Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicken Breasts in Zesty Tomato Sauce

This is a one-skillet meal perfect for weeknight dinner and it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.  I put this together with ingredients I had on hand one night.  The tomato sauce is slightly spicy with the delicious flavors of thyme, turkey bacon, onion and garlic.  

I love dishes that combine tomato sauce with delicious flavors of Cajun, Spanish and Mexican spices and this dish borrows a little from each of these.  This meal is filled with healthy ingredients so you won’t have to worry about that pesky food guilt lingering around after dinner.  Cheers!

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (depending on how many you are serving)
1 tbsp olive oil to saute chicken breasts

3 turkey bacon slices, cooked
1 tsp olive oil to saute veggies
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
½ cup yellow corn kernels
½ cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Cholula hot sauce (or hot sauce of your choice-adjust amount to your preference of spiciness)

Pound out the chicken breasts to thin them out a bit.  You don’t want them wafer thin, just thin them out so that they will cook faster in the sauce.  Set chicken aside.

Cook turkey bacon in a large skillet according to package directions (this is the same skillet that you are going to use for the chicken and sauce).  Let turkey bacon cool and then crumble it into bits.

In the same skillet used to cook the turkey bacon, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.  Saute the chicken breasts in the hot oil - about 2-3 minutes per side or just until browned on the outside.  Set the seared chicken aside on a plate.  

Heat the remaining 1 tsp olive oil in the same pan over medium heat and add the onion and celery to the pan.  Cook the onion and celery until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and thyme to the pan with the onions and celery and cook for two minutes more.  

Add chicken and remaining ingredients to the pan (corn, chicken broth, crumbled turkey bacon, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste).  Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. 

 Remove lid and increase heat to medium - simmer up to 15 minutes more or until the liquid reduces to your desired thickness.  I like mine to be a little thicker and not so soupy.  

Serve over garlic mashed potatoes, wild rice or couscous for a delicious and healthy weeknight supper!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Creole Black Beans and Sausage

In honor of going back to school, which means going back to work for me…….I broke out the Crockpot once again.  I just love walking into the house after a long day with the aroma of a delicious dinner waiting for me!  All I had to do was make the rice when I got home and dinner was served! 
 This recipe is from Taste of Home’s Slowcooker cookbook and it was so hearty and a bit spicy!  Also, it makes a lot and it will freeze well if you have leftovers like we did.  Instead of smoked sausage, I used Andouille sausage which is a smoked sausage with some spicy heat to it.  

Andouille sausage is a staple in Creole and Cajun cooking in Louisiana and it is available in your local supermarket....I got mine at Walmart.
You can also save time by browning the sausage and chopping the veggies the night before and the rice could also be cooked the night before if you are really ambitious! 

2 lbs smoked sausage cut into 1-inch slices **
 **I used Andouille sausage to give it some extra spice!
3 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups each chopped onion, celery and green bell pepper
1 cup water
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp white pepper (I just used black pepper)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
Hot cooked rice


In a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat and then drain off the grease.  Place meat in a 5-6 quart slow cooker. 

In a large bowl, combine the beans, onion, celery, green bell pepper, water, and tomato sauce.  To this mixture, add all the remaining ingredients (except rice): garlic, thyme, bouillon, ground pepper, cayenne and bay leaves.  Pour everything over the sausage in the slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaves and served over hot cooked rice.  Goes great with some crusty garlic bread on the side! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Bites

Chicken pieces stuffed with fresh chopped Jalapeno and cream cheese...... wrapped in BACON.......’nuff said!!!!  These grilled bites will be scarfed down before you can say “hot damn!”

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it.  It made me do the happy food dance and when my friends tasted it they, too, did the happy food dance!  My thanks to Salad in a for sharing this recipe.  

See their recipe at: 

8 chicken tenders, flattened and cut in two
3 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
8 slices bacon, cut in half

First, soak about 15 toothpicks in water so that they do not burn up during the grilling process.

Wipe any moisture off of the the chicken tenders in order to help with spreading the cream cheese.  Spread 1/2 teaspoon (more or less) of cream cheese on top of each piece of chicken. Sprinkle a small portion about (¼ teaspoon) of chopped jalapeno peppers over the cream cheese.

Roll each chicken piece to enclose cream cheese mixture. Wrap each roll with one piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Grill the pieces over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until bacon is brown and crispy on both sides.  If you have trouble with grill flare-ups you can place the bites on a piece of foil on the grill.

Get ready to eat fast ‘cause these won’t hang around for long after they come off the grill!

Mexican Fish Stew

I discovered this recipe while looking for a fish recipe that contained ingredients I already had on hand. I have been trying to eat more fish and so I have a big bag of frozen Tilapia filets in my freezer. 

It turned out absolutely delicious and it contains some of my favorite Mexican ingredients: lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, corn, stewed tomatoes and thyme.  The big bonus is that it’s a healthy recipe too!

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network website and it was originally featured in the Food Network magazine.  I changed a few things..... I didn’t have corn on the cob so I used corn kernels and I just used regular canned tomatoes because I didn’t have the fire roasted ones and I didn’t want to make a trip to the store.  

It was soooo yummy served with some toasty garlic bread on the side!  This recipe is a keeper and will be one that I return to again and again. Give it a try for dinner tonight and you won’t be disappointed!

4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets, each cut into 4 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 limes (2 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
1/2 pound cubed russet potatoes
½ can of yellow corn kernels (14.5 oz can)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ancho or New Mexico chile powder
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced stewed tomatoes

Place the fish in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Add the juice of the two limes and toss; set aside in the fridge to marinate for a bit. 

In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the water in which the potatoes were boiled, then drain.  This reserved water will be added to the stew in a bit as a thickener.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all but 1/3 cup (this will be used later for garnish) of the chopped onion to the skillet along with the thyme and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. 

Add the garlic, chili powder and half of the cilantro and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn and reserved potato water.

Add both the fish and lime marinade to the skillet and simmer, spooning the sauce over the fish, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the stew among bowls and top with the remaining chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges- Squeeze a lime wedge into your individual serving before eating for really great additional flavor.  

Per serving: Calories 381; Fat 10 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 85 mg; Sodium 333 mg; Carbohydrate 36 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 39 g

See the original recipe at the Food Network website:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

Strawberry cake reminds me of growing up.....and growing up we went to church every Sunday without fail.  Once per month the church congregation would have an “eatin’ meetin’” after the morning church services and we would have a pot-luck feast with all of the various delicious dishes brought by the church members.  Now, you could usually count on at least one strawberry sheet cake and one coconut cake at the eatin’ meetin’ and they were always my favorites! 

While the church lady strawberry sheet cake was delicious back in the does not hold a candle to this three layer creation from heaven!  Three layers of from-scratch vanilla cake are filled with strawberry jam, cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries.  The cream cheese frosting has just a hint of strawberry flavor and it is so deliciously creamy!  It is the perfect cake for your Summer get-together or a special birthday.

2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

3 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
7 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
6 tbsp plus 1/3 c seedless strawberry jam
2 1/4 lbs strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 6 cups), divided
First, make the frosting as follows: beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth. I used an electric mixer for this step to get the frosting nice and smooth with no lumps.  Stop every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in sugar, then jam. In a separate chilled bowl, beat the whip cream until peaks form (about the consistency of cool whip).  
Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover; chill for a couple of hours until it's firm enough to spread.  I actually cheated on this last step and just added in some actual cool whip instead of whipping my own cream.  It turned out just as good in my opinion.
Now prepare the cake while the frosting is chilling. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch high sides. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. 
I would recommend beating the remaining ingredients by hand in order to avoid over-mixing the cake.  Over-mixing results in a more dense cake that is not as light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla. Add sour cream, and beat for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in three additions, whisking to blend after each addition. Divide batter into prepared pans.
Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  The recipe says bake for 50-60 minutes, but I found that mine were ready within 30-35 minutes.  I’m not sure if it was because we are at high altitude or if it was because of the pan I used.  Check yours at 30 minutes just to be sure.  
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans, then turn cakes out onto a rack to cool completely.  Cooling the layers in the fridge for some additional time will help make the next step easier.
Using a serrated knife, divide each layer in half horizontally. Place one half, cake side down, on a cake plate. Spread 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam over the cake layer, then spread 3/4 cup of the frosting over the jam. Arrange 3/4 cup of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting in a single layer. 
Repeat with the next cake layer, jam, frosting, and strawberries. Note: The original recipe makes 4 layers and I only used 3 layers because my layers were thinner and the fourth layer was barely a layer at all!

Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread two cups of frosting over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer, then frost with remaining frosting.  I had leftover sliced strawberries that were not used in between the layers so I simply sprinkled the slices on top of the frosted cake.  
*Important note: Do not sprinkle the strawberries on top until just before serving the cake.  I made this cake the night before and sprinkled the strawberry slices on top before covering and refrigerating it - big mistake!  The juices from the slices ran down the sides of the frosting and it sort of looked like a hot mess.........although it tasted delicious!  
I think that the cake tastes best if you make it the night before your event and let the layers soak up the cream cheese filling in the refrigerator.  
Makes 12 servings.
from Bon Appetit May 2009