Friday, August 26, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I made these breakfast taquitos a few weeks ago, and they were so good that I had to go back to Our Best Bites for more.  I used more of my leftover Cafe Rio Chicken to make these (that recipe makes a ton!) which gave an added depth of flavor.  I also used red salsa instead of the green called for at OBB, because that's what I had around, and it was great.  I paired this with the same Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce that I used for the breakfast taquitos which fit perfectly.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
1 dozen-ish 6 inch tortillas
2 c. shredded chicken
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. salsa
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack and Pepper Jack cheese
kosher salt

1.  Warm cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds so it's easy to mix.  Add salsa, lime, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.
2. Add cilantro, green onions, chicken and cheese and combine.
3.  Warm tortillas slightly in the microwave so they are easier to work with.  Place 2-3 Tbsp. of chicken mix into each tortilla and roll up.
4.  Place them on a foil lined baking sheet with the seam side down.  Spray with cooking spray and then sprinkle with salt.
5.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or dipping sauce.
before rolling. 
source: Our Best Bites

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters

Chicken leg quarters are on sale again!  Before I made these, my intention was to do this BBQ recipe, but my the crock in my slow cooker cracked, making it rather unsafe to use.  I finally got a new one and christened it with this chicken recipe.
The chicken comes out amazingly fall-off-the-bone tender, and the foil in the bottom keeps it from being greasy.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters

6 chicken leg quarters
barbeque dry rub
barbeque sauce
aluminum foil

1.  Place aluminum foil balls in the bottom of the slow cooker.

2.  Rub the chicken with a barbeque seasoning of your choice.  I prefer Grill Creations Smokey Mesquite.

3.  Place chicken on top of foil in the slow cooker.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.
4.  Remove chicken from slow-cooker and place on a rack above a foil lined baking pan.  Brush both sides with the barbeque sauce of your choice.
5.  Place under the broiler and cook until the skin starts to crisp and the sauce starts to char slightly (just a few minutes).  Remove and serve.

source: me

Fajita Melts

My husband takes these to work for lunch and then gets complaints because he doesn't have enough for the whole group.
This recipe comes together really quickly, especially when you use leftover grilled chicken or shredded chicken, like the Cafe Rio Chicken.  In that case it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.  
The most important step is to toast the bread first, otherwise it gets kind of soggy.  
Mmmmmmm.  Toasty.
Fajita Chicken Melts

1 loaf french bread
2 chicken breasts (or use leftover cooked chicken)
1 pkg. fajita seasoning
1-2 sliced peppers (green, red, yellow)
1 sliced onion
1/4 c. salsa
Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

1. Slice bread lengthwise and toast it lightly under the broiler.
2. Season chicken with 1/2 of the fajita seasoning and grill on both side until cooked through.  Let rest a few minutes and then slice into thin strips.
3. Saute peppers and onions until tender and then add remaining fajita seasoning and 1/4 c. water. Stir and cook until water cooks off.  (about 3-5 minutes)
4. Spread salsa on the toasted bread.  Top with chicken, then peppers and onions.  Top with sliced or shredded cheese.
5.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.

source: 5 dollar dinners

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farm-Style Oatmeal Cookies

I originally didn't intend to re-post these cookies I found at Good Cheap Eats.  After all, they are just oatmeal cookies, and doesn't everybody have a recipe for those?   Then my 9 year old told me, "Mom, I normally don't like oatmeal cookies, but these are fantastic!"  Since then she has been monitoring levels in the cookie jar and telling me, "Mom, you need to make more of those cookies we only have a few left!"
My husband also chimed in with a "Wow, those are great!"
So how could I help but share?
The recipe at GCE calls for two different kinds of oats, but I just used one kind because that's what I keep in the house, but if you want to mix & match for different texture go for it.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can use a bit of vinegar and lemon juice in regular milk and let it sit a few minutes to thicken.

Farm-Style Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 c. quick oats
1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
optional:  chocolate chips, craisins, chopped nuts

1.  Combine sugar, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.
2.  Using wet hands, shape into 2 inch balls.  Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet.  Flatten with your palm or the bottom of a glass dipped in water.
3.  Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

source: Good Cheap Eats

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shopska Salad

When I was in Bulgaria we had this salad every day.  Now that it is harvest time and cucumbers and tomatoes are in abundance, it's a good time to revisit it.
I mean, just look at the tomato I got at the farmers market yesterday.  Look how deep the color and how meaty it was! And the flavor was unbelievable.  It makes me never want to eat another hot house tomato again.
Back to the salad....
The recipe is super simple.  The most important ingredients are the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and the cheese.  The true Shopska salad has sirene cheese, but the closest you can usually find in the States is feta.   I have made it without onion, when I don't have it around, and I don't usually add the parsley.
The salad usually came at the beginning of the meal in Bulgaria, but in the summertime sometimes I will eat a whole bowl of just this salad for lunch.  It is delightfully cool and refreshing.  I should also note that in Bulgaria the oil & vinegar are usually sitting on the table in the restaurant (along with the salt & pepper) for the guests to add according to their tastes, but I usually toss it all together.  I've also substituted different vinegars for different flavors, although I'm pretty sure we just had the red wine vinegar all the time in Bulgaria.

Shopska Salad

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1-2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsely (optional)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (to taste)
salt (to taste)
4 oz. feta cheese crumbles.

1. Toss all vegetables together with oil & vinegar and salt.  Top with cheese.

source:  Cantoria Bulgarian tour 1997

Friday, August 12, 2011

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Even my picky eaters liked this one. My husband and I discovered this while watching an episode of Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen.  It looked really good and really simple and only required one large skillet.   I was most intrigued by the chicken cutlets.  I'd never thought to cut the chicken in half horizontally before.  This simple technique may have just changed my life.  Cutting the chicken into cutlets makes them quicker to cook and allows for more even cooking as well. And I think the kids found them easier to eat than full sized chicken breasts too.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes (I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I pulsed it in the food processor first.)
1/2 c. flour
4 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
3 Tbsp. oil
3/4 c. mozzarella cheese
3/4 .c shredded provolone cheese

1.  Toast bread crumbs in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half of basil. Set aside.
2.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Put flour in a shallow pan and dip chicken in the flour to coat on both sides.
3.  Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining cutlets and vegetable oil.
4.  Combine remaining olive oil, 1/4 cup Parmesan, remaining basil, garlic, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce heat on skillet to medium-low and add tomato mixture to empty skillet. Return cutlets to pan in even layer, pressing down to cover with sauce.
5.  Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone, and remaining Parmesan over chicken. Cover with lid and cook until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture and serve.
source:  Cook's Country

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Scones (or Orange Scones)

I have a friend who moved to England and occasionally taunts us from overseas with her blog mentioning how they eat scones and clotted cream.  I don't know what clotted cream is, but I do know how to make scones.
The dough is a little tricky.  It is not a batter that you pour, nor is it a dough that you roll out completely, though you can use a rolling pin to help even out the thickness.  It's more something to be shaped with your hands.  Don't overwork it.
Once prepared, you can flash freeze them before baking and then bake as many as you need for 20 min. at 375.
If you don't like blueberries, you could omit the blueberries and just have lemon scones, or you could use the zest of an orange for orange scones instead.
The glaze is totally unnecessary for me, but it is very easy and yummy if you are so inclined.

Lemon-Blueberry Scones

5 c. flour  (I used 1 c. whole wheat and 4 c. all-purpose)
3/4 c.sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 c. half and half or milk (not skim) (use a little less if using milk)
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Glaze (optional)
1/4 c. melted butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2-4 Tbsp milk or half & half (or lemon or orange juice)
lemon or orange zest (optional)
For glaze, combine all ingredients above and beat until smooth and creamy. 
 (Use lemon juice and lemon zest for a lemon glaze and orange juice and orange zest for an orange glaze.) Add more liquid if too thick.  You don't want it too runny though.

for scones:
1.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can also use a food processor)  until you have coarse blend.  Add remaining ingredients and gently fold to combine.
2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and work gently until dough comes together.  Pat it into a 1 inch thickness.  Use a knife or roller cutter to slice into squares.  ( I usually get just under 2 dozen small scones.)

I may have had a bit too much flour on the table, but this is about the size you will get when you pat it out.  The rolling pin just smoothed it out a bit.
3. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Lemon blueberry scones, unglazed.
 4.  Drizzle with glaze, if using.
Orange scones with orange glaze
source:  Good Cheap Eats

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Herb Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters

I really like getting meat on sale.  I frequently find chicken leg quarters for as low as $0.29/lb, usually sold in a 10 lb. bag.  The question is, what to do with them?  My original plan included a crock pot, but mine cracked so I went to plan B, which will probably turn into plan A because it turned out really, really well.
First of all, if you do get the 10 lb. bag, be sure to divide them up into meal portions and freeze what you aren't going to use individually.  (I usually find about 15 of them in a bag.) For my family of 6, I divided them up into 2 meals which included leftovers.  Otherwise you end up with a huge ball of frozen together chicken that you have to use all at once.

Herb Roasted Chicken Quarters

1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 chicken leg quarters
1 c. chicken stock

1.  Rinse and pat dry the chicken leg quarters. Do not remove skin. Combine rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle liberally over chicken.
2.  Place chicken in 2 9x13 pans (4 per pan).  Pour 1/2 c. chicken stock in the bottom of each pan to just cover the bottom of the pan.
3.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear.  Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

What has two thumbs and keeps the oven on all day when it is 103 degrees outside to make ribs for her in-laws?  This guy! or girl, really.
Okay, bad joke.
Yes, we braved the heat because I bought some ribs on sale and intended to do most of the cooking via crock pot and then mine cracked.  They needed to be cooked so I did it in the oven.  The house was indeed quite warm, but the ribs were well worth it.
Ribs are one of those recipes where everybody has their own signature way of doing it and people will come to blows over parboiling, smoking, grilling, oven temperatures, dry rub vs. sauce, etc.  I'm no expert on BBQ, especially where ribs are concerned, so all I know is that everyone who ate this particular recipe wanted more.
This recipe is mainly a dry rub, with a reduction-type sauce, but you can finish off instead with a BBQ sauce of your choosing.  This time I actually chose to brush with a little Sweet Baby Ray's before putting under the broiler, though it didn't really need it.   I used a chipotle chili powder that I bought for another recipe, which gave them some heat, but it wasn't overwhelming, though maybe a bit much for a couple of the kids.  You could dial down the pepper if you find it too strong for you.
***update.  After making these several times, I have a couple of points to add:

  • The rub makes enough for 2 slabs of ribs.  You can cut everything in half for one slab, keep it the same and make 2 slabs, or keep half the rub in an airtight container until next time you need to make ribs.
  • I've done these in the slow cooker as well.  In the slow cooker you do not need to wrap them in foil, but I recommend spraying the inside with cooking spray first.  I did it on high about 4 hours, and then finished them off in the broiler again, because I like just a little bit of char on the outside.
  • For the chili powder, I've done a number of things, but I like 1 TBSP chipotle powder and 1 TBSP mesquite bbq powder the best.  You can adjust according to your taste, however.

Sweet and Spicy Ribs 

1 slab of spareribs (I prefer St. Louis cut)
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder (I used chipotle, but you could use ancho or even just a smoked paprika)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. vinegar

1.  Combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cloves, and cinnamon in small bowl.
2.  Place a rack on a foil lined baking sheet (standard half sheet).  Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the rack.  Place ribs on top of foil.  Rub brown sugar/spice mixture all over the ribs, patting it in generously.  Leave ribs meaty side down and fold up the foil to make a large sealed packet.

3.  Place in oven on 250 for approximately 3.5-4 hours.  Remove ribs from the oven.  Carefully open the foil packet.  Remove ribs and place back on the rack.  Pour contents of foil into a saucepan.  If using a BBQ sauce, brush both sides with sauce.
4.  Place ribs under the broiler.  Broil until top starts to get lightly charred and then turn ribs to the other side.  The meat on the ribs will retract and you should be able to see about 1/2 inch of bone on the end when they are done.
5.  Meanwhile, boil the juices to reduce by about 1/2.  Add in the vinegar and stir.  Pour over the ribs (if you didn't sauce them already) and serve.

source: Smitten Kitchen