Buffalo Chicken Tacos

IMG_3515.JPG

Hello! Life has gotten busy, and clearly my blog has been a bit neglected. But recently, my brother has been using Miss Petite Sweets as his main inspiration for dinner recipes. And since I’ve seen him eat the same Chicken Burgers over and over, I thought it was time to share a new recipe that I’ve really been loving. It’s a quick recipe from Cooking Light magazine that is perfect for summer nights. So enjoy, Seanie!

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 small celery stalk, thinly sliced
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Preparation

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cut chicken in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets; sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Arrange on pan coated with cooking spray. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; thinly slice. Combine hot sauce, butter, and red pepper; stir with a whisk. Add chicken to bowl; toss.

2. Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, and cheese in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Add lettuce and celery to bowl; toss.

3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas; top with lettuce mixture.

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sweet Potatoes

IMG_3087

During the summer, we put our new grill to good use. We grilled chicken breasts, shish kabobs or burgers nearly every night for dinner, making the cooking and the cleaning process very quick. So when the weather started to cool down, I was sad to see our phase of quick and easy weeknight dinners come to a close. However, with the help of some Sunday afternoon food prep, I’ve found a few dinner ideas that can come together just as quickly as our beloved grilled dinners. I like to throw a bag of frozen chicken breasts in my slow cooker on Sundays so that we have pulled chicken on hand for salads, sandwiches and a few quick and easy dinner recipes. One of my new favorites was inspired by the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. One of the episodes features a barbecue restaurant in Cleveland whose specialty was Pulled Pork Sweet Potato Skins. As decadant as their dish looked, I knew it was something I could easily make a “lightened up” version of. This dish tastes decadent, but is really just simple baked chicken and sweet potatoes thrown together in a new way.

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation:

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the potato is baked through
  2. Combine the shredded chicken and barbecue sauce and heat in a saucepan over medium heat. You may want to add more or less barbecue sauce, depending upon your preference. (I found this recipe is best with a sauce that isn’t too sweet)
  3. Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven and cut in half. Use a fork to mash the inside of the potato. Add 1/2 cup of barbecue chicken on the top of each potato and sprinkle with shredded cheese
  4. Return the potatoes to the oven, and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted

Hassleback Apple Crisp

IMG_3225

I don’t keep a diary, but I do have a small notebook that I write my favorite quotes and song lyrics in. This little book has been in my possession since I was 15 or 16, and I occasionally like to look back at the lyrics that meant the most to me in years past. I recently came across one particular verse that I scribbled in my little notebook the summer that I lived in Pensacola, Florida. I was 1,000 miles away from everyone I loved, and Ani Difranco’s words really resonated with me. “Strangers are exciting, their mystery never ends, but there is nothing like seeing your own history in the faces of your friends.” This past weekend, I helped celebrate the wedding of my sweet friend, Julie, and the extra time I got to spend with some of my oldest girlfriends made me realize how truly blessed I am. Not everyone can say that the majority of their closest friends have been a part of their lives for 10, 15, or even 26 years, but thankfully I can. There is something remarkable about friendships that are strong enough to weather the storms of distance, time, and the struggle of simply “growing up.” A few of these strong, incredible women have been by my side for my highest highs and lowest lows. In particular, my three best friends Annie, LT and Lo all stood next to me on my own wedding day to celebrate one of the happiest days of my life thus far. And all three of them have stood by my side during some of the worst times in life. I can still remember the day my Grandpa passed away and the look of love and compassion in Lo’s eyes when I gave her the news. She took one look at my tear stained face, ran towards me, and held me as I cried. And in high school, LT rescued me from a mortifying moment when I forgot all of the words to a solo I was singing in front of 200 people. Instead of joining our choir for the final song in the concert, LT walked me off stage, drove me home, and sat on my parent’s couch and cheered me up until my embarrassing moment was nearly forgotten. And when my first boyfriend broke up with me, Annie came home with me after school every day to eat ice cream and discuss why we were “absolutely done with men.” So although it is exciting to meet new people and form new friendships, there is nothing quite like having friends who have been by your side every step of the way. Even though months often pass between our visits, having these wonderful women by my side always makes me feel a bit more whole. I’m sad to see this weekend of togetherness come to a close, but theses three are always in my heart.

IMG_3075

And when the “Sunday blues” hit, I like to turn to the kitchen for a little baking. This recipe is a simplified and speedy apple crisp. Top with some vanilla ice cream, and your Sunday blues will diminish in no time.

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut in half vertically
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Starting at the outermost corner of the apple, cut most (but not all) the way through the apple in 1/8 inch intervals. Place apple halves cut side down in a 8inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Brush mixture evenly over apple halves
  4. Cover pan with foil and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove foil, bake at 400 for 10 minutes, or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes
  5. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, oats, flour and salt.
  6. Carefully fan open apple halves, and spoon oat picture evenly over apples. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Turn broiler on high and broil for additional 2 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and serve topped with vanilla ice cream

“Fried” Honey Garlic Chicken

IMG_2576

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

Ranch Chicken Burgers

IMG_2275

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

IMG_2276

Chinese Cabbage Salad

IMG_2144
A little over four years ago, Eric brought me along to a family party. We had only been dating a few months at that point, and it was my first big event with the Jones clan. I remember being a little nervous, but it didn’t take long to realize I had no reason to be. Eric’s family was so welcoming and wonderful and I felt at home right away. Plus, Eric’s Aunt Nancy is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. She has about a million recipes that are to die for. Baked Beans, Apple Crisp, and this very delicious Chinese Cabbage Salad that she served at my bridal shower. It is crisp, full of flavor and a perfect side dish for your next barbeque or tailgate. She was sweet enough to share the recipe with me and I brought it along to a barbeque a few weeks ago. It didn’t take long for the whole bowl to disappear. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
1package precut cole slaw (1 pound size)
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1 3-oz package Ramen Noodles, oriental flavor
1-2 cups cooked, cubed chicken or shrimp. (Optional)
Dressing
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar ( any kind you like)
1/4 cup sugar
Dry seasoning packet from ramen noodles
1.  Break up the ramen noodles into small pieces.
2.  Mix up the dressing.  Shake all ingredients together.
3.  Combine cole slaw, onions, seeds and nuts.
4.  Just before serving, add noodles, dressing and chicken or shrimp and combine.
IMG_2145

 

Asian Chicken Stir Fry

 IMG_2166

Sometimes I feel like no matter what age we are, we are always looking forward. As children, we look forward to that mysterious land of “high school,” where you can drive a car, stay out late, and presumably have the exact same social life as the cast members of Saved by the Bell. As teenagers, we look forward to “college” where curfews don’t exist and we possess that coveted “independence” we always longed for. And as adults, you’re always thinking of the next phase…marriage, buying a house, having kids, advancing your careers, and finally…retirement. It’s hard to “enjoy the moment” when we are constantly looking forward. The funny thing about me is, I never seemed to look forward to the same periods of life as my peers. As a child, I don’t remember longing for high school or college like most of my friends did. Instead, I always remember thinking that the first few years of marriage would be the happiest time in my life. This is undoubtedly a strange thing for a 13 year old to think…but oddly enough, the current time in my life is something I always looked forward to. But this current phase didn’t quite pan out exactly the way 13 year old me thought it would. Because, believe it or not… it is way better. I’m happier right now than I ever thought was possible. Because coming home to my very best friend every night is truly the best. So rather than spending my time over planning for the future..I’m focusing on enjoying this incredible, wonderful season of life. And one of my favorite things about this phase in life is cooking simple dinners at home. As much as Eric would be perfectly happy eating grilled chicken or pizza every night, I love coming up with different  ideas to mix up our weekday dinners. And this was a recent creation that turned out to be quite the hit. It’s very simple to make, and far cheaper and healthier than hitting up the Chinese takeout place down the street. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients: Makes 2 servings

  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen vegetables (I used a “stir fry blend” of broccoli, carrots, green beans & cauliflower)
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 3-4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Preparation:

  1. Place raw chicken breasts (thinly sliced) into a large ziploc bag, and cover with next four ingredients (soy sauce through olive oil). Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat
  3. After chicken has marinated, pour entire contents of the bag into the saucepan.
  4. Cook until chicken has cooked through, and add frozen vegetables
  5. Continue to stir until vegetables are heated through
  6. To serve, place cooked brown rice on a plate, and top with chicken stir fry mixture. Top with sunflower seeds

IMG_2165

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

IMG_1974

It always seems like summer is completely filled to the brim with fun events and outings. Whether it’s a quick vacation or local festival, I have something planned nearly every weekend through the end of August. But as much fun as beer festivals, vacations Up North and constant dinners with friends are, the summer habit of eating out more often has left me feeling a little less than healthy. So to make up for our weekend fun, I’ve been trying to eat as healthfully as possible during the week days. I find it gives me a lot more energy, and stops the awful stomach-aches I often get from too many meals away from home. But even in a healthy diet, I think it’s important to leave room for dessert. And it just so happens that I found a recipe that is both nutritious and decadent at the same time. These chocolate banana muffins taste more like fudge brownies than your run of the mill banana bread, yet they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They contain no butter, oil, eggs or added sugar, and with the use of gluten free oats, can be made completely gluten free. But again…they taste like fudge brownies. In my book, you can’t get much better than that.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium to large ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until oats are ground up and resemble flour, set aside
  2. Place oat “flour”, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl
  3. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla extract and honey. Use an electric mixer to blend wet ingredients until just combined
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Place paper muffin liners in a muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin cups and bake at 350 for 10 minutes

IMG_1973