Delicious Cheez-It Crusted Chicken

Cheez-It Chicken

We make a lot of chicken at our house. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. So I’m always attempting new recipes I find and trying my hand at creating something new. This recipe was inspired by the tail-end of a box of Cheez-Its. Instead of licking my fingers to dab out the leftover crumbs from the bottom of the box, I decided to keep my dignity and turn the cheddar bits into a delicious breading. So I licked my last handful of addictive cracker dust and headed for the kitchen:

Cheez-It Chicken


2 Cup crushed cheddar cracker crumbs (I used Cheez-Its, crushed in a food processor)
4-5 Skinless chicken breasts
1 Cup milk
1 egg
Cooking Oil
1 zip lock bag (shake and bake, baby!)

Begin by heating your cooking oil (either in a fryer or deep frying pan) on medium heat.

In a shallow dish, mix your egg and your milk. Coat chicken breasts until moist as this will help the Cheez-It mixture to stick to the chicken. Add your Cheez-It crumbs to the zip-lock bag and, one breast at a time, shake until the breast is evenly coated in cracker crumbs. Transfer chicken, carefully, to your pre-heated frying pan. Fry for 6-7 minutes, flip and cook for another 6-7 minutes on the other side. Your chicken breasts will need to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees.)

Remove fried chicken to a paper-towel covered plate to remove excess oil. Serve and enjoy!

*Helpful Hint: If you feel the outside of your chicken is cooking to fast, refrain from burning your breading and move chicken breasts to an oven dish and cook chicken the remainder of the way through in your oven on 375.

Savory & Simple Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

My crock-pot is my handy little friend that I sometimes forget I even have. There she sits, tucked away in the pantry, waiting for me to pull her out and let her do the hard work for me. What’s even better, she actually wants to do the work for me. I just need to remember to get her out every now and again!

When I know in advance I have a long work day coming up, maybe it’s a late scheduled meeting or I’m traveling towards the end of the day, I do try to plan ahead and use this handy little cooking device. It’s so much better to come home to an already prepared and cooked meal opposed to start my cooking process so late in the evening.

Anything egg noodle is my favorite item to put in the crock-pot. Soups. Casseroles. Bakes. I love egg noodles. So when I found myself with a bunch of brown beech mushrooms from my organic delivery box, a bag of egg noodles and a 5pm downtown meeting on the books, I knew I had the perfect trifecta for beef stroganoff. You also need wine and beef—but when don’t I have those?!

Beef Stroganoff

2 Tbsp cooking oil (I use olive)
1 carton of sliced mushrooms (I used brown beech mushrooms to try something fun!)
1 yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1-2 lb sirloin, cut into fine strips
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 small jar tomato paste
¼ cup plain greek yogurt (sour cream works too!)
½ cup fresh parsley

1 bag egg noodles, cooked

On medium heat, warm your olive oil in a skillet. Add mushrooms, onions and the garlic and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms start to brown. Stir in 1 Tbsp of the flour, coating the vegetables. Stir in your cup of wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half. While your wine is simmering, coat your sliced sirloin in the other 1 Tbsp of flour and toss to coat, adding it to your crock-pot. When your wine has reduced to about half (4-5 minutes) move those contents to the crock-pot as well. Stir in your beef stock and tomato paste, mixing well. Cook for 5-6 hours on low. When ready to eat, add in your yogurt and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked egg noodles. Enjoy.

Traditional Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage Rolls

Now that Kevin and I are on a health kick (and by health kick I mean we’ve successfully gone two full days without an abundance of dairy and carbs) I’ve been searching for good-for-you yet appealing dinner recipes. Now, if I were cooking just for me, that wouldn’t be a problem but if Kevin so much as even assumes the recipe isn’t heavily loaded with “Me a man, me need meat” protein, he won’t even consider it.

So here I am. I need healthy dish and one that’s full of meat. I’ve done stuffed peppers. I’ve done wraps. I look in the fridge and there it is. An organic head of cabbage staring me in the face. Viola. Stuffed cabbage rolls.

I looked through a few recipes, and for this most part, the ingredients and  for this polish dish (Gołąbki or Galumpkis) were very similar. I did see you can make this in a slow cooker as well. Here is the recipe I whipped together, adapted from Whole Eats and Whole Treats, using her great aunt’s cookbook.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

IngredientsStuffed Cabbage Rolls
1 Head cabbage
1 pound ground beef (I used ground turkey, health kick remember?!)
1 chopped onion
½ cup uncooked brown rice (or quinoa)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (2 tsp dried)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 can plain tomato sauce
1 cup canned tomato chunks
1/2 cup grated Colby cheese, optional

Boil one large pot of water (the pot will need to be big enough to fit your head of cabbage.) Once boiling, add your head of cabbage and continue boiling for about 25 minutes. Carefully remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes so you are able to handle.

While you are working the cabbage, brown the beef and onion. In a bowl, mix the rice, salt, pepper, parsley and egg.

When your mixture is ready and your cabbage has cooled, carefully remove 10-15 leaves. Using a knife, cut out the thickest stalk part of the center rib from each leaf, about 1 to 2 inches. It will look as though you cut out a “V” from each leaf. Divide the meat mixture between the leaves and roll up, tucking in the ends so the filling stays put. Place the rolls in a greased casserole dish.

Pour the tomato sauce and tomato chunks over the rolls. Cover with either a lid or tin foil and bake at 350 for about an hour and a half. If adding cheese, remove foil and sprinkle on top and place back in the oven for an additional five minutes. Let set a few minutes before serving.

I’m not sure what they drink in Poland, but pair this with your favorite red and you’ll be all set. Enjoy!

Dish Up Fall – Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Stuffed Pasta Shells

I love fall. I mean seriously, love fall. It’s one of the biggest things I miss about the Midwest. Living in California, the closest I come to experiencing a real Autumn is putting on a pair of cognac riding boots and ordering a pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks. Around here, you have to make your own fall, so riding boots on and PSL in hand, I did exactly that. I made fall.

I have been craving a butternut squash something (anything!) so went ahead and purchased a big ol squash on my weekly run to Trader Joe’s. After a few days of the vegetable just sitting there, staring at me in the kitchen, I knew I had to put its sweet, buttery insides to use. But what to make?

I really wanted ravioli. I used to work at Biaggi’s Italian Restaurant back in the day and was completely craving their recipe. But let’s be honest. Ravioli? I mean, homemade ravioli? Yeah right. What am I, Barefoot Contessa? I needed a simpler recipe. So I did what I do best and always do—I improvised.

Butternut Squash Shellsbutternut shells2

½ box large pasta shells – cooked
1 large butternut squash
¼ cup cream (milk will work too)
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your squash in half (the long way) and remove all seeds and, technically speaking, the stringy gunk stuff. Brush the flesh side of the squash halves with coconut oil (or olive oil) and place face down on a greased baking tray for 1 hour or until squash is tender.

When your squash is ready, remove it from oven and transfer the inside of the squash to a mixing bowl—careful, the squash will be hot! Discard the squash skin. In the mixing box, add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper and cream. Mash the ingredients together until you have a mashed potato like consistency. Spoon the mashed squash into your cooked pasta shells.

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

One note I must add before you plan to make this amazing sauce, you may have trouble finding fresh (or even dried) sage leaves. I live in San Diego, and even I had trouble. Just use dried sage if you can’t find fresh leaves—I did. Also, my recipe calls for walnuts but if you look at my picture, I obviously used pecans. Use walnuts if you have them—I just didn’t feel like making another trip to the store!

8 Tbsp butter
10 fresh sage leaves (cough… 1 Tbsp dried sage)
½ cup of walnuts

With your stove top on love, melt your butter in a saucepan. Once melted, add in your sage and walnuts, stirring occasionally, until your butter starts to give off a nice brown color. Pour over your butternut squash shells and serve. Your autumn craving guests, Midwesterners and Californians alike, will be sure to ask for seconds. Bon appetite!

Grownup Crabby Patties with Remoulade Sauce

Crab Cake Portabella

Two appetizers I am not a stranger to making are stuffed mushroom and crab cakes. Both crowd pleasers. Both pretty darn simple to make. When I saw both lump crab meat and portabella caps on sale the other day, an idea was born. These two once appetizers were about to be reborn into one fantastic meal—a crab cake stuffed portabella!

Crab Cake Portabella

1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko but whatever you have will do just fine)
6 Tbsps melted butter
1 tsp parsley (fresh or dry)
8-10 oz lump crab meat
¼ cup mayonnaise
Splash of lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheese (your preference!)
4-5 large portabella mushroom caps

Pre-heat oven to 375. Brush your mushroom caps with olive oil (both sides) and place on a greased/foil lined baking tray and set aside. In a mixing bowl, melt the 6 Tsp butter and stir in 1 cup of breadcrumbs until the crumbs have absorbed all moisture. Add in the remaining ingredients (minus the mushroom caps of course) and stir together until evenly mixed. Using your hands, shape mixture into large patties. Add a patty atop of each of the portabella caps and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

While your caps are baking, start to prepare your remoulade sauce.

Remoulade Sauce

¼ cup of mayonnaise
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp creole seasoning (I use Tony’s!)
2 tsp horseradish
1 tsp hot sauce
A few splashes of Worchester sauce
A few splashes of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together and voila! You’re done.

Pull mushroom caps from oven and drizzle with your Remoulade sauce. Serve (with a glass of wine!) and enjoy!

Easy as Banana Cream Trifle

Banana Cream Trifle

This past weekend, Kevin and I thought it would be nice to invite some of his work friends over for a “little” BBQ. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my house a “little” barbeque is the equivalent to a “little” Thanksgiving—it ain’t happening. Up at 7am and 36 trips to the grocery store later, I am ready to clean the casa and try out some new recipes.

I had it all plotted out. Stuffed jalapenos. Seven-Layer dip. Brown sugar baked beans. Pasta salad with cherry tomatoes. Tossed greens. My cornbread—extra unhealthy. And the Pièce de résistance, a slow cooked bourbon pork loin (the biggest you’d ever seen, direct from Iowa) complements of my father. It was perfect.

With pride, I announcement my anticipated and generous meal plan to Kevin, expecting a gracious nod of approval. He stood there, staring at me. Instead of an assumed “Wow!” or “Great babe!” I received the sad, puppy dog, “You’re not making anything for dessert?” whimper.

With contempt, I looked that spoiled-rotten, no-good, adorable, impossible-to-say-no-to, sweetest-boy-you’d-ever-seen right in the face, shook my finger at him and said!…

“What do you want, honey?” (What can I say—I’m a sap)

So here we are. Banana Cream Trifle. It’s beautiful and one of the easiest dessert recipes you can make. The hardest part about it is finding the actual dish to make it in…and even that has a work around (cough, candle holder from Michaels for $9.99!)

Banana Cream Trifle

Graham Cracker (1 box mixed with about 1 cup of butter—mix together)
Bananas (you’ll need about three total, sliced as pictured)
Banana or Vanilla Instant Pudding (make as directed and fill in around banana layer)
Yellow Cake (From scratch or from box. Bake per instructions, let cool, and cut up into bite sized chunks)
Whipped Cream (I am a Cool Whip kinda girl)

Each layer of the trifle should be roughly one inch tall. When you have a good amount (1 inch) switch to the next layer and repeat until your trifle dish is full. For the topping of the trifle, I used the remaining banana slices, macadamia nuts and a caramel drizzle. Feel free to get creative! You’ll love your end result and the simplicity of this recipe. Good Luck!

Flatware You Can Eat…and Can’t Get Enough Of!

Bacon Cups

I’m always on the hunt for “show-off” type dishes and appetizers and when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had just that. Bacon cups? How friggin adorable and delicious can you get?!

You can put anything in these bad boys, but I personally went the breakfast casserole route. Simply find your favorite casserole recipe, mix it in a bowl and divide into your little bacon baskets. You don’t even have to pre-cook the bacon!


For BowlsEmpty Plate
1 package bacon (Not the turkey sissy stuff)

For Casserole

1 Cup hash brown potatoes (I use O’Brien style)
1 Cup sautéed vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, etc)
8 Eggs, beaten
½ Cup shredded cheese

To Cook:

Line muffin pan with bacon to form cup shapes. Before you add any other ingredients, cook bacon at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Pull out of oven and drain excess drippings.Mix all casserole ingredients in a bowl and divide/spoon mixture evenly between cups partially cooked bacon cups. Sprinkle tops with shredded cheese. Cover with foil. Put back into the oven and continue to bake for roughly 30 minutes, pulling foil off pan 15 minutes early allowing cheese to brown.

*One word of note: Post devouring, I found another recipe that actually turns the muffin pan upside down and shapes the bowls that way. Very clever. Baking the bacon this way will help with the drainage of unwanted fat!

Hostess or Patriot? My Star-Spangled Munchies

Fourth of July Snacks

There is nothing quite like the July Fourth holiday. A much-needed day off from work to spend catching 80 degree rays, tilt a few too many back and Oh and Aw over the ethereal fireworks your town went way over budget on.

Whether I’m sipping cold ones on a boat or rocking my star-spangled bikini on the sand, the hostess in me always feels the need to go above and beyond potato chips and cut-up watermelon.  I wanted something fun yet simple, so went a Pinterest hunting to score some ideas.

There are many American flag cakes out there, but I personally think slicing the strawberries sideways (as pictured) is utterly adorable and the way to go—and much more creative. The pan pictured is an 18×26 and accommodates either two cake mix boxes or a doubled up scratch-cake recipe. Use white cake mix/white cake recipe and white frosting (egg whites only!) to keep with the red white and blue theme. I used approximately one box of strawberries and one box of blueberries—If done right, you will have eaten a quarter of the box before your cake is finished.

The pretzel recipe is nothing more than your standard almond bark pretzels. Melt white almond bark, dip pretzels, sprinkle, viola! Throw them in a zip-lock and you’ve got yourself one heck of a bag of goodies for the boat. These, accompanied by a Coors Lite and some deer sausage, will make for one heck of a delish mid-day drunken meal. Expect to be a hero on this day of remembrance.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!


Spring is in the Air So Why Not Enjoy It?

Spring Picnic

Kevin and I finally had a weekend to ourselves without the hub-bub and commotion of friends, family, and constant travel. It’s not that we don’t like the go-go-go and adventures, in fact we live for it, but every once and awhile you just crave your own home, a glass of wine and the “How’s it going at work?” kind of conversation. For the first time in two months, were able to do exactly that.

While Kevin worked on one of his many inventions in the man cave, I prepped artichokes, sangria and one of my staples—bruschetta. I had never made the first two prior, but I’ve been hooked on bruschetta since the first time I tasted it in Italy. No wonder I’m hooked.

I looked up multiple recipes for Sangria, came away with the basic knowledge needed to prepare it and pulled my typical, “I got this” approach. Truth be told, all you really need is a bottle of wine (or three, like Kevin and I used) some white grape juice (half a cup per bottle should do you just fine) soda water (also half a cup) and a bunch of fresh fruit. I used strawberries, raspberries and granny smith apples for my fruit. Also, as much as I drink wine, the type of wine most sangria recipes recommended was foreign to me. Viognier, (pronounced VEE-un-yay) isn’t something you’ll find much variety of in your standard grocery store. After doing my homework, I discovered it was more mellow than a Chardonnay and less acidic than a Sauvignon Blanc (sad face.) So I met in the middle and used Pinot Grigio as the substitute.

Steaming artichokes was certainly a new experience and one I’m glad I just didn’t wing. I purchased my artichokes without any knowledge of what I was looking for—picture me in a super market going through a bin of artichokes, lulling over the “perfect” ones when in reality I haven’t got a clue. So make sure to read up on the entire process, buying and cooking, before you delve into this culinary adventure. I recommend a recipe I found on Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer:

Have you made sangria or steamed artichokes before? Be sure to tell me how many bottles of wine (and what kind) you used and what sauce you paired your artichokes with! P.S. I used a whipped garlic-parm heavy cream mixture.

American Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Pepper

Stuffed Peppers are one of the simplest, healthiest and easiest recipes I know how to make AND they are delicious. I play around with the recipe and have come up with everything from Southwestern stuffed peppers to Philly cheese-steak peppers (which, by the way, was not a bf favorite–the lead critic in my life.)

By Simply using yesterday’s leftovers or randoms from your fridge and cupboards, you should be able to craft some variation of a stuffed pepper. The pepper itself might be the one item you need to pick up.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Baking time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: $10
  • Wine pairing: Yes.

What you need (for an American stuffed pepper—depicted in photo)

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I use the Italian seasoned ones but it doesn’t matter)
  • 2-3 cups of cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 lb. browned hamburger (feel free to mix with Italian sausage!)
  • 1 cup of preferred shredded cheese (one slice per pepper will also work)
  • Salt, pepper, other preferred seasoning

Set oven to 350. After the peppers are hollowed out, I throw them in the oven while I’m browning my hamburger and cooking my rice/quinoa (speeds up the process!) When the hamburger is cooked through, combine the diced tomatoes, rice and seasoning. Remove half-cooked peppers from oven and stuff with mixture. Top with your favorite cheese. Continue to bake for another ten minutes. Viola!

Side note—I tend to have extra stuffing left over.Not to worry—just serve it alongside your pepper. Makes for a beautiful side and I promise it won’t go to waste.