10 minute Guacamole Chicken!!!

I was so excited to discover this combo and this is SUCH an easy weeknight dinner.  It only takes 10 minutes *if* youhave precooked chicken to use, otherwise you would want to roast your chicken first.  I like to either grill a bunch of extra chicken on the weekends, or roast some up early in the week so I do have it on hand (see this method).  Also if you already have guacamole.  I do this when we have leftover, and save it covered in plastic wrap with as much air squished out as possible to prevent browning.  (I don’t have a good guacamole recipe yet, but a version with plenty of lime, tomato, and garlic will make this pop!)

Guacamole Chicken

-boneless skinless chicken breasts, roasted or grilled
-cumin
-guacamole, about 1/2 cup to 4 medium breasts
-sliced jack, mozzarella, or other white cheese.

Preheat oven to low broil.  Cover a sheet pan with foil; arrange chicken. If pieces are very thick you may want to spice them lengthwise. 
Sprinkle each breast lightly with cumin, then spread with guacamole. Top with cheese slices–I like to tear them to fit the chicken, which also helps preserve the guac if you want leftovers.  Broil 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. 
Serve with chips or cilantro lime rice.  Enjoy!

(And by the way, cilantro lime rice really is as easy as throwing some cilantro and a spritz of lime in your rice!)

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

There is nothing to say about this recipe except amazing. It is not original with me but I have no idea where it actually came from;  I looked it up again before I made it this fall to refresh my memory and found a bazillion different sites but they all had the same recipe which they all in turn found at  different sites.  But,  it is a complete win–so easy and so good!  It does require “presence” the whole time–you can’t start it and walk away–but it only takes about 20 minutes before it goes in the freezer to set.

You need:
*Pretzels-about 2/3 bag of regular thin “pretzel shapes” or 1/2 bag of sticks.
*2 sticks butter
*1 cup brown sugar.  Light dissolves and sets up a little better than dark but big are good.
*2 chips chocolate baking chips.  Or more. 🙂 I use semisweet.
*Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper, and make a full layer of pretzels.  (Breaking them up will give them a nice randomness, especially if you use sticks. )
In a saucepan,  melt butter and sugar together over medium heat.  Stir til it’s boiling and then just let it boil on its own 3 minutes. Turn off heat and pour evenly over pretzels. .. haha yeah right!  I can never get it even so I end up having to stir it around and mess up my nice pretzel layer but oh well. 
Place in the hot oven 5 minutes-this helps everything set and does allow the caramel to melt around a bit too. 
Sprinkle chocolate on top and place back in oven 1 minute to melt.  Spread with spatula if needed. 
Sprinkle with sea salt and freeze for an hour or overnight. 
Enjoy the delectable deliciousness!

Accidental Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce, and Focaccia Breadsticks

My husband is a huge fan of alfredo sauce.  I don’t serve it a ton, though: I haven’t taken the time to master a good one from scratch; I don’t really love any of the canned brands I’ve tried, and I’ve got a quite good beurre blanc (white sauce with wine and cream or butter that is a bit healthier and I usually use instead.  But my last couple white sauces haven’t quite been up to snuff and it just felt like an alfredo night, so out came the jar from the cupboard.

I usually make or, in this case, warm my sauce in the pan I’ve done my meat in, to give it some extra flavor.  Tonight, however, happy accident–I had sauteed my chicken on low with the lid on for a while, and it had kept a TON of the juices in the pan.  So, instead of straight-up alfredo (or, as I usually do it, alfredo “creamied” with a little whole milk) the alfredo went in with an almost equal amount of olive oil-garlic-and-chicken-broth goodness and came out AMAZING.  I could tell it was amazing when I ladled it over the pasta and the texture is perfect.  My sauce texture is never that good.  

And then we dipped the breadsticks in it.

Olive Garden used to do it where, if you asked nicely, they would give you a side of alfredo with your breadsticks for just a small surcharge.  Apparently this got popular, because now they charge like $4 per little dish of alfredo.  We don’t need this any more.  We can get our alfredo fix here at home,  Because this alfredo sauce was so good we just kept eating more breadsticks to sop it up!  

So, I figured I’d share it.  Only, since it was an accident, I can’t be quite sure that it will ever come out the same way again.  But you can try!

You need:

  • 4 large chicken breasts, uncooked
  • Pasta of your choice (unless you just want to use the chicken for something else and eat all the sauce with breadsticks!)
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce–I use–oh dear, what do I use?  The cheap kind in the little can with the blueish label…will update….
  • A little milk
  • Pepper or herbs to taste

Boil your pasta according to directions, if using  🙂  Chop your chicken and brown at medium high in a good amount of olive oi ( 3-4T?) and a spoonful of minced garlic.  Then reduce heat to low and put the lid on while you go play with your 1-yr-old (or wash your dishes or whatever you choose to do!) 

Once the pasta is fully cooked and drained and the chicken is fully cooked, spoon your chicen out of the pan and put it in the serving dish with your pasta.  Add your jar of alfredo straight to the chicken-broth-garlic-oliveoil goodness and stir till mixed well.  Add a swoosh of milk and pepper or herbs as desired.  When warm, ladle over pasta and chicken OR save it for your breadsticks!  (I make mine by slicing up and toasting a loaf of Target’s focaccia bread–super easy and yummy)   We usually only make half a box of pasta, so this recipe makes plenty for the pasta and dipping sauce both!

 

 

 

Kate’s Lasagna (this time!)

So apparently my lasagna was a winner this week; my husband told me I need to write it down so I actually remember how I made it.   So, this is probably about the most specific recipe you will get from me in a long time!  However, I still didn’t measure anything, so…..  🙂

And if I were on top of things I would have taken pictures,  However, it is now all devoured so…maybe next time!

Kate’s Lasagna:

Notes:  This recipe was made in 2 small pans (9×11 and 10×10) as we never use up a full 11×13 before I throw it out.  Hence only 12 noodles used creatively.  You could do it with 18 noodles in 2 larger pans, or half it with 9 noodles in one 11×13.  It’s nice and thick and yummy this way though.  You could also add another pound of beef, another jar of sauce, and another 16oz of cheese or so and make a triple batch-eat one, freeze one, give one away.  Just be aware if you are using the disposable foil pans that you have to get the really deep ones–I didn’t 😦

Also, the idea for the 4 (5) cheeses came from another recipe.  However, I haven’t actually used the recipe for several years so unfortunately I don’t remember to whom credit is due  😦

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb/4 C ground beef, cooked with garlic salt and pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 24 oz jars pasta sauce–I used Prego “Flavored with Meat” and “Italian Sausage”
  • Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, oregano, etc.
  • 8 oz cream creese
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz Italian 5 cheese
  • 8 oz mozzarella, divided
  • 8 oz shredded parmesan, divided
  • Opt: 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. If you have not already cooked your beef, get it going in a large skillet.   (This is always the part that takes me forever, because I forget to thaw it, so I like to cook mine in bulk, seasoned with garlic salt and black pepper, then just pull it out when I want it and add Italian seasoning or Mexican.  If you’re doing that, save out approx. 4 cups for this recipe.)
  2. Start your water for your lasagna noodles, to cook according to package directions.
  3. Soften your cream cheese and put it in a nice large bowl with plenty of room for lots more cheese and mixing it up!
  4. Once your beef is cooked and drained, return to skillet and season with Italian seasonings of your choice.  Add your sauces and simmer.
  5. While beef and noodles are finishing, add the rest of the cheeses to your bowl and mix.  (Don’t forget to keep aside half the parmesan and half the mozzarella for later!) I like to do the whole thing in a big microwave-safe bowl so I can soften everything which makes the mixing easier.  Note:  If you like a firm-baked lasagna, you can add your two eggs here and mix them in well; they will bind and stiffen everything.  I prefer it without.
  6. Set up your assembly line in a way that it works for you.  I like to put my pans in the middle, noodles on one side, sauce on one side, and cheese within reach.  You may also want a cutting space since with these pan sizes we’re going to have to get a bit creative with our noodles.
  7. Drain  noodles.  There is probably an official “right” way to do this, but I almost always make a mess of my noodles.  This time worked a bit better–I drained, then rinsed with cold water and left a little water in.  Not too hot, not too starchy to work with.
  8. Now start layering!
  • A little sauce on the bottom
  • Noodles–approximately 2 per layer, cut as needed to fit your pan.  Or 3 normal per layer if you’re using normal pans.
  • Big glop of cheese mixture, spread relatively evenly.  If you are doing two pans, you should use about 1/4 of your mixture in each pan in this layer.
  • A couple big scoops of sauce (2 more rounds to come though, so not too much)
  • Noodles
  • Remaining cheese mixture
  • More sauce–round 3 of 4
  • Remaining noodles
  • Remaining sauce
  • NOW top with the parmesan and mozz you set aside.  Yummy!!!  Add a little herbs or seasonings on top if you like!

Bake from fresh 1 hr, at 350 covered with foil, then uncovered for 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese.  If baking form frozen, add at least 1/2 hr to the bake time.

Enjoy!

Of Meat Dip and Shrimp Bonjoulais

Anybody want two of the absolute easiest, and yummiest entertaining recipes ever?  I thought SuperBowl would be an appropriate time to share these two family favorites. 

Fancy first.  Shrimp Bonjoulais is not an original recipe (though I’m not sure where we got the original recipe) but it sure is an original name. Actually, I think we made it up.  I don’t think bonjoulais is actually a word (or if it is, it probably means something frightening and I don’t want to know!). But it sounds fancy and scrumptious, which is exactly how it looks and tastes.  You would never guess that it takes all of 3 ingredients and 5 minutes to make…
-8oz cream cheese
-8oz cocktail sauce
-1 cup cooked shrimp, thawed at least slightly
Steps:
Soften the cream cheese
Dice the shrimp (I throw mine in my food processor, perfect in 30 seconds)
Mix it all together!  Voila, there it is! Put it in a pretty dish, chill it, serve with bread or crackers or tortilla chips or more shrimp or whatever you want.  Touchdown.  Perfect appetizer for any gathering, upscale or casual.  I have never known anyone to dislike it except my husband’s best friend who hates seafood, and to be fair, he won’t even try it so we don’t really know if he likes it or not!

On the other side of the scale is meat dip.  This doesn’t even try to be fancy and it definitely doesn’t try to be healthy, but it’s filling and oh so good.  I believe we got the original recipe from my pastor’s wife growing up, and enjoyed it as an easy dinner on many Sunday nights after church.  I can remember the cycle I used to try to get away with….
“Mom, can I have more chips to finish the rest of my meat dip?”
“Now I have leftover chips-can I have some more dip?”
“Can I have some more chips to finish the rest of my dip?”
And on it went until the dip was gone or I finally got full or Mom decided I had enough!  To be fair, this was in the days when I could eat five slices of pizza or 7 helpings of fajitas and not get sick.  Sometimes I miss those days!  But anyway, it’s good stuff!  And it also takes about 4 ingredients, and super-straightforward prep.
 
I believe the original recipe calls for equal parts of ground beef (precooked, or you can cook it first in your killer or whatever); Velveeta cheese; sour cream; and salsa.  Considering how much we all ate, we probably did it with 16 oz of everything, and Mom would just combine and warm it in her big skillet till everything was melty together, probably 25 minutes.  When I do it I usually do 8-12 oz of everything, and I like to sub Mexican Crema for the sour cream.  I’ve also subbed sausage for the ground beef which my husband likes.  And I just throw it all in the crockpot, so my prep time is all of 5 minutes.
So if you want an official-looking recipe:
-8oz Velveeta, cubed
-8oz sour cream or crema
-8oz salsa of your choice
-1lb ground beef

Combine and cook in skillet, saucepan, or crockpot till it all becomes a cheesy, melty dip; serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Honey Dijon Pork with Yummy Green Bean Stuff

I made my honey dijon pork last night.  This is one of those recipes that is just good, and feels so fancy, and yet is so easy.  I’ve come across a few of those–the type you know you can always pull together, simple enough for a really yummy family dinner but nice enough for company.  Figured I would post a few of them here.  Disclaimer: as with most of my recipes, they tend to be approximate/change things up as you like them/not extremely exact.  So….experiment and have fun!!!  🙂

Honey Dijon Pork

  • 4 thick boneless chops, butterflied into 8.
  • 1 egg
  • Honey dijon mustard
  • Mayo
  • Bread, cracker, or panko crumbs (Ritz has a nice taste but panko is more even)
  • Herbs or parmesan if desired.
  • Olive or vegetable oil

Mix the egg, mayo and mustard in desired proportion.  I always wish I had a measurement because I never make enough the first time.  I’m gonna guesstimate I usually end up needing 2 cups total. Mix the bread crumbs with cheese or herbs as desired. Again, I’ll call it 2 cups.  If somebody actually measures that and I’m way off let me know. 🙂  Coat the pork in the sauce mixture, then in the bread mixture; set aside.

Generously cover the bottom of a wide skillet with oil of choice, over medium heat; preheat oven or toaster oven to 300.  When oil is hot, lay pork chops in a single layer–as many as will fit comfortably.  Brown 4-5 minutes on a side, until deep golden brown.  Set chops in a baking dish as they finish.  When all chops are finished, put baking pan in oven, uncovered, to finish cooking through.  (If it will be a while I often set it lower, so I can keep them warm without drying them out.)   In the meantime, make Yummy Green Bean Stuff!

Yummy Green Bean Stuff

  • 2 cans green beans, cut or french, or 2-3 cups frozen.
  • 2 T butter
  • Almonds
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Cranberries

You can do this in the pork skillet if you just wipe it out first.  Actually I made it once done straight in the pork fat instead of butter and it was good…but I was pregnant…and it did not sit well.  So now I just wipe it out and you still get a little of that porkiness but a little less lard…  🙂

Melt the butter.  Add the almonds and roast lightly.

Add green beans, and a couple shakes each of rosemary and thyme.  You may also add salt and pepper; I don’t feel it needs it.

Add cranberries if desired.

There you have it!  Easy and yummy.  I like to also do a stovetop stuffing while the pork and beans are finishing.  I think I made this whole meal in about 35 minutes on a teaching night.  My 1 year old singlehandedly ate at least half of the green beans over two meals, cranberries and almonds and all, and my husband enjoyed it enough to eat a second round with me after I finished teaching lessons.

The Bacon Beer Cheddar Soup! and raspberry almond bread

I finally made it.  This has been on the list since the first swirls of fall and I finally got enough cheddar and some beer and an afternoon with time in it all at once, and we made it!  My wonderful hubby cooked the bacon and grated the cheese.  I do not actually like making bacon.  He is the master of bacon.

After reading through several recipes, I chose this one from Emeril Lagasse as my base recipe (without the broccoli).  I think we only changed three things: added carrots, added bacon, added only a little crushed red pepper for the spice.  Oh, and I used chicken broth instead of stock since that’s what I had on hand.

The verdict: Good, but we would change some things for next time.  Definitely I would take an extra step to puree the vegetable roux.  The soup wanted a little thickness, plus I detest soggy vegetables.  J.P. thought a different beer might fill it out better, and I might consider adding actually a little more cheddar for added cheesiness.  But overall it was yummy, warm and cheesy with just enough “bite.”  We ate it with buttered sourdough toast which was perfect for soaking it up–if I did it again I might try making a loaf’s worth of sourdough croutons to go with it.  LittleBoy’s version was toast dipped in soup and he enjoyed that a lot.

Did we get pictures?  We did not get pictures.  Not that soup is all that photogenic anyway.  But we got pictures of the Boy eating his second-ever Big Boy apple (whole, with some edges sliced off so he could get at it.) He loved it!  Only they’re stuck on hubby’s camera and I don’t know how to downlaod them…maybe I’d better work on that  🙂

One other link I have to share today. This is the Raspberry Almond Bread I made for our bible study this morning.  A-mazing.  I did it in a bundt pan and added a lemon glaze on top to make it pretty but it really didn’t even need that.  Can’t wait to try it with blackberries or blueberries too.  And it was really easy, even without an electric mixer. (Is it worth doing it by hand so the baby doesn’t wake up?  definitely!!)  Enjoy!

3-Way Salmon

Today was laundry day and lesson day….a.k.a…. Easy Dinner Day! One of my favorite go-to’s on such occasions is baked salmon. 15 minute prep, stick it in the oven and some rice in the rice cooker while I teach, and voila, super-yummy. And reasonably healthy! We never ate seafood that much growing up (except breaded fishsticks-which I still enjoy and keep in the freezer for days requiring even less prep!) But J.P.’s family are all seafood lovers-fish, lobster, scallops, squid-and his mom has a basic whitefish recipe which is a fabulous foundation for experimentation.

Below is the basic “Mama C’s Salmon” recipe and my two best variations so far. All recipes are written for four individual filets or one “grocery-store-size” filet, but easily adapt to any amount. All bake at 350, covered, for 30-45 minutes. Skin-on filets should bake skin side down.

Mama’s Basic:
Sprinkle filets lightly with Bay Seasoning and liberally with garlic salt. Add a little pepper if desired. Rub in. Dot with about 2 T of butter, in small chunks or slices. Bake, serve with rice.

Kate’s Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon:
Start with the Bay and garlic salt. No pepper.
For the glaze, mix together about 3 parts brown sugar to one part soy sauce…ummm, I never measure….but four filets should use about 1/3 c sugar and a couple T of soy. Add about 1T lemon juice.
Spread glaze over filets, top with dotted butter, and bake.

Kate’s Lemon Herb salmon:
Start with the Bay and garlic salt, pepper if desired.
Sprinkle semi-liberally with both dill and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb. Spritz with lemon juice.
Top with dotted butter and bake!

These work with frozen or fresh, and I was thinking today that they probably could even be prepped and frozen ahead except for the butter on top. Good idea for catching the post-Lent fish sales! I am hoping eventually to get a good lemon cream sauce and an almond-crusted version but those are definitely not ready for sharing yet. 🙂 Enjoy!

P.S. I just realized you can add pictures in here.  Will try next time–it will give my hubby an excuse to use the “food mode” on his new camera!

Definitely Uncategorized

Food and books.  I would say that is a pretty good combo.  I am a bit of a cynic about the blogosphere in general, on the grounds that it can get a bit pretentious and–well–wordy!  It reminds me of the Prophet who said “Of making many books there is no end”–I think you could easily replace “books” with “blogs” and retain the meaning quite accurately! 

But we still write and our writing still communicates knowledge and it still communicates enjoyment and in this case it communicates sisterhood and a bunch of fun and yummy and otherwise great stuff!   We Woodby girls are all lovers of cookery, although I think Kristin might be the current cuisinière.  We are all lovers of books, and Karin the English teacher will probably set the pace there.  Mom, of course is the Queen (somebody, btw, needs to write a post explaining the title–Kristin??)–not sure how often she will post but she has plenty of practical and life-wisdom to share, and she’s really the inspiration for most of the creative, cultural, and culinary in the rest of us–and at least part of the crazy!

Me?  Well, I’ve been told I am a good example of the word “eclectic”!  My very classic, orderly hubby has probably tamed that a little bit, but I suppose I am still a bit of the “random sister.”  I’m excited to share recipes and books reviews, and probably a little bit of movies, and a little bit of music, and a little bit of metaphysics, and maybe a bit of the unexpected.  Just for fun, and the mental discipline of writing, and to share some of the joy of the heritage that we’ve been given.  I could write another whole post on that but I won’t tonight! 

But, at risk of sounding wordy and pretentious myself, I can’t start blogging without replying to the Prophet.  Of making many blogs there is no end.  There are words and words and words.  But there is One Word in Whom all things and thoughts consist.  Whenever I am overwhelmed with words, there is One Word Who is truth and Who is life.  He is the beginning, He is the end.  And all that is good, words and experiences and gifts, comes from Him.  So–may all the words we write here reflect the True Word, and point back to Him!

But I should end a little more on-theme.  Food!  Here’s a recipe for spiced chicken chili to take the edge off the last couple weeks of winter!  Disclaimer: My recipes tend to be kind of approximate…which is probably why I am not a baker…adjust to your liking!

Spiced Chicken Chili (adapted from a Taste of Home recipe)

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts.  (Yummy if you brown in a little garlic, onion, and olive oil but you can also throw them in straight from the freezer)
  • 4-6 cans of black and kidney beans.  I usually do 4 kidney and 2 black.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • Garlic and onion that you browned the chicken in OR liberal amounts of garlic powder and minced onion.  Guessing I probably use around 2T garlic powder and 1-2T minced onion.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1-2T chili powder
  • 1T Italian seasoning
  • 1T basil
  • 1T thyme
  • 1T salt
  • 1/2-1T cayenne
  • 1-2t cumin
  • 1t oregano
  • 1t marjoram
  • dash nutmeg

…and the kitchen sink, right?  If you don’t have one of the ingredients, try something else–mine rarely comes out the same way twice.  The original recipe is a little brighter–a little more tomato and chili powder, less on the cumin/nutmeg/brown sugar. 

Throw everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours…or if you are like me and forget to thaw your chicken, turn it to high or give it a couple extra hours.  Serve with cheddar cheese and corn chips as desired.  Enjoy!