Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm Bored Jar

Summer time is almost here. My boys are notorious for the "I'm Bored" whines! This year I am prepared, and I found an excellent use for the urn our poor old Bronte dog came home in..(dont worry there is no ash residue in there, he was inside a plastic bag and we put him in a special garden we made for him)

I printed out little slips of paper each with a chore, task, game or treat. When they are bored they have to take a slip and they MUST do what is listed. (For at least 30 minutes or until completed)

Need some ideas? I got a fantastic list here and/or create your own for age appropriate tasks for your kids.

My Rules:

When you tell mom
that you are bored
you MUST reach in
and select a task.
It could be boring
or it could be a blast!
You HAVE to do the task I insist,
NO whining or you get
an automatic CHORE from the list.

I created a long chore list of simple household chores for them to select from when they whine about what they got!

I also added treat ones like 30 minutes of Wii , TV or Computer time(usually an earned item) and going out for ice cream or to the park.(they know leaving the house ones are time permitting, but I give an IOU and select again if we cant do it right away)

You can add in any special treat you like!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grilled Anniversary Chicken Salad

I found this chicken recipe on Allrecipes years ago and it quickly became a favorite. Today I decided to recreate it into a Salad recipe.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
3/4 cup Teriyaki sauce*

1 lb Baby Spinach, or other greens of your preference
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup green onions
1 cup shredded cheddar( you can use any cheese you like, I used smoked gouda on the adult ones!)
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
Ranch Dressing as desired

Pierce chicken breast generously with a fork. Place it in a resealable gallon bag pour in Teriyaki sauce and seal. Allow to marinate at least 4 hours, giving it a squish around every once in a while.

Prepare your grill and cook chicken until the thickest part is 165 degrees.(Can be done indoors on a griddle pan or boiled, the rain set in and ruined my outdoor grill plans but my griddle pan does the trick)

Slice your chicken and set aside

On a plate place greens and carrots. Arrange slices of chicken over the carrots, pour ranch dressing over the chicken and salad as desired, then sprinkle with green onions, bacon and cheese.

*Homemade Teriyaki:
1/4 cup soy sauce(for gluten free use Bragg's Amino Acid)
1 cup pineapple juice
2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
Combine all in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer and  reduce to 1 cup liquid.

Cool and store or use(the longer it stores, the better the flavor!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken and Refried Bean Soup

After a week of beautiful weather the rain hit today. We decided it was a good soup night. I had some leftover refried beans from the other night, so I decided to use them up.

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups refried beans*
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups black beans(pre cooked or canned and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB minced cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, minced
2 green chilies, minced(4 oz can works well)
1 cup corn kernels

Topping ideas:
crushed tortilla chips
sour cream
green onions
chopped fresh tomatoes
pico de gallo
shredded cheese
hot sauce(Cholula Chipotle for me!)

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker, mix well.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Top as desired and serve.

*Refried Beans:

1 lb. dried pinto, pink or  black beans plus soaking water
6 cups water
2 onions, chopped (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup fat ( bacon drippings, butter, margarine, or lard)
Salt to taste
plus any seasonings to taste....cumin, chili powder, cilantro, coriander...what ever you like. My kids prefer them plain.

Soak beans overnight or by quick method.
Drain and Rinse Add fresh water and onions.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly until beans are tender, about 2-3 hours.
Drain any extra liquid if you want thicker beans, leave it if you want it a bit thinner
Mash beans well , (I use an immersion blender, not to a puree so leave some good chunks.

Add fat and salt(and seasonings). Mix well; continue cooking, stirring frequently until beans are thickened and fat is absorbed.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade Sherbet Cake

I FINALLY found a fresh strawberry cake with no food coloring, jello or cake mixes!! I was so excited because I had tried to make my own , but something just wasn't coming out right.  My son wanted a Strawberry Lemonade Ice Cream Cake for his birthday so we decided to give this recipe a try!
Link to original!

1 Batch of Strawberry Lemon Sherbet

Strawberry Cake:
10 oz very ripe strawberries(note the original called for 24, however I did not want so much extra since you only use 3/4 cup puree)
2 tsp sugar

Hull and slice strawberries, sprinkle with sugar and allow to sit until juicy.

Place in a blender and puree well.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg whites(you can use 4 whole eggs if you like, but the yellow yolk tends to dull the already ever so slight pink color)

3/4 cup pureed strawberries
1/4 cup milk

2 1/4 cups cake flour(see* for GF)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350

Grease/Flour 2-9 inch pans
(My instructions are different than the original, I prefer my method)
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine puree and milk in another and set aside.

In a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and egg whites. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Alternately add flour and puree mixture on low speed until fully incorporated. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Scrap sides and beat 30 seconds more.
Pour into prepared pans and bake 25 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack and cool completely.

*Gluten Free Flour
3/4 cup sweet white rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
Measure 2 1/4 cups from this then add:

1 tsp xanthan gum

Ice Cream Cake Assembly:

Place cooled cakes back into clean cake pans(upside down for a flatter surface), pour softened sherbet evenly over the 2 cakes reserving 1/4 cup for frosting.

Place in freezer and freeze until solid(overnight is best!)
For the frosting beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup sugar(or to your sweetness preference) and beat until it holds a stiff peak. Add reserved(softened) sherbet and beat a little more.

Take cakes out of the pan and place cake side down on a platter, I placed a layer of sliced strawberries on it , then stack the second layer. With a rubber spatula work the sides to fill in the crack between the layers with the sorbet.

Frost quickly with the frosting and decorate as desired.

Return to freezer for at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Lemon Sherbet

I used this in my sons Fresh Strawberry Lemonade Sherbet Cake, but it is a fantastic summer treat all on its own too!

1 cup fresh lemon juice(fresh is SO much better than bottled, dont skimp!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

Mix juice and sugar in a small sauce pan, heat to a boil and reduce temp

Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and chill thoroughly.

Add half and half and milk.

Pour into your ice cream maker and process per manufacturers instructions.
Add strawberries as it the process is almost complete.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Margarita Chicken Quesadillas

My husband requested an "appetizer platter" for his birthday dinner. I found a recipe for Margarita Chicken Quesadillas in a cooking magazine, I was looking at it and while it seemed to have a lime flavor, I couldn't quite see the Margarita part... so I decided to change it up to include an actual margarita flavor.

I used 10 -10 inch tortillas -  it made 40 wedges, great for appetizers for  a crowd, or a main course meal for a few(plus leftovers for us, delicious cold and freezes fantastically!)

Margarita Chicken Marinade:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 oz tequila(those little "airplane" bottles are perfect)

20 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts(about 4)

Mix water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until all the sugar is dissolved and it is slightly thickened.
Cool completely, then stir in juices and tequila. Place in a large ziplock bag with chicken breasts. (I prick them really well with a fork first too)
Marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, max of 4(the citrus will begin to "cook" the edges so dont go too much over).
* If you want you can use 1 cup pre-made margarita mix in place of the water/sugar/lemon and lime juice mix.

Drain marinade , then you can cook your chicken with your desired method, I recommend grilling outdoors if possible or in a cast iron griddle pan, or failing that broiling.

I used a griddle pan and actually ended up adding some of the marinade to the bottom of the pan.
Cook your chicken to 165 degrees, allow to cool slightly

slice into 1/4 inch slices, set aside

1 TB canola oil
1 yellow sweet pepper, julienned
1 orange sweet pepper, julienned
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil ever medium heat, add peppers, sauté until tender, season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
I ended up chopping mine a bit smaller than the julienne slice, you can do either or.

Lime Butter:
3 TB butter
1 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter, add lime juice and cilantro, set aside.

Remaining ingredients:

10 - 10 inch flour tortillas
1 1/4 cups shredded Colby Jack Cheese
 10 slices Pepper Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a large baking sheet

Place a tortilla on the baking sheet, on half the tortilla add about 2 TB colby jack, then some chicken, then some pepper mixture and top a slice(torn) of pepper jack.

Fold over the top and brush with cilantro lime butter.

Repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients until you are all done.

Bake in hot oven and bake 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. I even broiled mine to cri

Cut into 4 wedges and serve hot!

These freeze very well! Cut into wedges and lay flat in a single layer. Cover well and freeze, when fully frozen they can be placed in a freezer bag.
To reheat either microwave covered in a paper towel for 1-2 minutes(checking often) or heat on a baking sheet at 350 until they are heated through(about 20-30 minutes)

Easy Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I have made these several times. I got the recipe here but I added a few things of my own. They are always devoured quickly! This made 24 Sticks.

6 string cheese sticks
1/4 cup flour
2 large egg whites, beaten until foamy
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
seasoning salt to taste

Unwrap the string cheese and cut in half width wise, then again length wise for 4 pieces( you can do them just in half width wise for cheesier sticks)

Place the cheese in the freezer for an hour.

Place beaten egg in one dish, flour in another and breadcrumbs with seasonings in a third.

Place each cheese stick in the egg flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Dip it in the egg again and in bread crumbs again, pressing them on as needed.

Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with all cheese sticks.

Return to freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400

Put sticks in the oven and bake 15 minutes until golden brown and slightly oozing.

Cool 5 minutes and serve with a nice marinara.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Baked Tortilla Chips

Last time I did an Applebee's Copycat, this time I decided to wing it! This was also for Troy's Appetizer Platter B-day dinner.

Super Easy Baked Tortilla Chips

Make a few or make a lot, they store well in a sealed container!

Corn Tortillas(white or yellow I used both)
Olive or Canola Oil
Other Seasonings to taste ie:
garlic powder
chili powder

I did half my batch plain salt, half with Emeril's Southwest Seasoning.

Preheat oven to 350

Lightly brush each tortilla front and back with the oil(you can actually use cooking spray if you like!)
Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges and place on a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and other seasonings as desired.

Bake 10-15 minutes , watching CAREFULLY and flipping as needed. They will crisp as they cool so pull them out when they are still slightly pliable. Do not over brown!

Serve warm or allow to cool and store.


8 oz cooked and drained artichoke hearts(canned or jarred are fine)
3 oz, steamed and drained baby spinach
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

In a food processor combine all ingredients except mozzarella.

Process until fairly smooth. Add mozzarella and pulse until just combined.

Scrape into a lightly greased 9 inch square baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least an hour for flavors to blend.

Preheat oven to 350

Bake 30-40 minutes until heated through. Serve with Tortilla Chips

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Another Appetizer Platter Dish!

1 large onion
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 egg
1 cup beer
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2  tsp garlic powder

oil for frying

Slice onion into 1/4 inch slices and separated into rings.
In a gallon size ziplock bag mix  together flour, baking powder and salt
Place the onion rings in there, blow a bit of air into the bag and seal, shake gently to coat each ring.
Remove the rings, tapping gently to remove excess and set aside

Whisk beer and egg together then mix into the remaining flour mixture in the bag.

Preheat oil for frying to 365

Place a wire rack over a large sheet of aluminum foil.

Add  a few onions rings at a time, mushing the bag gently to coat well.

Remove with tongs and set on the wire rack to drip.

Pour bread crumbs into a shallow pan with the garlic powder,

Place rings a few at a time into the crumbs and coat well. (If you have a lidded pan, top and shake!)

Transfer rings immediately to hot oil. Fry a few at a time for 2-3 minutes(turning once).
Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with additional salt if desired.

These freeze very well! Place them flat on a baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze thoroughly then transfer to a freezer bag.
To reheat place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes until heated through.