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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Simple Corn Salad

You know that we watch FoodTV on Saturday and Sunday mornings, right? I mean, really, doesn't everyone have a tv in the bedroom AND kitchen??

Ok. Maybe not. But you should! This recipe was pulled from Trisha Yearwood's FoodTV episode ...

It's like a lot of other recipes I have, but once again, something triggered my attention enough to make me go online and look up the basic recipe ... and here is what we did!

1 can regular yellow corn, drained
1 can white corn, drained
1 small can diced green chilies, drained
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
2 tomatoes, rough chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, sliced thin
3 tbs vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
zest of half a lime (zest your lime before you squeeze!)
juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs chopped cilantro

Mix all except cilantro in medium size bowl and chill for a minimum of 1 hour.  Prior to serving stir well and add the cilantro.

Now, there are several things you can do with this little gem of a dish:

Add to tacos!

Add to a rice bowl (ohhh, just. like. Chipotles!)

Or, you can just grab some yummy tortilla chips and dip away like a crazy lady ... uh huh ...

Seriously, something so simple taste this great! Go ahead, give it a try!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chicken Kiev

I love them little Barber chicken things, but you know, 2 to a box and $3.99? wow. That's expensive. Not to mention, the list of ingredients is a little frightening (AND Princess will eat TWO while holding a conversation with you). And they have served a time and a place in my life.

Ahhh....what a safe standby to have on hand
(need to try the cordon bleu recipe next!)

So when I saw this recipe (and CRAP I can't find my original link!) I said OH YEAH, I'm so putting that on the menu! Fortunately I have everything on hand (except fresh tarragon, not even sure if I have dried, but will improvise) since I've put myself on an extremely reduced grocery budget for the month of February.

So, here you have it, the way I did it in this neck of the woods! Just a note: it did not look pretty, my buttery goodness all leaked out because I sort of cheated by using big chicken breast and slicing in half then pounding. Ummm, yeah, you should just use FOUR breast and pound them out. Next time (and there will be a next time, the flavor was spot on) I will do that.

1 stick of butter, room temp
2 tbs of butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder, and a little extra for seasoning the bird
1 tsp salt, and a little extra for the bird
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and, you guessed it, a little extra for the bird

4 b/s chicken breast, I had 2 large so I slice them in half horizontally to make 4 thinner halves for easier beating
2 eggs, beat with a tbs of water
2 cups panko (or if you must, bread crumbs)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Ready? Ready.

Combine butter, 3 herbs, salt and pepper in bowl of a mixer and whip up.Place this in a piece of plastic wrap and roll up in a log. Place in the freezer (can be made ahead of time, no kidding!) NOTE: make sure you don't get major creases in the plastic as this can cause issues when you go to remove it from the frozen butter and it stretches and tears.

I hate pounding out chicken, but I think this is a necessity for the recipe. I would normally just slice them thin, but they need to be rollable. So go ahead, place the thin slice chicken in a ziploc (or other plastic type bag or plastic wrap) add a little water to chicken and a little more water to outside of bag. Gently pound til 1/8 inch or so thick. Yeah. Thin. But watch. They will get too thin, causing the butter to leak out ::sob::

Take out the butter and slice in to 5 slices. Take 2 slices and set them aside in the fridge.

Lay out a piece of chicken and place 1 slice of butter with a tbs of panko in the middle. (Well crap, I just realized I did NOT put the tbs of panko with the chunk of butter!) Fold in sides and roll into a log, completely enclosing the butter, wrapping as tight as you can. Once all chicken is rolled, cover and put in fridge for 2 hours or even overnight (yeah!).

Add egg and water mix in a shallow dish.  Melt the 2 slices of butter and add with panko and parmesan cheese in another shallow dish. Mix well.

Dip chicken in eggs mix and the roll in the panko mix. Gently place baking sheet, seam side down and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, til chicken is done (165 or so). Honestly, I cooked mine for 30 minutes as I could NOT get a 165 reading no matter what. The first time I cut one open and it was still pink. So really, watch the chicken and remove when its done, not 20 minutes.

::sniff:: the butter was leaking out, but I had it on some parchment paper
and was able to pour a little back over chicken when serving.

*This can be made ahead and frozen: Make all but do not bake. Freeze. When ready to serve, cook 35 minutes or so til done at 350 degrees.

Don't worry, I got more chicken! And really sorry for the OLD not so great picture! Must re-take the pics!

Ummm, yeah. This is pretty damn good. Try it, you'll like it. Hello REAL Chicken Kiev, goodbye Barber Foods!

NOTE: (again) ... this is NOT a dinner you want to make after working 8 to 10 hours. It takes time so do like ME and prepare the steps on a Sunday and cook it up on Monday or Tuesday. I'm looking forward to doing it again only I will double it and freeze half ... and the house smells AWESOME!

Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Parties ... go check them out!

*This post may contain affiliate links ... click here to read my disclosure :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chicken Marsala

I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest lately. Do you have any idea how many NEW blogs I've found that are dedicated to cooking?? AAAAAHHHHH

If I continue, I could be the size of my house, which is NOT small.

*I know, I know, I really need to redo this picture ... it's a hot mess*

So anyways.

Today's feature recipe is brought to you by Savory Sweet Life and is an easier chicken marsala recipe.

I, of course, double it because: a) we love leftovers and b) if it's really good and we don't have any leftovers, there will be repercussions and c) we love leftovers ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shredded Salsa Chicken

Happy Valentine's Day! 

We've kind of left the Instant Pot alone for a few weeks and I just felt like I needed to bring it out again ... so what the heck, let's make a super simple meal, shall we?

Just a little inside scoop: Hubby has used the thing MORE than me ... he's become the designated cook lately and well, he doesn't always follow the directions and we've had a few flops ...

Instant Pot Salsa Chicken

Back to an EASY meal that only uses a few ingredients.  All you need is the following:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tax Time!

For once, I have filed my taxes in February!  Yes, February 12th to be honest!

I'm one that generally waits til March, mid March to start the process and then normally hit submit around April 14th because we've had to pay the past few years.

This year, I was a little more excited and yes, a tad apprehensive, as well, since our life changed in 2016. We became a predominant single household family with lil ole me being the primary bread maker of the household.  I was actually surprised at how much the income all added up to (with that little side gig I've got going on in the evenings and the two raises I received).  And of course, there was the concern about the capital gains for the year as we had withdrawn a little from our portfolio for a few things in 2016. Not a lot, but enough to have to make a claim on the gains.

We've been very conscientious in watching each one of our little green soldiers to make sure they stay in line with our financial plans and goals and I believe it paid off.

First up

IF you are a Southwest Rapid Rewards flyer, by all means, log in to your online account and select special offers and then select Turbo Tax to get a 1,000 bonus on your Rapid Rewards. I think that's around $89 which is a one way flight to Chicago for me ...

I use Turbo Tax and have for, oh, the past 7 years or so? It's pretty easy and self-explanatory to use and if you itemize, it's great.  I love that it will pull last year's returns in and ask if anything has changed (it has!) as well as importing all your financial stuff (retirement/investment accounts) and so on.  It's also very conservative and will really ask you twice if you want to do something that's out of the norm ... and will encourage you NOT to do something if they think it might raise any flags at all.

No, this is NOT an endorsement. 

For years, we paid anywhere from $500 to $1500 and would receive the call that our taxes were ready to be picked up and payment sent in a few days before the deadline. I finally told Hubby that if we had to keep paying more, then we might as well save a few hundred (!) dollars and do them ourselves and that's what we've been doing since.

Some years we get a refund, other years we need to pay more. It just depends on the bonuses for that year.

This year? Refund. Thankfully.  That money is going straight to the long term savings account for something in the future ...

Oh! By the way, is anyone else a little freaked out that you can just get the refund on a "cash" card? Why wouldn't you just want it deposited directly into your bank account?

What about you ... refund or not? And if you are getting a refund, what are your plans? AND do you do the card thing?

For the record, I was sitting out on the dock in the sunshine, chillin and reading the Sunday paper and my neighbor's roommate (for lack of better word, she's not a girlfriend or live in help) let me know that Mr. Bill had driven back to Chicago EARLY Friday morning as his grandson was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting Thursday evening. That took all the happiness out of me for the balance of the day. So sad. Very, very sad. With all the shootings happening in Chicago, I know someone who was raised next door to me all those miles away. Just a reminder to always hold your loved ones close when you can.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Salad

I had the Food Network channel on in the background Sunday while I was shredding cheese and carrots for a soup I'm making this week ... and the Pioneer Woman was on ... need I say much more?

Side note: I prefer to read her blog instead of watching her. I don't know what it is but I wonder if I'm the only one? Just watching her takes away some of the mystic of living on the ranch with kids and cowboys, dogs, cows and horses ... but I'm glad she's on as I'd never have caught this recipe!

I suppose I should take a new picture and make it pretty, huh?

So really, it's easy. Stupid Easy!

Heat 3 tbs olive oil and 3 tbs butter in a medium size skillet

Once melted, swirl around to mix a little and dry off 4 thin sliced chicken breast. Salt and pepper both sides and put in pan. *I've done this with chicken tenders as well*

Allow chicken to brown on first side and then flip over to cook other side. Because they are thin, they will cook fast.

Once cooked, remove chicken to plate, drain off the oil and butter. Cut chicken in to bite size pieces and back in pan. Turn off the heat!

Add some Texas Pete's Wing Sauce to your liking. Sure, you can use whatever kind of sauce you prefer. This is just what we normally have on hand!

Want it saucy? Add more. Not so saucy, add less. You get the picture. Let them hang out in the pan together, get to know each other, while you make your salad.

Chop some romaine heads into bite size pieces and toss into a LARGE open bowl (you know, shallow, big).  If you are lucky, you've been prepping your lettuce in advance and putting them in jars ... sadly, I've not as I ran out of jars!

Pour a little blue cheese dressing OR ranch dressing (your choice/preference) and lightly toss. You don't want the salad swimming (ahem, Hubby!), but rather lightly coated.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on top of salad. Make sure you bring some of the Pete's sauce from the pan with the chicken. Top with some chopped parsley if desired.

Serve family style with additional dressing on the side for those who want more. I made the blue cheese dressing to go along with this and everything was spot on. Even the Boy ate some.


Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Parties ... go check them out!

*This post may contain affiliate links ... click here to read my disclosure :-)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chocolate Pots of Gold

*This is a repost from last Valentine's Day and I'm so excited to be making this AGAIN this week!*

I've been working out this week and hope to God I can stand and stir for as long as I need to when making this as my arms are like JELLY ... 9 Rounds is the place I've been after work. 30 minutes, full on cardio/muscle confusion with bags, dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls. I have a love hate relationship with the place but for 30 minutes I am huffing, puffing, sweating and hyperventilating ... and I feel great! It's actually motivating me to be more conscientious in EVERYTHING I do, from my water intake to food intake to what I'm doing during my "down time".  I boxed about 5, 6 years ago and loved it then and was in the best shape of my life and have not been able to find another place that had a great workout like that ... this place is FINALLY it! For those of you who are giving reasons for NOT working out (I'm one of them), just go. Do it. Take your first class (wherever you want to go!) and realize afterwards that dang, I really need to JUST DO IT. Nike is on to something! I was the first one to say: oh, I need to lose a few pounds. Need to get a little stronger first. Need to find new work out clothes that hide that fluff in the middle. Need to wait til my hair needs washed. SO MANY EXCUSES for NOTHING! Just do it!   

Any way.

I had this recipe tagged in my cookbook since Christmas morning ... and then I got the weekly email update from Michelle and said, heck, I should try this ... so I rooted around in my chocolate stash and had exactly 6 1.2 ounce bars of bittersweet 72% cocoa bars ... score! That made everything I needed available in house which made me decide that I needed to make it right then and there!!

The original recipe is in the cookbook ... and also on the website. And of course, as always, I modified to suit my needs and what we had on hand!

It was a little time consuming in the beginning ... I stirred and stirred and stirred for 45 minutes til my sauce was thick ... uggg. I was worried about heating the mixture TOO quickly and had the heat set a tad too low and the mixture was not heating up at all ;-) .... so medium low heat is NOT low heat ... just saying!

Ok, here's what I used to make these little Pots of Chocolate Gold ...

1 can of lite coconut milk. CAN, not carton.
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp salt
cinnamon stick
7 ounces dark chocolate (make sure its a minimum of 70% cocoa)
1 tbs vanilla
whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish (if you want to stay dairy free, you can make coconut whipped cream, Michelle has a recipe on her site...I opted for regular since I had whipping cream and no full fat coconut milk)

Take your chocolate bars and cut them up. Well, actually, slice them thinly. You don't want big chunks because we are going to attempt to melt the chocolate without having to stir too much ... you'll see what I mean soon enough. Take my advice and put the cut/sliced chocolate in a 4 cup or larger glass measuring cup, top the glass/bowl with a fine mesh strainer and set aside.

Whisk the coconut milk, egg yolks, salt, cinnamon stick and chili powder in saucepan to mix well.  Turn heat on to medium low. Not medium, not low. Medium low.

Grab your wooden spoon and start stirring. And stirring. And stirring. This should really only take about 15 minutes, give or take 5.  You want to stir until the yolks have cooked and the coconut milk has thickened enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon. Heat it too quickly and you will have scrambled eggs and lumpy coconut milk, so slow and steady is the gameplan, ok?

Once you've reached the right consistency, remove the pan from the heat and grab a mesh strainer and place that over chocolate bowl. Pour the mixture through the strainer, shake out and toss the cinnamon stick and go throw a load of laundry in the dryer.

You need to leave the stuff alone so the hot mixture can melt the chocolate, undisturbed. Honestly, I kept looking at it and wanted to poke around to speed it up a little, or just mix it up ... just. because. So, go ahead, walk out of the kitchen and take care of some non kitchen chore ....

So. When 10 minutes have gone by, come on back to the kitchen. Grab a rubber spatula and stir gently, almost as if you are folding the ingredients together. You want to be gentle so as not to chill the mixture too quickly as you want all that good chocolaty stuff to melt and incorporate with the cream mixture.  Once it's all stirred together, stir in your vanilla.

Here's where you will be thankful if followed my lead and used a 4 cup glass measuring glass to put your chocolate in.

Take 6 2 ounce jars or cups (I used some cute little canning jars) and pour the mixture slowly in to each jar.  Allow to cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or so.

When ready to serve, whip up a quick batch of whipped cream (just a little cream and a dash of sugar whipped with a hand mixer), top the chocolate with a little whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.  *To keep this completely dairy free, make up a batch of whipped coconut cream instead ... I have yet to try it but I hear it's a fairly suitable substitute for the whipped cream*

Yummm. This is super rich but O M G, delicious!!!!  I could easily make this EVERY WEEKEND but that would become like some other things where we become obsessive and over do it ... so ... special treat only ... like Easter (6 weeks or so?), my birthday (3 months maybe?)  ... or, Mother's Day ...

Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Parties ... go check them out!

 *This post may contain affiliate links ... click here to read my disclosure :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Easy Chicken Piccata

Whenever I know Princess is coming for dinner, I try to make something I know she loves ... that could be blackened chicken, cabbage salad, green beans and then, this dish.

Now that she is a Mrs. and no longer my exclusive Princess, those days of making her favorite dish have not been as frequent ... but you better believe I make every effort to feed her when I see her!

I normally have everything on hand to make this dish at a moment's notice which is why I opted to share this recipe, yet again, today ... and I'm also printing out for Princess so she can start making for her husband as well. 

So yeah. Most of us have chicken and pasta and flour and butter and olive oil and lemon juice on hand. Capers, I do, most times as Hubby likes them in his salad.  

WINE. Well, NOT always on hand. Ok. That's not true. But I didn't want to use the $40 bottle that my boss had given me recently. That's for sippin baby, not cooking. And yes, I know, you shouldn't cook with wine you wouldn't drink, but there are some $5 bottles I'd drink!

Anyways ... off to 
Pinterest to find myself a new recipe to try! And of course, I found one ... and it's a keeper. So much so that Hubby asked me to use THIS recipe from now on. Huh.

4 chicken breast, sliced in half (so you have 8 pieces now)
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
12 tbs of butter (slice each tbs off a stick and set on plate)
10 tbs olive oil (just have tbs and oil handy)
2/3 cups lemon juice (yup, I squeezed the lemons, 2 1/2)
1 cup chicken stock (I used the granules and 1 cup hot water)
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (had to brave the wind and rain to go cut it from the garden)

Salt and pepper the chicken. Dredge in flour and shake off excess.

Add 3 tbs of oil to skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbs butter. Once the butter is melted and sizzling, add 3 chicken pieces. Do not move for 3 minutes. Flip over and brown other side. Remove from pan and place on dish.  Repeat all over again til all the chicken is done (NOTE: I did not need to add anything on the last batch to pan so I only used 8 tbs oil and 10 tbs butter)

When done cooking chicken, cover plate with foil. Add lemon juice, chicken stock, capers to pan and bring to boil and scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan. 
Add all chicken back to the sauce and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer 5 minutes and once again, remove chicken to dish. 

Add 2 tbs butter and whisk vigorously. Pour over the chicken.

Top with the chopped parsley.

We served over Rotini garden linguine (multi-colored). And we didn't have a LOT of pasta on the plate, but more than enough chicken and sauce, just the way I like it, the exact opposite of a restaurant!  Hubby and I added just a touch of Parmesan cheese to ours. NOTE: Do you know, this dish would have been, minimum, $15 a plate? Seriously. 

TIPS: I premeasured everything earlier in the day (except the oil) and had it all on standby to make my life easier since I wanted to eat dinner EARLIER than normal for a Saturday. So the chicken broth, lemon juice and capers were in one LARGE measuring glass.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Aussie Chicken

It's been a LONG time since I've made this but with the Whole30 failure over, I'm ready to dive in to some long time favorites again!

So, let's get something out of the way, shall we? I'm not a fan of the so-called "low carb" plan but do realize that most people mistake the general Paleo way of eating to be low carb. It's not. And THIS dish? It's not Paleo but it IS low carb, I suppose ... 

I do consider this to be a frugal meal as I almost always have bacon and chicken on hand ... throw in some pantry staples of canned shrooms and whatever cheese you have on hand and YES, it's frugal if it kept you cooking in your own kitchen!  This is seriously something that you would order in a restaurant and I bet, $16 and up is the going price!

The recipe is pretty simple:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This is like my FAVORITE salad to make ... well, I suppose it's really in the top 5, I love my steak salad too ... and the Olive-Y Garden Salad, and the Cabbage Salad ...

Anyways ... this is ONE of my favorite salads, hows that?

And with Spring coming sooner than later, I figured why NOT share this again? It's so easy to do and surprisingly good!

Here's what you need:

Head of romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed and torn/cut into bite size pieces (if you were smart, you've already checked out the foodsaver tip!)
1 grilled chicken breast (I generally use a leftover one) cut into bite size pieces
a little bit of pasta, rigatoni or penne work best (cooked)
sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese
Caesar Dressing (I prefer Kens Light Caesar)

It's so easy. Dump all in large bowl. Mix well to coat evenly. Serve.

See that picture? That is made up of ALL leftovers ... the chicken was grilled for dinner a few nights ago, the salad stuff is ALWAYS prepped and ready to go ... the pasta was from Princess having a carbfest .... I mean really, this is P E R F E C T.

Give it a try ... I think you'll be surprised (especially if it's all leftovers!) ...

Looking forward to sharing with some of these GREAT Parties ... go check them out!

*This post may contain affiliate links ... click here to read my disclosure :-)