Monday, February 28, 2011

Chicken Saltimbocca

This week I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite chicken recipes. I think chicken is one of those things that everyone knows how to prepare in one form or another. It can become a little boring or it can be fantastic. Everyone, myself included, could use a new chicken dish in their repertoire.  Hopefully this week will give you all some new ideas for an old classic.

Chicken saltimbocca is an Italian dish that my mom makes. It is one of the first dishes my mom made for my husband when we were engaged and he requests it each time we go to my parent's house.And I'm pretty sure it will be the first meal my brother will request when he gets off his mission in a few months. Traditionally saltimbocca is made from veal, but chicken is more readily available and just as good. I believe that the translation of saltimbocca is "jumps in the mouth," and it does just that! Serve it with angel hair pasta with a good pesto sauce or rice pilaf.

Chicken Saltimbocca
boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
prosciutto (If you haven't had prosciutto, it is an Italian cured meat similar to bacon, but edible straight from the package more like ham. It is paper thin and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! It can be found by the packaged gourmet deli meats and cheeses. It may seem a little spendy, but a little goes a long ways. One package can make saltimbocca for 4, twice!)
olive oil

-Pound the chicken to less than 1/2 inch thick. I like to put the chicken in a large ziploc and pound it with the flat side of a meat mallet. (You can also use a heavy tin can.)
-Once all the chicken is pounded, season both sides with salt and pepper. (Go light on the salt because the prosciutto is salty.) You might want to cut chicken breasts in half at this point to get a size that is easier to work with.
-Now place a single layer of prosciutto on one side of each piece of chicken. You might need to use more than one piece of prosciutto and piece them together like a puzzle to cover the whole piece of chicken, or cut off excess if prosciutto is too big.
-Heat 1-2 Tbs. olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan on medium heat.
-While pan is heating, put about 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Lay each piece of chicken in flour, pat down, flip, and repeat to get flour coated all over the outside of the chicken and prosciutto.
-Once olive oil is warm place chicken, prosciutto side down, in oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and chicken is cooked all the way through. The prosciutto should cling to the chicken and get crispy. Remove from pan onto paper towel lined plate.
*Note: If chicken is browning very quickly, turn down the heat so chicken has time to cook all the way through.
Coat it in flour
Cook in a little olive oil
Drain on paper towels, and devour!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Teriyaki Burgers

My husband's all-time favorite food is hamburgers. He will go to a five-star steak house and order a hamburger every time almost without fail. I've already mentioned my obsession with French fries on here. I think that's why we go so well together. He and I go together like burgers and fries! :-) It is difficult to replicate a good restaurant burger at home. We have given up on frozen patties, with the exception of when we are hosting a large crowd. This is the best home made burger I have found. The weather has been teasing us lately with a week of 50s and 60s in February that I have been anticipating the BBQ season more than ever. What better way to end a week of sandwiches and look forward to spring than with a great burger! I might just have to pull out these burgers before spring even hits this year!

Teriyaki Burgers
1 pound lean hamburger
1/2 cup bottled teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup French fried onions
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
good hamburger buns (I usually go for whole wheat or potato buns)
cheddar cheese (optional)
3 slices pineapple (fresh is best, but canned will do)
your favorite toppings--I like lettuce, tomatoes, carmelized onions, spicy brown mustard, teriyaki sauce, and mayo

Combine the meat, teriyaki sauce, French fried onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Press the meat into 3 large patties (they will shrink as they cook). Make sure to leave an indentation in the middle of the burgers.

This will allow for even cooking as the meat shrinks. Cook on a grill pre-heated on medium heat. Top with cheese the last minute of cooking. Brush pineapple slices with teriyaki sauce and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until warm and grill marks show. Top each burger with one pineapple slice. Serve on toasted buns with your favorite toppings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

If you haven't had a Monte Cristo Sandwich, you are not alone. I don't think many people have experienced this diner classic. It sounds a little odd at first, but it is oh so good! The key to a good Monte Cristo is good quality ingredients. It combines two of my favorite comfort foods, grilled cheese and French toast! It is warm and melty, sweet and savory. I serve these with a side of fruit and call it dinner. I dare you to eat just one!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Good Sourdough or French bread, sliced
sliced Swiss cheese
good sliced ham
powdered sugar
strawberry jam (or something comparable)

Place ham and Swiss cheese between 2 slices of bread. Whisk together an egg and a couple tablespoons of milk. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and grease with 1 tablespoon of butter. Soak each side of the sandwich in the egg mixture and place in the hot pan. Cook on both sides until golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with jam for dipping or spread on top.
*Note: you can obviously make as many sandwiches as you have bread, ham, and cheese for. One egg mixture will be enough for about 3 sandwiches.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pizza Pockets

So I saw these on a commercial for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and had to try it. If you have seen the commercial and wondered if these are any good, they are! So while I'm not going to take credit for this recipe. I am going to recommend them without hesitation! I love crescent rolls and whenever they go on sale I stock up and look for new ways to use them. These are so easy, and made with ingredients I usually have on hand!

Pizza Pockets
1 can crescent rolls
your favorite pizza sauce (I use ordinary marinara sauce straight from the jar)
mozzerella cheese
your favorite toppings (I used pepperoni and olives)

Start with two triangles of crescent dough and press together to make a rectangle. Spread with pizza sauce leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Sprinkle with cheese and toppings. Press together another set of two triangles to make another rectangle. Spread with a thin layer of pizza sauce. Then carefully place the second crescent rectangle on the first. Use a fork to press the edges together. Repeat with the rest of the crescent dough and toppings. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Makes 2 large or 4 small pizza pockets.
*Note the original Pillsbury recipe says to fold each rectangle in half to make 4 triangle pizza pockets with each can of crescent dough. I found that I could fit more toppings and it felt more like a meal if I made these bigger pizza pockets. But I'm sure the smaller versions would be great as snacks!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches

I love these and make them often for baby showers or brunch-type gatherings. The great thing is they are so good you can't eat just one and super easy to make!
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of these last time. This is the closest thing I could find on the web.
Photo courtesy of via google images

Cucumber Sandwiches
bread (I like a good whole wheat)
English cucumber, thinly sliced
Chive flavored cream cheese (I forget the exact flavor, I think it is called onion and chive)
Garlic salt
salt and pepper

Stir between 1/4 and1/2 tsp. garlic salt into cream cheese (taste along the way to your preference). Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on two slices of bread. Place 4 cucumber slices on one slice of bread. English cucumbers are essential. The skins of regular cucumbers are too tough. Sprinkle the cucumber lightly with salt and pepper. Top with the other slice of bread. Using a good serrated knife, cut off the crust and cut the sandwich into fourths trying to cut between the cucumber slices. One large cucumber will use almost a whole loaf of bread and leave you with a platter full of yummy bite-sized sandwiches.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breakfast Sandwiches

To kick off my week of sandwiches I thought it was appropriate to start with breakfast! I first had these when we were staying with our good friends Kristen and Stephen last year. I had never even thought to make breakfast sandwiches at home. These are an easy, quick, and hearty breakfast. Great on the go as well.

Breakfast Sandwiches
Sandwich thins (Have you seen these, they are great! I guess English muffins would work as well.)
ham (not the super thin sandwich meat, but the thicker stuff)

Place thin slices of cheeses (I recommend cheddar) on one half of the sandwich thin and toast in a toaster oven or under the broiler of your oven. While the bread is toasting, cook the egg to your liking. (I always leave the yolk a little runny. Not great for taking on the go, however.) Once the egg is cooked, cut the ham to size and throw on the hot frying pan for about 30 seconds on each side until warm and golden. Assemble your sandwich (I always put the ham between the egg and the cheese.) I have these a couple times a week for breakfast. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Roast Beef and Pepperoncini Sandwiches

These beef sandwiches are finger-lickin good and great to feed a crowd. I first had these when my sister-in-law made them for us and I fell in love. This particular recipe comes from the menu mama. She has lots of great stuff. Check her out at . And I think this is a great segue into next week. I will be featuring sandwiches. All kinds of sandwiches: hot and cold, for mealtime, snack time, and party time, and they are all fast and easy!

Roast Beef and Pepperoncini Sandwiches
1 jar pepperoncini peppers (found on the pickle aisle)
1 onion, sliced
1 beef roast
provolone cheese
good hoagie rolls

Put the roast in a greased (or lined) crock pot. Season with salt and pepper. Dump sliced onions and the jar of pepperoncinis (juice and all) on top. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred the meat with 2 forks. Toast the buns in a toaster oven or under the broiler with cheese on one half until cheese is bubbly. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to put meat and onions and peppers on one half of the roll. Top with the other half and enjoy!
Shred it good! (I like to leave the juices in to keep it all moist. Just be careful not to get too much juice on your sandwich so it doesn't get soggy.)
Gobble it up!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I LOVE chicken broccoli casserole. What I don't love is having to cook the chicken before assembling the casserole, so I usually only make it if I have leftover chicken from another meal. However, I discovered that making it in the crock pot cuts out that step. Another reason to love the crock pot: one step cooking. This might seem a little different than some chicken broccoli casserole recipes, but I think the mayo, lemon juice, and curry really make all the flavors pop!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole in a Crock Pot
6-8 chicken tenderloins or 2-3 chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
about 3/4 cup mayonnaise (depending how tangy you like it)
about 3/4 cup milk (depending how thick you want it)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 package frozen broccoli or 1-2 heads fresh broccoli, chopped
Put chicken in greased crock pot (or use a crock pot liner, love those!) Combine soups, milk, mayo, seasonings, and lemon juice. Pour sauce over chicken. Dump broccoli on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. At this point you can serve as is, or shred the chicken. Serve over rice and sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs (or crushed croutons).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beef Stew

So this is totally cheating because it comes right off the back of the stew packet. But it is a family favorite and it goes in the crock pot and makes the house smell oh so good!

Beef Stew
1 package stew meat (about 1 lb.)
4-5 potatoes, cut into chunks (either peeled or scrubbed first, I prefer skins on)
4-5 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
water (according to package directions)
1 package stew seasoning (McCormick does a good one)

Some packets have you brown the meat first, I've done it both ways. I don't notice much of a taste difference and it's easier to just throw the meat in the crock pot. I would put the potatoes and carrots in the crock pot first, because root vegetables take longer to cook and do better with more contact with the crock pot. Also, then they get all the good meat drippings on them. Then add the onion and meat. Sprinkle on the seasoning packet and pour on the water according to the packet directions. Cover and cook on low for a long time. The longer the better.
(photo courtesy of boudoir magazine via google images)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taco Chicken

This is so easy, I don't know if it counts as a recipe. But I'm passing it along in case you have a similar obsession to Mexican food as I do. This chicken is great in tacos, tostadas, and burritos. I bet it's even good in enchiladas, but I've never tried it that way.

Taco chicken
taco seasoning

Place frozen chicken in crock pot in as even of a layer as you can. Pour salsa on top. Make sure all the chicken is covered. The chicken doesn't need to sit in the salsa, but it does need to all have a layer on top. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and cook on low until chicken is cooked through. Shred and serve in your favorite Mexican dish.
Pour the salsa
Sprinkle the taco seasoning
Shred and enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu in a crockpot

So the only way my family stayed alive during the last several weeks is thanks to my crock pot. I love being able to throw something in in the morning and not think about it again until right before dinner. So I decided to do a week dedicated to my favorite crock pot meals.

I found this one on, a blog my cousin Monica collaborates with some friends on. I love chicken cordon bleu and while this is far from the classic, it has all the flavors and is oh so easy and yummy! So here's a great spin on a classic. Just cook some rice and throw together a salad and you have dinner!

Chicken Cordon Bleu in a crockpot

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 7 or 8 tenderloins and it was plenty for us, the missionaries, and leftovers)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper (or black)
1 tsp dried thyme leaves   (I omitted)
8 thin slices boiled ham
2 onions, chopped (1 was plenty)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 oz) bag baby carrots
1 (16 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and thyme. Wrap a slice of ham around each breast and secure with toothpicks.(My chicken was frozen and I didn't want to mess with pulling toothpicks out at the end, so I skipped them.)

2. Place onion, garlic, and carrots in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Top with wrapped chicken breasts.

3. In medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve over rice.

Chicken all seasoned and wrapped
Add the yummy sauce on top.
And that's all the pictures. I guess making sure 2 hungry missionaries had what they needed distracted me from taking a picture of the finished product. Just trust me, it was good.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thai Peanut Stir Fry to die for!

This recipe was inspired by the bottled Thai Peanut Stir Fry sauce you can buy in the grocery store. After being alarmed at how much it cost, I read the ingredient list, went home and created my own version. After a couple trials I have what I feel is a far superior sauce. Every time I make this my husband tells me I need to bottle it, sell it, and make our millions. Instead, alas, I am sharing it with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I must admit that I rarely measure when making this, but instead taste as I go. However, I did measure it once in order to record it for posterity (and the blog of course!) Enjoy!
*Also I must add that my husband does not really like Chinese food, stir fry, or a lot of vegetables for that matter, but he LOVES this!

Thai Peanut Stir Fry
1/2 cup (or less) vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. red chili flakes (more or less depending on the level of heat you want)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbs. crunchy peanut butter
1 lb. stir fry beef ( I often cheat and use stew meat with any extra fat cut off)
3-4 cups chopped veggies: I always use broccoli (fresh or frozen), carrots, and green beans (fresh or frozen) I also like cauliflower, snow peas, and onion (sliced into very thin strips)

Mix the first 7 ingredients. If you used less oil you may need to add a little at a time until you get a smooth consistency. Taste it and add more brown sugar or chili flakes depending on your preference. Set aside.
Cook the beef (I suppose you could use chicken, but in my opinion beef is far superior with these flavors) in a little oil in a large frying pan with a lid. Once beef is cooked, add veggies and 2-3 Tbs. water (less if using frozen veggies). Cover and let veggies steam for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Carefully remove the lid and stir in the sauce. As the sauce heats up it should coat all the meat and veggies evenly. Cook until everything is evenly coated and heated through. Serve over rice.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

I found this recipe on my friend Heather, aka the menu mama's, blog a few weeks ago. (Check her out at  I think she got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman. I love that it is something different with ingredients I usually have on hand. And it is so easy and delicious!

 When it starts to cook it will look like this.
As it cooks down it looks more like this!
Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

1 lb chicken breast, cut in chunks (I used 5-6 tenderloins)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sriracha, or a few drops of tabasco
Mix ingredients and marinate chicken for 2-3 hours.
Cook chicken in the sauce over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes or until chicken is done.
If the sauce starts to dry up before the chicken is cooked through, turn the heat down to medium so the sauce doesn't burn before the chicken is done.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds (I skipped this because I didn't have any) and serve with fried rice.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fried Rice

I love fried rice. This recipe is so easy and is great served with wontons! I adapted several recipes I have seen and made this my own. Enjoy!

Fried Rice
2 cups cooked rice (old rice will absorb flavors better, but fresh is fine)
1/4 cup diced scallions
1/4 cup diced ham
1/2 cup frozen veggies (corn, carrot, and pea blend)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 Tbs. soy sauce (Be conservative. You don't want it to get too salty. You can always add more later.)
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable oil
tabasco sauce (optional)

Brown scallion, vegetables, and ham in 1-2 Tbs. oil over medium heat until ham starts to get some color, vegetables defrost, and scallion softens a little. Add rice, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Stir until combined. Cook until heated through. Pour beaten eggs over the top and stir until there are bits of scrambled egg throughout and all the egg is cooked. Add tabasco to taste if desired.
Brown the veggies and ham
Add the seasonings and rice. It's that easy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm back! with one of my favorites...wontons!

After a 6 week hiatus, I'm back! So for those who haven't heard, we are expecting munchkin #2 come August. Therefore, there has not been a lot of cooking going on around here. That has all been changing the last week or so. I have lots of recipes I have been dying to share with you, so let's get with it!

I have decided to share some of my favorite Asian inspired recipes this week. I love Asian food. I made a giant batch of wontons last week just for me while the hubby was camping with the boy scouts (in Colorado in February!). I figured I was celebrating the Chinese New Year, satisfying a craving, and keeping myself busy while he was away all at once. So here's my wonton recipe. My mom got this recipe from a college room mate of hers and it became a family favorite of ours. WARNING: these are highly addictive. I ate half a batch all at once without batting an eye. So yummy! These are a great appetizer/finger food or I usually eat them as a meal with rice or chow mien on the side.

3/4 lb. lean ground beef  (or if you're feeling frisky, use chopped, raw shrimp)
1/2 package tofu (I have found firm works best)
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup chopped bean sprouts
1/4 tsp. or so of salt, pepper, garlic powder each
2-3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 package wonton wrappers (found in the produce section by the tofu and refrigerated salad dressing)
vegetable oil

-Mix the first 6 ingredients together with your hands.
-Pour about 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan and heat over medium heat. I have found that a big soup pot works best because then the sides of the pot catch most of the oil splatters.
-While the oil is heating, lay out the wonton wrappers on a clean, dry counter (start with 1/2 the package or less). Spoon a small lump of the filling onto the middle of each wrapper. Using your finger dipped in water, wet two adjoining sides of each wrapper and fold in half to make a triangle shape. Make sure they are sealed all the way around. If you get a hole in the wrapper, tear off a small piece in the corner to patch it.
-Once you have several wontons prepared, gently put one in the oil. You know the oil is ready when the wonton starts to bubble and sizzle. Once the oil is ready, cook 4-5 wontons at a time.
-Cook until golden brown (3-4 minutes on each side). I wear an oven mitt and use a spatula for flipping and removing wontons. Watch your oil carefully. If it starts to sizzle a lot and the wontons are browning quickly, turn down the heat. If the wontons brown too quickly, the filling will not be cooked. You probably want to cut open the first couple right away to make sure the filling is cooking through all the way.
-Put wontons on paper towel lined plate to cool.
-Serve with sweet and sour dipping sauce.
-Makes about 3/4 a package of wontons (I think that's around 30-40)
Filling in the middle
Seal the edges
Pan fry until golden
Dip in sauce and devour!

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
apricot jam
soy sauce

Heat jam in microwave in 30 second intervals until runny enough to push through a fine mesh strainer. Strain out the chunks and add soy sauce to taste. I like mine sweeter, so I usually only add a couple table spoons of soy sauce to 1 cup strained jam.