Author Archive: Michelle

Baked Chicken Won ton Tacos

School is right around the corner, which means school lunches are too. All busy moms and dads  know that anything that any meal that is easy to to put together and makes great leftovers is a winner for school lunches. With this thought in mind I decided to work on a new recipe that would be a nice twist on a taco but a lot easy to send. Baked chicken won ton tacos was my first try at it. My boys gave it a thumbs up and my husband asked  me to make them again (always a good sign). My husband loved them so much that he finished the leftovers off the next couple of mornings for breakfast. I made the tacos pretty mild since my boys do not like a lot of spice. (I am working on that though).

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Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breast
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 oz cream cheese – room temperature
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 3 T. green salsa
  • 1/4 t. cumin
  • Shredded cheese
  • Won ton wrappers
  • Muffin tin
  • Toppings (lettuce, sour cream, salsa etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 º
  2. Cut chicken breast into pieces. They don’t have to be very small since we will shred the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with the black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin.
  4. Brown the chicken pieces in olive oil until completely cooked. 20150810_200406
  5. Place the browned chicken, cream cheese, and green salsa into a mixing bow. A mixer works great to shred the chicken while combining the ingredients at the same time. 20150810_201716
  6. Place a won ton wrapper in each cup of the muffin tin, pressing the center down into it with the edges sticking up.
  7. Scoop about 1 T. of chicken mixture into the bottom of each wrapper. 20150810_202700
  8. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. 20150810_203101
  9. Bake for approximately 8 minutes. The wrapper edges will be golden brown and crispy
  10. Serve with any toppings desired.

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I really enjoyed them with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and a little salsa. I like a little spicer food than my boys. My boys liked them as is. They tell me “salad” is for girls. My husband enjoyed them topped that night and as is the next morning.

 

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Helpful Hints

  1. I love using my Kitchen-aid mixer to shred chicken. It works wonderful. I will never shred chicken by hand if I can help it.
  2. You can use rotisserie chicken and skip the browning chicken step. Just add the spices to the mixer step.
  3. They will store in plastic wrap in the fridge for a couple days before the wrappers are too soggy.

 

It has been awhile… but I am back with a new focus

It has been quite a while since I have posted. My life got complicated and got better all at the same time. I was very overweight and unhappy and decided to take a break to focus on me. Since that time I have lost about 100 lbs (I may post before and after pictures some day) and have gotten active. I am now running, lifting weights, and started karate with my sons. You may ask why I tell you this….. It is because I have changed my focus in life which has changed my cooking. I am still as busy if not more so than before, but still desire to prepare great tasting meals for my family, but don’t have the time I wish. With a hard-working husband and two fast growing boys, salad isn’t going to cut it.

So the focus of this blog is changing a bit for now. I will still be trying new recipes, but all will need to meet certain criteria for the next few months as I experiment with each.

1. Did my family like it (still most important)?
2. Does one portion blow the calorie count for the day?
3. Was it made with more healthy ingredients such as less fat and sodium?
4. Is it quick to prepare for the busy?

Occasionally, I will still post the great cookie or muffin recipe because I won’t be able to resist, but not as often. I look forward sharing to this new experiment/experience. My first few recipes will be slow cooker and/or freezer meals.

Slow Cooker Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken

After the holidays, things only slow down for just a little bit before I become a soccer mom again and life gets hectic. So in preparation for those busy weeks to come, I am trying slow cooker meals and meals I can freeze and pull out to cook when needed. So just a heads up with what you will be seeing in future posts.

The first place I looked when I want to try some new recipes is one of my favorite blogs (www.sixsistersstuff.com) that have many wonderful recipes. So last weekend I started browsing. The only problem I had, was I kept finding so many recipes that I wanted to try that my list of possible dinners kept growing. The best part about the recipes I found on their blog was that it didn’t call for many new ingredients that I didn’t already have. The recipe below is the first one that I tried on my new search to expand my family menu and have recipes for that busy soccer season.

Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken

Slow Cooker Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 6 chicken breast
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 c. lemon-lime soda (I used diet to help cut the calories)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. fresh ground  black pepper
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 2 T. water
  • Rice or noodles, cooked
  • Red Pepper flakes if desired

Directions:

  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray or use liner.
  2. Place chicken breast(may be frozen or thawed) on bottom.
  3. Mix together brown sugar, vinegar, soda, garlic, soy sauce, and black pepper.
  4. Pour over chicken.
  5. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  6. Take chicken out of slow cooker. (It will be falling apart) and pour remaining sauce into saucepan.
  7. Whisk in the corn starch and water to the sauce and cook on high heat.
  8. Bring to a boil  and boil for 2 – 3 minutes or until the sauce resembles a glaze. Remove from heat and cool slightly. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  9. Pour over the chicken and mix.
  10. Serve over rice or noodles.
  11. Sprinkle red pepper flakes if desired for more heat.

Helpful Hints:

  1. Thighs will work as well.
  2. At first the smell and taste of the vinegar will be overwhelming. Don’t worry as it continues to cook it will disappear. By the time it is ready to eat the only part you will notice is the slight “tang” from the vinegar mixed with the sugar.
  3. This meal can be frozen ahead of time. Place all of the ingredients except the corn starch and water into a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to cook just pull out and put in crock pot. Allow extra cooking time because it is frozen.

Recipe from Six Sisters Stuff Blog

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

Salted caramel is seems to the “in” thing now. I have to say I am all for it. I LOVE salted caramel in any form. And then to cover it in chocolate… It can’t get much better. I was browsing recipes to make for goody bags for my sons’ teachers and came across this recipe on Pinterest. I was intrigued. The picture looked so delicious and I have to say the flavor was just as the picture promised. I have made it twice now. The first time exactly as the recipe said, the second “tweaked” a little.  The first time the caramel was to runny and oozed out from the chocolate coating. The flavor was still good but you had to use a spoon. Also trying to dip the caramel was a nightmare. The second time  I changed it up a little and loved the results. Below is the tweaked recipe. Be forewarned though…..once you have eaten one bite it is hard to stop.

So good and addicting!!!

So good and addicting!!!

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

Ingredients for Caramel:

  • 14 T. butter
  • 3/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 t. sea salt (may increase to 2 t if want more)

Ingredients for Chocolate coating:

  • 2 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 T. shortening

Directions:

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine all of the caramel ingredients except the vanilla.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is well combined.
  3. Continue to boil until caramel is a rich caramel color and candy thermometer reaches about 255 º F.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. Allow to cool a couple of minutes, then pour into an 8×8 silicone pan or pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Refrigerate several hours
  7. Once chilled, pull caramel out of pan cut into small squares.
  8. Melt chocolate and shortening in microwave safe bowl for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir and then continue to microwave at 50% power for increments of 30 seconds until chocolate is melted.
  9. Dip caramel and set on wax paper to harden.
Helpful hints:
  1. The correct temperate is very necessary, if the caramel isn’t hot enough it will ooze and not be able to cut or dip.
  2. Caramel goes from tasting good to burned quickly so watch carefully.
  3. If you do not have a candy thermometer, then watch for the rich caramel color as well as the texture change. It will go from runny to thick and will string from spoon. When it cools quickly on the spoon and doesn’t drip off but leaves a small string it is ready. Tasting it at intervals you will notice the texture change faster. (Also it tastes good)
  4. After cutting into squares, divide the caramel into batches and dip a small batch at a time leaving the rest in the fridge. As the start to warm up the squares will start to stick together.
  5. Instead of melting chocolate the second time, I used the Ghirardelli double chocolate dipping chocolate and just melted it according to instructions on the back with using shortening. It worked well and tasted good!
  6. You may sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of the dipped chocolates if desired.

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

Here is a moist not overly sweet muffin that is almost “healthy”. It has a great chocolate flavor, and the peanut butter chips just add but don’t over power it. They make a great on the go muffin or bedtime snack for the kids. I tried this recipe out on my sons, and my chocolate-peanut butter loving child loved them! He didn’t even find the oatmeal that is mixed into the recipe. The oatmeal just adds a little bit of texture but not crunch to this great recipe.

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 T. soft butter
  • 1/2 c. lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. quick oats
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 c. plus 2 T. buttermilk
  • 1 c. peanut butter chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to  400 º F.
  2. Grease muffin tins or line with papers.
  3. Combine butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.
  5. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the sugar/egg mixture. ending with buttermilk.
  6. Fold in peanut butter chips.Handle gently to prevent toughness.
  7. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.
  8. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in tins for about 10 minutes before removing to finish cooling on wire rack.
  10. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
  11. Re-heat for 20 seconds for extra enjoyment.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Anything with the words chocolate and cheesecake and cupcakes in the title you know has to be good. So when I found this recipe on pinerest with those words and a great picture I had to try them. I have to say I was impressed. A lot of cupcake recipes that I have tried that had a cream cheese filling stayed just that… cream cheese just a harder dried out version of it. Not this recipe, the middle was the texture of cheesecake and tasted like cheesecake. I took these cupcakes to a family pot luck and heard nothing but great comments, Even my husband who isn’t a big chocolate fan but loves cheesecake gave me a great review.  I paired this great cupcake with a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream which is a lot less of a sweet frosting like the traditional buttercream frosting made with lots of powdered sugar.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 t. salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers
  3. Microwave 1/2 c. chocolate chips in small uncovered bowl on high for 45 seconds. Stir. If still not completely melted microwave at 10 second intervals stirring in between until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat sugar, oil, 1 egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until blended. Beat in melted chocolate.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture alternating with water to sugar mixture. (Batter will be thin.)
  6. Beat cream cheese,  1/4 c. sugar, 1 egg, and salt in a small bowl until creamy. Stir in 1 c. chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 1/2 full.
  8. Spoon rounded tablespoons of cream cheese mixture over batter.
  9. Spoon remaining batter over cream cheese.
  10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cool on wire racks.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room tempterature
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 oz granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Melt chopped chocolate over a water bath or in the microwave. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Place egg whites and sugar in top of double boiler. Whisk gently until mixture reaches 140 degrees F (or until sugar has dissolved and mixture doesn’t feel grainy between your finger tips). This should take awhile.
  3. Remove from heat and using electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk on medium speed until egg whites are cool to touch.
  4. Continue beating, gradually adding butter 1 tablespoon piece at a time and continue to beat.
  5. At first it will look watery or separated, but continue to beat for 10 – 15 minutes, it will clot and come together into a silky smooth buttercream.
  6. Once desired piping consistency is reached, fold in cooled chocolate until well mixed.  Put on desired cupcakes

Look that wonderful cheesecake filling and fabulous chocolate! You won’t be able to resist.

Helpful Hints:

  1. I ended up having more cream cheese mixture left than cupcake batter, so made a second batch of the batter to finish the cream cheese off. Next time I will double the chocolate batter.
  2. When making the buttercream, it is very important to get the egg whites to 140 º F (60 º C). That temperature is needed to kill any bacteria in the egg whites and make them safe to eat. Don’t cut this step short.
  3. The more you beat a buttercream (or any frosting) the more air gets into and and makes it thicker and lighter.

 

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Cookies

As promised in an earlier post, here is another blueberry recipe. Just a heads up, I have a lot of blueberries frozen still, so there will be more to come. This cookie recipe uses chocolate chips instead of white chocolate chips like the last one. When I saw this recipe on www.blueberry-haven.com  one ingredient really caught my attention, and I know I had to try it. It was an ingredient I have never seen in a cookie recipe before. I won’t tell you what it is but will let you guess. This cookie dough is a very dry dough, but don’t worry about it. It helps compensate for the juiciness of the blueberries.

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy and creamy.
  3. Beat in pudding mix
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt until blended.
  6. Gradually add to butter mix and beating until combined.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips and blueberries. Mix well.
  8. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls on un-greased baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned and crispy on the edges.
  10. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Did you guess the intriguing ingredient? It was the instant pudding mix.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

It just amazes me how many ice creams you buy in the store that have corn syrup as an ingredient. One of my sons is allergic to corn products, corn syrup included, so I read a lot of labels. He loves ice cream but I get so discouraged not finding a lot he can have. So when I found my ice cream maker in a closet in the garage, I had a wonderful idea to make him ice cream. The recipe below is my 3rd ice cream to make. They all have been wonderful, but this is the first one I got a picture of before it was all gone. With the success I have had so far I’m sure there will be many more recipes posted. I have to add, I think I’m getting spoiled by the homemade variety and how good they are.

This recipe is what is called a custard version. It includes egg yolks, but they are cooked into a custard first to a certain temperature so you won’t have to worry eating uncooked eggs. The custard makes this ice cream so creamy. I found this recipe on www.browneyedbaker.com. I had previously make her Rocky Road ice cream (so good), so when I saw this one I had to try it since my son loves peanut butter cups. I have tweaked it a little to tone down the chocolate intensity. It also called for corn syrup (which I have to avoid), so I substituted simple syrup.  Both my sons loved the recipe and gave it two thumbs up. It is fabulous.

So Yummy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Yields: 1 quart

Ingredients for Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 20 regular-size peanut butter cups (chopped)

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Swirl:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T simple syrup (recipe posted)

Directions:

  1. Warm 1 cup of whipping cream with cocoa powder in a saucepan, whisking to blend cocoa in throughly. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, the whole time whisking.
  2. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then add remaining 1 cup of whipping cream.
  3. Pour mixture into a large bowl, ensuring to scrap saucepan. Set aside with a mesh strainer on top for later.
  4. Warm milk, sugar, and salt in same saucepan. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, then pour warmed milk mixture over egg yolks whisking constantly. Then pour back into sauce pan.
  5. Heat egg yolk mixture over medium heat stirring constantly, scrapping bottom with spatula. When mixture begins to thicken and coat spatula, use an instant read thermometer to get temperature. It should be 170 º F. (Don’t over cook or it will begin to get chunky with cooked egg)
  6. Pour custard through strainer and stir into chocolate mixture until smooth.
  7. Stir in vanilla.
  8. Stir until cool in an ice bath.
  9. While custard mixture cools, make the peanut butter swirl.
  10. Combine peanut butter, whipping cream, simple syrup, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on low heat, stirring until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Transfer to an airtight container.
  11. Chill both the custard and swirl at least 8 hours.
  12. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to maker instructions. (If custard is too thick from being cold, whisk it and then pour into machine.
  13. During last two minutes (most makers go for about 2o minutes), add in the chopped peanut butter cups.
  14. Once done in ice cream maker, alternate layers of peanut butter swirl and ice cream in storage container, ending with ice cream.
  15. Finish freezing to harden, then ENJOY!!!
Helpful Hints:
  1. If you miss adding the chopped peanut butter cups in the last minutes, fold in before moving to another container. Ice cream is still soft at this point.

Simple Syrup (Homemade Corn Syrup Substitute)

As you have probably read in previous posts, one of my sons can’t have corn products such as corn meal, corn starch, and corn syrup. So I have been reading different recipes for a substitute to use in recipes that call for corn syrup. This recipe I have had the most success with, the texture is as thick and doesn’t through the flavor of the final product off.

 

Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 t. cream of tarter
  • 1 pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 3 minutes to get sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan.
  3. Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until it reaches soft ball stage.
  4. Cool and store in a covered container at room temperature up to 2 months.
Helpful Hints:
  1. To test for soft ball stage, fill a glass with tap water. Drop a drop of mixture into water. It should stay together until bottom, then do a look like a soft ball on the bottom. (A little squashy, not a hard round ball).

Blueberry, Macadamia, and White Chocolate Cookies

As promised here is another recipe involving blueberries. I have to say, I was intrigued with this one because of the combination of using flour and ground up rolled oats. Let me tell you, it adds such richness to the taste of the cookies that I think I might try some more experimenting with other cookie recipes using that combo.  I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, but even saying that I loved these cookies. My family gave them a great big thumbs up. With the ground oats and blueberries they can be almost healthy. You get your whole grains as well as antioxidants. What a great excuse to eat more. Also I just have to add these cookies are very pretty.

Blueberry, Macadamia, and White Chocolate Cookies

Makes about 18 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/4. salt
  • 1/2 c salted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. white chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. macadamia nuts, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 º F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Grind oats in the food processor or blender until fine.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together butter and sugars until combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients until well combined.
  5. Stir in the white chocolate chips and macadamias, then gently fold in the blueberries.
  6. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough on to prepared baking sheets. Allow room for dough to spread.
  7. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until cookies are a deep golden brown.
Helpful Hints:
  • Toast macadamia nuts in the oven for a few minutes but watch them, they will turn to burning quickly. I tend to under toast a little to be safe.
  • These cookies do spread quite a bit so leave plenty of room between each scoop of dough.
Recipe taken from www.georgiablueberries.org
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