Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}


I really like cooking chicken thighs, especially in the crock pot or Instant Pot. They don't dry out as easily as chicken breasts, and they pair really well with Asian flavors. I developed this recipe after seeing something similar in a cookbook. This chicken was a huge hit with my family, and it's SO FAST if you have a pressure cooker. If you don't, just use your crock pot, and while it takes longer, dinner will be ready when you are.


If you want to be extra fancy, you can brown the chicken before placing in the crock pot. In the Instant Pot, you would do this right in the pot on the saute setting, before adding the sauce. This will help the pot come to pressure more quickly. Personally, I can't be bothered! But some people prefer browned meat, so that's totally up to you.

We loved this alongside rice and steamed snow peas. Go easy on yourself with this simple and delicious week night dinner!

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Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Place chicken in the crock pot or Instant Pot.

In a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine the Thai sweet chili sauce, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken.

For Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

For Instant Pot, set to manual pressure for 7 minutes. When time is up, do a quick pressure release. (Note: time may vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Always check to be sure the meat is done before serving! For this recipe, I've done as little as 6 minutes and as many as 10.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Recipe Source: Inspired by a similar recipe in a Taste of Home Cookbook

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


I make a lot of muffins at our house, and these have recently been a huge hit. There's no cream cheese center here, but cream cheese is incorporated into the batter to make these the fluffiest muffins you'll eat. I've made these with fresh blueberries and I've also used the frozen 3-berry blend from Costco with great results, and with much acclaim.


Don't be shocked by the relative "lack" of flour here - 2 cups is all you need for two dozen muffins. Make any day of the week special with these delicious muffins! And you can freeze them for easy breakfasts later, too!


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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, and mix again until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the muffin batter and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula once or twice. There will be a lot of dry steaks remaining. Add the blueberries. Mix until just combined; the batter will be lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 14-17 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch.

Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temp or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze these muffins in a large zip top freezer bag, and then thaw in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Makes 24 muffins.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads


Leftover ingredients can be quite a challenge, but sometimes also yield the best new dinners! That was the case here. I had uncooked steak and vegetables from a stir fry earlier in the week, and so I combined them to make this very delicious flatbread. Even the kids (who dislike asparagus usually) gobbled it up! I guess garlicky bread and cheese makes most things edible! Ha!


Like a stir fry, you can vary flatbread (or pizza) ingredients with whatever your leftovers are. Another great way to use up leftovers is in an egg bake or quiche. Get creative!


Even though this dinner was born from leftovers, it is so good that I might plan to buy this combo of ingredients for next time.


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Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads

3 large Na'an breads or flatbreads
2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. garlic seasoning blend
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
8 oz. top sirloin steak
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Season the steak generously with salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat, and when hot, add the steak. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until it is not quite as done as you prefer (it will cook more in the oven!). Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and then add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add asparagus and mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have softened and asparagus is crisp-tender.

Place flatbreads on a baking stone and brush about 1/2 tsp. oil over each. Top with 1/2 cup cheese on each flatbread. Distribute the vegetables evenly among the three. Divide the steak among the flatbreads.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp


Shrimp and pasta is a great combo in my book, as you can tell from the recipes already posted here: Creamy Dilled Shrimp Fettucine, Creamy Shrimp Linguine, Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta, Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli, Seafood Lasagna, Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp with Orzo.

This is another take on that great combination, this time adding in Cajun spices and flavors. I also added spinach to ramp up the veggie quotient. This was a big hit at my house; feel free to adjust the spices to your family's tastes and tolerance. And it was even better for lunch the next day, so the lucky winner of the leftovers tells me. (Do you "fight" over the leftovers at your house? I love it when the kids would prefer to take leftovers for lunch over sandwiches.)


So, whether you eat this for dinner or lunch, you're sure to enjoy it. Shrimp and veggies in a creamy tomato sauce. It doesn't get much better than that!


Find other great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Sugar and Spice, Awesome Life.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

10 ounces small pasta shape
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
12 ounces large cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red/orange/yellow bell pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained and pureed
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving up to a cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a medium bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, pepper and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, salt, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove pan from heat; stir in shrimp and pasta. Add more pasta water if needed.

Stir in half-and-half and spinach. Cook 1 minute over medium heat or until thoroughly heated and spinach is mostly wilted.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, March 27, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs


It's March Madness! With the final four coming up, I thought it would be good to present a fun appetizer/game watching snack. These Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are lighter fare than wings, but taste just as good! When you serve them with a drizzle of blue cheese and some celery sticks, they're sure to be gobbled up quickly.

These take a little prep work before you heat them through in the crock pot, but it takes only minutes to form the meatballs and give them a quick baking. Then you can let them bathe in the wing sauce while you prepare additional snacks, shoot some hoops yourself, or take a nap.


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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3/4 cup Panko
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs onto a parchment or baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for 5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.

Place meatballs in a crock pot. Add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Serve immediately, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, if desired.

Recipe Source: Damn Delicious

Monday, March 20, 2017

Swedish Pancakes {with Blackberry Sauce}


I have loved Swedish pancakes ever since I was a kid. And luckily, they are so easy to make that even kids could do it! I'm not very talented at making "regular" pancakes; mine are always mis-shapen and inconsistently cooked! But it's easy to be good at Swedish pancakes since you make one at a time in a small skillet, similar to crepes.

They have roughly the same consistency as crepes, too. And they are wonderful topped with a simple fruit sauce. Of course, lingonberries would be the traditional fruit to use but they aren't readily available. So blackberries are a great substitute. You could use raspberries or strawberries or blueberries or any other fruit topping too.

However you choose to top these (regular syrup is also good!), I'm sure you will enjoy them. They're great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


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Swedish Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup floud
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
dash salt

Blackberry Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

For the blackberry sauce, in a small sauce pan, combine the berries and sugar. (Add about 1 Tbsp. water if using fresh berries.) Cook and stir over medium low heat until the berries start to release their juices, about 3-4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, lemon juice and 1 tsp. water. Whisk well, the slowly add to the berries, stirring until thickened.

For the pancakes, in a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk well. Stir in the melted butter, flour, almond extract and salt, just until combined.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, pour in a ladle-full of pancake batter and tip the pan so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan. (Similar to making crepes.) Let cook for about 1 minute or until the pancake starts to release from the pan. Then carefully flip the pancake over and cook on opposite side for another minute. Remove from pan, and repeat until batter is gone.

Serve pancakes by rolling them up and plating them and then spooning blackberry sauce over the top.

Makes 7-8 pancakes.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Creamy White Chicken Chili {Crock pot or Stove top}


Until now, I have never made white chili. And I am not exaggerating when I say that while eating this for the first time, I looked across the table at my family and said "WHY HAVE I NOT MADE THIS BEFORE? THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE EVER EATEN!" I made the same exclamation while eating the leftovers at work the next day, and made the chili again for my work team the next week. And I'm making it again tonight since THE SNOW IS BACK.

This is really, really delicious stuff. White beans, corn, chiles, chicken, the perfect amount of spices. Not only is it SO good, but you can let it cook in your crock pot all day or you can easily whip it up quickly on the stove top after a long day of shoveling. I've made it both ways and it's wonderful either way.


You can garnish this any way you like - I love it with some diced avocados. Other members of my family like a little tomato and cilantro. We don't always use cheese, but that's an option too.

I like to serve this with corn muffins. And be ready, cause everyone will ask for seconds. And then they'll ask how soon they can eat it again...

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Creamy White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 - 15 oz cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 - 4 oz cans green chiles
2 - 15 oz can corn, drained
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
small handful fresh cilantro chopped
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup half and half

TOPPINGS:
diced roma tomatoes
diced avocados
dollop of sour cream
minced fresh cilantro
tortilla strips
shredded Monterey jack or Mexican cheese

For the crock pot:

Add chicken breasts to bottom of slow cooker, top with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Top with diced onion, minced garlic, great Northern beans, green chiles, corn, chicken broth and cilantro. Stir.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken to a cutting board, shred, then return to slow cooker. Add cream cheese and half and half, stir, then cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, or until chili is creamy and slightly thickened. Stir well and serve with desired toppings.

For the stove top:

Used cooked and chopped chicken, or cook chicken separately, cool and then chop or shred.

In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in a small amount of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder and cayenne and stir to combine.

Add chicken broth, corn, beans, diced chiles and cilantro. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low. Add chicken, cream cheese and half and half and cook over low until slightly thickened. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Recipe Source: The Chunky Chef
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