Saturday, January 29, 2011

Breaded Buffalo Chicken Tenders


This meal deserves the title "Make Your Own Take Out." Rachael Ray would be proud of me. :) Crispy, juicy, tender and spicy, you will definitely want to make these Chicken Tenders for dinner this week! The best part of this recipe is the heat level is completely in your control. In fact, if you're not a fan of hot sauce, just skit the last steps. 

I hope to put this dish in our regular meal rotation--it's that good! 


Breaded Buffalo Chicken Tenders
recipe by
Yields: 2 large portions (easily doubled)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 egg 
1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) Italian bread crumbs
1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) corn meal 
1 Tbsp milk 
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp black pepper
1/2-1 tsp chili powder 
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings 
1/2 cup hot sauce (your favorite brand/variety) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. 

Using a meat mallet or a heavy bottomed pan, pound the chicken breasts to 1/2 inch thickness. Slice into desired chicken tender sized strips. 

Pour the flour in shallow bowl.  
In a second shallow bowl, beat together egg and milk.
In a third shallow bowl, stir together bread crumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings. 

Working in assembly-line fashion, dip each chicken strip into the flour to coat, then the egg, then the seasoning. Arrange strips on the baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until juices run clean.

Remove baking sheet from the oven. Pour the hot sauce in a small bowl. Use kitchen tongs to dip the chicken tenders into the hot sauce--coat thoroughly. Place chicken bake on the baking sheet and cook another 4 minutes, turn over chicken and cook for a final 4 minutes.

Serve alongside Zesty Potato Wedges. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beef Stir Fry


Stir fry (done right) is one of the healthiest, easiest meals anyone could make. There are no "rules" just a general destination in mind. You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand--broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, garlic, onions, meat or no meat at all. The options are endless! 

From the moment I started the rice and defrosted the steak, to the moment we sat down to eat was just 25 minutes. Not too shabby! 

Kevin and I could eat a version of this stir fry at least once a week and be absolutely thrilled--not to mention skinnier! :D 


Canola oil
1-2 pounds New York Strip Steak, thinly sliced
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2-1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, thinly sliced into strips
1 cup mushrooms, chopped or sliced
Dried Thyme
Dried Ginger 
Light Soy Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
2-3 cups cooked brown rice 

Being rice cooking. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Drizzle with oil. Place steak strips evenly across the pan and sprinkle generously with black pepper and garlic. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove strips from pan and set aside. 

Return pan to the burner. Drizzle with a small amount of additional oil. Place all vegetables except mushrooms into the pan and cook until crisp-tender. Stir in mushrooms. Add soy sauce with 5 or 6 generous turns of the pan. Add teriyaki sauce with 5 turns of the pan--more or least to taste. Place steak strips back into the pan and cook everything together for 2-5 minutes. 

When rice is cooked, make a well of the grain on a large plate. Spoon the stir fry in the center of the rice and serve with soy sauce on the side. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Bread


I need you to know I have a seriously love for all things apple cinnamon--candles, lotions, oatmeal, breads. This recipe fits perfectly into my idea of an amazing apple-cinnamon combination. I'm so glad I saw the recipe appear on both and I knew that meant it was a winner. 

I highly recommend you make this bread as soon as possible. The spices are spot on, the crunchiness of the topping is perfection, and the apples keep the inside wonderfully moist. Yumalicious! 


Recipe adapted from

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces (about 1½ to 2 apples)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8×4-inch loaf pan or two 6-1/2x4 inch loaf pans.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In the large bowl, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in the oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix until smooth. Next, add the sugar and mix until well-combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just barely combined. Gently fold in the apples with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s).

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the loaf pan. For the 9x5 inch loaf, bake for 50 to 55 minutes. If using two 6x4 inch pans, bake for 35-40 minutes. Bake until the loaf is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a dull knife around the sides of the loaf and turn it out on a cooling rack and place right-side up. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftover loaf in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crunchy Almond Granola

I love granola--particularly the homemade variety. You can pick and choose the perfect ingredients for your granola, controlling the amount of sugar as you go. The potential mix-ins for granola are almost limitless--chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, other dried fruits, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, et cetera. So good. 

I have made Peanut Butter Banana Granola and Pumpkin Granola many times and I love both recipes (especially the peanut butter one!) But alas, it was time for something new. I looked up gads of granola recipes, combined the elements of my favorites, and developed this crunchy mixture. 

It's perfect--chock full of nutrients from the oats, the almonds, the sunflower seeds and the flax seed. And the sugar level is relatively low. I cut a quarter cup of brown sugar out the recommended amount and this is still quite sweet.

I hope you enjoy!

Crunchy Almond Granola
yields: 8  cups

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp whole flax seed, ground
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey 
2 tsp vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (or neither!)

In an extra large bowl, stir together oats, almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax seed, cinnamon, and salt. Combine completely. 

In a separate small bowl, stir together brown sugar, oil, honey and vanilla. Pour wet mixture onto the dry ingredients and use a large spoon to stir, stir, stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Spread the granola onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir gently. Bake another 10 minutes. Stir gently. If granola is not browning yet and seems to be extremely moist still, bake another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Granola will still be slightly moist. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Granola will be perfectly cooked and crunchy!

Serve atop a dish of yogurt or straight from your hand to your mouth. Yum!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Garlic Hummus


Snacks can't get any better than hummus and freshly sliced vegetables. Hummus is a beautiful Middle-eastern creation that combines chick peas with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini (sesame seeds paste). It is chock full of fiber and protein--keeping you full and satisfied for a long time without leaving you any guilt whatsoever. 

I can whip up a batch of hummus in about 10 minutes from the moment I open the can to the time I dunk the first veggie stick. I have chosen to omit the tahini--mostly because I never have any on hand and also because it doesn't seem to be 100% necessary. There's no reason to not try making your own hummus today! 

Garlic Hummus

1-15 oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
chili powder
1/4-1/2 cup water (and/or liquid from the canned beans)

In the bottom of a food processor or blender dump beans, garlic, oil, lemon juice, pepper, chili powder, and oregano. Pulse to combine. Set food processor to "blend" and begin pouring in additional water in a slow stream until hummus comes together in a smooth, thick paste. 

Serve with sliced vegetables, tortilla or pita chips. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Double Chocolate Coffee Cookies


I have just recently developed a love for coffee. I've enjoyed drinking it occasionally for the last few years, but this past week coffee has played a key part in my happiness. :)  With that in mind, I bring you to Monday evening. I was wanting to make a special batch of cookies for my friends at Somerset who I would be seeing the next morning. Sure I could make my regular old (DELICIOUS) chocolate chip cookies, but I wanted something new. Then it came to me--I wanted to create a cookie just for Debbie. She's a coffee lover to say the least, and what girl doesn't love chocolate? I let the creative juices flow and the result was coffee flavored chocolate perfection

with just a taste of coffee. 

You won't be sorry. (Well, unless you eat the whole batch because you can't help yourself.) 


Yields: 3-1/2 dozen medium cookies or 18 jumbo cookies 

Double Chocolate Coffee Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2-3 tsp finely ground coffee (more or less to taste)
1/4  cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup margarine or unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening 
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, coffee grounds, and cocoa powder until evenly combined.

In a large bowl beat margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in one egg until thoroughly combined and scrape down sides of the bowl. Add in second egg. Beat. Mix in vanilla. In three separate additions, blend flour mixture into the creamed ingredients. Scrape sides of the bowl and blend in chocolate chips, until just combined.

Scoop batter by the tablespoonful (or a cookie scoop) onto a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are set and center is still soft. Let cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

OR for JUMBO Cookies: Scoop batter by the 1/4 cup onto a baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until edges are set and center is still soft. Let cool completely on a the baking sheet.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Baked Penne Pasta with Sausage (Slow Cooker)


I have never experimented with cooking pasta in the Crockpot, but tonight was the right time to try! I didn't really have a dinner plan (or even a dinner thought) until almost 3pm. My first piano student was arriving at 4pm, the last would leave around 5:35pm and we had to be at church for Bible quizzing at 5:50pm. Wow. We were both craving pasta and I wasn't sure how to accomplish a delicious, well-balanced pasta dinner without having to cook at 8pm--NOT my idea of a good time. (I'm a 5-6pm dinner type of person.) But I decided to give this a try. 

It worked--quite beautifully I might add. Kevin had two large bowls and I had MUCH more than I anticipated. I was really hungry and this baked pasta dish was just really delicious. I suggest you try it soon! Heck, you've gone nothing to lose. It takes about 5 and half minutes to prepare, and only 2-4 hours in the crockpot. Awesome!


4 cups uncooked penne pasta 
2 cups pasta sauce
2 precooked sausages, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced 
pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella or provolone cheese 
1/2-3/4 cup water 
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Spray the bottom and edges of a 4 quart crockpot insert with non-stick cooking spray. 

Rinse pasta in a colander for added moisture. Pour pasta, sauce, sliced sausages, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, cheese and water in the slow cooker. Stir thoroughly. Cook on low 4-5 hours (or on high for 2-3 hours).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies


My mind is always whirring with new cookie recipe ideas. Sometimes I can't deviate from the traditional--and always loved--chocolate chip. But then, there are rare moments of brilliance. This cookie was one of those times! I am a huge mint chocolate fan. Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip is my favorite ice cream. Spearmint is my favorite flavor of gum. Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies totally rock my socks. 

If you love the mint-chocolate combination half as much as I do, you will really adore these cookies. Adding the mint extracts, the cocoa, and the mint chocolate chips to the traditional chocolate chip cookie base yields a  perfect soft and chewy cookie with a flavor you'll love. 


Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe by Melanie of
Yields: 3-1/2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup margarine or unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs 
2 tsp mint extract 
2 cups flour 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda 
1-1/2 cup mint chips or semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl cream together margarine, shortening and sugar until thoroughly combined. Beat in one egg at a time, then the mint extract. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir into the creamed mixture in 3 additions. Stir in chocolate chips. 

Scoop by the heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes until set on the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 2-5 minutes, then move cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Zesty Oven Roasted Potato Wedges


Oven roasted potato wedges are a staple in our home. I bake up a batch at least once a week--they are the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes or even as a crowd pleasing appetizer. I love experimenting with spices to keep this fresh and delicious.

Zesty Potato Wedges
Yields: 4 large servings

4 medium potatoes, washed
1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Scrub the potato skins thoroughly. Cut each potato in half, lengthwise. To each half, make a cut down the length and an angled slice down the length of each quarter--yielding a wedge shape. 

Toss wedges with the remaining ingredients using tongs. Spread wedges evenly on a large baking sheet--being sure the wedged side of the potato is touching the pan. Place the pan on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn over each wedge to crisp the other side. Bake for 10 more minutes. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Crisp

I can't think of very many anyone who doesn't love apple crisp. It's just plain good. 


Apples? good. 
Oats? good.
Butter? gooooood.

(If you're one of the two people in the United States of America who doesn't love apple crisp, please keep that terrible truth to yourself. Thank you.) 


This particular apple crisp is unique in that it is perfection. Yes. It's true. The apples are tossed in so many incredible spices you can't escape the goodness. The crumbly topping is the ultimate combination of crunchy, soft, buttery, sugary and cinnamon-y. 


Please, do yourself a favor and put those apples to good use. Make this apple crisp. You won't be sorry. I know I wasn't. :) 

Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Crisp

Serves 4-8

8-10 large Granny Smith apples (or other baking variety) 
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp salt

for topping:
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cold 
1-1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 casserole dish by coating it with non-stick cooking spray. 

Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. In a large bowl mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add apples and toss to thoroughly distribute spices. 

Pour the coated apple slices into the baking dish. Use the same mixing bowl (to save dishes!) to cut the butter into the remaining topping ingredients. Mix until crumbly. Cover the apples with the topping, patting down lightly. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until the fruit is soft when pierced by a fork and topping is browned. (If topping begins getting too dark, while apples remained uncooked, lightly cover the casserole dish with a layer of tin foil.)


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spicy Beef Burgers


This is the perfect follow up to the Light Brioche Burger Buns. YUMMO!

I have become a bit of a burger queen thanks to Rachael Ray. Before a couple years ago, I never realized burgers could be so delicious, so versatile, and so exciting. The possibilities are endless! We have burgers and (some form of) potatoes for dinner once a week--typically Wednesday or Thursday. I love changing things up with the flavors I choose to infuse inside the burgers. It keeps Kevin guessing. :) This week, I went with a simple spicy variety that I think you'll love! Place this burger between the most amazing Brioche Bun and you'll have a table full of happy people.  

Spicy Beef Burgers
Serves 4
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or shredded
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp spicy steak seasoning blend
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Provolone cheese, optional

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients with your hands, being sure not to overwork the meat (this is lead to tough burgers.) Score the meat into four equal sections and form into patties. Make the center of the patties  thinner than the edges to allow for even cooking. 

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once preheated, add burgers to the skillet and cook 4-5 minutes per side. During the last minute or two of cooking, top with provolone (or other) cheese. 

Serve inside a delicious Brioche Bun with a side of Zesty Potato Wedges.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Light Brioche Burger Buns


When I first saw these beautiful hamburger buns on Annie's site, I knew they would be great. I put this recipe into my mental "to do" file, and I am SO GLAD I finally got around to trying it. Kevin and I both said they were the best hamburger buns ever. Simple to put together with ingredients you keep in your pantry, amazingly rich in flavor with a light texture and a sturdiness you need in a burger bun. And to make matters even better--they freeze beautifully! I don't think I'll ever buy the store bought variety ever again.

There's really no reason not to make these buns. So go now and make your burger way better!


yields: 8 buns 
recipe adapted from and

Light Brioche Burger Buns
3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
2½ tbsp. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
3-1/3 cups flour
2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For topping
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds, optional

Measure milk and water into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave 20-30 seconds. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flour to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns. Use only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to you hands. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 10 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and almost doubled. (If buns expand too much, just resize and bake.)

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or in the freezer for three months.

linked up with Raising Olives: Bread Baking

Monday, January 3, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip


If you are hosting a party for any occasion, please pleeeeease make this chicken dip. It's the tastiest, most addictive appetizer I've ever encountered. Though it's not all that great to look at, anyone who takes one bite of this stuff slathered on a Ritz cracker will keep coming back for more. 

My one word of advice is to go a bit light on the hot sauce the first time around. Most of the teens who tried this dip tonight thought it was super spicy. I, on the other hand, considered it mild. So tread cautiously. Or live dangerously. Whatever floats your party boat. 

Buffalo Chicken Dip 
adapted from
8oz cream cheese (or the lighter version of neufchatel cheese), softened
1/2 cup light Ranch salad dressing 
1/2 cup hot sauce (less or more to suit desired heat level) 
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese 
2 cans (~10oz each) chunk chicken breast in water, drained 
Crackers, tortilla chips or cup up vegetables for dipping

Heat oven to 350 degree. 

In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth. Stir in salad dressing. Stir in hot sauce, then add cheese and chicken breast and stir until evenly combined. 

 Use non-stick spray on the bottom of a deep 9 inch pie plate (or other medium casserole dish). Spread mixture into the dish and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Stir before serving.