May 15
Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches1 Comment

One of my very favorite summer dinners that my mom used to prepare growing up was grilled chicken sandwiches. She would simply marinade the chicken and grill it up for us. She usually bought some sourdough bread which we toasted and smothered with mayo. The chicken was placed on top and it was the perfect summer meal.

When I saw the rave reviews of this particular recipe on so many of my very favorite blogs, I needed to try these Hawaiian sandwiches myself. I love the combination of chicken and pineapple, I needed to see for myself. Another thing that I loved about this recipe was the simplicity of it. I pretty much had everything already on hand in the pantry and it was a cinch to mix together. I was able to enjoy my Saturday without much prep time for these.

The grilling of the pineapple really brings out the carmelization of the sugars. There is a nice balance of sweet and savory in these sandwiches. I served ours on top of a grilled bun with some Dijon and mayo to finish it off. They were a hit for both Blair and I, it will definitely be a menu regular over the warm summer months!

Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

Ingredients:

2 large boneless skinless breast of chicken
1 large can pineapple rings (8 rings)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 slices provolone cheese
4 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
Mayo or more dijon for serving

What you’ll do:
Pound out the chicken breasts and slice each into two pieces to prepare for even grilling. In a small bowl combine the juice from the pineapple can, soy sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Marinate the chicken for 4 hours or up to overnight in the the juice mixture.

Prepare your grill. Grill the chicken for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Grill the pineapple rings for 5-10 minutes until there are grill marks and the sugars have carmelized. Add the cheese to the chicken with the last few minutes of grilling and let melt evenly.  Smear mayo or dijon on the buns, then top with a piece of chicken and two pineapple rings each.

Source: So Tasty, So Yummy via Taste of Home

Posted in chicken, main dish, quick and easy | Tagged , |

May 13
Drunken Italian Noodles1 Comment

Thank you for bearing with me as I took the week off. We have some changes coming in our household and it was my very last week to enjoy some time with Blair. You see, Blair is moving to North Carolina for a temp-to-hire position at a biomedical science company. This decision came upon us very quickly and we were forced into making a tough decision. His hope is to gain some experience in the industry field since he is branching off from academics. He just finished his post-doctoral position at the University of Pennsylvania. His last day at Penn was on Wednesday and he starts his new position tomorrow.

It will be quite the adventure and it will be 3 months of his time. Fortunately, with me being a teacher, I should be able to spend a majority of the summer with him in NC. In the meantime, while I finish up school (the year ends mid-June in NJ), I will be challenging myself in the kitchen by cooking for one. Either that or just scaling back recipes, calling up mom for a meal, or eating a ton of leftovers. I will do my best to keep up with posting, but if I miss a day, you now know the reason why.

It will be back to a long-distance marriage for the time being, we were apart when we were first married and he was finishing up school. I never thought we would have to cross that bridge again and I am honestly not looking forward to being in a house by myself. We have several weekends planned out to see one another and if time continues to fly like it has, I will be just fine. There was many tears shed last night, but we know that this is the best for his future.

This recipe is definitely one that I could see myself whipping up for myself and enjoying it night after night. It is comforting and delicious. I happen to love Italian sausage and peppers so this was a nice way to enjoy that meal with a different twist. I had an extremely tough time finding the Pappardelle noodles that the recipe calls for. My suggestion to you is check your fresh pasta section first, I ended up getting mine freshly cut at a homemade pasta shop right down the street from our house. I could have very easily made my own as well, but this was a weeknight meal, no time for that! So make it for your family, make it for yourself, I promise you will enjoy it!

 

Drunken Italian Noodles

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
  • 8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked

What you’ll do:

Place a pot over medium high heat,  add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, crumble the spicy Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want them fairly chunky). Brown for a few minutes on each side, once browned transfer the cooked meat using a slotted spoon to a plate or small bowl.

Add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden brown. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, add more oil if necessary. Once the onion is caramelized, add in the salt, Italian seasoning, garlic, and black pepper, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced bell peppers and cook for a few minutes until tender. Add in the white wine, scraping up any brown bits, cook until the wine is reduced. Add in the diced tomatoes with juices, followed by the browned sausage. Stir until combined and let simmer until noodles are finished cooking.

Prepare the pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles, and add them directly into the sauce. Use tongs to gently toss and combine the pappardelle noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it. To serve toss with basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Source: A Cozy Apron

Posted in main dish, quick and easy |

May 03
Chocolate Oreo Lasagna7 Comments

A few weeks ago the ladies I work with got together for a night of Bunco. It is a really fun game and since we only do it once a year, I look forward to the night pretty much all year long. We each contribute some type of dish and we catch up on everything but school things. We also have retirees come back to join us and others who have left our school for some reason or another.

I knew that I wanted to contribute some type of dessert for Bunco night, and this recipe has been bookmarked for way too long. It reminded me of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight that my coworkers love so much. It is pretty much the exact same thing, but instead of a chocolate chip cookie layer you have an Oreo one. Both are winners in my book and both happen to be big crowd pleasers. Another added bonus is that this requires no baking time and is a cinch to throw together. This would be perfect for those hot summer days that are right around the corner.

Chocolate Oreo Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package Oreos
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1-8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2-12 oz tubs whipped topping
2-3.9 oz packages chocolate instant pudding
3 ¼ cups cold milk

What you’ll do:
Process cookies in a food processor until they are finely crushed.  Put aside 1/2 cup of Oreo crumbs for sprinkling on top at the end. Combine remaining Oreo crumbs with the melted butter and stir until the crumbs are well coated.  Press evenly into the bottom of a 13×9 inch dish.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, beat the pudding mixes and the milk together with a wire whisk or your electric mixer for two minutes.

Using an electric mixer, whisk together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add in 1 container of the whipped topping and fold together until well incorporated.

With a spatula, spread the cream cheese layer evenly across the top of the Oreo crust, then spread the pudding on top. Top the pudding layer with the remaining whipped topping, then garnish with crushed Oreos. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Stick a Fork In It

Posted in chocolate, dessert, quick and easy |

May 01
Cinco de Mayo Round-UpLeave a comment

 

Wee, it’s almost Cinco de Mayo, which means that I have an actual excuse to drink chug margaritas. We are celebrating this year by attending the baby shower of one of my longest friends. On Saturday night, Quatro de Mayo, we will joining forces with the two couples that we have monthly dinner club with. We are not going down the traditional route of having Mexican, but instead we are celebrating with a wine pairing party. I have been looking forward to it all week long.

My friend, Katie and her husband Loren are the hosts and they have done this type of dinner before. Katie was responsible for looking at each dish each couple was bringing and pairing it with a wine. Each couple is responsible for two dishes and the two bottles of wine. I will be making a spring cheese dip that I hope to share and some amazing cupcakes, well at least my hopes are up that they are amazing. Hopefully the weather will be glorious and we can enjoy one another and beautiful weather.

If you are celebrating at all this weekend, I thought I would put together a list of my Mexican favorites. So without further ado here is what made the list:

Appetizers/Salads:

Margaritas:

Dessert:

Posted in Uncategorized |

Apr 29
Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch2 Comments

 

Lately, I have been slacking on preparing a meatless meal a week. When menu planning recently, I made sure that there was at least vegetarian meal and these happen to be on my radar. These egg rolls have received rave reviews on many of my favorite blogs so I knew that I had to make them for myself. Typically, they are served as an appetizer or party dish, but I decided to make them a main course. We had several egg rolls each and we had a salad to go with it, all of that ended up being the perfect amount.

These egg rolls are already jam packed with southwestern flavor, but I bet the addition of some shredded chicken coated in spices would work nicely in these as well. I decided to serve them with an avocado ranch that I have made before in the past. It was a nice cool down to the spice from the seasonings. When you look at the ingredient list, feel free to omit or add in your favorites, these are very friendly to adapt. We loved that they were baked so we didn’t need to make a mess with frying and of course we loved the healthier option of the baking. This may just be a regular on our meatless meal rotation!

Southwestern Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package egg roll wrappers (about 24 total)

For serving:

Avocado Ranch

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, spray a large baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine everything but the egg roll wrappers. Stir well to combine the flavors. Lay an egg roll wrapper out on a work surface so that one of the corners is pointing toward you and place ¼ cup of the filling in the center. I find this photo tutorial helpful in rolling egg rolls. Place the finished eggs roll seam side down on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling until they are all done. Spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, turn each egg roll over onto the other side, and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes. They should be light brown in color, serve with avocado ranch and salsa.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Posted in appetizer, main dish, quick and easy, vegetarian |

Apr 26
Thai Chicken Pizza5 Comments

Ever since made this pizza, I have been dying to share it with you guys. It has been awhile since I have been that excited about a recipe. I had shared it on my Facebook page and two of my girlfriends immediately texted me to ask when the recipe was being shared. I guess sometimes a picture really does speak volumes.

This pizza has been on my radar for quite some time, but unfortunately I kept forgetting about it. Of course now after having it, I am kicking myself for not making it sooner. It is definitely going to be a regular on the menu plan. You start with your favorite dough (scroll down for my favorite), you spread a thin layer of Asian chili sauce. Next you top it with some shredded chicken, cheese, and some veggies. The best addition that adds some real nice texture and crunch are the chopped peanuts and fresh herbs on top. Finished off with another drizzle of the Asian chili sauce and you have yourself one delicious mouthful. We devoured this and I am sure your family will love it as well!

Thai Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
Flour, for dusting
Cornmeal, for dusting
1/2 cup sweet Asian chili sauce, plus 1-2 Tablespoons to drizzle
1 cup cooked shredded chicken1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced vertically, then thinly sliced in half circles
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

What you’ll do:

Adjust the rack to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven and pizza stone (or baking sheet) to 500 degrees F.

Roll the dough into a 12-14-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment paper evenly dusted with cornmeal. Brush the egdes with some olive oil to ensure a nice crispy, golden-brown crust. Evenly spread the Asian chili sauce over the surface of the crust. Top with the shredded chicken. Add the shallots and zucchini, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the toppings.

Carefully transfer the pizza to the hot pizza stone  and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle some Asian sauce over top. Garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and basil.

Source: Simple Comfort Food

Posted in chicken, main dish, pizza, quick and easy |

Apr 24
Perfect Pizza Dough1 Comment

I have posted lots of delicious pizza recipes, but never have shared my very favorite dough recipe. Many people are intimidated by making their own dough at home, but honestly it is not that difficult to do. In my opinion, the hardest part about pizza at home is stretching out the dough and shaping it into a perfect circle. I am still working on mastering this after many homemade pizza nights. The secret is to practice the virtue of patience. If it continues to stretch back and does not take the shape you want, cover it with a towel and let it rest for 5 minutes or so.

Last year, someone had shared this recipe as their favorite so I just had to try it. It is a pretty popular one around the food blogging community, but this version has the slightest bit of sweetness from the white wine that is added in.  The end result is a crispy dough that makes the perfect base for many different toppings.

One of the most important elements of pizza making at home is a pizza stone. Ever since I invested in one it has made a huge difference. Preheating your stone is essential and you can usually stick it in the oven while you prep the pizza. Ever since I have made my own at home, we rarely get pizza for take-out. On Friday, I will be sharing a new pizza recipe. But here are some of our other absolute favorites:

Bacon, Brussel Sprout, & Goat Cheese Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Chicken Ranch Pizza

Perfect Pizza Dough:

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
22 ounces (4 cups) bread flour
1¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup white wine
1½ cups water
cornmeal for dusting

What you’ll do:

In a small saucepan over medium, warm the oil and oregano until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the water and the wine. Set aside until ready to use.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix your dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, and yeast, mixing them until they are combined. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the prepared liquid mixture. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until the dough comes together, and then knead on the same speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour or water as needed to form a dough that is sticky but does not cling to the sides of the bowl(I usually end up having to add some more flour). When the mixer is running on medium-low speed, the dough should not stick to the bottom or the sides of the bowl.

Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Rub your hands on the sprayed bowl to coat them with oil, then quickly form the dough into a ball. Flip to coat and place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Either set the dough aside to rise at room temperature, which will take 1½ to 2 hours, or refrigerate it until the next day. If it’s chilled overnight, it will take about 5 hours at room temperature to warm and finish rising.

*I usually divide this dough to make two pizzas. I use my immediately and freeze the other. To freeze wrap tightly in plastic wrap (I do it twice) and store in a freezer bag. To use, transfer to a fridge the morning of use and bring to room temperature before using.

Source: The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Posted in main dish | Tagged |

Apr 22
I’m lovin’ it: April EditionLeave a comment

Another month just flying by, it is alright with me because that means we are close to the summertime! I can’t wait to go to the beach again! Here are some of my favorite things this month, comment below any things that have caught your eye lately:

 

When the temperatures finally warm up in NJ for spring all I want to do is wear bright colors. I was so excited when I spotted this floral cardigan from Loft, I just had to add it in to my wardrobe. It is lightweight, pretty colors, and of course I love the floral design!

I know I posted about nail polish last month, but unfortunately my sister realized that she never got her birthday bottle back. I was in the grocery store makeup aisle when I spotted this L’Oreal Pistachio Dream, it was cheap so I threw it into the cart. It has been on my nails ever since.

Recently my favorite way to de-stress after work is to take a ride to Barnes and Noble. Blair and I used to go all the time when we were dating to look for new books, but ever since we got our Nooks are trips are few and far between. I usually end up getting a Light Mocha Frappucino as a treat and drinking it while I read the latest Us Weekly. I then put the magazine back on the rack, it’s a pretty genius idea and I am mad for not thinking about it sooner. Just please don’t rat me out ;).


Pandora is obviously not new to anyone, but if you love musicals, I suggest making a channel of your favorite ones. I recently made a Wicked channel and it has been playing some of the best Broadway stuff. I was/am still really into musicals, it was always my Dad and I’s special thing to go to different plays when I was growing up. Now I drag Blair to as many as I can. Wicked is coming to Philly again this summer and we will see if Blair will go with me again!

My lunches have been boring me lately. Usually around this time of year is when I get sick of everything that I have been packing all year and try to seek out new ideas. I snatched up some of these Wholly guacamole 100 calorie packs and they have been the perfect addition to some tortilla chips.

Over Easter weekend, I had a few days off so I ran some errands. I have been wanting to update the rug and decor in our downstairs bathroom for awhile and I finally did it. I have been loving all the items from the Threshold line at Target. It kind of makes me want to change other things as well. I found this rug, hand towel, and rhino (channeling my inner Young House Love here) to spruce up the bathroom. It brought some color into a drab room and I can’t help but smile every time I go in there.

My newest place to shop for jewelry is Forever21. I find the best deals there and I can go in with $20 and come out with at least 5 new pieces of jewelry. This chevron necklace is a recent favorite and it cost me $2.50, score! I tried looking for it online, but couldn’t find it, check your local stores.

And finally these salted pretzel milanos have been my weakness ever since my sister told me about them. They are the perfect mix of sweet and salty. Milanos were an all time favorite of mine growing up. I just need to make sure I don’t find myself in the cookie aisle week after week at the grocery store.

Posted in personal |

Apr 19
Chewy M & M Cookies2 Comments

When I was in 7th grade, I traveled to Annapolis for a “B” Buster swim meet(I won’t go into details about what that means, but it was meet for the slower kids). It was one of the most memorable swimming competitions I had ever participated in. Whenever I see my coach, Karen, she reminds me about that trip. She always tells me that you would have thought I won an Olympic gold medal due to my excitement over the course of the weekend. After finals one night, I have a distinct memory of walking around downtown in Annapolis and getting the largest, warmest, most delicious cookie I have ever tasted from a local bakery. It was an M & M cookie, I am pretty sure that was one of the only times I gravitated from a classic chocolate chip cookie, it just looked that good.

Last week, I got a real craving for M & M cookies, I’m not sure why, but I just had to have some in our cookie jar. I took our very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that we adore and replaced the chips with M & M’s. The secret ingredient is the cornstarch, it makes them so chewy and puffy. Once I tried these, I have never turned back. The great part about M&M cookies is that they are usually festive for any holiday or celebration you have coming up. They have been slowly quickly disappearing from our cookie jar, both of us have been trying to hold off, but they are just too good. Blair is convinced that I put crack into these cookies, and sometimes I wonder that myself!

Chewy M&M Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups M &Ms
What you’ll do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in the M & M pieces. Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Press down slightly with the palm of your hand to flatten. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. (The tops will not brown, but do not cook longer than ten minutes). Let cool on the sheet for five minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

Source: Apple A Day

Posted in chocolate, cookies, dessert |

Apr 17
Lightened Up General Tso’s Chicken5 Comments

My older brother and sister are very blessed in that they have many built in babysitters to take care of their kiddies. I know that we will be just as fortunate when we have kids of our own. It will be nice to have a little date night every once in awhile. Whenever my brother and sister-in-law want a night out on the town, Blair and I usually watch our nephew, Declan. We have the same routine every time we babysit. Since Declan goes to bed relatively early, I get him to bed while Blair gets us some Chinese take-out. We enjoy the take-out while catching up on Homeland since we don’t have cable at our house. It always ends up being a perfect little evening.

It took us a long time to find our favorite Chinese place to order from in our area. The one closest to my brother’s house has ended up being the perfect one, but we only ever order it when we babysit. Of course it is not far from our house, but I love to try new Asian dishes at home all the time. When I saw a healthier version of Blair’s favorite, I just had to try it for myself.

Whenever I have made Chinese chicken dishes in the past, I have hated the mess and the smell that comes with the frying. In this dish, the frying is eliminated and replaced with coating the chicken with crushed corn flakes and baking the chicken prior to adding it to the sauce. It comes together quickly and I just loved the flavors of this dish. I plan to try out the corn flake baking method with this Orange Chicken soon. Hopefully I will be able to report back with success. So instead of picking up the phone, make a healthier and tastier Chinese favorite tonight for dinner!

Lightened Up General Tso’s Chicken
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:

For the chicken:
Vegetable oil spray
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
5 cups (5 ounces) Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal, finely crushed
1 1⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the sauce:
1 2⁄3 cups water
1⁄3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1⁄4 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

What you’ll do:

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, top with wire rack, and spray rack with cooking spray. Pulse cornflakes in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.  Prepare three shallow dishes. Spread flour into one of the dishes, whisk egg whites until foamy in the second dish, and finally spread crushed corn flakes in the third. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg whites, then coat with Corn Flakes, pressing gently to coat the chicken; lay on prepared wire rack. Coat chicken with oil spray. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees and coating is brown and crisp,  about 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, corn- starch, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the soy sauce mixture, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

When chicken is completely cooked, reheat if needed. Add cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers via Pinch of Yum

Posted in chicken, main dish, quick and easy |