Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

11781605_10206924741935153_2249767159206518171_nI love this recipe for many reasons. Firstly it is wildly delicious and filling. The flavor is creamy and savory which is one of my favorite combinations. Also the celery and onions give a nice tender crisp texture against the softer chicken and rice. It’s an experience I think everyone should have at least once ūüėČ Secondly, this recipe is fairly easy to throw together. Some parts may seem tedious but if you prep before hand (like cook and shred the chicken in the morning and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook) it will save you tons of time. Lastly, this dish gets better each time you heat it making it an amazing lunch leftover. It serves quite a few, and since my husband and I are the only ones eating it at this time (my four-year old won’t touch anything that isn’t breaded), we get dinner and 2-3 days worth of lunch out of it. This recipe is a slam dunk.

Serves: 6-8     Calories: 440 per serving     Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz long grain wild rice, I used 3 boxes of Rice a Roni brand
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 (10 oz) can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth, you might not need this ingredient as I will explain below
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan, or less depending on how much you like to sprinkle on top of the dish
  • sprinkling of dried basil

Directions:

  1. Prepare the rice according to the directions on the package. I used 3 boxes of Rice a Roni which warranted a total of 5 cups of water but I only used 4 to get a firmer rice. I also took five minutes off the cook time. If you decide to do this you will not need the 1/3 cup of chicken broth mentioned in the ingredients list. The rice will have extra water since we are not allowing it to fully soak in all the liquid. This is okay because when you bake it in the oven it will continue to cook and soak up the liquids.
  2. While rice is cooking preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large skillet melt butter over medium high heat. Add the celery and onions. Saute until tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.
  4. To the onions and celery add the condensed soup, sour cream, and if you’re using chicken broth throw that in too. Once this is all combined add the rice and shredded chicken. Mix well.
  5. Pour this into an ungreased 9×13 baking dish and bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
  6. Let sit for a minute before cutting into it.
  7. Serve and Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.bhg.com

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Rosemary Dijon Pork Chops – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

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When I say I am terrified of cooking pork chops I mean “I’ve been married to a man who loves pork chops for 5 years and this is only the second time I’ve ever made them for him” terrified. I over cook meat. Ask Perry and he will gladly tell you how many times I’ve ruined a recipe because I just cannot stomach the thought of eating possibly undercooked meat. For real you guys I could survive an apocalypse off jerky and be happy as a clam. Perry kept dropping hints that he was craving the comforts of a home-cooked pork chop so I turned to my trusty sidekick, pintrest. I found the original recipe at http://www.kitchen-concoctions.com but adapted my own little recipe from theirs. The only reason I adapted my own for this one is because with a cross-country move and 2 kids (one of which is only 3 months old) it’s not very feasible to buy a 6 pack of nice¬†brown beer to dump only one in a sauce. We’ve been sipping on coors light for the past few months, if the mood strikes, so thats what I had in sorts for beer. That being said, the sauce was still amazing with the cheap-nowhere-near-brown-hued-or-robust and I would suggest using any beer you can get your hands on so long as it isn’t banana bread or chocolate pretzel infused etc. The recipe was simple enough that even I was able to pull it off (with coors light nonetheless) and the flavor was fantastic! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

I enjoy¬†pork chops, Dijon, and beer. This recipe sounded like a score to me, except that it was pork chops. Kelsey has some sick fear of cooking pork chops and I have a sick fear of eating pork chops that she cooks. Last time she did pork shops she “slow cooked” them. Basically she made pork chop jerky in her slow cooker. However this dinner was a¬†pleasant¬†surprise. The pork was¬†succulent and the sauce…. The sauce is what deems¬†this dinner worthy of 5 stars. Be warned that the sauce¬†is really rich, so don’t go dumping it on the steamed veggies and rice you may be having on the side. Imagine having a perfect chop with a velvet Dijon sauce herbed with pungent rosemary. Yeah that’s exactly how it is.”

Serves: 4-5     Calories: approximately 334 calories per chop with nice ladling of sauce    Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops, I used boneless about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup of beer, brown ale is recommended but coors works too.
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (+ more for garnish)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and black pepper. Place on a greased 9×13 baking dish
  3. Whisk together beer, Dijon, honey, butter, rosemary and garlic. Pour this mixture over the pork chops.
  4. Bake pork chops for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Remove pork chops from sauce and roasting pan
  6. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and the add juices from roasting pan. Stir in the whipping cream and boil until reduced consistently stirring.
  7. Serve the chops with cream sauce drizzled overtop.
  8. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.kitchen-concoctions.com 

Peanut Sauce – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

11029640_10205879874614123_4164395445143186072_nI know people who are extremely picky and almost snobby about¬†their sauces. I hate to admit that I have become this way with my peanut sauce. I used to love going to the local Thai Restaurant to¬†feast¬†on chicken and beef satay with a few extra sides of peanut sauce. However, once I learned to make my own peanut sauce I developed a hate for the recipe offered by our local¬†spot. Once you get your hands on a recipe that has a beautiful base and you learn to tailor it to your own tastes it is extremely difficult to have anything but your own. This stuff is good with satay (naturally), egg rolls, rice, veggies, pita and of course on its own by the spoonful. A batch of this stuff doesn’t last long in our home. It is savory and creamy with a nice finishing kick. There are a few ingredients that can be a bit pricey (sesame oil and rice vinegar) but think of them as pantry staples because I guarantee you’ll be making more of this sauce. Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

Kelsey has been developing her peanut sauce since she learned how to make chicken satay years ago. It feels as though every time she makes this stuff it gets better and better. I asked her to write down the exact ingredients and measurements because it was so excellent. She advised me that this time she finely chopped peanuts in our blender to mix in giving it a crunchy texture and an even nuttier taste. The spice¬†at the end is¬†great. It isn’t too overwhelming but it does¬†heighten the experience that is this sauce. I call it an experience because I cannot stop eating it until I dip everything I can find in the fridge in it. Creamy perfection!”

Serves: 12+     Calories: 102 per 1 tbsp serving     Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of peanuts, unsalted if you can help it
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp garlic¬†chili sauce (add more or less to your taste. I you don’t like heat don’t add it. If you like a little kick add a fraction of this amount. Tailor it to your taste.)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Grind the peanuts in a blender or food processor so that they are finely chopped. It will feel like a paste to the touch but look like grainy sand to the eye. Remove from the blender/processor and set aside
  2. Blend/process the peanut butter, ginger, chicken broth, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, and chili sauce until smooth.
  3. Hand mix in the chopped peanuts until evenly mixed.
  4. Garnish with red pepper flakes and serve.
  5. Enjoy with anything you can get your hands on ūüôā

*Photo is an original belonging to me

CrockPot Cheesy Burger Soup – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

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It’s that lovely time of year when pintrest¬†is FILLED with seasonal soup/stew recipes. I came across this fantastic recipe from http://www.familyfreshmeals.com and knew it would be my first soup of the season. Seriously, who wouldn’t love a cheeseburger inspired soup? My family loved it and I am certain we will be making it a few more times before winter is over. The flavor was described as “creamy cheeseburger.” Everyone had seconds and we still have left overs for lunch.¬†Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

This soup can only be improved upon with a hot roll accompaniment. The flavor was excellent with a silky broth and hearty meat/veggies. I like that Kels cooked the bacon¬†separately and added it as a garnish¬†because it added a nice crunch. I don’t enjoy soggy bacon, no matter how much flavor it is supposed to add. I think next time I will suggest warm bread and a bleu cheese crumble topping. Five stars for this soup!” ¬†

NOTE:¬†Since we’ve moved back to Pennsylvania I have the added adventure of trying to tailor my recipes to fit my parents’ dietary needs. My dad is diabetic which is why you will now see Carb values, and my mom is doing weight watchers which is why you will now see the PointsPlus values. I hope these extra calculations I’m providing¬†will help not only my parents but also anyone else who clicks on this blog with dietary needs. That being said, I am aware this is a “high carb”/”high points” recipe. Please, please, please change ingredients as you see fit. Substitute turkey for beef, turkey bacon for regular bacon, low fat cheese for shredded cheese, etc… I am making it as close to the original for the first time¬†to gauge taste so in the future I can substitute things and see what I can change without sacrificing too much flavor.¬†

Serves: 8+  Calories: 448 per serving  Carbs: 39.5g per serving  WW PointsPlus Value: 13 points per serving

Prep Time: 30 min  Cook time: 7 hr (low)  Total Time: 7hr 30m

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups of white potatoes, cubed
  • 8 oz of cream cheese, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp back pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¬ľ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled to garnish (reserving a little bit of the grease to stir in for flavor)

Directions:

  1. Sautee onions over medium high heat. Before they start to become translucent add your ground beef and cook until the meat is no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Add the onion/beef mixture to your crockpot along with the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, celery, carrots, potatoes, cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. Stir to mix the ingredients in together.
  3. Cook on low for 7 hours
  4. Before cooking time is up, fry up the bacon reserving a bit of the grease. Also, mix together the milk and flour until there are no lumps in the mixture. Add the bacon grease, flour/milk mixture, and shredded cheese.
  5. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted
  6. Spoon a healthy serving into bowls, garnish with bacon and anything else you would garnish your burger with
  7. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original recipe found at http://www.familyfreshmeals.com

Creamy Tomato and Garlic Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

ImageI came across this recipe on pintrest which took me to Cheap Recipe Blog. Haley, the creator, has an amazing site and my stomach started to growl as soon as I started browsing. Please take my advice and check out her recipes because, my gosh, they ALL look amazing (I should note that I make no profit¬†on this blog and Haley did not ask me to say any of this. It is my sincerest¬†opinion). Tomato soup and grilled cheese is total comfort food where I am from, and seriously I don’t think there could be¬†a better pair. This soup is not your ordinary Campbell’s condensed tomato soup. Now that I know how easy this is to make I’ll ¬†never go back. Perry gave 5 stars and this is why:

“Tonight’s soup was so¬†was creamy and rich. I would describe the overall flavor as savory sweet. The tomato, onion and garlic chunks make it thick and filling. My favorite part was the grilled cheese that practically melted into the soup. Five stars!”

Serves: 8+     Calories: 141/serving of soup + 173 if you use half of a grilled cheese for croutons     Time: Approximately 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (28 oz) cans of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (this is essential don’t skip it!)
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, basil and garlic powder, to taste
  • If doing the grilled cheese croutons you’ll need bread, butter and shredded cheese of your choice¬†to do so

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until the begin to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  2. Crush the whole tomatoes and add them (with the left over juice) to the pan, after the tomato mixture warms, add baking soda and stir well.¬†It will froth but do not worry that just means it is doing it’s job.¬†
  3. Add chicken broth, half-and-half, and sugar, and mix well.
  4. Add spices and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  5. While soup is settling cook up a grilled cheese and slice into bite sized squares. Use half of the grilled cheese croutons per bowl of soup.
  6. Dish and enjoy!

*Original recipe found at http://www.cheaprecipeblog.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Ry-Thai Baked Chicken and Peanut Sauce – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

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Last week I attempted to make Thai chicken wings but being who I am I bought the absolute wrong kind of chicken for the recipe. Anyone else out there try to make chicken wings with chicken drumsticks? No? Only me? Thought so… Needless to say I had a TON of peanut sauce left over from my attempted chicken wings. My neighbor Ryan suggested that I make some homemade chicken nuggets to dunk in the peanut sauce. I was completely sold on the idea and now I have this recipe to give you guys ūüôā I have a few breaded chicken recipes on here so I used my previous knowledge to craft this recipe. Don’t feel like you are bound to this exact recipe though. Play with the spices and see if you can make something even better! I know that when I make this again it won’t be exactly true to the recipe because I like to try different spices. Naturally this was a hit. Perry even went so far as to say he liked the chicken by itself also. This is huge coming from a guy who doesn’t usually like chicken. He gave full stars and here is why:

“Kelsey’s peanut sauce is a favorite of mine. I could eat spoonfuls of it that is how much I like it. Even if the chicken sucked this recipe would have gotten five stars for the peanut sauce alone. Luckily though the chicken was just as good as the peanut sauce on its own. It was really crunchy and the breading had a lot of flavor. I’m not sure what spices she used but I could definitely taste paprika and it was an awesome smoky addition. Full stars!”

Serves: 5          Calories: 223/2 pieces of chicken + 50 calories/1 tbsp peanut sauce    Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • If you like it spicy add some siracha¬†

Ingredients for Chicken:

  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
  • cooking spray
  • 1.5 cups panko crumbs
  • 1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1.5 tbsp paprika (I used sweet hungarian)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • pinch of red chili flakes (if you like heat)
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray
  3. Mix together panko and spices in a large bowl
  4. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl
  5. Clean and trim chicken
  6. One piece at a time, dip in egg then roll in panko mixture and set on baking sheet 
  7. Complete until all the chicken is coated and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While baking the chicken put all peanut sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  9. Serve chicken hot with peanut sauce and enjoy!
  10. ***You will have a TON of peanut sauce left over so freeze it for later use or cook up some Chicken Satay 

*Photo and recipe are originals belonging to me. Feel free to post recipe on your own blog but please link to my blog for credit.

Cheesecake Factory Chipotle Pasta – ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ú©

ImageI’m always looking for new pasta recipes because it is so easy during the week to cook up some whole wheat pasta and a quick sauce. This recipe is just that. It is extremely easy and delicious to boot. The creamy sauce is rich but complimented nicely with crunchy veggies. The first night we had this it earned five stars because it was so flavorful but Perry knocked one star off the following day and this is why:

This recipe was really good fresh from the pot the night we ate it. The sauce was creamy, the pasta was cooked perfectly and the veggies added not only color to the dish but lots of flavor. My disappointment came the following day when I popped my tupperware in the microwave at work and the sauce totally separated to the bottom of my bowl. The leftovers are not as good via microwave. It wasn’t terrible but I much rather this leftover when Kelsey can reheat if on the stove and add the tortilla chips on top. That is my only complaint that I cannot take leftovers of this one to work because it is not the same.¬†

Serves: 8      Calories: 470       Time: 

Ingredients:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, rinsed ribbed and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, rinsed ribbed and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (we used penne)
  • 3 tbsp adobo sauce ( OPTIONAL: chop up and add a chipotle pepper or two to add additional heat)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • tortilla chips to top¬†

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to its package directions.
  2. Combine lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside
  3. Chop veggies and garlic
  4. Over medium high heat, heat a skillet and add butter and canola oil. 
  5. Add peppers, onion and lemon/honey mixture. Cook for approximately 5 minutes (until onions become clear) stirring as not to burn the honey. 
  6. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. 
  7. Add frozen peas, heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Cook until peas are heated through approximately 5 minutes
  8. Let simmer for a few minutes so sauce will thicken and add adobo sauce and optional chopped chipotle  
  9. If you are making homemade tortilla chips now would be the time to do it. 
  10. Dish your pasta and top with tortilla chips. We also sprinkled chipotle pepper powder on top. Can you tell we like it hot ūüôā
  11. Enjoy!
  12. TIP : When reheating do it stovetop to protect the sauce from separating. Heat over medium flame and stir constantly. There is cheese in this recipe so it will burn if you do not keep a constant stir. 

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adopted from http://mrsschwartzkitchen.blogspot.com/