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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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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!

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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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Easy Peasy Slow Cooker Pork Chops

I’m a stay-at-home-mom. My days are filled with toddlers running around screaming, crying, laughing, and playing. While this is absolutely the single best job in the world, it is also often overwhelming – I mean, these kids – they EAT! You have to feed them several times a day, every single day! And it better be tasty – but you get extra credit bonus points if it’s also (at least mostly) nutritious as well. In case you didn’t already know this, the job of being a mom can greatly conflict with the job of needing to provide good food that kids are willing to eat.

SO.

Here’s an easy meal that I turn to often. Maybe it can help you too.
You pretty much just dump four or five items into a crock pot during a spare moment in the morning, and at dinner time you have a meal. Pretty nice huh!

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Easy Peasy Crock Pot Pork Chops
Ingredients:
Pork Chops  (I used a package of 5 chops on the bone, but any type of pork chop will do
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (any “cream of” soup will work – celery, chicken, etc)
1/4 cup Ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
– – – – there is room to improvise here too. I sliced a few mushrooms and added them to the pot, feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

Directions:
1. Put your pork chops into the crock pot.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the cream soup, ketchup, and Worcestershire (and any extra ingredient you might want to add). Mix them all together and then pour the mixture over the chops in the crock.
3. Cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
4. Enjoy!  I like to serve mine on a bed of mashed potatoes or rice and use the resulting juices in the crock as a gravy.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Crock Pot, Dinner, Easy, Entree, Pork

 

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Mini Corn Dog Bites

For some unknown reason, I have been wanting a mini muffin pan. I had these visions of making all sorts of breakfast muffin type things that I could pop out of the freezer and heat up for my kids for breakfast, or healthier snack type muffins that I could make in bulk and take with us on summer picnics and the like.

Well, I finally got my muffin pan, and what was the first thing I made in it??
Mini corn dog bites!!!

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I had seen a sign up at a fast food place for mini corn dogs a few days ago and it’s been in the back of my head ever since. This was super easy to make, and it proved a huge hit with the kids. I plan to make this for all sorts of kid playdates, birthday parties, just about any occasion that calls for a gathering of kids! The best part is, we ate about half of what I made, and I tossed the rest in a freezer bag and froze them, so I can pop them out and heat them back up a few at a time when needed!

Mini Corn Dog Bites
Ingredients:
Hot dogs (1 hot dog 5 bites)
1 cup Corn Meal
1 cup Flour
3 Tbsp Sugar
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup Vegetable oil

Directions:
Boil hotdogs and cook them fully and preheat your oven to 400. When the hotdogs are cooked, slice into bit sized pieces. I only had 3 hotdogs on hand, so I made 15 corn dog muffins and made the rest plain corn bread bites.

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While that is going on, make up your corn bread batter. Combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add in your milk, egg, egg white, and oil then mix well until smooth.
Grease your mini muffin pan VERY liberally. I like to use a Pam Spray and really get in there with it – you’ll appreciate it when it’s time to get those muffins out, trust me!

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I poured in roughly 1 TBSP of the muffin mix into each cup, and then dunked a hot dog chunk in, giving it a little push to get it all the way in there.

Bake for 17-18 minutes.

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Yum! If you greased your pan well enough, you can just flip your tray over and your muffins will slide nicely out for you. Serve up with some ketchup or mustard for dipping and enjoy!

 

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Peanut Butter Bars

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S.
This is a holiday that is meant to memorialize all those who have served in our military and given their lives and time for the protection of our nation. Somehow this traditionally translates into back yard barbeques and family parties. I happen to be attending such a party this weekend and I wanted to bring a dish to share but I wasn’t sure what to make. I went and dug into that fantastic new (old) recipe box from my Great-Great-Aunt Tonie and pulled out this delicious recipe for Peanut Butter Bars!

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I am not typically a sweets person, but let me tell you, this dish is beyond addictive! This couldn’t be an easier snack to make. You use one large bowl to both melt and mix the ingredients together, pour it into a dish and refrigerate. Simple simple simple. I guess that makes it a no-bake recipe too! I don’t know how old this recipe is, but truely some of the oldies are the goodies!!

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Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup Graham Crackers, crushed
3 cups + 2 TBSP Powdered Sugar
1 cup Butter
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
12 oz Chocolate Chips

Directions:1. In a large bowl, melt your butter and then mix in crushed graham crackers, powdered sugar, and peanut butter.
2. Grease a large 13 x 9 casserole pan and pour your mixture into it. Use the back of a spoon and even the mixture out over the entire bottom of the pan.
3. Back in that original bowl, melt your chocolate chips and then pour them over the top of your peanut butter mixture in the casserole dish. Spread it out so that it is evenly covering the peanut butter. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.
4. The next morning let the dish set out at room temperature for a little while before cutting the bars into the dish. This recipe makes approximately 40 bars.

 

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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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Banana Bread

Banana bread is such an easy bread to make. It’s basically just a wet mix that you bake right up – there’s none of that kneading, or rising, or other cumbersome steps you go through on a typical bread. Plus it’s a great way to use up some old bananas – – – not to mention you get the benefit of making your house smell amazing and making all of your neighbors jealous when they realize where the smell is coming from!

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This is another recipe I use on my bread machine. I’m not sure how to convert it if you don’t have a bread machine, and I’m sure you could easily make this in your oven with a quick mix of the ingredients and then a bake in the oven, I just don’t know the actual times and temperature. I got this recipe almost exactly from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet that came with my bread machine – this isn’t one of my own inventions, but I wanted to share the recipe with you in case you didn’t have the luxury of having such a handy book come with your bread machine.

The ingredient quantities for this loaf will make a Medium sized loaf, or a 1.5 pounder. I actually like to pull this particular bread out of the machine a few minutes before the timer goes off because I find that it burns very easily and I don’t care for a crispy crust on my banana breads.

Banana Bread
Ingredients:
(Place ingredients into bread machine in this order:)
1/3 cup + 1 TBSP Buttermilk, 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit  (forget to get buttermilk? simply pour add 1 TBSP vinegar to milk and let it set for 10 minutes!)
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, 1/2 inch pieces at room temp
2 Eggs, large, at room temp
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 cup Mashed Bananas (approx 3 medium bananas)
3/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda

Directions:
1. Spray your bread pan and kneading paddle with Pam Spray or similar.
2. Place ingredients, in order listed, in greased bread pan.
3. Place in bread machine and select Quick Bread/Cake option and Medium loaf or 1/5lb loaf for size. I like to cook my banana bread on the ‘light’ crust cycle and take it out a few minutes early like I said above, but you can cook to taste.

 

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