Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Easy & Cheesy Salsa Verde Chicken

This may be the easiest Mexican dinner you'll ever make, or at least the best tasting easy one!

Cheesy salsa verde chicken only requires three delicious ingredients: chicken breasts, salsa verde and cheese!  (All in the name, right? :)  I also seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and cumin for extra flavor to penetrate the meat.  This cooks together in a cast iron skillet or (any other baking pan) to a zesty, cheesy chicken dish!

It tastes delicious over a bed of brown or Mexican rice.  I found this awesome organic brown rice at Trader Joes that is not only inexpensive, but only take about 12 minutes to cook verses 40 minute regular rice.  I love it!  Add more flavor to your rice by cooking it in chicken broth instead of water and adding seasoning right into the rice/liquid mixture before cooking.  No more bland rice!

I also made our favorite "Cuban style" black beans flavored with diced onion, fresh garlic, cumin and paprika.  Serve the delicious cheesy salsa verde chicken with sour cream and extra salsa if you like! Cilantro would be beautiful but we don't like the flavor. (I know, weird.) Be sure and give a squeeze of fresh lime juice over your plate before serving to add a bright flavor that balances all the spice.  

I think you're going to go back to this delicious Mexican dinner time and time again for a quick weeknight supper.  I know we will!!

Cheesy Salsa Verde Chicken
Recipe from: Posed Perfection

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2-3 Chicken Breasts, cut in half (I actually cut these length and width-wise to make cutlets.)

1 jar Salsa Verde (green tomatillo salsa)

1 c. of your favorite shredded Cheese (I freshly grated pepper jack and sharp cheddar)

Salt & pepper

Ground Cumin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or 9x13 inch pan.  Lay out the chicken pieces evenly.  Season chicken with spices.  Pour salsa over the chicken and bake for 15-20 minutes.  

Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees, take the pan out, and spread the cheese evenly over the chicken.  Return to cook another 10-15 more minutes, depending on thickness of chicken. The salsa will bubble, and the cheese will get nice and gooey.  Salt a bit more just after coming out of the oven.

Serve the chicken (and extra salsa in the pan) over the rice or cut up and in tortillas as a yummy taco.  Enjoy!
Serves 3-4

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Light of the World

    Jesus says,

      "You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  

     Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  

     In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to Your Father who is in Heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Hayride Favorite! Sweet & Salty Haystacks

Today is a chilly cloudy day!  It's so Autumn like with my windows open and a candle burning away on the mantle.  I just love this type of day!  Drinking coffee, staying in pjs (for most of the day, yes) and watching a movie with the kids amongst ironing and laundry.

Right now my first pot of chili of the season is simmering away in the Dutch oven, and it smells divine!  

We've been cutting back on excessive desserts, but this particular day seems to be asking for a cozy treat to surprise my family with!  I just remembered an old favorite that's quick to make and never fails to please.

One of my favorite fall time treats, and the only candy I make for this time of year are haystacks!!!  Aww... What a classic easy recipe with flavors of butterscotch, peanuts, and chow mein noodles that somehow evolve into a little mound of goodness!  

I'm not sure exactly why I think if them as an Autumnal goody except I think of butterscotch and caramel this time of year with their rich flavors, and I used to make big batches of haystacks every year for family hayrides. They are perfect to munch on while singing in a hay covered wagon in the country!   I just needed to bring this recipe back and introduce them to our children.

So craving these I decided to whip up a batch using what I had in the cabinets.  I don't keep chow mein noodles on hand, so I though I would dive into my favorite combination of salty and sweet instead. Thus adding buttery crushed ritz crackers and salty (goldfish) pretzels!  

Glorious sweet golden mixture is this, but I really think the salty crackers and pretzels set this apart from the original.  It's the easiest "candy" treat in the world to make, and so within 10 minutes I have a pan of haystack beauties.  Crunchy haystacks waiting to cool by the open window as the chilly air invades my cozy home.  This is truly my kind of day!  Please excuse me while I enjoy one, and you should do the same!

Sweet & Salty Haystacks

1 c. Butterscotch chips
1/2 c. Peanut butter
Melt these together in a double boiler or carefully in intervals in the microwave.
1/2 c. Peanuts
1 c. Crushed ritz crackers (1/2 a sleeve)
1 c. Pretzels (I had goldfish:)
Stir these three ingredients into the melted butterscotch and peanut butter mixture.  

Spoon out onto wax paper and allow to cool and set until firm...  Wait if you can!

Savor the moment of the perfect first bite!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Classic Autumn Apple Crumble

I'm sitting a quiet home while my family sleeps in this morning, and the peace is almost too wonderful to handle!  (I love knowing my husband and children are here.)  The window is cracked enough for the cool fall-like temperature to sweep inside our home on this early September morning.  I actually have a soft robe on over my pjs and my coffee in hand as I reflect on my life.  

Fall is near!  Autumn's warm and cozy tastes and smells and colors that wrap you like a Grandma's warm embrace is almost at our door step, and I couldn't be happier!  Yesterday was simply gorgeous!  The sky was blue and the air crisp, lacking any Southern humidity at all!  

After spending a special day with my lovely grandparents and cousins, we retreated home for naps.  Well, the rest of my crew did.  I gathered the ingredients and baked up a surprise treat of the season's first apple crumble!

Chopped apples with cinnamon topped with a buttery, brown sugary oat crunch sprinkled over the top and baked till bubbly and crisp on the edges.  I had leftover German roasted pecans from a recent baseball game we attended so I added those to take this rustic dessert to the next level!  I also tossed in some golden raisins since I had them.  

What a way to usher in the fall season but with a warm cozy apple crumble fresh from the oven.  Top it with ice cream or eat it simply with milk or a cup of coffee!  Anyway you choose with be a delicious start to this beautiful season!  

Classic Apple Crumble

4-5 medium apples (I used Granny Smith and Gala)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp. Brown sugar

1c. Oats
1c. brown sugar
1/2c. Flour
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Apple pie spice
1/2 c. Butter
Dash of salt
1/2 c. Pecans, chopped-optional

Peel and dice apples into about 1 inch pieces.  Toss with cinnamon and sugar and pour mixture into a 2 quart dish or pie plate.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, sugar, flour, and spices.  "Cut" in the butter until blended into course crumbs.  Stir in pecans.  Pour the crumble over the apples and bake at 350 degrees F. for 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Easy (One Pot!) Sausage & Tomato Basil Pasta

Italian food is one of my favorite things to eat!  It's comfort food to me and my husband, but it's more of a dressier version than chicken pot pie or beef stew is.  Don't you think?!  

This recipe is the end all of easy Italian recipes.  The flavors are fresh and vibrant and it's beautiful in color!  The food feels decadent with complex flavors.  Surprisingly this Italian inspired dish is actually one of the healthiest pasta dishes I've ever eaten!  Well, partly because I chose to make it that way.  I substituted turkey sausage--which happen to love--and I used multi grain pasta.  Although I did add some mozzarella cheese to add extra creaminess, I used part skim instead of whole fat cheese.  Whole wheat or multi grain pasta, turkey smoked sausage, tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and onion, oregano, lots of black pepper, and mozzarella and parm cheese complete this wonderful meal!

The best part of all is it's a one pot dish!  It all cooks together in the same dish at the same time!!  The pasta water turns into a luscious sauce that is slightly creamy and just delicious!  

If your looking for an amazing new recipe to zest up your weekly line up that won't kill your healthy eating or take an afternoon to prepare, here is it!  Enjoy with loved ones and serve with salad or bread of choice.
One Pot Sausage & Tomato Basil Pasta
Adapted from: The Slow Roasted Italian

Olive oil
1 13 oz. pkg. Turkey smoked sausage (I use Butterball) sliced
1 lb. Dried whole wheat or multi grain spaghetti
3 c. Halved grape tomatoes
Basil leaves (about 20-30), torn
3-4 Cloves garlic, sliced or minced
1 Onion, diced
Dash of dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated 
1 c. Mozzarella cheese, diced
4 1/2 c. Water

In a large pot over medium heat, add a dash of olive oil and sauté onion and sausage till the sausage is browned.  Drain extra grease; there won't be much.  

In the same pot, add everything else to the sausage and onions while reserving about 10 basil leaves, 1 cup of the tomatoes, and all the cheese.  Add the water to the pot.

Bring to a boil with the lid on.  Once boiling remove lid and keep boiling for about 7-9 minutes or till pasta is just cooked. You may have to stir a couple of times.  Most of the liquid will absorb but if you're left with way too much, using a ladle remove a little of it.  You do want to leave some in there... It's the yummy sauce!

Add the parm and stir it around until mixed in.

Next add remaining tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese.

Stir it until it's well incorporated and immediately serve.  Add a little extra black pepper on top.

I accidentally kept my stove burner on low while putting in the last ingredients so all the mozz melted completely, but whether melted or chunky, it's tastes absolutely amazing!  This is one of the best pasta dishes!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer's Best Chicken Marinade

Summer and grilling are almost one in the same!  It's hard to imagine going through this hot season of outdoor activity and long days without eating a grilled hamburger, chicken or pork chops.  Here's my first marinade recipe on the blog, and I know y'all will love this one!

That tantalizing picture of hot and juicy grilled chicken should tell you just how delicious this marinade recipe is.  Gah.... I think I'm going to make some of this chicken over the weekend, in fact!  I have already been asked by a couple of friends for this recipe after we cooked up this grilled chicken for them, so I knew I had to share it with you all!

My husband actually discover the recipe on the web and ever since we've dubbed it most definitely one of the best things to marinade chicken in.  If you're wondering, my quick go-to marinade that I really like is zesty Italian dressing, but if you have the ingredients this one is worth the extra mile.  This marinade is so full of savory and fresh flavors!! From the lemon juice to the Worchestershire sauce and the herbs, it all really infuses flavor all the way through the meat.  It's a strong enough marinade to soak only 30 minutes or you can leave it overnight (especially for large pieces of meat) and it will tenderize and flavor immensely!!  The key is keeping some of it (that hasn't been used to marinate the raw meat) to baste the chicken a couple of times while on the grill.  It keeps the meat moist and uber flavorful!  This recipe makes a large enough batch to marinade several chicken breast.  I think we used it once for about 8 large ones, and we still had some left over.

I hope this amazing grilled chicken marinade is something you will try this summer since we're still in the peak of grilling season!  It doesn't matter if it's chicken, pork chops or anything else you're grilling, I promise you'll be sharing this delicious recipe soon, too!

Summer's Best Chicken Marinade
Originally from:

1 c. Oil (We use extra virgin olive oil.)
1/2 c. Vinegar (We used apple cider vinegar)
2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip Light (or mayo)
3 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Salt (to taste)
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
Approx 1/3 c. Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (I added this for freshness and color.)

Mix all together in a medium bowl.  Reserve about 1/4 c. in a bowl and cover in the fridge.  

Put your meat in gallon bags and divide the marinade up between however many bags you have.  Close up air tight and smoosh it a little bit.  Place the marinating meat in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

When about to put the meat on the grill, strain off the excess marinade like you would any other time you marinade chicken.  Once the chicken is cooking you can use the unused marinade you have setting aside in the fridge to baste the chicken regularly.  This part is essential.

Once cooked through, transfer meat to a plate or bowl and cover with aluminum foil to let the juices setting in.  Just before serving sprinkle extra parsley on top.

Props to Mr. Cozy for this beautiful grilled chicken!

I had to add this adorable Fourth of July snapshot at my parent's big family picnic!  Sweet memories made!