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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Garlic Chicken Cheese Puffs

Garlic Chicken Puffs via TidyMom.net

So I came across this recipe on one of my stumbleupon adventures and it just so happens that the author made these for a Christmas party, which is exactly what I plan on making them for.
I have my annual family Christmas party this weekend, and as I've gotten older it has been requested that I make a dish of my choice. Last year I made spinach artichoke dip that stole the show, so everyone has high expectations for this year's dish.

This recipe seems like the perfect amount of savory and cheesy that my family loves. I mean who doesn't love a rich, creamy mixture of chicken, cream cheese and garlic inside a croissant? They also look easy enough to prepare and transport. They will probably need to be heated up for a few minutes at my aunt's house before serving, but they can be cooked ahead of time which is an absolute necessity in my book.

Here is the recipe:
Garlic Chicken Puffs
Makes 32 puffs

4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp garlic powder (I love garlic so I may add more)
1/2 cup cooked, shredded chicken
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
  1. Bake chicken until fully cooked and shred (see chicken enchilada recipe for shredding technique).
  2. Mix cream cheese, garlic and chicken until well blended.
  3. Unroll crescent rolls and cut each triangle into 2 triangles (when you unroll the crescent rolls, 2 triangles are attached making a big square, I just cut from there following the perforation for one cut and made another cut from the other corners = giving you 4 little triangles).
  4. Place 1 tsp of chicken mixture on the center of each triangle and fold the corners in over the creamy mixture.
  5. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 12-14 mins. This may vary depending on your oven so make sure to check on them.
This recipe was taken directly fromt the blog TidyMom, so I will give you an update and any of my own recommendations after I make them this weekend.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Feast!

So this was my third year making Thanksgiving dinner (cumulatively), but each year it has been for a different size crowd and consisted of a different menu. This year I decided to give it my all. We only had 9 people, but my sister and I really wanted to make it special. Our guests included her in-laws and my boyfriend, so we really wanted to show off our culinary skills.
Luckily, the meal was a success. The menu was very traditional and used traditional cooking methods. I was more focused on making everything taste great and the way it was supposed to than to try modernized recipes and risk failure. So this is the menu run-down:

  • 18.5 pound turkey stuffed with rosemary, thyme, garlic and oranges. Skin separated and seasoned with a garlic herb butter sauce and zested with orange peels. Then it was laid on a bed of onions and chicken stock.
  • Stuffing with apples and walnuts
  • Green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions
  • Garlic and chive mashed potatoes
  • Sweet carrots in brown sugar
  • Sweet yellow corn
  • Cranberry sauce (out of the can - it's the best!)
  • Biscuits
  • Homemade whipped cream
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Homemade cranberry bread


Only a few mishaps happened this year, but that all added to the fun and entertainment of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We had a hole in the roasting pan, clogged the garbage disposal, and my sister badly burned her hand. Luckily there was enough wine, beer, and spirits to ease the pain.

Drink menu consisted of Beaujolais Nouveau 2011, Da Vinci Chianti, winter craft beer selection, and Johnny Walker Double Black limited edition.

Pre-dinner table settings

Next year the boys have volunteered to take care of the turkey and try to fry it. As for us girls, we will stay nice and cozy inside preparing the sides and drinking some fabulous wine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

Picture taken from A Sweet Pea Chef
I'm going to start off by saying I have never made Mexican food from home before besides the occasional out-of-the-box taco dinner, so I was worried this was going to turn out horribly. Luckily, I was wrong -- it was delicious!

I didn't follow the recipe exactly because I couldn't find enchilada sauce at the grocery store (why do I always have this problem?) and I had to end up buying packaged enchilada mix and using it that way. I would still recommend trying it exactly as the recipe details it because I think it would give it a much more authentic and fresh taste.

My friend found this recipe on A Sweet Pea Chef and sent it to me to try because it was easy and didn't use a lot of dishes - both things I love to hear.

I highly recommend this recipe for an easy weekday dinner with the whole family. It is cheesy, meaty and very filling ... and the leftovers reheat superbly!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4-5

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (1 1/2 cups) enchilada sauce (I use Mild)
kosher salt
ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
12 6-inch corn tortillas
cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Add the minced garlic to the enchilada sauce in a deep skillet and heat to boiling. Generously sprinkle kosher salt and ground black pepper over the chicken breasts and then nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the sauce, set aside and let both the chicken and the sauce cool.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts by holding one fork steady and slowly scraping the other fork, prongs faced backwards, away from the other fork
  5. Transfer the shredded chicken to a large bowl. Add half the enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup each of the Monterrey jack and cheddar cheeses and the 1/2 cup of cilantro to the shredded chicken. Stir to combine.
  6. Wrap the corn tortillas in a damp cloth or paper towel and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds until pliable and warm. Using cooking spray (if desired), oil a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.
  7. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture along the center of the tortilla. Gently, but firmly, roll the tortilla around the filling and place into the baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  8. Place baking dish in the oven, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until the tortillas begin to turn golden.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle remaining cheese over the sauce. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro.
  10. Lightly cover baking dish with aluminum foil and place into the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil after 20 minutes and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  11. Remove and top with remaining cilantro and a dollop (or two!) of sour cream.
**Serve with Spanish Rice**

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf


I made a double batch of my Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf last night for the family and didn't even have enough leftovers for a meatloaf sandwich for myself - that's how good this recipe is. It was absolutely devoured and had the men begging for leftovers. And I must admit, I do think this is my best recipe to-date. It is so easy to make, barely dirties any dishes, and is so warm and cheesy, it's no wonder it is considered comfort food.

This was the perfect dinner to have after spending the night carving pumpkins and pairs very well with your favorite pumpkin flavored microbrew.

The recipe calls for turkey meat, but my last attempt to make this was disasterous because I overdid it with the liquid ingredients and it disintegrated the turkey meat, so this time I used a more soluble mixture of ground beef, pork and veal. But the original recipe calls for ground turkey and I would recommend trying that first so you can have a healthier meal.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf
Serves 6-8

2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup milk
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Season Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
3/4 pound shredded Colby cheese
1/2 cup Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce
1/2 white onion minced
1/4 cup worchestire sauce

Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes
8 Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled/sliced)
2 teaspoons fresh or dried chives
1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
Milk (to consistency of your liking)
1/2 stick of butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  2. Boil water for potatoes, and added peeled/sliced potatoes. Cook for 45 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, mix the turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, onions, and liquid ingredients. Add seasonings.
  4. Fold the shredded cheese into the mixture.
  5. Transfer to a loaf pan, and top with Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce. 
  6. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C).               
  7. Mash potatoes and add all ingredients until taste and consistency is to your liking.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac n Cheese

Picture credit: Skinnytaste.com - I forgot to take a picture before serving.

I recently discovered Skinnytaste.com and I am obsessed. Looking through the author's recipe list, I came across multiple of my family's favorites that we've been making for years.... but just not the skinny version. So since I try to eat healthy and force my family to as well, I figured I had to try out the skinny versions of some of my all-time favorites.

This week's adventure: Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac n Cheese.

It's been such a transitional week in terms of weather. The Northeast has really been feeling the effects of Fall - with the wind and rain - so I decided it would be a great day to try out a casserole. Who doesn't like pasta and melted cheese in front of the TV on a rainy night?

I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe like using 2% milk rather than skim, and regular Sargento sharp cheddar cheese because I had just bought milk, and the grocery story was out of reduced-fat sharp cheddar. I also picked up a carton of Grands buttermlk biscuits because they just looked so good. So this meal turned out to be semi-skinny.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes

Baked Broccoli Mac n Cheese
Serves 8

12 oz high fiber elbows like Ronzoni Smart Taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup fat free chicken stock
8 oz (whole bag) Sargento shredded sharp cheddar
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
12 oz frozen broccoli florets (pre-cut bag is easiest)
1/8 cup grated parmesan
bread crumbs (enough to cover the entire top)
cooking spray

*Serve with Grands Buttermilk Biscuits*

  1. Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water to al dente (about 6 minutes)
  2. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°
  4. Melt butters in skillet
  5. Add onion and cook over low heat for two minutes
  6. Add flour and cook another minute until well combined
  7. Add milk and chicken stock, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil
  8. Cook about 5 minutes until sauce becomes smooth and thick
  9. Season with salt and pepper
  10. Add shredded cheese
  11. Remove from heat and add cheese, mixing well until melted
  12. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste
  13. Pour into pasta pot
  14. Mix well until pasta in coated
  15. Transfer to casserole dish
  16. Add layer of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs
  17. Bake for 15-20 minutes, broil for a minute or two to get the breadcrumbs golden

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Balsamic Chicken with Apples and Cranberries


This recipe screams Autumn to me. It was the perfect meal to have on a windy, cool night in October. I must say that I have never been a fan of fruit used as a topping for chicken, so this recipe wasn't my favorite, but my Mom couldn't get enough of it. So I thought it was worthy enough to make it on the blog.

The balsamic and cranberry topping adds just the right amount of tartness to the acidity of the apples and breaks up the distinct poultry taste. October in New Jersey is the best time for apples and cranberries, so those two fruits were the best option for this recipe because they were fresh, local and in season. But if you aren't a fan of either you can replace the apples with pears and the cranberries with cherries.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Balsamic Chicken with Apples and Cranberries
Serves 4

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped
2 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh or dried cranberries

*Serve with a side of steamed vegetables*
  1. Clean and prepare the chicken.
  2. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add the oil.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté, turning once, for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  5. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm.
  6. To the same pan, add the shallot and sauté over high heat for 2 minutes until soft. Decrease the heat to medium and add the apples. Continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes until the apples are soft and golden brown.
  7. To prepare the sauce, combine the stock, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour over the apple mixture and add the cherries. Increase the heat to high and simmer, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
  8. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan.
  9. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and decrease the heat to medium.
  10. Cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  11. Place the chicken on a warmed large platter.
  12. With a slotted spoon, mound the fruit over the top.
  13. Spoon the sauce over the fruit and around the breasts.
  14. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Breaded Chicken & Cheese with White Wine Mushroom Sauce


I've eaten red meat about 4 times in the last week, and eventhough I am Irish and that is normal for us, I thought I would mix it up for dinner last night and make chicken. This recipe is a twist on my Mom's favorite recipe "Chicken in a White Wine Sauce." While 'stumbling' the other day, I came across this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs Handle the Heat and decided to take pieces of that recipes and mix it with my mom's and hope for the best.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

It was the right amount of earthy flavoring, but still savory enough to be satisfying. The parsley and mushrooms added that "from the Earth" flavor I was hoping the achieve, but the Italian bread crumbs and garlic cloves gave it the savory kick that makes you feel full after a great meal.

My only tip for what I would change would be not to talk on the phone while at the grocery store. I was standing in the poultry section for a good ten minutes chatting away on the phone when I realized I was actually there to do some shopping and grabbed the first package of chicken breast in my reach. While I am normally a proponent of the light and fit variety, it did nothing to help release the juicy flavor of the chicken, especially after browning and baking. Also, the normal recipe calls for Muenster cheese, but the grocery story was out of it so I had to substitute it with Provolone. I would recommend using the muenster because it adds a kick that provolone does not.

I paired the dinner with a glass of French chardonnay (the drier the better), and my retired Army captain paired it with Maker's on the rocks. Both were very complementary.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Breaded Chicken & Cheese w/ White Wine Mushroom Sauce
Serves 2 (plus lunch the next day) or 3

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white mushrooms (sliced 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I recommend a buttery Chardonnay)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
4 garlic cloves quartered
Chopped Italian parsley
2 eggs
Italian bread crumbs
4 slices Muenster cheese

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Chives

6 Russet Potatoes, cleaned and skinned
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon dried chives
3/4 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of softened butter

Sauteed Haricots Vert

French green beans (haricot verts)
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water for potatoes in a large sauce pot.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 40 minutes.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high. Add chicken, and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to baking pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic, and season with salt. Cover; and cook over medium heat until mushrooms release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove lid. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add wine, and cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add broth and parsley, cook over medium-high heat until mushrooms are tender and liquid is reduced, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add oil to smaller skillet and heat over medium heat. Place haricots vert in skillet and drizzle with remaining oil, garlic salt, and pepper.
  7. Flip haricots vert occasionally until all sides are slightly browned.
  8. Drain potatoes and mash with butter, milk, garlic, and chives. Let sit.
  9. Flip chicken onto other side and add cheese. Cook for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  10. Plate chicken and serve with mushrooms and wine sauce on top. Drizzle additional sauce on mashed potatoes.