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I believe we have found a keeper.


In spite of the fact that it contains Brussels sprouts.


Seriously – the sprouts give it a very authentic taste.  And they’re covered in sauce anyways, so even if you hate Brussels Sprouts, you won’t even know they’re there!  Give it a try.

Plus, there is a jalapeno to lend some heat…SONY DSC
  And the final product is a delicious bowl of rice and sweet & spicy chicken.

You can find the recipe here.

The changes I made:

– I doubled the sauce.  And I think I may make even more next time.  We are serious about sauce.

– I used a jalapeno pepper as I could not find a red chili pepper at Wegman’s.  I have a love-hate relationship with that fabulous/terrible store.

– I forgot the peanuts.  Bummer.

– We used brown jasmine rice instead of white.

I will admit that it seemed to lack something, and I’m not quite sure what it was.  But I am going to keep trying stuff until I find out what it’s missing.  Maybe some of Trader Joe’s amazing sweet chili sauce?  Yes.  That could solve the problem.  Glad I thought of that now, at 9:52 at night, instead of when I was actually cooking.
  In the meantime, it’s definitely tasty enough and is worth adding to the menu rotation.


I absolutely love walking in my house at 5 o’clock and smelling dinner cooking.
On it’s own.

This is one of my go-to crock pot recipes.  I make a few changes, which I’ll include in bold at the end of each step, but the recipe below is as it is in America’s Test Kitchen.  The directions seem longer and more involved than they really are, so don’t be scared off 🙂

Slow-Cooker Chicken with White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream


6 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts or 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I have used skinless chicken breasts before and it has worked just fine.)
Salt and pepper
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered (baby bellas)
1 onion, chopped medium
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 TBSP minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
2 bay leaves
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths (save yourself some time and just use baby carrots!)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. minced fresh tarragon
1 TBSP lemon juice

1) dry the chicken with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tsp. oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Brown half of the chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker.  (Remove the brown skin if using chicken thighs.)  Return the skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more teaspoons oil and the remaining chicken.  Discard any fat left in the skillet. (Once, when I was low on time and only had frozen chicken, I totally skipped this step and just placed the frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot – it turned out great!  So you can definitely omit this step if you don’t have time.)

2) Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Cook until the mushrooms are brown, 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds.  Stir in the wine, scraping any browned bits, and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Pour into the slow cooker.

3) Add the broth, thyme, and bay leaves to the slow cooker.  Nestle the carrots into the slow cooker around the edges.  Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, about 4 hours.

4) Transfer the chicken to a large dish and tent loosely with foil.  Discard the bay leaves.  Set the slow cooker to high.  Whisk the flour with the cream until smooth, then stir into the slow-cooker.  Cover and continue to cook until the sauce is thickened and no longer tastes of flour, 15-30 minutes longer.  Stir in the tarragon and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon the vegetables and some of the sauce over the chicken and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately. (I like to add a bag of frozen peas at the end with the cream.  You don’t have to, but we like it.  And confession: I’ve never made this with tarragon.  I know, it’s in the title!  I just always forget to get it at the store :)  I also just return the chicken to the crock pot at the end and serve everything over hot rice.  Much easier that way.)

Hope this helps your hands-off cooking endeavors!  Enjoy!!!

A certain silly-faced girl who sucks on her hands every waking minute…


Spicy Chicken Peanut Noodles.
One of our go-to recipes.

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping.

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I have a ton of these bars leftover because I made an entire 9×13 inch pan for, oh, 3 people.  Someone must come and take them from me before I eat them all by myself and become unrecognizable. 

For those of you who don’t like squash (coughmyhusbandcough), I apologize for the recent posts.

I also apologize for the terrible lighting (dark at 6 o’clock!)

But back to squash.  I happen to love it.  And it is November.  So squash I will make.  Acorn squash, this time.  And, although squash is not his favorite, Mike said this was “ok” and he would even eat it again.  Hooray! 🙂

The Chinese Five-Spice makes it.

Spiced Squash with Brown Butter Glaze

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And then we had these:
Honey Mustard Sesame Chicken Planks 

They were soooooo good!!!  The sauce is a definite keeper.  And I used panko breadcrumbs, which were fantastic.  An added bonus: they’re EASY!  I will definitely be making these again.DSC07632

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Ok – so, Rachael Ray typically drives me nuts.  As my mom says, “she’s like a bad highschool musical.” 🙂

Her magazine, however, has provided several prize recipes lately, and I’m loving it! (Many thanks to Ange for finding me a FREE subscription!)
Plus, now I don’t have to hear her talk.  I can just read her recipes.  The best of both worlds.


I’m finally getting back into cooking and baking.
Blogging, not so much (as you can tell).
Life is a little crazier with a baby.
I can hear all you veteran moms laughing at me right now.
Anyways, here are some of the dishes we’ve been cooking up as of late. 

Tor starters, I promised Mike I would do his Master Omelet justice here on the blog:
On Labor Day, Mike cooked up a fabulous breakfast.  He made a giant Bacon, Cheese, Mushroom & Pepper Omelet.  It was fantastic.  Later that same week he made these awesome Grilled Chicken Clubs.  Sadly, I have no pictures of those.  But take my word for it, they were yummy.  He’s my own Take Home Chef!! 😉

Next, Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes.  Only I used beef. (Yes, I know that’s not very Indianish of me.)

Also on the menu: Buffalo Chicken Wraps from Everyday Food
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The recipe called for hot sauce for the chicken.  Next time, I would definitely use wing sauce.  They tasted more like Spicy Chicken than Buffalo Chicken.

I do not have any pictures of this, but I hosted a girls night this week and made Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pudding Cake.  Make this ASAP.  And just remember – it’s fat, sugar, and calorie free!!!! 😉

And last but not least, I made this Bloomin’ Herb Bread last night.  It’s one of our favorites and is so super easy to make. 
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Next up on the list is salsa.  I, too, am fed up with the jarred stuff.  It just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Traci made this recently and let me taste it – i’m hooked!  Can’t wait to make my own.

Coming up with lots of nicknames for this little princess:


Some of the more popular ones:
– (Where’s) Baldo (?)
– Droolia
– Queen of Spits
– Rotten Bob
That last one needs a bit of explaining.  As detailed in the previous post, and not without a little drama, we have realized that Julia has a rather round face, similar to Bob the Tomato’s.  When she is being bad, she’s like a rotten tomato.  But not just any tomato…no…BOB the Tomato.  And that there is the convoluted way in which we arrived at the name Rotten Bob.  In case anyone cared…

Hitting up the Grower’s Market on Saturday mornings.

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That purple thing is an eggplant, if anyone was wondering.  I thought it was a type of fancy squash.  Traci thought it was an eggplant.  Traci was right.  But you really can’t blame me for pausing for thought when trying to decide what it was.  It doesn’t resemble a traditional eggplant.

That entire bucket of peppers: $3.50.  10 peppers!  It was the steal of the day.

Making Blackberry Cobbler with the blackberries from the Market

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This is the easiest cobbler you will ever make.  It’s mostly all fruit.

– 2/3 c. flour (I use half whole wheat, half white)
– 1/2 c. sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 2/3 c. milk
– 2 TBSP butter, melted
– 2 c. your choice of berry (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, etc.)

-Combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.  Stir in the milk and mix until combined.
– Pour melted butter into pie dish.  Pour in batter and sprinkle berries on top.
– Sprinkle 1 TBSP raw sugar on top
– Bake at 350 for 40-45 mins or until lightly browned.

Mike and I can easily eat an entire cobbler for breakfast.  Try it!  So easy.

Cooking favorite dinners:

Chicken Milano


Chicken Kabobs

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This is one of our current favorites.  We’ve been eating them at least once or twice a week!  I just marinate the chicken in Italian dressing then skew it along with fresh veggies.  Then Mike grills them up and we eat them with brown rice.  Soooooo good!  I think we’ll keep making them until it’s too cold to grill.

And that’s been our life lately. 

I’m interested in what my life will look like in the near future.  Tomorrow is my birthday, and Mike has some surprises up his sleeve apparently.  I’ve been good, though, and haven’t snooped.  I’ll let you know what happens…

Happy (almost) Friday!

I’m going to be brutally honest.  It was not health-food-night at the Smiths’.

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 Sweet & Sour Chicken               Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

I blame Traci.  She’s the one who showed me these recipes.  Ok, to be fair, I saw the pudding cake on my own, but she tempted me by posting it on her blog a while back.

I’m literally shaking from all the sugar coursing through my veins right now.  And JuJu doesn’t know what hit her.  But it was oh so good.

Fortunately, both Mike and I worked out today.
Unfortunately, we obliterated those workouts with this meal.
Fortunately, we don’t eat like this every night.
”Unfortunately”, we have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow night.   
Fortunately, when you’re pregnant, your stomach is already sticking out so it doesn’t matter how much you ate at dinner – no one can distinguish baby from cake. 
Unfortunately, tomorrow is weigh-in-day.  (Dr’s appointment.)
Fortunately, we will be working out in the morning.  Again.  And just like that we’ve come full circle.


Way #1: Wrap it up. 
Romaine + parm cheese + Caesar dressing + chicken + whole wheat tortilla = a fabulous lunch or light dinner.


Way #2: Transform last night’s dinner.
Roast a chicken + eat + use the leftovers to make this = quick and DELICIOUS = Two meals out of one.
Okay, that wasn’t as mathematically correct as the first equation.
So what! Who cares? (Said like Fred Armisen.)


We loved it.  Super fresh, spectacular flavor, no mayo, and easy peasy. 
Pun intended.

And there you have it.  Salad two ways.  And if you only try one, please go make the chicken salad one.  It’s one of the many jewels you will find on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen.


Although, Margie pointed out yesterday that this saying is misleading.

Because pie is never easy. 

And she’s absolutely right.  Unless it’s pumpkin pie.  But strawberry pie?  No sir.  Last time I tried that, it turned out more like Strawberries, Sugar Water and Dough.  I need to go to pie school.

Fortunately, this is not about pie.  It’s about soup.  And it’s one of the easiest soups I’ve ever made.  It may, in fact, be THE easiest.  Pair it with some toasted sourdough bread, and you have yourself a hearty (and healthy-ish) meal.

DSC05503   What I like about it, too, is that it can be just as much a Spring or Summer soup as it can a Fall or Winter one.  There is lemon in it which really brightens and lightens the flavor.  Mike really liked it too, which is good because he will be eating it for lunch the rest of the week 🙂

Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon
from: Martha Stewart Everyday Food

– 7 c. low-sodium chicken broth
– 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (1 large chicken breast half)
– 1 c. long-grain white rice
– 3 large eggs
– 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
– coarse salt and ground pepper
– chopped fresh dill, for serving (I didn’t have any on hand, so I omitted)

In a medium saucepan, combine broth and chicken; bring broth to a gentle simmer over medium.  Reduce heat slightly so liquid is moving but not simmering; cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest until cool enough to handle.  Shred into bite-size pieces.

2) Bring broth to a rapid simmer; add rice and cook just until tender, 16-18 minutes.  Return chicken to pot.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until frothy; whisk in lemon juice.  Whisking constantly, slowly pour 1 c. hot broth into egg mixture.  Immediately whisk egg mixture into pot.  Season soup with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, garnished with pepper and dill.

The other night we had some very fun guests – Matt and Meg.  I made one of our favorite meals: Soft Grilled Chicken Tacos.  Cyndi sent me the recipe a while ago, and it quickly became a keeper.  I frequently rotate them into my meal plan.  The secret is in the homemade shells.  All you do is lightly fry flour tortillas in a little bit of canola oil until slightly crispy on the outside, still soft on the inside.  They are infinitely better than store-bought, and unbelievably easy.  They literally take about a minute per shell.

If you want the recipe, go here.  It’s from Cooking Light, but we kinda eliminate everything that makes in light 😉  The variations I make: I use chicken breast (not thighs), I use Habanero-Lime tortillas (from TJ), we use regular sour cream and cheese, we add all kinds of “fixins” with no regard for calories whatsoever.  And so you see, I cannot claim that my tacos are “light.”  I apologize.

Here are some chips I fried up as well, with hummus.


“Fixins”: Grilled chicken, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese and salsa.  It’s a pretty fantastic combination.

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And for dessert: broiled pineapple rings with vanilla ice cream.

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The best part was when Matt got ahold of Mike’s ID badge and figured out that it made a super fun toy.  Here you can see he has wrapped it around his head like a bandanna, yet with the picture ID still visible.


We had a great time hanging out with them.  It had been a while since we’d had them over, and it was good to catch up and hear all that God is doing in their lives.  Meg is one of my best friends, and she is also pregnant and due just a little over a month after me – August 21st.  Can’t wait to raise our kids together!  Even though there is pretty much no chance of either of them being normal, we are very excited for them to grow up together 🙂

Collective Reminiscings

The Smittys

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