Maybe because in the summer all I want to eat is fruit. Or maybe I just needed something to procrastinate about that would make me actually fold the 5 loads of clean laundry sitting on my bed. Mission accomplished! Whatever the reason, I needed a solution for dinner that did not involve any fancy ingredients. I scoured my freezer and found a bag of frozen dinner rolls and a tube of chicken sausage. I knew there was a dinner in those ingredients, it just needed a couple pantry basics to make it work. A nice jar of marinara sauce, mozzarella and some pasta did the trick. This braided spaghetti was absolutely delicious, mondo easy and will most certainly become a part of my regular rotation.

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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.

Spinach & Cheese Tortellini

Throw dinner together tonight with this quick and easy tortellini dish. Once a week I make something without meat in it. This dish has lots of fresh and filling vegetables wrapped in a creamy sauce with rich cheesy tortellini. It would be easy to throw some chicken into if you really can’t give up your carnivorous dinner – but I find it refreshing once in a while to leave the meat out.

Did I mention how easy this is? 20 minutes and dinner is on the table! Enjoy!

Spinach & Cheese Tortellini
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 (19 ounce) package cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 large fresh tomato)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions, leaving them just slightly underdone. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onions & mushrooms in butter until tender. Add the tomato & garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese, milk, parmesan, salt, Italian seasoning and pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; add to skillet. Add spinach last, tossing until wilted and combined. Cook 2-3 minutes or until bubbly.

Chicken Parmesan Bake

Chicken Parmesan is my absolute favorite meal. While growing up I got to pick my birthday meal and chicken parm was my choice every single year. I never grow tired of it. It is perfection. Juicy chicken wrapped in crispy breading all smothered in rich marinara sauce and drenched with melty cheese – oh I love it. I’m not a fan of the preparation however. If only it was my birthday every day so my mom would make it for me all the time…in her kitchen. I hate that Chicken Parmesan destroys every counter I own and dirties a full load of dishes. All the pans for egg wash, flour and breadcrumbs. Not to mention the frying which in inevitably splatters grease on whatever brand new favorite shirt I’m wearing. How I forget to put an apron on EVERY TIME is beyond me.

When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. How on earth could a casserole type baked dish produce the crisp breaded goodness of my favorite dinner? How? I pictured a soggy yucky mess. Breadcrumbs turned into a goopy pile. *shudder* Then, I read the secret ingredient. Croutons. Oh genius chef who thought of that, you have my devotion forever.

My joy and elation is tempered by a huge problem with this recipe. It is so incredibly easy, and amazingly good that I already want to make it again. My oven isn’t even cool yet and I’m dreaming of the next time I can eat this. It took less than 10 minutes to throw together, used one dish (ONE!) and is every bit as delicious as the full-fledged tornado in the kitchen that is Chicken Parmesan. I’m trying to convince myself that since it’s baked, I can get away with eating it more frequently than its fried inspiration – but the convincing was not going well until I actually did a calorie calculator. Under 400 calories per serving. Oh baby. This just became my favorite meal.

A quick photo spread of the dish coming together. It is really just a dump it all in the pan meal. Layer chicken on top of garlicy olive oil. Then marinara, fresh basil, two cheeses, croutons (genius) and more cheese.

I almost started singing when this came out of the oven all golden and cheesy. The smell overwhelmingly perfect. Like your kitchen has transformed into the best Italian restaurant you’ve ever been to. Make this. Immediately. It is glorious. The croutons stay crisp and perfectly toasted on top, but infuse with the flavor of garlic, basil and marinara on the bottom. The chicken is moist and delicious, coated with saucy cheesy goodness. You will love it.

 

Chicken Parmesan Bake
adapted from Food Wishes

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pepper/Italian seasonings
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (24 ounces of chicken)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons

Pour olive oil into the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.  Crush garlic and swoosh around in the oil until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.
Lay chicken breasts on top of the garlicy olive oil. Season with pepper and italian seasoning (or you could use red pepper flakes if you like a little kick)
Pour marinara sauce on top of chicken and coat evenly.
Chop basil and sprinkle over marinara sauce.
Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese over the marinara/basil.
Dump croutons in a single layer on top of cheeses and top with remaining cheeses.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-55 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken breasts). Until thermometer reads 155 when inserted into chicken. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes.

Cheater Churros

Easiest recipe ever. Perfect as a backup dessert during a dinner party I recently had. One of my guests couldn’t eat the main attraction (which was very sad because the chocoflan was incredible). So, I made these quick and easy churros for him. A quick bake, dunk in some butter and a roll in cinnamon sugar. These airy delights were absolutely delicious!

Cheater Churros
from Six Sisters

Ingredients:
1 sheet frozen pastry puff sheet, thawed (usually they come in a 2 pack . . . if you want to make both sheets, just double the recipe)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Unfold and cut puff pastry sheets in half lengthwise, and cut each half crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.  Place strips on a lightly greased parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown (mine only took 8 minutes). Meanwhile, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Remove pastry sheets from oven and dip in butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Let stand on a wire rack 5 minutes or until dry.

Makes 18 churros.

Ridiculously Easy Homemade Doughnuts

Or, donuts…if you prefer it that way. Whichever way you like, these are amazingly good. They quite possibly belong atop my ease/deliciousness chart. Whenever I make something, I mentally rate it on a scale of how simple or difficult the recipe is versus how delicious the food turns out. No, I’m not OCD enough to have an actual spreadsheet or anything like that. It’s just a running filing system in my brain. If something is incredibly good, but takes a whole lot of effort it becomes a special occasion kind of treat or meal. Something can taste amazing, but if it requires three hours in the kitchen, I won’t make it often…no matter how delectable it is. Then there are the magical things that are impossibly easy and mind blowingly delicious. Like these light and sweet, melt in your mouth doughnuts. I could make these every single day. And never grow tired of them. Except, then I’d gain about 200 pounds. It would almost be worth it to get to eat these on a daily basis. Move aside Krispy Kreme. See ya’ Dunkin…I’m making my own doughnuts from now on. [Read more…]

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