Chicken Stir Fry

I love stir-fry.  I just don’t like eating it at restaurants or getting the frozen kind, because I hate all of the preservatives used in it.  I was really excited when I found this recipe and it was really yummy.

There is something great about using fresh ingredients for a meal.  I don’t mind chopping up a bunch of ingredients.  It’s actually quite soothing.

It makes the rice taste so yummy when you let the juices mix with it for a bit.

Chicken Stir Fry

– 1 c sliced celery

– 1 c sliced carrots

– 1 c chopped onion

– 4 T oil, divided

– 3/4 c each julienned green, red, and yellow pepper

– 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

– 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced

– 1 8-oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained

– 1 1/2 c chicken broth

– 2 T soy sauce

– 2 T vinegar

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1/4 t ground ginger

– 1/8 t cayenne pepper

– 2 T cornstarch

– 1/4 c additional chicken broth

– 3 c hot cooked rice

In a large skillet, saute celery, carrots, and onion in 3 T of oil for 2 minutes.

Add peppers; cook for 2-4 minutes or until crisp tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels.  Add chicken, mushrooms and remaining oil; stir fry 4 minutes.

Stir in water chestnuts; cook 2-3 minutes longer or until heated through.  Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels.

Drain skillet; add the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne.

Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup broth until smooth; stir into broth mixture.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.

Reduce heat; return vegetables and chicken to pan.  Cook for 5 minutes or until heated through.

Serve over rice.

6 servings.

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Baked Mashed Potatoes

In our house, we have a predicament.  I love mashed potatoes.  Zack doesn’t.  For this reason, I try to make them in as many different ways as possible in the hopes that I will find some that he loves.  So far, no luck.

However, I loved these.  It takes forever to make them, but totally worth it in my opinion.  They were so creamy and amazing!

Give them a try if you are tired of the same ole mashed potatoes!

Baked Mashed Potatoes

– 6 large potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced (about 2 3/4 lb)

– 1 medium onion, chopped

– 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

– 1/2 c butter, softened

– 1/2 c sour cream

– 1 large egg, beaten

– 1 3/4 t salt

– 1/2 t black pepper

– 1 t paprika

Combine potatoes, onion and enough water to cover in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer until potatoes are tender; about 20 minutes; drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 3-qt baking dish.

Combine potato mixture, cream cheese, butter, sour cream, egg, salt and black pepper in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer set at high speed until mixture is smooth.  Spoon potato mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake until heated through, about 30-35 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Potatoes may be prepared up to 2-3 days ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.

Chicken Quesadilla Wraps

Today I spent the afternoon with my dad.  We are so much alike.  We have the same personality and same sense of humor.  I love spending time with him!

Also, I have been getting back into my love of crafting.  I started making a wreath today that I am in love with.  I will post pictures when it’s finished.

I made these chicken quesadilla wraps one night when my friend came over for dinner.  I really liked them and so did Zack.  She isn’t a big fan of spicy, so these weren’t really her cup of tea.

Try them, though, if you like things that have a little kick!

Chicken Quesadilla Wraps

Makes 2 quesadilla wraps

– 1 1/2 c shredded/chopped cooked chicken

– 1/2 c chopped cooked onion (sauteed until tender)

– 2 T chopped jalapeno peppers

– 6 T chopped lowfat cheddar or monterey jack cheese

– 2 9″ flour tortillas or wraps

– 1 T olive oil

Insert plates on griddler onto grill side (or preheat regular grill to high).  Preheat to high with unit closed.  In a small bowl, combine the chicken, onion, and jalapeno peppers.  Sprinkle half the cheese in the center of each tortilla.  Top with the chicken mixture, keeping the chicken mixture in a log and 1 1/2″ wide and 4-5″ long in the center of each tortilla.  Fold one side over the filling lengthwise to cover, fold top and bottom over short sides to cover, then fold last side over wraps to close.  Turn over so that the flap is on the bottom.  Lightly brush the tops and bottoms of the wraps with the olive oil.  Place quesadilla wraps on preheated grill or griddler.  Close, using medium-light pressure.  Grill for 3 1/2 – 4 minutes, until tortilla is warm with grill markings, filling is warm and cheese is melted.  Serve with salsa if desired.

Cajun Turkey Burger Skillet

Growing up, I loved Hamburger Helper.  I know, I know, it isn’t healthy and it is full of nasty processed stuff, but it is pretty darn good.

However, I don’t know if I have outgrown Hamburger Helper or it just isn’t that good when you try to dress it up, because this dish didn’t really do it for me.

Zack and I both agree that it was okay, but not good enough to have again.

Cajun Turkey Burger Skillet

– 1 lb lean ground turkey

– 1 small red bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)

– 2 t cajun seasoning

– 2 c hot water

– 1 c milk

– 1 box Hamburger Helper cheeseburger macaroni

– 1 c shredded cheese

In a 10-in nonstick skillet, cook turkey, bell pepper and Cajun seasoning over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until turkey is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in hot water, milk and contents of uncooked pasta and sauce mix pouches (from Hamburger Helper box).  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 13-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and allow to melt before serving.

Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken & Onions

As everyone can definitely tell, I’m always looking for new ways to try out chicken.  Chicken is so versatile and delicious almost any way it is prepared.

This was great.  The recipe definitely only serves two, but it could easily be doubled or even tripled if need be.

Zack hates ginger, so he is always apprehensive when a recipe calls for it, but you could not taste it in this dish.  It meshed so well with the rest of the flavors.

Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken & Onions

Serves 2.

– 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

– 1/2 an onion, sliced thinly

– 1 T cornstarch

– 1 T water

– 1/3 c soy sauce

– 1/3 c sugar

– 1/4 c cider vinegar

– 1/2 t garlic powder

– 1/2 t ground ginger

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan and add the cut up chicken and sliced onions.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and water until completely smooth.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until combined, bring to a simmer, and allow to cook until thickened, about 8 minutes.  Make sure you keep stirring everything so it doesn’t burn while it cooks.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to make sure everything is well coated.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until everything is cooked through.

Pizza Bites

Growing up, I loved those frozen pizza bites.  You probably know the ones I’m talking about.  They’re rectangular and frozen and you just pop them in the microwave.  They are probably full of preservatives and horrible for you, but oh so good.

This recipe reminded me a lot of them when I saw it, so I decided to make some for Zack.

He said they were really good.  They were a great bite-size treat!

You could really put any toppings in there.  I just used pepperoni, because it’s Zack’s favorite.

Pizza Bites

– 1 pizza dough (homemade, canned, refrigerated… up to you)

– ~ 3/4 c mozzarella cheese

– 2-3 oz thin sliced pepperoni

– 1 tsp Italian seasoning

– 1/4 c olive oil

– 1 1/2 T grated Parmesan cheese

– pizza or marinara sauce

Prepare pizza dough and roughly chop pepperoni.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a pie pan.

If using refrigerated pizza dough, roll dough out into a large rectangle and cut into 24 pieces.  If using homemade dough, just pinch off walnut sized pieces as you go.

In each dough piece, place a couple of pieces of chopped pepperoni and some cheese.  Seal dough around meat and cheese and place seam side down in pie pan.

Repeat for each bite.

Once assembled, combine oil and spices and brush over the dough.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Now you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze or bake right away.

When ready to bake: bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes.  Serve with warm pizza or marinara sauce.

Baked Lobster Tails

Zack and I love seafood – especially lobster, crab, and shrimp.  The only problem is the price.  Lobster is incredibly expensive (to us anyway) so we rarely ever have it.

We wanted to have a special dinner for New Years though and went to our health food grocery store and lobster was on sale!  We knew we had to get it.

I had never made it before and was worried that I would mess it up and ruin our special dinner (and waste a ton of money).

Luckily, this recipe was super easy and they turned out perfect!  If you like lobster, I highly recommend trying this recipe.  It’s relatively healthy and absolutely delicious!

Our yummy New Years Dinner: lobster tails, green beans and baked hush puppies.  Yum!

Baked Lobster Tails

– 4 lobster tails (8-10 oz each)

– 1 c water

– 1 T minced fresh parsley

– 1/8 t salt

– dash pepper

– 1 T butter, melted

– 2 T lemon juice

– lemon wedges and additional melted butter, optional

Split lobster tails in half lengthwise.  With cut side up and using scissors, cut along the edge of shell to loosen the cartilage covering the tail meat from the shell; remove and discard cartilage.

Pour water into a 13×9 baking dish; place the lobster tails in dish.  Combine the parsley, salt and pepper; sprinkle over lobster.  Drizzle with butter and lemon juice

Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until meat is firm and opaque.  Serve with lemon wedges and melted butter, if desired.

Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

There is nothing more delicious than mac & cheese.  It is the perfect side dish for any occasion – from a formal Thanksgiving dinner to a outdoor barbecue with friends.

Zack LOVES macaroni and cheese.  He said “yeah, you can go ahead and make this everyday if you want.”  He’s so funny!

I’m including two different variations that are both really good but a little different.

The second version is much more aesthetically appealing, but they are both delicious! Art Colleges could teach you more about aesthetic appeal.

Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

– 2 T butter

– 2 T AP flour

– 2 1/2 c milk

– salt & pepper to taste

– 3 c shredded cheddar cheese, divided

– 2 c elbow macaroni, cooked

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Mix in flour.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium heat just until mix starts to boil and thicken.  Add 2 1/2 cups cheese; stir until melted and smooth.  Mix in macaroni, transfer to a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Top w/ remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Serves 4-6.

Another Variation of Mac & Cheese (Better)

– 2 1/2 c elbow macaroni

– 1/4 c butter

– 1/4 c AP flour

– 1/2 t salt

– 1/4 t pepper

– 1/4 t ground mustard

– 1/4 t Worcestershire sauce

– 2 c milk or half & half

– 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in 3-qt saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly, remove from heat.

Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.

Gently stir macaroni into cheese sauce.  Pour into ungreased 2-qt casserole dish.  Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Buffalo Potato Wedges For Two

This picture is not flattering.  I have no idea why I didn’t take a better one.  Don’t let the bad picture fool you, these are great.

Zack and I love spicy foods.  There’s just something amazing about the buffalo flavor.

Give these a try, they are totally worth it.  Yum!

Buffalo Potato Wedges for Two

– 1 large russet potato, sliced into wedges

– 1 T olive oil

– salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

– 1/4 c butter

– 1/2 c hot pepper sauce

Arrange potato wedges on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.  Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until tender, tossing occasionally.  Remove pan from oven.  Combine butter and hot sauce in microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high setting until melted, one minute or so; mix well.  Drizzle mixture over potato wedges; return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.  If desired, serve with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Scorched Teriyaki Green Beans

I love green beans.  They are pretty versatile and very easy to cook.  For that reason, I’m always looking for new ways to make them.

Even though Zack is not a big fan of Teriyaki, I decided to give these a whirl anyway.

They were okay, but the teriyaki sauce was extremely overpowering and made the beans so salty that it was almost intolerable.  Needless to say, making them was a one time thing.

If you decide to make them, I strongly recommend using a low-sodium Teriyaki sauce.  I could feel my blood pressure raising with each bite I took! haha!

I think it is important to not only share the good recipes, but also the ones that we did not necessarily like as much, because everyone’s tastebuds are different and what might not be that good to us might be delicious to someone else!

Scorched Teriyaki Green Beans

– 1 lb green beans, ends and strings removed

– 3 T teriyaki sauce

In a skillet, saute beans in water, adding water along the way, until beans are the desired texture.  Allow water to evaporate, then continue to cook until black spots appear on most of the beans.  Toss regularly during the cooking process until beans begin to soften.

Reduce heat, add teriyaki sauce and an equal amount of water and continue to toss and cook for another 30-60 seconds, taking care not to let the sauce burn.  Serve hot.