Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Happy Wednesday! To recap, I had such a great and full last weekend…on Friday night, my husband and I watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One with a good friend…it was SO SO SO SO SO good. Seriously. Even my husband (who hasn’t read the books) was literally on the edge of his seat for much of the movie.
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On Saturday evening, we went to dinner with my mother-in-law and her boyfriend. On Sunday we went to church and then I got to hang out with my good friend for lunch and shopping (she’s 9mo pregnant – can’t wait to meet her little one soon!)
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On Saturday, we also got our Christmas tree! We did the lights Saturday night, but two strands is just never enough, so on Sunday I went out to get a third strand…and then Sunday night, we were going to string the lights and decorate the tree, however one bulb went out, and in my attempt to fix it, made half the strand go out. So we bought another third strand, then finally decorated it on Monday. But my husband still needs to put up his beloved tinsel. Things in my household tend to be a…process. 😉 😉
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So while I don’t have Christmas tree pix, I do have a WONDERFUL recipe to share! I made buffalo chicken mac’n’cheese by A Spicy Perspective last week and it (like Mockingjay) was so so so so so good!! It was so creamy, first of all, which is a huge bonus. Homemade mac and cheese can be a difficult endeavor, but this was NOT! I wish I had taken more pictures of the process, to be honest, but oh well. In any case, if you like buffalo chicken, and you like mac and cheese, then you should definitely try this! Yum.
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Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

serves 6

Ingredients:
-one regular sized box of pasta (I used whole wheat shells)
-1 large chicken breast, cooked, shredded or cut into bite-size pieces (I baked mine with a few shakes of garlic salt, for about 35mins at 400F)
-2 small bell peppers, red and yellow, seeded and diced (I omitted this, because my husband doesn’t like peppers)
-1 bunch chopped green onions, divided
-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
-8oz cream cheese
-1cu blue cheese dressing
-3/4cu Buffalo Hot Wing Sauce
-3cu shredded cheese, divided (I recommend a blend)
-3/4cu Panko bread crumbs

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain, and pour into a large baking dish.
-Add the cooked chicken, chopped bell peppers, 3/4 of the green onions, and 2 1/4 cups of shredded cheese to the baking dish, then mix well.
-Place the garlic, cream cheese, blue cheese dressing and 1/2 cup of hot wing sauce in a food processor. Puree it until smooth, taste, and add another 1/4 cup hot wing sauce if needed. Pour over the pasta and toss.
-Mix the remaining 3/4 cup cheese and the Panko together. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta, then sprinkle with the remaining green onions.
-Bake until golden, about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.

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Sesame Chicken

This past weekend I got the pleasure of co-hosting my best friend’s baby shower – and it was a hit!!  Her mother-in-law made all of the food and it was so amazing!  Ham and cheese croissants, southwestern chicken wraps, turkey and cranberry bites, frozen fruit salad, and so much more.  Yummm.  Also, her mother made an amazing punch – it was completely gone by the time the last person left!  So much good food and fun celebration – and the mama-to-be really cleaned up with gifts!  That baby has so much stuff. =P
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I have been so busy with helping plan, shopping, wrapping prize-gifts for the games (and just regular “life” stuff on top of that), that I have once again gotten behind in blogging, but I am sure my readers are not surprised by that.  I do have a great and simple Monday recipe for ya (sesame chicken from Damn Delicious) – as long as you marinade it ahead of time, you will be good to go!  The recipe instructions may look super long and complicated, but I promise you, it’s not!

We had a friend with food allergies over for dinner the night of making this dish, so I had to alter it greatly – and moreso in the final stages, as I had known one of the allergies was corn-related, but it didn’t dawn on me that CORNSTARCH is made of CORN (yes, I have a Master’s degree…), and I don’t have any gluten-free flour (because I had been thinking I could just use cornstarch), so it ended up not breaded.  In any case, it still turned out delicious, no one had an allergic reaction, and we all had full bellies!  I am going to post the recipe as-is, though, and you can obviously adjust it for what you need, as well.
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Sesame Chicken

serves 4

Ingredients:
For the chicken
-1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
-1cu cornstarch
-1/2cu all-purpose flour
-1/2tsp baking soda
-2 large egg whites, beaten
-Oil, for frying
-Sesame seeds, for garnish
-Sliced green onions, for garnish
For the marinade
-1cu chicken stock
-1/2cu soy sauce
-1/4cu honey
-1/4cu rice wine vinegar
-3tbsp brown sugar, packed
-2tbsp cornstarch
-2tbsp sesame oil, divided
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1tbsp grated fresh ginger
-1tsp chili paste

Directions:
-To make the marinade, whisk together chicken stock, soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1/2 cup water in a large bowl.
-In a large bowl or ziploc bag, combine chicken and 6 tablespoons of the marinade; marinate overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade.
-Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and chili paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups marinade until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes; keep warm.
-Separately, in a large bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, baking soda and remaining marinade until it resembles coarse meal.
-Dredge each piece of chicken in the egg whites, then coat with the marinade corn meal mixture.
-Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven (I used my wok!). Add chicken and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
-Serve chicken immediately, tossed or drizzled with the marinade, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

I was not able to eat chicken teriyaki for 3-4 years, until recently.  Prior to The Incident, I loooooved teriyaki chicken (either ordered as spicy, or just dolled up with lots of sriracha sauce on my own).  Being from the Seattle area, there is no shortage of teriyaki.  There is a teriyaki joint on every corner (right next to Starbucks, of course).  It was one of the many things that fascinated my husband every time he visited the northwest, and now living here.  I don’t think there’s a single teriyaki restaurant in upstate New York (they serve it, at other Asian restaurants, but I don’t think there are any restaurants specifically for it).

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(the sauce, simmering on the stove)

So, you may be curious as to what The Incident is.  Well.  When I was living in a Seattle neighbourhood several years ago, I had been on a no fast food program (and by program, I mean I just gave up fast food) for a few years, and there was one night that I was famished, I didn’t have time or want to cook upon arriving home, everything was closed, etc. and it was about 9:30pm.  Only thing open?  Fast food.  I passed a teriyaki restaurant by my apartment that was miraculously still open, so I stopped in.  It was empty, and appeared to be almost closing, but I ordered up, took my food home, went to my room, opened the carton and took a bite of…chewy, nasty chicken.  Also, while at the restaurant, I heard the guy in the back room, and I heard the CHOP CHOP CHOP of the chicken and it just reminded me of some horror movie, or decapitating a live chicken, or God knows what.  I spit out the food in my mouth, dumped the entire container in the trash, and proceeded to not eat teriyaki for over 3 years.  Yes, I’m a little crazy.

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In any case, the other month I had spicy chicken teriyaki and it was absolutely divine.  So I think the curse is broken!  Though I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the place mentioned above.  And this entire, semi-gross story leads me into the topic of this post, which was slow cooker teriyaki chicken by Gimme Some Oven

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It is quick, it relatively simple, and does not use sugar!  Granted, it uses honey, which is very high in calories (but a “healthier” option than straight sugar).  It was pretty sweet, I gotta admit.  I doused mine up with sriracha sauce, of course, but my husband could only eat one bowlful of the sauce (which I guess is good, cuz of proper portions!).  But it definitely had the distinct taste of restaurant teriyaki sauce (minus the chicken actually being seared on a hot grill or stove).

I do have to add that this is one of those “high maintenance” crock pot recipes, which kind of irritates me, because the purpose of using a crock pot is to be LOW maintenance – but some people have crock pots with timers, which I’m sure would come in handy, or if you are home during the day or have a spouse, friend, or child that can pop in and turn it on halfway through the day, then it’ll be ready when you walk in the door after a hard day’s work!

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Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

serves 2-4

Ingredients:
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4cu chopped white onion
-1/4cu honey
-1/4cu low sodium soy sauce
-1/8cu rice wine vinegar
-1/2tbsp chopped fresh ginger
-ground pepper, to taste
-1/8cu cold water
-1.5tbsp cornstarch
(optional toppings: sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds)

Directions:
-Put chicken breasts in a single layer on the bottom of your crock pot.
-In a separate bowl, whisk together the garlic, onion, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and black pepper until combined. Pour the mixture on top of the chicken breasts. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Remove the chicken (minus sauce) to a separate bowl and shred it using two forks. Transfer the remaining teriyaki sauce from the slow cooker to a medium saucepan.
-Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and not lumpy. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, then let it continue to boil for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and pour the sauce on top of the shredded chicken. Toss to combine.
-Serve topped with scallions and toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Asian Fish and Peanut Sauce Noodles

This is just your friendly neighbourhood reminder that fish does NOT have to be boring, blah, plain, or any other negative adjective you might be thinking of. This Asian fish with peanut sauce noodles by Julia’s Album is anything but! I have never cooked anything from her blog before, but I was pretty pleased with the end result.  The flavour of the glaze gives the fish such a great taste – it remains light and flaky, but not lacking in anything.
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I also need to add that I did not make the homemade peanut sauce, as the original blogger did. I had a small amount of jarred peanut sauce leftover (House of Tsang Bangkok peanut sauce is delish) that I wanted to use up before it went bad (though I truly have no idea how long it takes for it to go bad…)  I am still going to include in my write-up the instructions for the peanut sauce because, let’s be honest, homemade peanut sauce is DIVINE.
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Also, I did not use rice noodles, because I already had whole-wheat pasta at home and it didn’t seem like a huge deal to use that instead (except that using rice noodles makes it more ethnic, and they are delicious!).

All in all, it was a unique spin on boring or over-done tilapia/white fish recipes – and was somewhat healthy!  The fish itself was only about 100 calories, but the noodles and peanut sauce bump it up quite a bit…
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Asian Fish and Peanut Sauce Noodles

serves 2

Ingredients:
For the peanut sauce
-1/8cu fish sauce
-1/4cu honey or brown sugar
-1tbsp rice vinegar
-1/4tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
-1/8cu creamy peanut butter
-1/8cu coconut milk
-1.5tsp red curry paste
-4oz rice stick noodles or other pasta
For the glaze
-1tbsp brown sugar or honey
-1tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
-1tbsp white wine vinegar
For the fish
-1.5tsp olive oil
-2 white fish fillets, about 4oz each (tilapia, halibut, etc.)
-salt and pepper, to taste
-chopped green onions or chives – for garnish

Directions:
-Mix first 4 ingredients for the peanut sauce in a large pan, heat on low-medium heat, stirring to melt honey. Then add peanut butter, coconut milk and red curry paste, continuing to stir until very creamy. If it is a little bit watery – that’s fine.
-Cook rice noodles or other pasta according to package instructions. Add noodles to the peanut sauce, keep it on warm or very low (but take it off heat altogether if you notice the liquid evaporating).
-To make the glaze, combine all glaze ingredients into a small saucepan and cook on medium-high heat until the glaze thickens slightly. Set aside and keep covered while the fish cooks.
-Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add olive oil – it should sizzle immediately. Add fish fillets to the skillet, and sear about 2 minutes on each side.
-To serve, place a scoop of peanut sauce noodles in the middle of the plate, top with the fish fillet, pour some glaze over, then top with chopped green onions or chives!

Hello from somewhere in Illinios…

I should have mentioned this sooner, but I am on a cross-country road trip with my husband, mom, niece, dog, cat, bearded dragon, and two rats.  I am not cooking right now, and am a few recipes behind in blogging, so I apologize for any delay.  I will get back to blogging as soon as I can!

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Tonight I am going to see Blake Shelton!!  Yay!!  I actually could not stand him until about 2-3 years ago, when the TV show The Voice started and I began watching it with two friends of mine (one of which I’m going to this concert with).  Now I love him and his music.

Moving right along, ever since I made sriracha sloppy joes a few months ago, I am now obsessed with anything sloppy joe related (check out my Pinterest, if you’d like proof).  Yes, at the age of 29, I have discovered my love for sloppy joes.  Don’t judge me. 😉  There is just something amazing about spaghetti sauce mixed with spices, chopped vegetables, and ground beef/turkey/etc.  My good friend Alysha is probably shaking her head at me right now.

In any case, these Turkey Sloppy Joes from The Novice Chef hit the spot for sure.  I even paired them with sweet potato fries, just like she did!  I don’t really have much to say about these, except they were super yummy.  We both gobbled them up.  Also, I am outing my husband eating two Joes, in the picture.  But he’s a man and therefore has a manly appetite!  And let’s be honest, it’s not like I’ve never eaten two of something before…=X

Oh, there actually is one thing to note.  The key is to let it simmer for awhile once all of the ingredients are combined.  I am a huge fan of taste-testing while cooking, and when I tasted this at the beginning, it was really, really ketchup-y, but after I let it simmer for quite awhile, that dissipated and it tasted much better.  Therefore, the key is to wait and let all of the flavours, spices, and other ingredients blend together while cooking.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes

serves 6 (we had tons of leftovers)

Ingredients:
-1/4cu ketchup
-1tbsp dijon mustard
-1tbsp worcestershire sauce
-2tbsp tomato paste (I’m sure you can omit this – I think it also contributed to the ketchup-y taste, but I happened to have some leftover in the fridge, so I used it)
-1tsp red wine vinegar
-8oz can tomato sauce
-1tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-one extra lean ground turkey (the packages at the grocery store come in 1.3lbs)
-1tbsp chili powder (I think I used less, to ease my husband’s non-spicy palate)
-1tsp crushed red pepper
-1tsp salt (I omitted this – I often omit salt)
-1tsp fresh ground pepper
-6 whole wheat buns

Directions:
-In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and tomato sauce, then set aside.
-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion and cook, stirring as needed, for 5 minutes or until translucent.
-Add turkey and cook until browned through, breaking it up as it cooks. Add chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more and then add the ketchup mixture, stirring to evenly coat turkey mixture.
-Simmer for 5 minutes more, or until thickened (I simmered at least 10-15mins, maybe more, to get rid of the strong ketchup-y taste).
-While sauce thickens, toast the buns, then serve! =)

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Happy 4th of July!  While everyone is cooking out, setting off fireworks, etc., make sure to also take a moment to think about the fallen men and women that made today possible. =)

Today I am grilling at my apartment with my husband, our roommate, my old roommate, and my old roommate’s boyfriend (who was also my old roommate).  Does that sound confusing?  We are grilling white hots, which is a western New York specialty (my old roommate hails from Rochester, NY).  Later tonight, we’ll find a good place to settle in and watch the fireworks – that’s my favourite part!!

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In any case, earlier this week I made baked chicken chimichangas from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice’s blog that I recently stumbled upon.  They were delicious.  And spicy.  I reduced the amount of chili powder and cumin that the original recipe called for, but I included a jalapeno pepper (but I de-seeded and de-ribbed it).  My poor husband’s plate, at the end of the meal, had a little mound of green pepper bits.  He was very sweet about it and ate the entire meal (except the peppers).  Despite this, it was a really yummy dinner and, similar to the baked creamy chicken taquitos, completely baked!  Ok, well, the filling is partially fried at the beginning, but frying the filling uses far less oil than frying the entire chimichanga.  Click this link to see another recipe for baked chicken chimichangas I’ve made, that were also incredibly tasty as well as somewhat healthy! Bottom line: you can’t go wrong with chimichangas.

WW value per chimichanga: 10-11 (this includes sour cream and salsa garnish).

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Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Ingredients:
-2tbsp olive oil
-1/2 medium onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 green jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
-1/2tsp chili powder
-1/4tsp ground cumin
-coarse salt and fresh black pepper
-1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded
-1/3cu sour cream, plus more for serving
-2-3tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-large whole wheat tortillas
-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I ran out, and used pepper jack for mine)
-additional garnish of your choice

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and spray baking dish with cooking spray.
-Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet and cook the onion, garlic and jalapeno until soft. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, dash of salt and pepper, cook 1 minute.
-Add the chicken and cilantro, mix well, then stir in the sour cream. Remove from heat.
-Spoon chicken mixture down center of each tortilla, add cheese, fold ends in, roll up, and place seam-side down in the baking dish.
-Spray the top of each chimichanga with additional cooking spray (or use butter spread, but will affect your WW points), and bake for about 15 minutes.
-Serve hot, with your desired garnish.