Chicken Stir Fry

I love to make stir fry. If you have veggies around and not enough of one to be a side-dish, throw it all together and make a stir fry. This recipe is just a guideline so adjust with whatever vegetables you have on hand.  I think some asparagus, broccoli, zuchinni, snow peas and bok choy would be great additions or substitutions to this recipe.  You can always add more vegetables to stretch your meat out a little bit.

I had bought some Soyaki sauce at Trader Joes and I wanted to make something to put it on so I made this stir fry and put a soyaki/soy sauce combo on it and it was very good!  It's also super low in calories (depending on how much oil you cook the chicken and veggies in.)

A quick stiry-fry note: please do not overcook your vegetables.  It is so disappointing to chop up a bunch of fresh vegetables only to overcook them and be left with a bowl of mushy brown veggies.  I usually leave my a little crunchy so if they keep cooking a few minutes after I turn the heat off we're still good.

Chicken Stir-Fry

2 tsp oil
1 lb chicken breast or tenders OR thighs, thinly sliced (slice it while it's still frozen, so much easier)
salt, pepper, granulated garlic for seasoning
1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp oil
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (I used half a red and half a yellow)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 large or 2 small yellow squash, sliced
2 cups (or more) cabbage, shredded
2 cups fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
salt & pepper

sauce of your choice
cooked rice

*Note: You really want to have all of your vegetables chopped and ready to go because the whole stir-fry process goes fast!

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  When its hot add the chicken, seasoning well and drizzling with sesame oil.  Quickly cook the chicken and remove to a plate.  Add more olive oil and heat the pan to medium.  Saute the onion and carrots for a couple minutes then add in the bell pepper and cook a minute more.  Stir in the ginger and garlic, then add in the squash cooking for a minute more.  Season well with salt and pepper and then add in the cabbage cooking until it just starts to soften.  Stir in the spinach, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.  Serve over rice with whatever sauce you like.
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Pear Crisp with Caramel Sauce

I got a bag of bosc pears in my basket last weekend and I thought I'd make a dessert with them.  So after much internet research, I decided I'd try the Pioneer Woman's pear crisp.  I mean, time and again and again and again she has proven to be a cooking stud so why not?

I'm happy to report that the pear crisp was awesome!  I went the extra mile and made a batch of caramel sauce and served it at a meeting with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over it.  YUM.  I got lots of compliments (for PW).  I made a couple very tiny changes to her original recipe because of what I had and how much I needed to make.

Pear Crisp10 firm, smallish pears.  Peeled, cored & diced.
2 granny smith apples Peeled, cored & diced
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt

3 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts, but PW used pecans)
2 sticks butter or margerine, melted

Mix together the fruit with the sugar and salt.  Spread the pear mixture in a 9x13'' pan.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts.  Drizzle the melted butter or margerine into the flour mixture in batches, stirring it together with a fork.  Sprinkle the topping on the pear mixture.  Bake 50 minutes, then move the crisp to the top oven rack and bake another 10 minutes to brown the topping.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream and caramel sauce!

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Red Beans and Rice

I found this recipe on the Our Best Bites blog.  I love that site.  Seriously.  I have tried many of their recipes and they are all fantastic.  I love that one of the writers of the blog does Weight Watchers and she posts nutrition facts and/or points values on lots of her recipes.  This was one of those recipes.  However, I did add more meat than the original recipe called for so my recipe will be more calories than hers.  I  mean, why add 1/4 lb of smoked sausage when you could add 3/4 pound?  I have made this once before using turkey kielbasa which would help with reducing calories for sure!

Red Beans and Rice
recipe slightly adapted from Our Best Bites

1 lb red beans, rinsed
6 c. water
5 chicken boullion cubes
3/4 lb smoked sausage, chopped (I used jalapeno cheddar sausages I got super cheap on sale with a coupon)
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp Tony's (or other creole seasoning or even seasoned salt)
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Cooked white rice
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Put everything in the crockpot and stir it up.  Cook on low all day or high 5-6 hours.  At the end mash up some of the beans using a potato masher or a fork.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  I added more Tony's and some sea salt.  Serve beans in a bowl with beans on the bottom and rice on top, sprinkle with green onions. YUM.

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Apricot Pork (or Chicken)

This tastes SO much better than it looks.  Seriously.  We love this stuff, it's Asian-y tasting and I love that you can throw it together in two minutes in the morning, boil some rice and you  have dinner.  I use pork quite a bit with this recipe but chicken thighs or breasts are great too.

I found this recipe on the crockpot lady's blog.  I spent three whole days once last year reading her entire blog and looooove her ideas.  She's gluten free too so if you're looking for those kinds of recipes, s he has loads of them.

Apricot Chicken or Pork11 oz jar apricot jam
1 T. onion flakes
1 T dijon or spicy mustard
1 T. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. dried ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 lb chicken or pork loin

Put the meat in the slow cooker and mix together the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.  Pour the sauce over the meat (frozen chicken is fine) and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

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Mongolian Beef

This is SO good.  I mean, really really good.  Rob did the "What About Bob" interpretation at the table while eating it.  I will make this over and over again and I think it would be great with pork loin or chicken thighs or breast too.

I found this recipe here.  Before I had my third child I had plenty of time and energy to read food blogs at night and this is one I look at fro time to time.  Now, I think about reading food blogs and then go to bed.  I will do it again...hopefully. The only thing I changed from the original recipe is I made more sauce.  I like sauce.
Mongolian Beef

1 Tb vegetable oil
3/4 tsp ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic minced
3/4 c. soy sauce (regular or low-sodium depending on your preference.)
3/4 c. water
1 c. plus 2 Tb brown sugar
1 Tb corn starch

Vegetable oil for frying (2-3 Tb will do it if you're watching calories, or more if you're not)
1 1/2 lb flank steak
1/4 c. cornstarch
4 green onions
1 lb mushrooms, quartered

cooked rice

For the sauce, heat the oil over medium-low in a medium sauce pan. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for just a minute and then add in soy sauce, water and brown sugar.  Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring continuously.  Let it boil 2-3 minutes.  Then, mix together 1 Tb. water and 1 Tb cornstarch together in a small bowl and stir it into the sauce.  It should thicken up quickly.  Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.

Slice the flank steak into thin slices and dip them into the cornstarch.  Set aside.  Put 2 tsp vegetable oil in a frying pan or skillet and heat to medium.  Add in the mushrooms and saute a few minutes until they are getting brown and soft.  Remove the mushrooms and add 2-3 Tb more vegetable oil to the pan.  Cook steak over medium-high heat a minute or two on each side, until browned.  (It won't take long if it's cut thinly)  Remove steak to a paper towel-lined plate.  Wipe the skillet clean of the oil and add steak, mushrooms, green onions and sauce back into the pan and simmer a few minutes over medium heat.  Serve over rice.  YUM.

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Jazzed Up Jalapeno Poppers

I have to say that the original jalapeno popper recipe that I got from my neighbor are SO amazing.  BUT seriously, these are out of the park.  I mean, really.  I could. not. stop. eating these. And  neither could anyone else.  I saw this recipe originally on the Pioneer Woman's blog one week when I was trying to read every recipe she ever blogged.  Then, for Christmas day appetizer I wanted to make them and I couldn't find the recipe on her site.  So of course, thanks to google, I found the recipe on the Good Morning America site. 

I'm thinking a triple batch for Super Bowl party...one batch for Rob and I to split, two batches for everyone else.

21 jalapenos
1 1/2 blocks cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions, minced
21 slices bacon (Preferably Oscar Mayer center cut bacon, 21 slices in the package and it's not fatty)
barbecue sauce (if you're gluten-free watch for that)

Heat oven to 300.  Mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and green onions in a bowl.  Set aside.  Rinse the jalapenos in a colander.  Then wearing gloves cut the jalapenos in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to remove the ribs and seeds.  This is a time-consuming job, but it pays off!  Using the spoon, generously fill the jalapenos with t he cream cheese filling.  Then, cut the entire package of bacon slices in half and wrap half a slice of bacon around each jalapeno and secure it with a toothpick across the jalapeno.  Place them all on a baking sheet (optional, place on a wire rack on a baking sheet.) Baste with barbecue sauce and bake for 45 minutes.  Serve hot.  Or warm, lukewarm, room-temp, or the next day straight from a tupperware in the fridge.

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Chicken Spaghetti

Pioneer Woman will never lead you astray.  I live by this motto.  Every single recipe of hers that I've ever tried has been delicious!  Seriously.

A couple friends of ours lost their grandfather/father recently and since I'm from the Midwest, when I don't know what to do for someone, I bring food. Specifically comfort food. So I made this recipe and brought it to them.  Apparently it was comforting, because they all loved it.  And so did we.

The great part about this recipe is you can  use leftover chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or boil your own chicken.  Whatever works!

Chicken Spaghetti
2 c. cooked chicken (shredded or chopped)
1 lb spaghetti, broken into two-inch pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. finely diced onion
1/4 c. finely diced green pepper
1 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
2 c. chicken stock or broth
3/4 tsp seasoned salt (or more, taste it after you add the soup and stock and see if it needs more)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy--we do!)
pepper to taste
1 c. additional grated cheddar cheese

Boil the spaghetti as directed making sure not to overcook because you will bake it.  Drain.  Combine the cooked spaghetti with the other ingredients except the additional 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese.  Place the chicken spaghetti mixture in a 9x13'' pan and cover with cheddar.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until bubbly. This makes a lot, perfect for company!

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King's Kupcakes

It was Rob's birthday a couple weeks ago.  All he asked for was King's Kupcakes red velvet cupcakes.  I happily obliged.

Vito, the owner of King's Kupcakes is a friend of ours and he does amazing baking.  I mean, really--he has loads of flavors to offer for your next birthday, anniversary, shower, or just a Tuesday craving.  The red velvet cupcakes were so good, my friend ordered a couple different flavors just for us all to indulge in at our annual Christmas night out.

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