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Category Archives: Healthy

Maple Chicken and Veg

I’ve been working and tweaking this recipe for a while now. It’s a one-pot-dish (my favorite kind) and it involves chicken quarters (always very budget friendly) and some root veggies flavored up with some maple syrup (always yummy!)

This is a dish I tried on a whim not too long ago – and to my shock the 4yr old had seconds…AND thirds – the picky eater 6yr old ate her whole meal without endless talking and talking and talking – AND the Hubby who gets bored with chicken and hates potatoes asked if we could put this dish into regular rotation for dinner meals because he liked it so much!

You can change up the potatoes and vegetable to what ever you like, but I feel the carrots and sweet potatoes in particular really compliment the maple flavoring. Try to stay in the same tastes 😉  Hubby also really likes it when I add one large yellow onion cubed up.

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Ingredients
4 Chicken Leg Quarters
2 Red Potatoes
2 White Potatoes
1 Sweet Potato
3 Large (FAT) Carrots
20 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup melted Butter
salt/pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and gather all your ingredients along with a good cutting board and a trusty knife. You’re going to be doing some prep work on this dish – but I promise it’s easy and worth it.

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Prep your veggies. Peel your carrots, peel your potatoes, peel all those cloves of garlic. Peel EVERYTHING!! Some people like to eat the skins on their potatoes. If your family is of this crowd then CONGRATULATIONS! Your prep time has just been cut in half! My family on the other hand won’t go near anything that’s not fully peeled – – – I know, I know, pick your battles, right?

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Cube the potatoes and carrots into roughly one inch cubes. Try your best to keep everything about the same size. Place all those cubed vegetables into a large bowl.

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Combine the maple syrup and the melted butter together and give it a good stir. Slowly pour over all the cubed veggies in the bowl and then toss the veggies to get a good even coating of that mapley goodness. Set the bowl aside for a few minutes.
Pull out two large casserole dishes. Pam spray or grease the bottoms of them and place two chicken quarters into each dish. Salt and pepper the chicken.

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Scoop out your buttered and syrup’d veggies and sprinkle them around the chicken quarters in both dishes. Pour any remaining syrup from the bottom of the bowl over the chicken. Place in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes. Now you can sit back and relax while dinner cooks itself in the oven and the aromas of garlic and maple and chicken float through your home.

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And that’s it! That’s all there is to it! You get your delicious sweet veggies, some roasted garlic cloves, and some juicy chicken meat on a plate and chow down!  Enjoy!!!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Chicken, Dinner, Easy, Entree, Healthy, Kids, Potatoes

 

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Mediterranean Chicken

I love chicken legs. They’re always cheaply priced at the store, there’s a bazillion ways to flavor and cook them, and it seems almost everyone loves them!  Fried, baked, grilled, marinated. Yum.

We call this recipe our Mediterranean Chicken, but to tell the truth I have no idea exactly how ‘Mediterranean’ it really is. The difference in this dish is that we marinate the chicken legs in yogurt for a few hours before cooking – have you ever tried that before? There’s something about yogurt that completely changes the texture and feel of a meat when you use it as a marinade. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a go! It is a great way to get incredibly moist meat – just be careful not to over-marinate or the flavor gets a little off.

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Mediterranean Chicken
Ingredients:
1 package Chicken Legs
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1 TBSP Paprika
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Kosher Salt

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, paprika, olive oil, and salt. Add the chicken legs to the bowl and turn to coat each leg evenly with the mixture.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 8 hours.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until the skin is crispy and meat is cooked through.
4. Enjoy!

 
 

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Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This is my first ever ‘guest recipe’ post!  Today’s recipe comes from a good friend of mine that always makes sure to go above and beyond for her children and family. One of her little ones needed some extra special care earlier this week and she went so far above-and-beyond, that she surprised even herself and made her best ever soup! She has been kind enough to share the recipe with us too, so with no further ado…..Here’s Jessica K.’s Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup!

soup

Jessica K. writes:
I don’t know about you, but I have always had a hard time making an awesome broth-based chicken soup. I always find that it turns out bland– especially the chicken part. So, when my youngest had surgery this past Monday, I decided to play around with some ideas I had on how to make my chicken soup more like the ones you can get at a restaurant. What I ended up with was so flavorful, I had to stop eating and write down exactly what I did so I wouldn’t forget. 😉

Ingredients:
1 box (32 oz) Chicken Broth (I use reduced-sodium)
2-3 cups Water
2 Chicken Bouillon cubes
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Creasts
½ a medium Onion, chopped
Veggies you have on hand (I used a handful or so of baby carrots chopped, two stalks of celery chopped and roughly a cup of broccoli pulled apart)
1/8 tsp of oregano (increase or decrease depending on how you want it seasoned)
Garlic powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oil (I use EVOO)
1/3 cup of pasta (I used gluten-free small shells)- optional

Directions:
1. Sprinkle two chicken breasts with garlic powder (both sides).  Put oil in a pan on medium heat and brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Once the chicken is on its second side and close to being done, add the chopped onion to the pan. When both side of the chicken are browned remove them from the pan. (This is how I made sure the chicken had favor. If you just put chopped up, raw chicken, in broth I find it comes out bland.)
2. Put the chicken on a plate and cut into pieces. Don’t worry about any pink areas in the middle of the chicken because it will continue cooking in the broth. Use a bit of chicken broth to deglaze the pan.
3. Add the chopped veggies, chopped chicken, and oregano to the deglazed pan. Add more broth to the pan until the ingredients are just covered. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Once everything has been able to mingle and soak up all that wonderful flavor, transfer it to a soup pot (a large pot). Add the remaining chicken stock, the water, and two bouillon cubes. You can also add a little salt and pepper for additional flavor. I find that you don’t need salt because of the bouillon cubes, but I did add a little pepper. Cover and keep it on a low to medium heat for at least an hour. You can leave it on a low heat, simmering away until you are close to when you want to eat.
*At this point, instead of simmering in a pot on the stove, you could also transfer it to a crock pot and leave it on low for about an hour or two and then switch it to warm.*
5. Got noddles? When you are about 20-30 minutes before you want to serve, add the pasta. If you are making this ahead and not eating it right away, I would NOT put the pasta in until the day you are eating it. Just heat the soup on the stove, bring to a boil, and add the pasta. That way your pasta is fresh and not super mushy.
*Though I have not tried this yet, I would imagine this would make a good freezer meal soup as well. Just don’t add the pasta if you intend on freezing and add it once you’ve defrosted and heated it up.*

FYI– My 3-year-old little patient LOVED it. =)

 

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Veggie Tree

Last year, my then-two-year-old desperately wanted a christmas tree made out of broccoli. I have no idea why or where she comes up with this stuff….did I mention she was two? I remembered having seen something close on Pinterest a while before so I gave it my best attempt and this is what came of it.

Veggie Tree

First I want to mention that I just might be the least crafty type person ever to have walked this earth. This project intimidated the heck out of me, but actually ended up being pretty easy. The real fun was serving it to our extended family at our Christmas party as an appetizer and seeing their faces :)

Supplies:
1 Foam Craft Cone
1 Serving Tray you are comfortable hot gluing something to
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks to refill as needed
1 box of toothpicks
Vegetables of your choosing – keep in mind both what you want to eat, AND what would decorate a tree. Broccoli is the obvious choice for the green branches, I used cauliflower for snowy pieces and just a color variance. Red cherry tomatoes and orange baby carrots work as ornaments. If your family likes bell peppers, you could cut ribbons off the different colored peppers and use it like a garland. Again, I made mine for a 2yr old, so our veggies were pretty standard fare.

Directions:

1. In case you’re not sure what I mean by a foam cone, here’s a picture of a generic one:
01260P                                                               It’s just a small cone made of foam ;)
Anyways, using your hot glue gun, very generously glue the base of the cone down onto your serving tray. I used a dollar store throw-away tin one for mine so I didn’t have to worry about any damage.
2. While that’s cooling, chop up your veggies into pretty little pieces that you can attach to the cone.
3. Use the toothpicks to stab a piece of veggie – a broccoli floret, for example, in the base of the veggie and then stab it into the foam cone. Don’t go all crazy with your greens and expect to come back later and put in your colorful pieces – you’re going to have to plan ahead a bit and leave space for the other veggies. Perhaps if you’re really clever, you can decorate the naked tree with your “ornament” veggies and then go back and fill in the green veggies.
4. That’s it. Be creative with it. Use any veggies you like to eat. And when it’s time to serve up, remember to offer some sort of veggie dip to go with.
5. Enjoy!

 

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Homemade Marinara Sauce

I’ve been playing around with a versatile red sauce for a while now. I wanted a sauce that could work well both with a quick spaghetti dish and also as a pizza sauce in a pinch. I was simply tired of paying four dollars a jar for any decent tasting marinara at the store.  This recipe is for a nice, easy, flexible sauce that can suit many needs, and won’t send you to the poor house either. I found this recipe over at The Two Bites Club – and it’s exactly what I was looking for.

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Ingredients:
28 oz of canned tomatoes, drained
3 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSP Dried Basil
1 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Salt
4 cloves Garlic, minced

Directions:
1. Pour all of your ingredients into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce your heat to medium and simmer for roughly 30 minutes.
3. If you like your sauce chunky, then you’re done – if you like it a bit thinner, you can use an immersion blender (or even a regular blender) to puree up the large chunks of tomato into either smaller pieces or into a smooth sauce. Whichever you and your family prefers!
4. Enjoy! Serve with pasta or on top of your pizza!

 

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Cinnamon Raisin Fruit Leathers

We purchased a dehydrator about a year ago so Hubby could try making beef jerky and I have since learned the luxury of using it for fruit leathers. We buy a ton of fruit on a regular basis, but every now and then some if it starts to go soft and age before we can get to it to eat it. If you puree it up and toss it in the dehydrator, you have a nice, easy, healthy snack AND a way to extend the shelf life of your produce.

This time around we decided to try a Cinnamon Raisin combination and I have to say, it turned out fantastically! These little fruit leathers got eaten up soo fast that I’m pretty sure it took longer to actually let them cook in the dehydrator than it did for them to disappear!

Cinnamon Raisin Fruit Leathers

Ingredients:
2 cups Raisins
2 medium sized Pear, pealed and cut (you can use apples instead if you like)
3 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

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Pour your chopped pears, raisins, and cinnamon into your blender. Puree up the fruit until the mixture is nice and smooth.

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I use plastic tray liners I purchased off of Amazon.com designed to go into a food dehydrator. These are necessary when making a fruit leather out of a puree – otherwise your puree mix would just pour down between the grates of your dehydrator and make a goopy mess in the bottom. There’s really only one single important step in this entire recipe and here it is ~>Make sure you grease or Pam spray the liners before you spread the puree on them! You will really really wish you had when they’re done cooking…trust me on this one!

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The amount of time the puree will need to dehydrate can vary widely depending on what kind of fruit you used in your mix. A wetter mix is actually easier than a ‘thicker’ mix. I would say 8-10 hours is about average, but this is definitely a case where you need to get in there and check it every hour or so to see how it’s progressing. My Cinnamon Raisin mix ended up taking around 12 hours yesterday. Just keep checking it. You don’t want it to be wet at all, or even tacky to the touch. At the same time, it shouldn’t be brittle and crack. It should feel like a store-bought fruit roll up.

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When it’s done dehydrating and is now a solid (gummy) ring of deliciousness, simply peel it off of your (nicely Pam sprayed) liner and put it on a cutting board for slicing up. You can do it nice and simple like we do, and just take a pizza cutter to it, or you can place a sheet of parchment paper under it and get a sharp knife and slice it (along with the parchment paper) into pretty strips so you can roll it up and have it look just like the name brand stuff. We store ours in a sealed container in the pantry and it can last for a few weeks, though ours is always eaten within a few days.

**Now – for the oven method**

If you don’t have, or don’t want to use, a dehydrator, it’s just as easy.
Puree up the fruit, just like I mentioned above. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper – Note: parchment paper, NOT wax paper.
Pour your puree on the lined baking sheets and smooth it out so it’s evenly spread.
Then bake at 200 degrees for about 2 hours. Again, you’ll need to check this often to see how it’s coming along. Your fruit leather will over-dry much quicker in the oven than the dehydrator, so make sure to keep an eye on it.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Easy, Healthy, Homemade, Kids, Party Foods

 

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Lazy Legs and Taters

This dish was an experiment of mine and I’m soo pleased with the way it turned out, I just HAD to share it! I’ve had a package of chicken legs staring at me from my fridge for a few days and I just couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with them. Spring is here and the house was getting warm enough in the evenings that I didn’t feel like running the oven to bake them up, but at the same time Hubby has been working until long past dinner time and wasn’t available to grill them for me. (I know I know, I”m sure I could figure out how to light the grill and cook on it, but I’m not interested and darn it, that’s HIS job!)

So what it all comes down to, is that these legs needed to be cooked and I needed to figure out a new approach since my stand-by methods weren’t available to me. The obvious solution would be to use the crock pot – but these were legs! Crock pots are good at tough cuts of meat, or maybe some chicken breasts with a gravy, but really, most chicken dishes come out a little mushy and bland, and just not all that appealing for a summery weather dish.

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This is where I was wrong. These legs were not mushy. They were not bland. They were not drowned in gravy or cream soups and too heavy for a summertime meal. They were moist, packed with flavor, so tender the meat fell off the bone of a few legs, and it was SOO easy! I even tossed a few potatoes in the crock pot to cook with the chicken and those came out perfectly too….So it’s a one pot meal! Score!!!

The trick is to use a rub on the chicken, brown it in a skillet, and then build yourself some braces on the bottom of your crock to keep the juices away from your chicken while it’s cooking! Easy, easy, easy! I’ll break it all down for you. First the ingredients…

Ingredients:
1 package Chicken Legs
2 Russet Potatoes, washed and halved
1 Onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
2-3 stalks Celery
2-3 Carrots
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

Directions:
First of, you need to mix all of your herbs/seasonings together in a bowl to make your rub. Once combined, proceed to rub it all over your chicken legs, both on the skin and directly onto any of the meat that is showing as well. Get a skillet on the stove top nice and hot and then place your rubbed legs in to brown them, making sure to turn them occasionally so they get a nice browning on all sides.

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While your legs are in the skillet, you can begin to prepare your crock pot. You need to work in layers so the chicken meat isn’t soaking in it’s own juices and turn all mushy on you. On the very bottom of your skillet, spread out your thinly sliced onion and smashed garlic cloves. Next up is the celery and carrots. Cut your stalks into lengths that fit nicely in the bottom of your crock, both lengthwise and crosswise. You want to put a layer or two of these ‘crossbeams’ in to allow the juice to sink, but the chicken to remain supported above it all. Next up is the potatoes. I sliced two potatoes in half lengthwise and wrapped the halves up tightly in aluminum foil. They will steam themselves nicely and will be done and ready to eat when the chicken is done!

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When your chicken has been browned, you can place it directly tin to your prepared and layered crock pot. Turn the crock on low for 6 hours and walk away!! Your dinner is cooking itself for you! I turned my crock on high for the last 45 minutes to try and crisp up the skins a little, but they were still a little too soft for my liking. You could place them under a broiler for a few minutes if you want to firm them up some.

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The chicken and potatoes should be cooked perfectly, the carrots and celery were really used for structural support, but if you are so inclined you could always save them aside to make them into a stock with the juices in the bottom of the pot. Just cook it down a little more. I wouldn’t recommend serving them as a veggie side with your chicken dish though. 🙂

Enjoy! I really hope you like it! This is going to become a regular around our house for sure!

 

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