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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Better-Than-Takeout Cashew Chicken


INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • about 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 heaping cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup red bell peppers, diced small
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 cup unsalted dry-roasted whole cashews
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, or to taste (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 to 1 cup green onions, sliced into thin rounds (from about 3 or 4 green onions)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, add the cornstarch, salt, pepper, chicken, seal, and shake to coat chicken evenly.
  2. To a large skillet, add the two oils, chicken, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat, flipping and stirring so all sides cook evenly. Chicken should be about 80-90% cooked through.
  3. Add the broccoli, bell peppers, edamame (I add it straight from the freezer), garlic, and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is cooked through; stir intermittently. While vegetables cook, make the sauce.
  4. To a medium bowl, add the soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, and whisk to combine; set aside.
  5. Add the cashews to the skillet and stir to combine.
  6. Add the sauce and stir to combine. Allow sauce to simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the green onions, stir to combine, and serve immediately. Chicken is best warm and fresh but extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*www.averiecooks.com

Friday, June 10, 2016

Healthy! Applesauce-Carrot Muffins

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used all-purpose.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I had apples to get rid of; if you do too, cook 3-4 peeled apples in a little bit of water until softened, then puree.)
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.  (I used foil liners.  This will prevent the muffins from sticking!)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
  3. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, honey, egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
  4. Stir ingredients together until just combined and there are still some spots of flour remaining.
  5. Fold in the shredded carrots just until combined (don't overmix or the muffins will be dense). 
  6. Distribute the batter evenly among the muffin liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
  7. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins freeze wonderfully and keep well if covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

*www.melskitchencafe.com

Cutest Ever! Sweet Potato Pizza Bites

my kids gobbled these up!  
feeling adventurous?  feel free to change the toppings of your pizza bites to your liking!
Ingredients:
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 Teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 5 Tablespoons marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1 cup grated, packed mozzarella, weighing 2-3 ounces (I used whole milk mozzarella.)
  • 15 slices of pepperoni, about 2 ounces (I used this brand and quartered the slices.)
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Wash and trim the sweet potatoes, and cut them into ½ inch slices. You should have about 15 slices.
  3. Brush the top of the sweet potato slices with oil (next time I'll try garlic infused) and place them on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the bottoms have browned and the sweet potato slices are almost tender.
  4. Remove them from the oven and flip them over so the browned side is facing up. (Mine weren't browned, but I did a "fork" test on one of the slices and it was almost tender.)  Top each slice with about 1 teaspoon of marinara/pizza sauce. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella evenly over the top of each sweet potato slice, and top with one slice of pepperoni each.
  5. Place the sweet potato slices back in the oven, and bake until the cheese is molten and the edges are crispy, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately!
Notes:
You can cook the sweet potato slices to the halfway point and store them in the fridge if you want to plan ahead for a party.

*www.getinspiredeveryday.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easy! Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs

I halved this recipe.  Original feeds 6.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, optional
  • 2-3 regular-sized carrots {or a heaping handful of babies}, (see notes)

DIRECTIONS:


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, if using.
  2. Place short ribs into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir in mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired.


*To test for doneness, meat should fall freely off bone.

I didn't think the flavor was very "Asian," so I served my short ribs with mashed red potatoes and carrots.  The last hour of cooking, I chopped the carrots (I used a large handful of baby carrots that I had on hand) and threw them right in the crock with the meat.

*www.damndelicious.net

Saturday, May 7, 2016

No Mixer Needed! Easiest Banana Bread EVER.



Ingredients:

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled (I used 3.)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, 1 cup if more sweet) (I used a scant 3/4 cup.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.  (I made mine into muffins.  Makes 12.)

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan (or lined muffin pan....about 1/4 cup batter in each cup). Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (My muffins took 23 minutes.)

Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread (or muffins) from the pan.  (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren't crumbly.)

(Notes: You can add 1 cup of chocolate chips or nuts too!  Add those after the flour and gently stir.) 

*www.simplyrecipes.com

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hands Down, THE BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe. Ever.


Sloppy Joes = so ugly, and frankly, I think they are disgusting; whenever I hear the name, I immediately think of the lunch lady on Billy Madison.  This recipe instantly changed my mind about them.  I made a few modifications for a healthier, sneak-veggies-in version, so refer to my notes for my adapted version.  Yum.

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (I used half of a red pepper and added one large chopped carrot.)
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (we use 80% lean) (Try turkey for a healthier version.)
  • 2½ Tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • (one heaping handful of spinach, chopped)
  • buns for serving

Directions:
  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, quickly add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent. Add the peppers, (carrots), and garlic and stir occasionally for 1 minute then add the ground beef (or turkey) and break it up with a wooden spoon, stirring it all together. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke, chili powder, and paprika. Stir for 30 seconds and then add the ketchup and vinegar. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, season to taste, and serve or cook up to 1 hour on low and then serve. The longer it cooks the better the flavor. (With about two minutes left on the clock, I added my chopped spinach, giving it just enough time to wilt.)
  3. Scoop onto buns that have been brushed with butter. (I didn't brush buns.)

(This recipe serves 4-6.)

*www.ohsweetbasil.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Easy Skillet Lasagna

I'm never making traditional lasagna again.


INGREDIENTS:

1 {28 ounce} can crushed tomatoes
1 {8 ounce} can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound Italian sausage (I used mild.)
8 whole lasagna noodles, broken into thirds
1/2 heaping cup of Ricotta cheese
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella, sliced thin and torn
fresh basil leaves, torn
shaved Parmesan, for sprinkling


DIRECTIONS:


(Here's a photographic step-by-step if you're nervous about the how-to.  It's super easy!)

In a large bowl or liquid measuring cup, add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water.
In a large 12 inch skillet (I used cast iron), heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. 
Once hot, add in the diced onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add in the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Measure in the kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Add in 3/4 pound of ground chuck, 1/4 pound of Italian sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and fully cooked.
Evenly layer the broken lasagna noodles on top of the ground beef/sausage mixture and pour the tomato sauces over top. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium-low. 
Let the sauce bubble to cook the noodles.  As they soften,  push the noodles into the sauce so the sauce can work its way down into the pan.
Once the noodles are al dente (takes about 15 minutes), give it a good stir and then drop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese onto the lasagna. Give it a stir to break up the ricotta but not lose it completely.
Scatter torn pieces of the fresh mozzarella over top, cover with a lid, and let the steam melt the cheese. About 5 minutes.  (You can also put under the broiler for a few minutes.)
Serve piping hot with freshly torn basil and shaved Parmesan.
*www.simplyscratch.com