Monday, May 22, 2017

Creamy Tuscan Chicken


Short on time but want a restaurant-quality meal on the table tonight? Then I've got you covered. This Creamy Tuscan Chicken is SO easy and SO delicious, and it's ready in a flash! You better put the pasta water on to boil before you start the chicken, otherwise you'll be waiting for the pasta!

Chicken breasts are sauteed and then covered in a creamy sauce dotted with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. The flavor is out of this world. I promise it will win rave reviews from your family, or whomever is lucky enough to eat it. I served it over egg noodles with sauteed green beans, and everyone scarfed it up. Plus, it's a beautiful presentation so would be perfect for guests.

I used some larger chicken breasts for this and then cut them in half lengthwise to get thinner portions that cook more evenly. I have also substituted a pound of large shrimp for the chicken, adding them just at the end (no earlier saute like with chicken) and it is wonderful.

So, chicken or shrimp - noodles or rice (or quinoa!)- whatever your choice, you will love this dish. In fact, I'm making it again tomorrow night. That's the sign of a winner - a weekly repeat.


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Creamy Tuscan Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

In a large skillet add I Tbsp. olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and saute and onions and garlic over medium high heat until onions are soft. Add the half and half, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Oarmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta, if you like.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Recipe Critic

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes


Don't scroll past this post too quickly - even if you don't eat gluten free, you'll want to know about this wonderful dessert! I don't eat gluten free regularly, but I do regularly have dinner guests, and sometimes those guests are gluten free. It's great to have a few things in your "dessert arsenal" as options when you have guests with special dietary requirements, and it's even better if, like with this recipe, everyone will love it because it's so delicious - gluten free and gluten full both!

Of course, cream cheese is naturally gluten free, so it was just the crust here that needed addressing. Almond flour makes a great crust, and provides some nice texture too. Next time, I may even add a few sliced almonds on top of the crust for additional crunch. (I keep my almond flour in the freezer since I use it infrequently and it stays fresh for a long time.)


I served these cheesecakes two different ways on two occasions; once with a berry sauce and once with fresh berries. And both with whipped cream, of course! (Another great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be halved if you only need 6 desserts...)

So, whether you're gluten free or not, you will enjoy these cheesecakes. I promise!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes

Crust:
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs

For the crust, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest, then stir in the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture between 12 paper- or silicone-lined muffin cups and lightly press down with the back of a spoon or your clean fingers.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs on low, one at a time, and just until well incorporated.

Fill each liner about 2/3 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don't jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the paper liners now, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with fresh berries or a berry sauce and whipped cream.

Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Texaserin Baking

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}


I really like cooking chicken thighs, especially in the crock pot or Instant Pot. They don't dry out as easily as chicken breasts, and they pair really well with Asian flavors. I developed this recipe after seeing something similar in a cookbook. This chicken was a huge hit with my family, and it's SO FAST if you have a pressure cooker. If you don't, just use your crock pot, and while it takes longer, dinner will be ready when you are.


If you want to be extra fancy, you can brown the chicken before placing in the crock pot. In the Instant Pot, you would do this right in the pot on the saute setting, before adding the sauce. This will help the pot come to pressure more quickly. Personally, I can't be bothered! But some people prefer browned meat, so that's totally up to you.

We loved this alongside rice and steamed snow peas. Go easy on yourself with this simple and delicious week night dinner!

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Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Place chicken in the crock pot or Instant Pot.

In a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine the Thai sweet chili sauce, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken.

For Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

For Instant Pot, set to manual pressure for 7 minutes. When time is up, do a quick pressure release. (Note: time may vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Always check to be sure the meat is done before serving! For this recipe, I've done as little as 6 minutes and as many as 10.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Recipe Source: Inspired by a similar recipe in a Taste of Home Cookbook

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


I make a lot of muffins at our house, and these have recently been a huge hit. There's no cream cheese center here, but cream cheese is incorporated into the batter to make these the fluffiest muffins you'll eat. I've made these with fresh blueberries and I've also used the frozen 3-berry blend from Costco with great results, and with much acclaim.


Don't be shocked by the relative "lack" of flour here - 2 cups is all you need for two dozen muffins. Make any day of the week special with these delicious muffins! And you can freeze them for easy breakfasts later, too!


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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, and mix again until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the muffin batter and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula once or twice. There will be a lot of dry steaks remaining. Add the blueberries. Mix until just combined; the batter will be lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 14-17 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch.

Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temp or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze these muffins in a large zip top freezer bag, and then thaw in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Makes 24 muffins.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads


Leftover ingredients can be quite a challenge, but sometimes also yield the best new dinners! That was the case here. I had uncooked steak and vegetables from a stir fry earlier in the week, and so I combined them to make this very delicious flatbread. Even the kids (who dislike asparagus usually) gobbled it up! I guess garlicky bread and cheese makes most things edible! Ha!


Like a stir fry, you can vary flatbread (or pizza) ingredients with whatever your leftovers are. Another great way to use up leftovers is in an egg bake or quiche. Get creative!


Even though this dinner was born from leftovers, it is so good that I might plan to buy this combo of ingredients for next time.


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Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads

3 large Na'an breads or flatbreads
2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. garlic seasoning blend
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
8 oz. top sirloin steak
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Season the steak generously with salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat, and when hot, add the steak. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until it is not quite as done as you prefer (it will cook more in the oven!). Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and then add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add asparagus and mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have softened and asparagus is crisp-tender.

Place flatbreads on a baking stone and brush about 1/2 tsp. oil over each. Top with 1/2 cup cheese on each flatbread. Distribute the vegetables evenly among the three. Divide the steak among the flatbreads.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp


Shrimp and pasta is a great combo in my book, as you can tell from the recipes already posted here: Creamy Dilled Shrimp Fettucine, Creamy Shrimp Linguine, Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta, Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli, Seafood Lasagna, Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp with Orzo.

This is another take on that great combination, this time adding in Cajun spices and flavors. I also added spinach to ramp up the veggie quotient. This was a big hit at my house; feel free to adjust the spices to your family's tastes and tolerance. And it was even better for lunch the next day, so the lucky winner of the leftovers tells me. (Do you "fight" over the leftovers at your house? I love it when the kids would prefer to take leftovers for lunch over sandwiches.)


So, whether you eat this for dinner or lunch, you're sure to enjoy it. Shrimp and veggies in a creamy tomato sauce. It doesn't get much better than that!


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Cajun Shrimp Pasta

10 ounces small pasta shape
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
12 ounces large cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red/orange/yellow bell pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained and pureed
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving up to a cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a medium bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, pepper and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, salt, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove pan from heat; stir in shrimp and pasta. Add more pasta water if needed.

Stir in half-and-half and spinach. Cook 1 minute over medium heat or until thoroughly heated and spinach is mostly wilted.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, March 27, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs


It's March Madness! With the final four coming up, I thought it would be good to present a fun appetizer/game watching snack. These Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are lighter fare than wings, but taste just as good! When you serve them with a drizzle of blue cheese and some celery sticks, they're sure to be gobbled up quickly.

These take a little prep work before you heat them through in the crock pot, but it takes only minutes to form the meatballs and give them a quick baking. Then you can let them bathe in the wing sauce while you prepare additional snacks, shoot some hoops yourself, or take a nap.


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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3/4 cup Panko
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs onto a parchment or baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for 5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.

Place meatballs in a crock pot. Add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Serve immediately, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, if desired.

Recipe Source: Damn Delicious
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