Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

Monday, October 9, 2017

My household eats alot of chicken. I wouldn't say that they are picky eaters, but they do have their favorites. And chicken is high on that list. I sometimes have trouble coming up with different  ways to prepare it, so that they don't get bored. This recipe for loaded baked potato chicken is a perfect meal. Because the potatoes are on the chicken, I just make a side ( usually green beans) and a small salad and dinner is served. You  can make this recipe your own by switching up the cheeses and adding other traditional baked potato toppings, like sour cream.  I think adding small broccoli florets would be great as well. I will do that the next time I make this dish. And I will definitely make it again!
*I use reduced fat cheddar (Cabot brand) and turkey bacon to lighten it up a bit.

Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

8 medium red potatoes, diced

1/3 c olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 c sharp cheddar cheese. shredded

1 c cooked crispy bacon, chopped

1/2 c diced green onion


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a 9x9 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2.In a large bowl, add potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder,kosher salt,paprika and black pepper.Toss to combine.

3. In a medium pan, add the remaining oil and heat to medium. Cook the chicken until cooked through. Take off of the heat and keep warm.

4.Place the potatoes in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes  until the potatoes are done, but not falling apart.

5.Place the chicken in the casserole dish .Top the chicken with the potatoes and sprinkle on the cheese and bacon.

6.Broil until the cheese is melted. Add green onion to serve. 

Queso Dip

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We love to entertain. Having friends and family around us is so important, for both my husband and I and our boys. Normally we just double or triple what we are making and have people over to eat. One of the favorite themes we like is Mexican. It is so easy to  make  a big batch of chicken or beef for tacos, nachos or enchiladas. If you prepare the fixin's (lettuce, cheese, guacamole, etc)  ahead of time it is a low stress way to entertain. I have been making this super easy slow cooker queso dip for awhile now and everyone raves about it. Super flavorful and creamy. And did I mention it is super easy ? :) Seriously just dump all the ingredients into a crock pot and in an hour you have queso perfection. You can find white American cheese in the deli at your local grocery store. Just ask for 1 lb and cube it . OR you could buy a package of individually wrapped white American cheese , but unwrapping all those pieces of cheese is a pain . And you can buy a can of hot rotel tomatoes for a spicier version. Or even add diced jalapeno. Lots of options. Serve with warm tortilla chips and be prepared for compliments and no leftovers :) 
* I have a smaller crockpot that I use for dips and sauces. I found it at Target and recommend having one on hand if you make lots of dips. It is the perfect size , and you don't have to lug out a big one.

Slow Cooker Queso Dip
1 8oz block cream cheese, cubed
1 lb white cheddar cheese, cubed
1 T salted butter
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
4 T milk
2 T chopped , fresh cilantro

1. Combine cream cheese, American cheese, butter, and drained rotel tomatoes in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low 1 hour. Stir until well combined and add the milk, 1 T at a time until you reach a desired consistency. I usually use all 4 T.
3. Stir in chopped cilantro right before serving.
4. Keep warm in slow cooker.

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Friday, September 22, 2017

One of the foods I love to make for neighbors, teachers and friends during the fall season is this old fashioned caramel corn. Growing up, this popcorn was always at my nana's when we could pop over to visit. She would make  a double {or triple) recipe and store it in a large Charles Chips tin. My sister, cousins and I would sit around the kitchen table and eat handfuls of it until nana cut us off. As we got older, she would put bowls of the corn  on the table as we played Scrabble . It brings back so many great memories. Don't you just love when food sends you into reminiscing about childhood?
This recipe is easy, once you get the hang of it. It is rich and buttery and makes a great snack. Keep it in  an airtight container , otherwise it will get soft. I would make a double batch if I were you .It goes quick!

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 quarts popped corn

Pop corn and keep warm in two shallow pans (however, I recommend using one large roasting pan versus cookie sheets) in 250 degree oven. Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in sauce pan on stovetop. Bring to a boil slowly and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour immediately over popped corn and mix well. Place back in oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.Let cool and break up. Store in container.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This is one of my very favorite meals to make. The flavors of the cranberry balsamic sauce over the pork tenderloin is fantastic. The woodsy rosemary, the tart cranberry and the sweet balsamic...heaven. This would make a great meal for holiday guests, and it is easy enough for a weeknight meal as well. I usually serve this pork with maple pecan sweet potatoes. Any type of sweet potatoes will do for this recipe. The potatoes really compliment the flavors of the pork.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.
Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary; sauté until onion softens, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Transfer pork to work surface. Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture.
Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Slice pork and serve with sauce.
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Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chicken dishes are one of the staples on our dinner table. I usually cook with chicken a few times a week. This recipe is one I came across a few years ago from Amy over at She Wears Many Hats . I love the flavor profile of coconut milk, garlic, lime and basil. This recipe uses all of those, plus the added bonus of ginger. If you do decide to add this recipe to your menu plan, make sure you prep ahead. The chicken is better if it marinates for a few hours ( or overnight). But if you don't, that is ok too. I have made it late in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before baking it and it has been yummy. No complaints from any of us. Also make sure that you buy canned coconut milk , and mix it well before you prepare the marinade. Coconut milk tends to separate while shelf stable in the can. In the summertime, if you can find fresh Thai basil, I highly recommend mincing a few leaves and garnishing the chicken before you serve it. It gives it a subtle spicy kick.
* you can use any type of chicken, but I love the bone in, skin on chicken thighs. It absorbs the flavor and the chicken doesn't dry out when baking . You can always take the skin off before serving.

Baked Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs
{Adapted from She Wears Many Hats)

1/2 c canned coconut milk
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
thai basil leaves , for garnish ( optional)

Preheat the oven to 450*
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together except the chicken thighs and thai basil, if using.
Transfer the marinade to a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the chicken in an oven proof skillet. Discard the marinade.
Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes , or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with minced thai basil, if desired.

Maple Chicken Tenderloins

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I have a confession. I am a recipe hoarder. Seriously. I am constantly printing, cutting out or jotting down recipes.Every day I add to my pile.It is so bad, I have to go through my pile every few weeks and downsize those recipes that I thought I would make at the time,but have since decided against. Now people, I am a spice snob. I tend to use Penzey's Spices on a regular basis and very ,very rarely do I buy any other. But looking through my myriad of recipes,I have always come back to this one, and it calls for Montreal Steak Seasoning. So I caved and bought a bottle. Made the recipe...and I am hooked! This recipe is ah-mazing. One of the best I have tasted in a long time.Plus, it is super easy to make,with very minimal ingredients and effort.I strongly suggest you make mashed sweet potatoes to accompany this chicken. Your taste buds with thank you. I know will have a bottle of McCormicks Montreal Steak Seasoning in my cabinet. Because I know I will be making this recipe often. And sharing it with anyone who tastes it . Now I am off to try to downsize the ever-growing pile of "to try" recipes. :)

Maple  Chicken Tenderloins
1 lb chicken tenderloins
2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 T butter
1/4 real maple syrup (splurge and use the real stuff.It is worth it. )

1.Lightly coat chicken with steak seasoning on both sides. Heat butter in a medium high skillet  and cook chicken 6-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
2. Stir the maple syrup into the hot skillet , scraping the seasoning from the bottom. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Put chicken back into the skillet  and coat with the maple syrup glaze. Simmer for a few minutes to rewarm the chicken.
4. Serve over mashed sweet potatoes.

Homemade Caramel Apples (Using a Slow Cooker)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Along with candied apples, we always look forward to caramel apples in the cooler months. These caramel apples are super easy . The caramel is melted in a slow cooker and the crisp apples are dipped into the caramel to set. I turn on the slow cooker to low and in about an hour , the caramel is melted and ready to use. The longest part of this recipe is unwrapping two whole bags of caramel.

Homemade Caramel Apples
2 bags caramel candies , unwrapped
1 T milk
10 small apples
10 popsicle sticks

1. Place all of the caramels into the slow cooker and put on low heat.
2. Meanwhile, clean and dry the apples and place a popsicle stick into each one.
3. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. set aside.
4. after about and hour , stir the milk into the caramel. It should be creamy and melted. If not, put the lid back on the slow cooker and heat a few more minutes.
5. Holding each apple by the popsicle stick, dip and turn the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Place each apple onto the greased cookie sheet to set.
* you have to work pretty quickly to get the caramel coated on each apple. I use a butter knife to spread the  caramel around the apple.