“Fried” Honey Garlic Chicken

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When Eric and I moved into our “Snow Cottage” together, I was a little nervous about the fact that our new home did not come equipped with a dishwasher. With all of the time I spend in the kitchen (and all the dishes I use) I thought life without a dishwasher would be very difficult. However, after a few weeks passed, washing dishes by hand didn’t seem as daunting as it once did. This may be because my wonderful husband came up with the idea of “one person cooks, and the other does the dishes”. And since cooking is kind of my forte, Eric ends up doing the dishes almost every night. What a guy. So I try to be mindful of this, and typically choose recipes that will result in the least amount of dishes possible. But every now and then, I find a recipe that is worth the extra pan or two…and this Honey Garlic Chicken is one of those recipes. I was growing tired of all my normal weeknight dinners, so I decided to peruse the recipe mecca called Pinterest. Now, if a recipe is pinned over and over again, I take that as a good sign. And the idea of a healthy “fried” chicken that you bake in the oven sounded like something Eric and I both would love. So when I found this recipe on RockRecipes.com, I decided to give it a whirl. It takes about 45 minutes to put together, but the result is an incredibly decadent tasting dinner. If you follow the recipe carefully, you will end up with a crispy chicken breast topped with an amazing sweet & salty sauce. It tastes just like Chinese take out, but won’t leave you feeling stuffed and horrible. I cut the portions down a bit to make 3 servings but the original recipe can be found here and is made for 4. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 3 servings

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon jerk seasoning (cayenne pepper works fine too)
  • 3 eggs
  • 7 tablespoons water
  • cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablepoons brown sugar

Preparation:

  • Start by placing a cookie sheet lined with tin foil in the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees. (It is important to pre-heat the pan if you want a crispy crust on your chicken)
  • Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until breasts are about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the next 8 ingredients (flour through jerk seasoning)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and water
  • Season the chicken with salt & pepper to taste
  • Dip the chicken breasts in the flour mixture until they are coated evenly, and no “bare spots” remain.
  • Next, dip coated chicken breasts in egg mixture until coated evenly
  • Next, return the chicken breasts to the flour mixture and make sure they are evenly coated in flour mixture
  • Repeat with all 3 chicken breasts and set aside
  • Take heated pan out of the oven, and evenly coat with cooking spray (I used canola oil Pam)
  • Quickly place the chicken breasts on the hot pan and coat the chicken breasts evenly with cooking spray. You want to make sure the chicken breasts are at least 1 inch apart from each other, because if they touch during the cooking process, you will end up with a soggy crust
  • Place pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425. Do not open the oven at all during cooking
  • After 15 minutes has passed, flip the chicken breasts over, and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.
  • Place the finely minced garlic cloves into the saucepan and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Make sure the garlic does not brown
  • Add the soy sauce, honey and brown sugar to the saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • To serve, drizzle the sauce onto the chicken breasts
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Ranch Chicken Burgers

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I always say I have 3 criteria for a weeknight meal. It has to be delicious, nutritious and easy to make. But recently, I realized there really is a 4th must-have. It has to be easy enough to make to talk on the phone with at least one of my family members at the same time. I talk to my mom, dad, and brother pretty much every day. But whenever I have a tough day, I call Sean first. Yesterday was a rough day. I feel like I’m in Kindergarten writing this but..yesterday someone was mean to me. And just like I did when I actually was in Kindergarten, I went straight to Sean. Back then Sean would take care of things pretty directly. I remember mentioning to Sean that one of the boys in my class was making fun of my height. The very next day, he gave the kid a good firm talking to, and that boy never bothered me again. Just last year, one of my best friends from grade school admitted to still being a little afraid of my brother thanks to that incident. Nowadays, he can’t exactly yell at anyone who hurts my feelings. So instead, he gives me great advice. He told me not to let things that happen during the work day bother me so much. Because at the end of the day, I get to come home to a wonderful husband, great friends, and the best family on earth. And in the end, people can only make you feel bad if you let them. And just like that, I was back to my happy, perky self. Every girl should have a brother like mine.

And now back to dinner. These chicken burgers have already become a favorite in our household. All you need is ground chicken and a few seasonings and you have an incredibly delicious dinner. The use of dry Ranch seasoning adds a great kick to the chicken, and pairs really well with the barbeque sauce of your choice

Ingredients: Makes 4 burgers

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dry Ranch dressing (unprepared)
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • barbeque sauce to taste
  1. Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined. (I found it was easiest to use my hands to mix everything together)
  2. Form 4 even patties
  3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cook each patty for 1 minute per side, just until the patty has slightly browned
  4. Take the browned patties out of the pan and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, or until done
  5. Place on a bun, adding barbeque sauce or any topping you’d like

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Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

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I was lucky to grow up in a household where healthy dinners were the norm. I feel like sitting down each night with my family and sharing a nutritious meal really helped me set healthy habits that have stuck with me through adulthood. So it is definitely something that I want to keep up in Eric and my little “family of two”. However, cooking healthy for just myself is quite different than cooking for me and a boy. Although a baked sweet potato and a salad is a perfectly filling meal for me, it wouldn’t quite appease my 6 foot 2 husband. So I have already learned a few key things to create a healthy meal that keeps us both full and happy. First of all, I try to include a source of lean protein. And though Eric would be perfectly happy eating chicken every night, I try to make a good mix of chicken, fish or lean pork, just to switch it up a bit. And second, I always make three portions, one for me and two for Eric. That way I’ve made enough to fill him up, but I’m not eating huge “guy sized” portions. This is a recipe I found in Cooking Light magazine and I have a feeling it might become a regular recipe in our household. Quickly pan frying the pork chops give the breading a crisp texture, while finishing them off in the oven keep them nice and tender. And with a side of roasted asparagus, you have yourself a delicious, healthy dinner.

Ingredients: Makes four pork chops

    • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
    • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 4 boneless thin-cut pork loin chops
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

Preparation:

  1. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, sage, salt & pepper
  2. In a second shallow dish (or paper plate), place all purpose flour
  3. In a third shallow dish, combine beaten egg whites and dijon mustard
  4. To bread pork chops, place chops in the flour mixture and shake of excess flour, next place in egg mixture, again shaking off any excess, and finally, dredge pork chops in breadcrumb mixture.
  5. After you have repeated this process with all 4 pork chops, heat a large frying pan over medium high heat
  6. Place oil in frying pan and turn pan until oil coats it
  7. Place breaded pork chops in the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until chops are slightly browned
  8. Then place porkchops on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 for internal temperature of the chops.

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Ham and Cheese Sliders

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I’ve never really been into football. Rather than plopped in front of the TV on game days, I ‘ve always been known to be in the kitchen or on a running trail on those important fall days . In high school, I think I only made it to one or two of our high school football games, and I spent more time talking to my friends than actually watching what was happening on the field. I was never the girl who had a favorite Lion or Spartan. Heck, I didn’t even know any of the players’ names. But when I went to college, my dad insisted that I go see the Michigan State Spartans play football. I remember that first game I attended with my best friend LT. We were  freshman, and we went to the game decked out in our green and white.

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I actually paid attention to what was happening on the field, but I still didn’t quite “get” football. But then a few years later I met Eric. And for Eric, football was a passion  stronger than anything. So just like he taste tested all my baked goods, and even went on a run or two with me, I decided to give “liking football” another chance. So we attended game after game our senior year and something happened.

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I experienced the enthusiasm of the student section and sang along proudly whenever our fight song was played.  Through the many, many interviews and Youtube videos Eric watched, I started to recognize the fierce loyalty that the players had to each other and to their coach. I learned to love the sharp focus that Coach Dantonio had, and began to laugh excitedly every time we caught one of those rare moments that he actually smiled. And somewhere along the way, I learned that football was much more than just a bunch of guys tackling each other. It is about loyalty to your team and the happy feeling you get when someone responds correctly to your shout of “Go Green” with a spirited “Go White.” It’s about that common bond you share with everyone who proudly wears the same team colors. And though I still don’t completely understand all of the rules of football, I like to think that I’ve finally begun to”get” football. So when our beloved Michigan State Spartans won the 100th Rose Bowl in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, even I, the former anti-football queen, got a little teary eyed. And while my ecstatic fiance was cheering on the Spartans at the game, I was plopped in front of the TV watching it with my parents. And I got to experience yet another great thing about game day. Game day food. My mom made these somewhat famous Hawaiian Ham & Cheese sliders for our game day meal. You may have seen this recipe on about 100 different websites, and it is definitely worth a try. You use the slightly sweet King’s Hawaiian rolls and a sweet glaze to create the perfect salty-sweet game day food. Bring them along to all of your tailgates next fall-I know I will!

Ingredients: Makes 24 sliders

  • 2 dozen King’s Hawaiian rolls
  • 1 lb. swiss cheese
  • 2 lbs. sliced ham
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Preparation:

  1. Slice rolls in half and layer 2 slices of ham and 1 slice of cheese on each roll; spread rolls out on a lightly greased cookie sheet
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, mustard and Woscestershire sauce
  3. Drizzle butter mixture over all of the rolls, and sprinkle with poppy sides
  4. Cover sliders with tin foil and bake at 325 for 25 minutes

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Nobody loves a good deal quite like my mother. I’ve observed her thrifty ways for years and admired each and every incredible deal that she has scored. She can tell you which Marshall’s has the best home goods, and which TJ Maxx has the best deal on workout clothes. She knows all the great online shopping sites and somehow always manages to get beautiful clothes and shoes for half the price. But her latest spot for scoring a good deal is a bit more old fashioned. Estate Sales. She’ll flip through the newspaper to find which old homes around town are hosting estate sales and off she goes. She has found some beautiful old furniture, a plethora of bakery style cookie sheets and cupcake pans, and most recently, a slow cooker. And the best part? Not only are these items found at half the price, but they are in great condition as well. So when she brought home a slow cooker in perfect condition, I knew I had to test it out with a recipe I’ve been saving. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. This recipe is incredibly easy and only has a handful of steps to complete before your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of slow cooked barbeque. You can choose to cook the pork for longer at a low heat, or if you are short on time, you can cook it on high. Both methods result in a tender and flavorful batch of pulled pork that is delicious with or without barbeque sauce. Personally, I like my pulled pork with just a drizzle of barbeque sauce and a scoop of tangy cole slaw. The perfect summer dish brought to you by my mother’s incredible bargain hunting skills.

Ingredients: Recipe from Chow.com, Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon packed  brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt),
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place thinly sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker pot and cover with chicken broth
  2. In a small bowl, combine next five ingredients (brown sugar through cinnamon) and rub mixture over pork
  3. Place pork over onion layer and cover. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours, or cook on low for 8 to 10 hours
  4. After pork has cooked through, use tongs to remove pork pieces from the slow cooker (it should be very tender and fall off the bones)
  5. Place pork in a bowl and use two forks to shred pork
  6. Mix in barbeque sauce, if desired

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Faygo Cola Baby Back Ribs

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New Yorkers may have their cheesecake and Chicagoans may have their deep dish pizza, but here in Detroit we have Faygo. If you aren’t from Michigan you may not have heard of Faygo, but it’s a Detroit brand of pop (or soda) that comes in a ton of fun flavors. From Orange Crush to Rock n Rye to Pineapple, Faygo has pretty much every flavor of pop covered. So it came as no surprise that a Faygo recipe contest was held here in Michigan a few years back. Winning recipes included Rock n Rye Braised Pot Roast and Pineapple Faygo Pound Cake. But the recipe that really stuck out to me was the Grand Prize winning Faygo Cola Ribs. I received the Faygo recipe contest cookbook for Christmas, and have been waiting for barbeque season to give this winning recipe a try. And this past weekend I made the Faygo Cola ribs for my family, and we were blown away by just how good they were. And the recipe is so easy that it made me wonder why I don’t make ribs more often. The ribs were incredibly tender and the meat fell off the bone easily. The Faygo Cola barbeque sauce was slightly spicy, and full of flavor. Definitely the perfect new recipe to try for your Memorial Day Barbeque this weekend. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 6-7 , Recipe adapted slightly from the Faygo Recipe Cookbook

  • 6 pounds of baby back pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Faygo cola
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Preparation:

  1. Place ribs on a large cutting board and use a paring knife to remove the white fatty membrane from the underside of the ribs (the side closest to the bone)
  2. Rub ribs with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning and place in a large roasting pan and cover with tin foil
  3. Place ribs in the oven, and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours
  4. To make the Faygo barbeque sauce, combine next 8 ingredients in a large bowl (garlic salt through hot sauce)
  5. After ribs have cooked for the first hour and a half, remove from oven and pour Faygo barbeque sauce evenly over the ribs
  6. Cover ribs with tin foil, and return them to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours of cooking time
  7. Remove ribs from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving

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