Monday, March 26, 2012

Baked Coconut Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Apricot Sauce

I follow this cute blog, Six Sisters' Stuff and they have some good recipes that I've tried in the past few months.  And this one is another new recipe that we are fans of!  We really enjoyed it, the sauce was a great compliment to the chicken.  I decided on using an apricot-pineapple blend instead of just plain apricot, and it was fantastic. Next time I will cook the chicken at a lower temperature, because it didn't turn out as beautifully golden as I wanted; some of the coconut got a little burned.  I ended up not the full amount of the ingredients, so I'll copy what I used here.

1 1/2 lb. chicken, cut into strips (about 25 pieces is what I got)
2 eggs
2-3 Tbl. flour
3/4 c. sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, didn't use this time)

1/2 c. apricot-pineapple (or just apricot) preserves
1 Tbl. unseasoned rice vinegar
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1.  Preheat oven to 425 (original recipe says 450) degrees.  Line baking pan with foil, spray with nonstick spray.
2.  Combine coconut flakes, panko bread crumbs and spices in a medium-sized bowl.
3.  Place flour in one shallow bowl; beat the eggs and place in a different shallow bowl.
4.  Working with one chicken tender/piece, dip in flour, than egg & completely cover with coconut-panko mix.
5.  Once all pieces have been coated and placed on the baking pan, cook for about 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown.
6.  Combine all the sauce ingredients, place in dipping bowls.

pretty chicken before baking


the extra coconut I sprinkled over the chicken burned a bit, but I just brushed it off and it was still great

Nutritional Facts for chicken
servings per recipe: 5
amount per serving (about 5 pieces)

Calories: 269
Total Fat: 7.9 g
Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.4 g
Cholesterol: 152.9 mg
Sodium: 480.1 mg
Potassium: 435.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 12.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Sugar: 1.6 g
Protein: 35.7 g
Vitamin A: 3 %
Vitamin C: 3.7 %
Calcium: 2.8 %
Iron: 10.8 % 

Nutritional Facts for sauce
servings per recipe: 8 
amount per serving (2 Tbl.)

Calories: 60
Total Fat: --
Saturated Fat: --
Polyunsaturated Fat: --
Monounsaturated Fat: --
Cholesterol: --
Sodium: 5 mg
Potassium: --
Total Carbohydrate: 14 g
Dietary Fiber: --
Sugar: 9 g
Protein: --
Vitamin A: --
Vitamin C: --Calcium: --
Iron: --

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slow-Baked Mac & Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese, it's a total guilty pleasure and comfort food.  I try not to make it too often since I've been watching my calorie intake and trying to eat better/less.  But I've been doing well lately, and wanted to try a new recipe/version of mac & cheese, and I found this one.  I was skeptical, because it's a slow-cooker recipe, but decided to give it a shot.  To be honest, it wasn't everything I hoped it'd be, but it was still really good, and an interesting take on the ol' mac & cheese.  To our disappointment, along the bottom edges it got crusty and brown.  But the middle turned out fine.  Next time I might add breadcrumbs and experiment with different spices, I just went with normal salt, pepper & added onion powder.  Overall, not bad, it was definitely fun to try!

1 1/2 c. milk
12 oz. can evaporated milk (I used skim; evaporated milk apparently keeps the egg & milk from curdling)
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted & cooled to room temperature
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. shredded cheese (I used 2 cups colby jack blend, 1 cup mozzarella)
8 oz. (1/2 lb.) elbow macaroni, par cooked & drained (only cook for about 5 mins until tender but not completely cooked)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
pepper & other spices to taste

1.  Spray the inside of slow-cooker with cooking spray.  Cook the pasta for about 5 minutes--don't cook all the way.
2.  Combine butter and eggs in slow-cooker.  Slowly add in milk, salt, evaporated milk and whisk until smooth.
3.  Add shredded cheese (not the Parmesan) and pasta.  Sprinkle with pepper and other spices.  Gently stir with a spatula to coat evenly.
4.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
5.  Change temperature to LOW and cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, until middle is set and pasta is tender.  It can sit in the slow-cooker for 30 minutes on the warm setting before serving.

I didn't get amazing pictures, but here is what I got.

right before serving

so cheesy! 

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 6
amount per serving

Calories: 493.1
Total Fat: 27 g
Saturated Fat: 14.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.1 g
Cholesterol: 166.5 mg
Sodium: 767 mg
Potassium: 137.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 36.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Sugar: 7.8 g
Protein: 27.2 g
Vitamin A: 23.1 %
Vitamin C: --
Calcium: 61.5 %
Iron: 2.6 % 

P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef copycat recipe

Holy goodness, this recipe was great!  I couldn't get over how good the sauce was!  Not too salty or sweet, the ingredients blended together really nicely.  I used about 3/4 lb. of beef that was already packaged for stir-fry--just thin slices of beef.  I fear I overcooked them a little bit, but in the future it'll be fine.  I thought I had fresh garlic, but when I went looking for it, it had disappeared, so I used the same amount of dried garlic, and it was just fine.  I increased the amount of fresh ginger by 1/4 tsp. and didn't change much else to the recipe.  I think next time I might add some cornstarch dissolved in water to help thicken the sauce, because it didn't seem to thicken up ... at all.  That was our one disappointment.  But I poured the extra sauce over the rice and broccoli we had and no one complained.  All in all, a really good, tasty and fairly manageable recipe; I will be making this often in the future.

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 fresh ginger, minced (I used 3/4 tsp.)
1 Tbl. garlic, chopped (dried worked just fine)
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. brown sugar
oil for frying
1 lb. flank steak, cut against the grain into 1/4" slices
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 large green onions (I used about 1/4 c.), chopped

1.  Heat 2 tsp. of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Don't let the oil get too hot.  Add ginger and garlic to the pain and saute for about 30 seconds.
2.  Quickly add the soy sauce and water, then dissolve brown sugar in sauce.  Increase heat a little and boil the sauce for 2 - 3 minutes until it has thickened.  (If needed, dissolve some cornstarch in cold water and add to sauce, to speed up process.)  Remove from heat.
3.  Dip cut steak pieces into cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to each piece of beef.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes before frying.
4.  Heat up oil in wok or large skillet over medium heat.  Add beef and fry until brown.  Transfer meat to a plate with paper towel and dab excess oil off.
5.  Drain excess oil from pan and add in the sauce with the meat and add green onions.  Let sauce simmer until warm.

Letting the meat and sauce simmer

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 4
amount per serving (3 oz.)

Calories: 329
Total Fat: 11.6 g
Saturated Fat: 4.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 50.7 mg
Sodium: 1996.6 mg
Potassium: 173.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 47.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Sugar: 36.8 g
Protein: 18.5 g
Vitamin A: --
Vitamin C: 1.1 %
Calcium: 3.8 %
Iron: 6.6 % 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Char Siu


I grew up having this Asian pork dish for years and have sorely missed it.  One time when Jenna came to visit us, she brought us a few packets and made me so happy!  My mom always made it differently than what the packet says, and that's the way I love it and prefer it.  Instead of cooking in the oven or whatever, she always cut the pork into thin slices, marinaded it overnight and pan-fried the pork in a pan on the stove.  It's a very simple dish, tasty and fun--because of the bright pink color!  I usually have this with rice and steamed zucchini or broccoli, delicious!

1 packet char siu seasoning--NOH is the brand I grew up with
1 1/2 lb. pork chops, cut into thin strips
1/2 c. water

1.  Mix seasoning packet in with water.
2.  Cut pork into thin strips, place in ziplock bag (I always 'double-bag' when I marinade, just in case it leaks).
3.  Pour in marinade, let sit at least 6 - 8 hours, overnight is best.
4.  Cook in big skillet on stove on medium-high heat, probably about 5 - 8 minutes.

pretty pink pork!

so pink!

when Jenna came to visit, we made blue rice, such a colorful dinner!
Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 6 
amount per serving (3 oz.)

Calories: 205.9
Total Fat: 9.6 g
Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.6 g
Cholesterol: 67.1 mg
Sodium: 118.7 mg
Potassium: 382.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 1.5 g
Dietary Fiber: --
Sugar: 1.5 g
Protein: 26.6 g
Vitamin A: 0.3 %
Vitamin C: 0.6 %
Calcium: 0.8 %
Iron: 5.5 % 

Slow-Cooker Old-World Corned Beef & Vegetables

I used to not be a big corned beef fan.  But then I grew up and now look forward to having it every St. Patrick's Day!  I've only made it once before, our first married St. Patrick's Day, and don't remember what I did.  So I went on a little hunt for some good instructions and a recipe, especially because I invited our friends over, I wanted it to work out well.  I found this recipe and was a bit hesitant--it had me discard the seasoning packet!  But I thought it'd work out well for us, and looked easy enough.  Zak helped me with the veggies and everything, and after 8 long hours in the crockpot, we finally got to eat.  It was very, very good--we have just enough leftovers for one of us to eat.  I used 'Idaho gold' potatoes instead of red potatoes, some pearl onions and baby carrots.  It was so simple, and we have a bonus brisket, so I plan on making this again in a little bit!

2 lbs. golden/new/red? potatoes (8-10), quartered
2 c. baby carrots, halved
1 c. frozen small whole onions, thawed--I used about half a bag of white pearl onions and cut them in half
1 corned beef brisket, 3 - 3 1/2 lbs.
1/2 c. water
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl. cornstarch
2 Tbl. cold water

1.  Mix potatoes, carrot and onions in a 4 - 6 quart slow cooker.
2.  Thoroughly rinse corned beef; discard seasoning packet.  Place beef on vegetables, sprinkle with pepper.
3.  Mix 1/2 c. water with Worcestershire sauce and pour over beef.
4.  Cover and cook on low for 8 - 9 hours, or until beef and vegetables are tender.
5.  Remove beef and vegetables from slow cooker; cover to keep warm.
6.  Pour juices into saucepan and heat to boiling.  Mix cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir in.
7.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened.

right before making the gravy and eating

the potatoes were so tender and delicious

wonderful carrots and onions

the meat was amazing!

Irish Chocolate Guinness Cake

For St. Patrick's Day, in addition to corned beef, our friends requested I make this cake.  I agreed because I really love making cakes and it looks like it'd be a delicious, moist cake.  Plus I can't say no to a recipe with cream cheese frosting.  I'm a sucker for the stuff.  Anyways, this cake is delicious.  It's very thick, moist and easy to eat.  It's so very good, so good that Zak didn't want me to give any away to our friends!

1 c. Guinness
1/2 c. butter, cubed
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
2 eggs
2/3 c. sour cream
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1.  Grease a 9" spring-form pan, then line with parchment paper.  Set aside; set oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Once butter is mostly melted, add beer and stir until butter has completely melted.  Remove from heat.
3.  In a large bowl, combine sugar and cocoa.  Add in beer mixture and stir until smooth.
4.  In a small bowl, beat eggs.  Add vanilla and sour cream, mix well.  Add to large bowl with beer and chocolate.
5.  Mix in flour and baking soda until completely smooth.  Pour in prepared pan.
6.  Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until toothpick is inserted in middle and comes out clean.
7.  Cool completely on wire rack, still in pan.  Once cake has cooled, remove from pan and place on cake plate.
8.  Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Slowly add in powdered sugar and heavy cream and beat until smooth.
9.  Frost cake and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature about half an hour before serving.  Store leftovers in fridge.


a thick, moist piece of cake!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

I made this recipe last night and it was a pretty simple recipe, and it smelled so good while it was cooking!  In the future, I think I'll add a little bit of salt to the chicken, because it needed just a touch.  But overall, a great recipe and will be rotated into our food menu.

2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast tenders (I used about 26 oz. and cut them up so there were 18 pieces)
1/4. flour
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbl. canola oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 Tbl. rice vinegar
2 Tbl. ketchup
1 Tbl. brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. cashews

1.  Combine flour and pepper in resealable ziplock bag.  Add chicken and shake to coat.
2.  Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken pieces about 2 minutes on each side.  Place in slow cooker.
3.  Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, garlic, ginger & pepper flakes in a small bowl; pour oven chicken.
4.  Cook on low for 3 - 4 hours, turning chicken over once, after 2 hours.
5.  Add cashews and stir; serve over rice.

all ready to eat

side picture

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 8
amount per serving

Calories: 195.3
Total Fat: 6.9 g
Saturated Fat: 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.6 g
Cholesterol: 53.4 mg
Sodium: 612.2 mg
Potassium: 312.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 9.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Sugar: 3.9 g
Protein: 23.5 g
Vitamin A: 0.4 %
Vitamin C: 2 %
Calcium: 1.9 %
Iron: 8.6 % 

Crockpot Applesauce

When I found this recipe for crockpot applesauce, I almost didn't believe it.  It seemed too simple, and wouldn't amount to anything.  But I was proven wrong!  This recipe was not only incredibly simple, but delicious and I plan on making this often.  I made this the day Zak and I were both sick.  I quickly threw it into the crockpot, Zak went upstairs to nap, and I fell asleep on the couch, and when I woke up, it smelled like Christmas and I couldn't wait to taste the applesauce.  It was so nice and thick, and the spices were just perfect.  I think I am going to try flavor variations in the future, as well as doubling and tripling the recipe, because this went way too fast!

4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1.  Mix all ingredients in a crockpot.
2.  Cook on high for 2 hours.
3.  Use an immersion blender (maybe a big whisk, if the apples are tender enough) and blend until consistency is thick and it looks like applesauce!

it was hard to get a great picture

it's good warm or cooled

Nutritional Facts
servings per recipe: 4 (1/2 c. servings)
amount per serving

Calories: 127.3
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: --
Cholesterol: --
Sodium: 5.7 mg
Potassium: 195.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g
Sugar: 30.8 g
Protein: 0.2 g
Vitamin A: 1.3 %
Vitamin C: 12.3 %
Calcium: 2.5 %
Iron: 3 %

Old-Fashioned Cornbread

I really love cornbread, it's so delicious and textually appealing.  So when I found this recipe, I was pretty excited.  I haven't made cornbread for awhile, and this was calling my name.  But, truth be told, it wasn't everything I had hoped for; it was still pretty tasty, but it didn't exactly hit the spot for me.  But I figure I'd post it for anyone interested.

2 c. corn meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. canola oil
1 Tbl. honey
1 3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add oil to an 8" cast iron skillet or cake pan.  Make sure oil is rubbed on sides as well as bottom of pan.  While preparing cornbread, place in oven for 5 - 7 minutes.
2.  Combined dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, honey, buttermilk and egg; add to dry ingredients and stir just to combine.
3.  Remove skillet or pan from oven and pour hot oil into cornbread mixture, stir.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 tsp. cornmeal.
4.  Pour cornmeal mixture into pan, place in the oven on the middle rack and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden in color.

perfectly golden browned

Nutritional Facts
serving per recipe: 12
amount per serving

Calories: 123.3
Total Fat: 4.0 g
Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 18.3 mg
Sodium: 241.4 mg
Potassium: 65.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 19.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugar: 3.5 g
Protein: 3.5 g
Vitamin A: 1.7 %
Vitamin C: 0.6 %
Calcium: 9.9 %
Iron: 4.7 % 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Crispy Panko Pork Chops

This recipe was delicious!  And so simple!  I used two thick pork chops this, but I think it'd be just fine with thinner chops--it was a lot of meat to eat.  The spices worked so well together and I love panko crumbs, which made the chops so crispy, but still juicy and tender in the inside.  This worked perfectly with potatoes and a vegetable dish on the side.  Hooray for delicious, simple dinners in under 40 minutes!

3 Tbl. canola/vegetable oil
2 thick bone-in pork chops (about 2 lbs.), I used boneless
1/2 c. panko crumbs
2 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
1 heaping Tbl. minced Italian parsley
1/4 c. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Season pork chops with salt & pepper and set aside.
2.  Mix together panko crumbs, Parmesan, parsley and 1/2 tsp. salt.
3.  Place flour in one shallow bowl, the eggs in another bowl, and panko mixture in last shallow bowl.
4.  Heat 3 Tbl. of oil over medium-high heat.  Dredge pork chops first in flour, than the eggs, and lastly the panko mixture, making sure to coat meat evenly.
5.  Add pork chops to pan and cook until golden brown & crispy on each side, about 2 minutes per side.
6.  Remove pork chops from pan and place in a baking sheet.  Cook in the oven, uncovered, for about 15 - 25 minutes.  Allow them to rest at least 5 - 10 minutes before servings.

after cooking on both sides, before oven

love the crispy golden brown color

if only pictures could capture how juicy this was!

Crockpot Ravioli Casserole

I've been trying to find new and different recipes for the crockpot.  I found this one and thought it looked pretty good.  Zak actually did this whole recipe himself, since I had a busy day and couldn't make it home.  But it turned out really well, and smelled great when I got home.  I think next time we'll use less meat, 1 1/2 lbs. seemed like way too much.  And add a little bit more salt & pepper, but overall it was pretty good!

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (I'm planning on using 1 lb. next time)
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

1.  Brown ground beef with onion, garlic and salt & pepper.
2.  Put in crockpot and add sauce, tomatoes & seasonings.  Cook for 6 - 7 hours on low OR 4 - 5 hours on high.
3.  Add spinach, pasta and cheese during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn temperature to high.  Make 6 - 8 servings, depending on your serving size.

I forgot to get a picture that night, so here it is in our tupperware...but still good!

Orange Chicken

We haven't had orange chicken in a long time, and I wasn't completely crazy about the recipe I used last time.  So I decided to give my mom's recipe a try and it was a hit--so delicious!  The perfect amount of spicy and sweet orange, and the crispy chicken, oh it was just what we wanted.  Perfect over white rice and with broccoli on the side.

2 lbs. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. flour
1 Tbl. oil
1 tsp. garlic, minced (I used dried and it worked fine, next time I'll try it with fresh garlic)
1 Tbl. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbl. rice vinegar
1/4 c. water
1 Tbl. cornstarch
zest of an orange

"Orange" Sauce
3 Tbl. soy sauce
3 Tbl. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 Tbl. sesame oil

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the egg, salt, pepper and oil.  Mix well.  Stir in the chicken pieces.
2.  In a large bowl, stir together flour and 1/2 c. cornstarch.  Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat.  Heat 1 Tbl. oil for deep frying in a wok or deep fryer to 375 degrees/medium-high.
3.  Add the chicken in small batches, fry for 4 - 5 minutes, until golden crisp.  When done with each batch, drain chicken on paper towels.
4.  Add ginger and garlic to wok and stir fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Add red pepper flakes and green onions, then rice vinegar and stir.
5.  Add the "orange" sauce and bring to a boil.
6.  Stir the 1 Tbl. cornstarch into the 1/4 c. water and add to sauce and heat until sauce has thickened.  Add the cooked chicken, stirring until well incorporated.
7.  Turn off the heat and stir in the orange zest.

after cooking

so delicious!