Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013

It has been spring break around here...and it looks like perhaps the spring weather may finally arrive in time for the weekend!  What did we do over the break, you ask?  Hmm...a little oral surgery and recovery for our dear daughter was the main action.  Not much fun, but necessary, and she hates missing school, so this was the best possible time to get it done.  Thankfully she is now on the mend!

Over the weekend and early in the week I did try a few new things, and we had some success! Ground turkey chili mac was a big hit, and the pretzel crusted chicken was an excellent change of pace as far as "shake n' bake" type recipes go! 

Easter is coming up and if you are like us, you may have some left over ham.  You might want to try Hurry Up easy to throw together, and usually every loves it.  Ham works wonderfully well in quiche, too!  And remember, ham freezes very well, so I like to chop my left over in recipe portion sizes so when someone here suggests Hurry Up Ham I already have it ready to go.  You can also make soup with the ham bone, or you do what I did last year...I freecycled it!  I know what you are thinking...freecycle the ham bone?  Well, I didn't want to make soup, and I hated to throw it away.  I posted it on freecycle, and had 6 people offer to run over and pick it up from me!  Think about'll probably find someone more than willing to take it off your hands!

This coming week will be the 2 year anniversary of the blog...can you believe it?  Wow!  I must say that it has been a wonderful outlet for my love of cooking.  We are no longer stuck in a dinner rut, that is for sure.  Some of the recipes we've tried out have become our new favorites that we have time and time again.  In fact, we just had chicken enchilada soup last night, and we make pancakes (either these or these) almost every weekend!

Perhaps we will have a new dessert recipe next week...the kids haven't decided what we should make for Easter dessert! As for other new meals...not sure, though I did pick up some whole wheat flour so I will probably try my hand at whole wheat bread! Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful week, and happy cooking!

New Recipes
Pretzel Crusted Chicken 
Ground Turkey Chili Mac

Ground Turkey Chili Mac

* 1.5 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
* 1 lb lean ground turkey
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
* 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
* 8 oz can tomato sauce
* 2 tbsp hot sauce (eg. Frank's)
* 3 tsp chili powder
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1/4 tsp pepper
* 1 cup shredded cheddar (or cheese of your choice)

1. Cook macaroni according to package.
2. While pasta is cooking, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook the turkey, onion,  jalapenos and garlic in oil over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink.  Drain if needed.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, hot sauce and seasonings to the turkey.  Drain the pasta and add to the turkey.  Mix everything well, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
4. Mix in the cheese and remove from the heat.  Once well mixed cover the skillet and let stand for 5 minutes of until the cheese is melted.  Serve and enjoy!

We loved this.  It was spicy, but not as overwhelming as you might expect looking at the ingredients list.  You could add a third jalapeno if you really want to crank up the heat.  The original recipe called for a full 15 oz can of beans, but I make mine and keep them in the freezer in one cup portions, so I added that.  I thought it was a good amount of beans - a full can might have been overwhelming!

This dish also had great flavor, so if you are looking for a meatless dinner, I bet this would be great without the turkey!  And if you are looking for less carbs, this would be a great chili with out the pasta, and you could even leave out the beans if your diet suggests avoiding those!  I think this is very versatile.  You could even lighten up the heat by paring back the hot sauce or the jalapenos.  Alter this dinner however best suits your family!

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

* 4 cups pretzels
* 4 cooked bacon strips, coarsely chopped
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
* 1 egg
* 1/2 cup light beer
* 1/3 cup all purpose flour
* 1 tsp paprika
* 1/4 fresh ground pepper
* 1 - 1.5 lb chicken breast

1. Place the pretzels, bacon, cheese and parsley in a food processor.  Cover and process until coarsely ground.  Transfer to a shallow bowl.
2. In another shallow bowl whisk the egg, beer, flour and spices.
3. Din the chicken first in the egg mixture and then the pretzel mixture.  Place chicken in a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear.

Beer, pretzels, bacon...Ryan was intrigued by this dinner just by glancing at the ingredients list!  It turned out that my family loved this dish.  I probably liked it the least, and I enjoyed it.  In my opinion I thought it had a very prominent bacon flavor.  Next time I would probably only add 2 or 3 strips of bacon, though that is probably why everyone really loved it!  (On second thought perhaps I shouldn't mess with the bacon!)

You could also do this with chicken parts.  If you do this with bone-in pieces, cook at 350 F for 40-50 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear.