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Southwest Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe on Pinterest, called “Southwest Chicken Chili Mac”. I thought it looked good, but of course modified it. Given my modifications, I thought it needed a new name.

Here’s the dish:

 

You’ll need:

chicken – remember, my recipes are big family size AND we are big meat eaters, so I used an average sized whole chicken, boiled then shred the meat

2 cans chicken broth

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

dry ranch dressing packet

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion, diced

1 large green pepper, seeded, diced

1# pasta of choice, I used mini wagon wheels

1 cup frozen corn

 

What you do:

Like I said, boiled a whole chicken then shredded the meat. I did that earlier in the day as I had the time.

In large skillet, over medium-high heat a tablespoon or so of oil, dice your onion and pepper, toss those in to sweat.  Then add in chicken broth, chicken, tomatoes.  Stir in your spices. I ended up using 2 packets of the ranch, though the recipe only said a teaspoon ???  Add the corn.  You could use canned, drained. I just love and usually have frozen on hand. Mix in your pasta. You might not want to use that whole pound. Adjust as needed for your needs. My kids love pasta and I always need to cook a LOT of food, pasta’s a good filler. So, the whole pound it was for us. 🙂 Get it all mixed up.

Heat to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and set for about 10 minutes.  Something like that.  I was still adjusting liquid and dealing with children and figuring out just what I was doing.  But, seeing that I was using ‘hamburger helper’ type methods, I thought back to those recipes and I think that’s about how it works.

Anywho, there ya go…hope you enjoy.

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Orange Chicken

Inspired by a boxed frozen variety that was just too expensive for too little. And a spin-off from my Lemonade Chicken.

Again I remind you these recipes are calculated for my monster not-afraid-to-eat family of 8. Scale down (or up?) as you need.

Orange Chicken


What you need:

3# boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

2 TBSP brown sugar

3 TBSP soy sauce

2-3 TBSP cornstarch

1 c cold water

oil for cooking

What you do:

Heat oil in skillet (I use a high sided deal) over medium high heat. Cook cubed chicken until no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan and drain as necessary.

Set chicken aside.

Using your chicken pan, over medium to medium-high heat, pour in about half a can of orange juice concentrate, continue to melt it if needed.  Stir in ground ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and soy sauce.

Mix cornstarch into the cold water, then gradually add it to the orange juice mixture. Continue stirring and heating until thickened. If you think it could use more thickening, mix up some more cornstarch and cold water and drizzle that in until desired consistency is reached.  Likewise, if it’s too thick, just gradually pour in some cold water until you like what you see.

Once sauce is satisfactory, return chicken to the pan to reheat for a minute or two.  Serve with hot rice. *there should be plenty of sauce to share with your rice

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Pumpkin Cookies

First, let me say, this is not my recipe.  I got it from a friend who got it from a friend who got it from…..who knows where.  But we have all fallen absolutely in love with it!  We’re addicted, quite honestly.

Secondly, I will tell you I’ve tried other pumpkin cookies..they don’t hold a candle to these things.  No comparison.

Look at these lovely creations!

Thirdly, I admit to making a modification or two.  Sorry, I can’t seem to help myself.

Perfect Pumpkin Cookies

What you need:
2 c butter, softened

2 c granulated sugar

1 (16oz) can pumpkin

2 eggs

5 c flour (original recipe called for 4)

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (original recipe did not include salt)

1o oz coarsely chopped vanilla almond bark (original recipe called for 1 – (12oz) pkg white chocolate chips)

1 (16oz) cream cheese frosting

¼ c brown sugar

 

What you do:

Preheat oven 375* (or 350* if you have a slightly temperamental, higher heating oven like I do)

Mix butter and white sugar until light and fluffy.

Add pumpkin and eggs, beating until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Gradually add the dry goods to the wet goods. Mixing well.

Then stir in your white chocolate.

Now, I like to make these in this nifty small sandwich cookie style, though the original recipe called for bigger single cookies. The second friend had this mini sandwich cookie idea and I think it’s perfect.  It just really works, in my opinion. So, that’s what I’m going with.

For these smaller cookies, you’ll want to drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto your prepared cookie sheets.  Leave proper spacing of about 2″.

Bake at 375* for 16 min.

Cool slightly on the sheet. 3 min really is all it needs. Remove to a cooling rack.

Then to finish these little luscious bites:

Mix 1/4 c brown sugar (I prefer to use dark) with the can of cream cheese frosting and smear some on the bottom of a cookie and place another on top.  Flat sides together.

Perfect!

Now just try not to eat them all in one sitting.  It’s tough.  It really is.  Ask my midsection 😉

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Sweet & Sour Chicken

I know, I’ve been slacking on the pictures lately, I’m sorry.  I’ll *try* to get some up here. I’ve just been in a ‘get ‘er done’ mode rather than a tutorial, put it on the blog mode.

Again I’ll preface with: I feed a big hungry crew and my recipe measurements generally reflect that. Adjust as needed to suit your family size and eating habits.

What you need:

3# boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks (I think I cut into 8ths then cut those slices in half horizontally, so I have chunks rather than strips)

1 – 20 oz. can of pineapple tid bits, drained, juice reserved

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 3/4 c. water

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. white vinegar

orange – red food coloring (optional) (my son sees it as absolutely, without a doubt NECESSARY)

What to do:

Cube chicken and cook over medium heat until half way done in nice sized saute pan.  Then toss in your green peppers and finish cooking the two together.

Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.

Mix reserved juice, sugar, vinegar and 1 1/2 c. water (and food coloring if desired..I mean, afterall, proper Chinese sweet & sour sauce is colored, right?) in a small sauce pan over high heat.  Heat to boiling.

Add cornstarch to the remaining 1/4 c water, mix well.

Once juice mixture is boiling, turn off heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Stir until thickened.

You can dump your pineapple in the sauce or warm for a few minutes in the pan with the chicken.

Pour the sauce over the whole mess of chicken, or spoon individually.

This makes a LOT of sauce.  Enough for the chicken AND rice and probably egg rolls or wontons too. LOL

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Chicken Fajitas

This is an adaptation of a “Lemon Chicken Tacos” recipe shared by a friend.  I made a few adjustments and the fam has decided this is much more ‘fajita-like’ than ‘taco-like’.
Lemony Chicken Fajitas

The Goods:

1 whole chicken (or you can do parts of your choice, for these measurements, you’ll want 3# of meat)

3 lemons

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp ground cumin

1.5 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 medium onion, sliced

2 bell peppers, sliced

flour tortillas

salsa

shredded cheese

The Process:

Boil chicken until juices run clear.  If using the whole chicken, this will probably take about an hour. (if you’re a frequent reader, you know I don’t ‘do’ times well, you’re lucky you get measurements!)

Once done, remove from water, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, juice 2 of your lemons into a large Ziploc bag.  Add in your spices.  Yep, right into the bag.  Just dump it in there and give a little shake.

Now that your chicken is cool enough to handle, use a couple forks and shred it.  You know how to do that, right? Take a fork in each hand, opposing sides, pull apart….

Once shredded, dump it all into the bag of lemon juice and spices.  Seal it up then give a good toss and squish around to distribute that lemony spicy goodness!

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, preferably.  Overnight would be fine.  Half an hour acceptable, in a pinch.

Then when it’s time to get supper ready, heat a little oil in your big saute pan over medium heat.  Toss in those sliced onions and bell peppers.  You want the onions at least transparent, though I prefer them beginning to caramelize.  And I like a little crunch left in my peppers, though hubs wants them cooked through. (psst…to accommodate that, toss some in at the beginning of the onion/pepper cook, reserving some to toss in later 😉 )

Once the onions and peppers are sauteed nicely, dump your chicken mixture into the pan.  Yep, all of it.  There’s not likely to be any juice sitting on the bottom of the bag.  The chicken soaks it up nicely!  Dump the whole thing in the pan, give it a stir and continue to heat over medium-ish heat until chicken is adequately warmed.

Serve in warm flour tortillas, topped with shredded cheese and salsa!

Psst …. we like to put a smear of salsa on the tortilla before loading it with meat, then putting another dollop on top. MmmmMmmm!

Enjoy!

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Bacon Wrapped Beef

3lb beef (I use a chuck roast)

bacon

Marinade:

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp kosher salt

Cut your beef into chunks.  I just cut across the grain about every 1.5″ on my cut of roast.

Prepare marinade.  Simply mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

Put your beef chunks in a zipper bag and pour marinade over the top.  Squeeze out as much air as you can and seal.  Toss and squish it around to coat, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Overnight is great! 30 minutes isn’t terrible.  But really, I would shoot for a minimum of 2 hours.

After sufficient marinating time, remove beef chunks from marinade.  I like to work on a big cookie sheet.  Lining my beef chunks up in rows.  Especially if I am skewering, then I want to arrange pieces by size so that each skewer will cook evenly.

Preheat your grill!!

Now just take a strip of bacon and wrap it around a chunk of beef.  Some of the beef chunks/strips may be better kind of coiled around itself, others will just be nice solid chunks.  Either way, just snugly wrap the bacon around and secure with a couple of toothpicks.  I put a toothpick in at the end of the slice and again covering where it started.  Though, not placing it when I began the wrap.  Did that make sense?  I just hold my starting end and wrap the bacon around snugly, securing the last end once I come around.  Then I stick another toothpick in back where my thumb was holding the beginning place.

Sorry, these don’t have the marinade on them.  These pics were from another time I made bacon wrapped beef.  I, obviously, didn’t use the marinade that time.

Now, grill ’em up.  I like to give ’em a good sear on each beef exposed side over high heat.  Then I will back the heat off a bit and close the lid for a few minutes.  Sorry, I don’t have great step by step instructions for awesome grilling.  I just ‘do it’. Look for Bobby Flay online or something for more exact general (boy that sounded like an oxymoron didn’t it?) grilling instructions. K? K.

Onward.

Watch for flare ups. The bacon, especially, will drip and cause some flare ups.  Just watch it so that you don’t get completely charred meat.

Meanwhile, if you’re experienced enough in your grilling to leave the grill side for a bit, you can prepare some onions and peppers to skewer and grill as well.  Or, you could have done that as you wrapped the meat.

I like to quarter the onions and then skewer only 2 or 3 layers at a time.  The peppers I quarter then cut those slices in half across. So, I guess technically I’m cutting into eighths, but not as strips.  The last cut makes a squarer chunk.

For pretty presentation I like to use as many colors of bell peppers as I can find.  This time I got a 6 pack of red, yellow, orange.

You can toss the peppers and onions in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple pinches of kosher salt.  Just give it a swirl or two.

Then, I do a round of each pepper and an onion, then repeat on the skewer.

When your meat is almost done.  You’re just waiting for the bacon to crisp a bit, add the veggie skewers to the grill.

Grilled pineapple is really good too, if you’ve never thought about it.

I highly suggest grabbing a fresh pineapple from the store and slicing it yourself.  Canned pineapple is generally too fragile.  It’ll still work.  But I find fresh to be muuuuuch better!

You want your peppers and onion to begin to caramelize.  Get a little char.  Soften.

The pineapple just needs a good searing.  Get those nice black lines on either side and call it good.

Now it should all finish together.  Remove to a serving plate.  Let your meat set for about 5 minutes.  Better for the juiciness 😉

Succulent flavor.

I mean, come on.  Beef + bacon + grill  ???  Yeah baby!

They’re not quite done here, but you can see some edges beginning to brown nicely.

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Lemonade Chicken

AKA Lemony garlic chicken.  This is the way I prepare this recipe 95% of the time.  Sorry for not updating it sooner.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp butter

3 oz (1/2 a can) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

3lbs boneless skinless chicken

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

Cut chicken into 1″ cubes and saute in butter with minced garlic.  Cook until no longer pink inside.  Remove from pan.

Pour 3 oz lemonade concentrate into the pan you just used. Heat over medium heat until it begins to bubble.

Mix 1/2 cup cold water with about a tablespoon or so of cornstarch, then add that to the lemonade in the pan.  Continue heating until it begins to thicken up.  Stirring frequently.  You should see it gel up rather quickly.

Now add a dash of salt and a healthy pinch of coarse black pepper and put the chicken back in the pan to coat and warm for a few more minutes.

Done.

Nice served over rice.