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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli

  • 4 cups fresh broccoli 
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1-inch cubes (I used 2 regular-sized chicken breasts.)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used three.)
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the broccoli. Blanch the broccoli for 5 minutes, then immediately transfer the broccoli to an ice bath (a large bowl of water with ice in it) to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet, brown chicken on both sides with vegetable oil over medium high heat. (I added a pinch of salt and pepper to the chicken once I placed chicken on skillet.)  Add the broccoli (excess water drained well) then turn the heat down to medium. Gently pour in the sauce and let thicken, about 5 minutes. Gently toss the ingredients in the sauce until everything is coated well.
  4. Serve over rice.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

  • 1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup, very soft)
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 18.9 ounce brownie mix (preferred is Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
  • eggs, oil, and water for brownie mix

  1. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars in a small mixing bowl.  Add vanilla and egg; cream again until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir gently until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie batter as directed. Pour batter into a greased glass 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish. Scatter pieces of cookie dough over the top of the brownie batter. In an 8×8 square pan, you're able to get about ⅔ of the cookie dough to fit over the brownies...then just save the rest for regular cookies! Press gently on the dough just until it starts to sink down into the batter a little bit.  Be sure to place cookie dough in corners and closely around perimeter of dish.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes (35 for gooey, 40 or more for fully baked), covering with foil if you need to keep the cookies from getting too brown on top (see notes below).  Let stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting into pieces for serving.

Beware of taking these out too early just because the cookies look brown – usually when I do that, the brownies are still underdone and they sink down in the middle. I found that it was easiest to alternate baking them covered and uncovered. I did the first 20 minutes uncovered, the next 10 minutes covered, and the last 5 minutes uncovered. This allows the brownies to bake without the cookies getting too brown. I’ve also taken foil and just made a cover around the edges so the middle can bake without burning the tops of the edges.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Southwestern Chicken & Barley Chili

With all of the leftover barley you'll have from making this, you'll need another easy recipe with barley in it!
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup medium barley (not quick cooking)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, tortilla chips
  1. Cube chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large pot (about 6-quarts), combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne (if using). Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the (seasoned) chicken. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the chili for 40 minutes, until the barley is tender and chewy and the chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally, while it simmers to prevent sticking and to make sure it stays at a steady simmer. After 40 minutes, add the beans and corn. Stir to combine and simmer for five more minutes. Serve the chili with optional garnishes, if desired.
  3. The chili will thicken considerably upon cooling. Add salt and pepper if needed.  In addition, more chicken broth or water may be needed to achieve a desirable consistency (especially if reheating the leftovers).


Monday, March 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cubed
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup 1/4-inch sliced carrots, about 3-4 medium carrots peeled
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium yellow or white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup pearled barley (not quick-cooking)
  1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil until rippling and hot over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to the skillet in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches), cooking for 1-2 minutes, browning on all sides. Repeat with the remaining meat if needed.
  2. Scoop the meat into the slow cooker, leaving as much oil/liquid behind in the skillet as possible. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the carrots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the carrots and mushrooms start to soften. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for a minute or so. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, and barley. Give the soup a good stir and then cover the slow cooker and cook on low 7-9 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed, before serving.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Frozen Strawberry Crunch Cake

oh wow, thank you very much.  
box Nature Valley Granola Bars (Oats 'n Honey)
cup brown sugar
cup flour
tablespoons melted butter
egg whites
cup sugar
cup heavy whipping cream
ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 
cups freshly chopped strawberries

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the Nature Valley granola bars in a food processor and process until you achieve a course crumb.
  • In a large bowl, add the crumbs, brown sugar, flour, and melted butter and mix together.  Spread into an 8x8-inch pan that has been covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Then divide granola in half and set aside.  Wash the 8x8'll need it again.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine eggs whites and sugar and mix on high. Add the heavy cream and continue mixing for about 5 minutes.
  • To the mixture, add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and softened cream cheese. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then fold in the fresh strawberries.
  • In a buttered 8x8-inch pan, press half of the crumb crust mixture on the bottom. Top with strawberry mix and then add the remaining crumbs to the top.
  • Cover and freeze for three hours or more and enjoy!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (remove the seeds and membranes to cut down on the heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, divided
1 cup water
5-6 6″ yellow corn tortillas
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
shredded breast meat from 1 medium rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup heavy cream
chopped green onions
sour cream
shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and saute until fragrant and the vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, combine the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and smoked paprika. When the vegetables are tender, add the spices and stir to combine. add the chicken broth, 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, and water and then blend until smooth using an immersion blender (you can also it in batches in a regular blender...or your Vitamix!). Bring to a boil and tear the tortillas and add them to the soup (6 will be pretty thick, it just depends on personal preference). Cover and turn the heat down to low and simmer 30-45 minutes or until the tortillas are breaking apart. Remove from heat. Whip out your immersion blender (regular blender or Vitamix) again and blend until smooth. Add the remaining tomatoes, the shredded chicken breast meat and the cream and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with green onions, shredded cheese, and fried (or regular) tortilla strips.  (I just sprinkled regular tortilla chips on top.) Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Braised Italian Chicken


1 1/2-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6-8 thighs) *USE THIGHS.  TRUST ME.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
fresh cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons EVOO
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup shredded carrot
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
To prepare chicken, rinse all pieces in cold water and use a pair of kitchen shears (or clean scissors) to snip off any remaining fat.  Blot dry on paper towels.  Season one side of chicken with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and several cracks of black pepper.
Heat a large Dutch oven to medium heat (or oven safe pot).   When hot, add olive oil and make sure it spreads across bottom of pot.  Place chicken (salt side down) and cook for 2-3 minutes.  While it’s cooking, sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt plus a few cracks black pepper on other side of chicken.  Flip chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Remove chicken and place on a plate.
Add onions and carrots to pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add can of diced tomato (with all the juices), tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.  Stir ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Add chicken and all accumulated juices from plate.  Cover chicken with sauce and cover pot with lid.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and remove lid.  Use 2 forks to gently shred shred chicken into large chunks.  Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and chopped basil.  Add additional kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta, rice, quinoa, or steamed vegetables, or on french rolls/slider buns and garnish with fresh Parmesan cheese.   I served with pasta.  With about 15 minutes of cook time remaining on the chicken, I boiled and salted water and cooked 1.5 cups pasta for about 10 minutes.  When pasta was done, I drained and added DIRECTLY into the chicken and tomato mixture to coat pasta; a one pot WONDER!  Serves 6.