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The Kids Cook Monday – Mexican Chicken Pizza

There are moments when I feel like I’m doing it wrong; this whole parenting thing. Like when my kids are climbing the shelves at Target while making unusually loud and appalling animal noises. Or laughing at me while I’m blue in the face trying to get them to pick up their toys. Or filling their water glasses with bits of salad and pasta while simultaneously stuffing entire slices of Italian bread into their mouths, as we dine with old friends.

And then there are moments when everything seems just fine. Perhaps even better than fine. Like when my boys embrace each other in a loving hug after being separated during the school day. Or when they share favorite toys without prompting. Or when they reach out to take each other’s hands to safely cross the street.

It’s in those little moments that I realize I am not ruining my kids…at least not completely.

I like the way my dad puts it best:

I believe in a heaven and I want to go there when I die. I want my family to be there with me. Have I taught them how to get there? 

When all is said and done, if I can answer yes to that question, then all of the other stuff; the messes, the whining, the salad-filled water glass; is pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Parenting is hard. There’s hardly ever a day when I feel like I did it all right. But my grandma says I’m doing a good job…and that’s got to count for something, right??

There will always be days when the kids are dancing to the beat of their own drummer, leading me to question who’s really in charge around here. (I’m fairly certain there’s an elaborate governing system being negotiated between the three boys and the dog. I’m powerless.) But if you can’t beat them, get them to join you...in the kitchen, that is!

Spoken from experience, it’s a heck of a lot easier to engage the kids in cooking with you, than fight with them to behave while you try to do it yourself. Almost every recipe has plenty of steps to engage even the littlest chef, and this simple Mexican-style pizza is no exception! Young chefs will enjoy measuring the ingredients, spreading the beans, mixing the chicken and taco sauce, and sprinkling the ingredients. The whole family will enjoy the delicious, cheesy result!

Mexican Chicken Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared pizza crust
  • 3/4 cup refried beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/3 cup taco sauce
  •  1 can diced tomatoes with chiles, well-drained
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the pizza crust on a large baking sheet. Spread the refried beans over the pizza crust. Stir together the chicken and taco sauce. Scatter the sauced chicken over the beans. Scatter the diced tomatoes over the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer on top. If desired, scatter a few slices of jalapeño peppers on top. (We left half of the pizza without jalapeños for the little guys!)

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until hot and melty.

Check out www.thekidscookmonday.org for more delicious, child-friendly cooking ideas!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

My ultra-keen, super sleuthing skills (errr… google), have led me to discover that it is currently football season.

Football and I may be strangers, but tailgating-type munchies and I are the dearest of friends.

Chicken wings are always a popular pick when it comes to football-watching munchies. And people go wild for all sorts of chicken wing flavored goodies, like Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins and Chicken Wing Dip.

The next time you’re in charge of the snacks for a big game, try these spicy chicken wing meatballs. They’ve got the celery and blue cheese baked right into the chicken!! Definitely winning!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  •  1 egg
  •  1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  •  1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  •  1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  •  1/2 cup gorgonzola (or other bleu cheese) cheese, crumbled
  •  1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable or olive oil, to grease the baking dish

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub the bottom of a large baking dish with a bit of oil, to prevent the meatballs from sticking.

Combine all meatball ingredients until well-blended. (The mixture may feel a bit sticky.) Roll the mixture into one inch balls. Place in a single layer in the baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

Combine the Frank’s Red Hot with the melted butter. For a milder sauce, add more butter or decrease the hot sauce.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve!

Makes about 2 dozen. You can easily double or triple this recipe for a big crowd!

Pepperoni-Braised Chicken

We took the kids for a hike in the woods this past weekend. It was the perfect family activity for a gorgeous fall day.

But, I’m not gonna lie. I sort of freaked out in there.

We’d gone to a local ‘nature center’ for our adventure. Not sure what I was thinking, but I’d expected a well-cleared, child-friendly path. I’d almost worn sandals. I definitely wasn’t prepared for a mountainous hike through barely-marked, densely-wooded trails. There were harrowing cliffs and treacherous mudslides. Old wooden bridges creaked as we crossed over rushing ravines. And ferocious wilderness creatures crouched behind every tree, waiting for their chance to attack.

Ok, so I may be exaggerating a little bit about the terrain. But I swear that chipmunk looked at me funny.

It didn’t help that when, at last, we found a trail marker, with a faded, barely legible map, we identified ourselves to be at location known as the “grave bed”. That’s when I almost started to cry. That’s when I wanted to curl into a ball and surrender my fate to the wilderness.

It could be that my husband and I have watched way too many ‘horror in the wilderness’ type movies lately. For as we wandered deeper into the solitary woods, my mind flooded with every worst-case scenario. My heart raced as my maternal protective instincts went into overdrive. Was that a banjo I just heard?? Are those berries safe to eat?? How could I forget my grappling hooks?? That sasquatch wants to eat my baby!!

Oh, I may have been more relaxed had we brought absolutely anything into the woods with us besides my husband’s iPhone…you know, like survival gear? Is there an app for that?

No one even knew we were out there. And the baby kept squeaking. Would wild bears perceive the baby’s squeaking for weakness, in the same way that sharks perceive kicking legs to be an injured fish…easy prey?? Hush baby! Mama doesn’t feel like wrestling a bear today!

Oh, and the bugs…as big as birds and as hungry as dinosaurs. I walked with my arms flailing around me, windmill-style, to prevent those vicious creatures from landing on my precious baby, whose meaty, naked legs hung from the carrier, like a juicy ribeye being waved in front of a rottweiler.

Bears, bugs, and bigfoots aside, it was a fun family adventure. But I think my four-year-old said it best as he ran towards the trail exit screaming, My life is saved!!

I think next weekend we should go back to apple-picking.

Here. Eat this. It’s about as comforting as comfort food comes!

Pepperoni Braised Chicken 

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1-pound bag frozen pearl onions, defrosted
  • 1 cup pepperoni, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim chicken of excess skin and fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil over medium/medium-high heat in a large dutch oven pan. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden and crisp. Turn over and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic, pearl onions, and pepperoni to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then nestle the chicken thighs into the mixture, skin-side up. Add the chicken stock to the pan. (It should not completely cover the chicken.) Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and place it on the middle oven rack. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Then, remove the cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken, onions, and pepperoni from the sauce. Skim and discard the excess fat from the surface of the sauce. In a small bowl, stir a few tablespoons of the hot sauce with the cornstarch. Return the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer for a few minutes to slightly thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve over pasta or mashed potatoes.

Top Ten Gourmand Mom Recipes

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m greatly entertained by reading through the search terms which lead people to this little blog. It often leaves me puzzling over how the terms “Christmas money wreath” or “dog with running shoes” brought people here. What in the world have I been writing about? Of course, most of the time, people are just looking for recipes and, as it turns out, some of those recipes are quite popular!

Here, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most viewed Gourmand Mom recipes. Then, if you scroll down a bit further, you’ll see ten of my personal favorites. (Clicking on the recipe titles will bring you straight to the recipe.)

What’s your favorite recipe? Tell me about it!

Top Ten Gourmand Mom Recipes

(according to page views)

Crab Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers  – Coming in at #10, these spicy little appetizers are a fresh and flavorful alternative to the kind you’ll find in the frozen food section of your grocery store!

A Better Caramel Apple Cake – Yum! This recipe is the result of experimenting with a delicious recipe I found in the Food Network magazine! Who knew that a bit of boiling water would make such a big difference?? With apple season reaching its peak, now’s a great time to give this one a try!

Almost Perfect Fontina Chops – This recipe is inspired by a Bonefish Grill dish, which is apparently a big favorite, since I get a few search hits every day from people looking for this recipe. This version is not intended to be a copycat recipe; it’s just a delicious dinner inspired by the popular Bonefish dish.

 Independence Day Berries and Cream – Mixed Berry Mousse and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta – My love for panna cotta began with this sweet treat. Mmmm….fresh berry mousse with sweetened cream! Mmmm…

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Almonds – The fresh ingredients do all of the hard work in this simple and delicious salad!

Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp – This is another recipe that gets a ton of search hits. The people want Hawaiian garlic shrimp…and with good reason! It’s delicious! Next time, I’d veer away from the traditional preparation and cook these babies with the shells removed to get more of the buttery garlic in my mouth and less on my fingers.

Chicken Wing Dip – Coming in at #4 is Chicken Wing Dip. It’s practically a classic and totally crave-worthy. Oh dear, just thinking about it makes me want to throw batch in the oven. Must. Have. Chicken Wing Dip.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfait – Perfect season for these tasty treats. Some may prefer to sweeten the pumpkin a touch more in these easy treats. For me, they’re just right!

Sweet Honey Cornbread – This one scored most of its hits when it landed on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed section for a day. It’s a great cornbread recipe; sweet, tender, and super easy to make!

And the #1 Most Viewed Gourmand Mom recipe is (drumroll, please)…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie  – This luscious pie wins the top spot by a landslide. Somehow it’s found itself within the StumbleUpon community. I’m really not quite sure how StumbleUpon works, but it sure drives a ton of traffic to this delicious recipe!

Ten of My Personal Favorite Recipes

Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce – This burger takes the cake as far as my husband is concerned! It’s become his meal of choice for birthdays, anniversaries, and any other excuse he can come up with!

The World’s Greatest Penne ala Vodka – I can’t claim credit for the creation of this recipe, but it’s definitely on my list of all-time favorites!! Seriously the best vodka sauce I’ve ever tasted!

Sausage, Bean, and Rapini Soup – This incredibly satisfying dish is in our regular dinner rotation. It freezes well, so make it in a huge batch to keep on hand for an easy dinner. Make it as brothy as you prefer and serve with a nice piece of French bread!

Chicken Salad Sandwich – Waldorf Style – There’s something incredibly satisfying about the combination of sweet, savory, and crunch in this chicken salad. It’s on my go-to list of easy weeknight dinners!

Grilled Honey Garlic Baby Lamb Chops – I want to slather this honey garlic sauce on everything. I think I could live on this honey garlic sauce.

Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits – I first made these biscuits during a major craving for Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I searched online for a copycat recipe and found a ton of Bisquick-based recipes. Wanting to make fresh biscuits from scratch, I combined the elements from a basic, buttery drop biscuit with the seasoning of the Red Lobster biscuit. They’re perfect. Everyone cheers when these are on the menu!

Salmon, Cucumber, and Orzo Salad in Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette – This was initially intended as a pantry meal, if you will; something quick and easy using a few leftover ingredients I had on hand. It became an instant favorite. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the combination of flavors and textures in this simple dish!

BBQ Beef Chili – This hybrid chili/bbq beef dish makes my mouth water. Serve it with the cornbread from the Top 10 list!

Corn and Bacon Fritter Cakes – I just posted about these recently. I want to eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche. The best part is that they reheat really well. In fact, they may even be better reheated than straight out of the pan. Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees and they’re perfect! (P.S. A dollop of sour cream would make a fine substitute for the creme fraiche!)

Pizza Dragon and Chairs of Stock (Steak Bordelaise Pizza) – My brother in law goes nuts for this pizza! He’s still trying to figure out how to package it and sell it, since he’s convinced it will make me millions. This pizza is a steak dinner on a pizza crust. It takes a little time to get all of the components together, but everything can be prepared ahead of time and it’s worth the trouble!

Do you have a favorite Gourmand Mom recipe? Any other recipe you’d like to see here? Tell me about it!

Creamy Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Time to dress in your best sombrero and put your basic level Spanish to good use! Dos cervezas, por favor, should suffice. Celebrate the day with some delicious, spicy Mexican food and a frosty margarita! Heck, have one for me while you’re at it; perhaps something frozen and mango flavored, no salt please…

Had I been thinking ahead, I would have prepared some delectable Mexican dish to celebrate this festive occasion; perhaps some spicy chorizo tacos or tender carne asada or maybe some sweet, cinnamon-coated churros… But, thinking ahead has not been my strong suit of late. We’re in full baby-waiting mode around here, completely preoccupied with last minute preparations and eager anticipation. Soon enough though, soon enough…

In the mean time, you might say that cooking has taken a place on the back burner. Pun fully intended.

But the family still needs to eat, so our kitchen remains semi-operational; just keeping things quick and simple. And recently, one of my younger readers contacted me with a request, which provided the perfect inspiration for a super easy, delicious weeknight meal. Her request was simple; something involving chicken and bacon. I admit that I’m guilty of neglecting chicken recipes. It just rarely occurs to me to cook chicken. Now, bacon, on the other hand, is a completely different story. When am I ever not thinking about cooking with bacon??

So, in answer to my young reader’s chicken and bacon request, here is a delightfully simple, creamy and flavorful meal. It’s hard to go wrong with a dish involving bacon and cream, which is served over hot buttered noodles!

Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot, buttered egg noodles

Directions

Cook bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Season the chunks of chicken with salt and pepper. Then, toss with the flour until evenly coated. Add the chicken to the bacon grease in the pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until mostly cooked through. (The chicken will finish cooking in the simmering sauce.) Add the chicken broth, cream, and mushrooms to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. (This would be the perfect time to cook the noodles.) The sauce should thicken as it simmers. Return the cooked bacon to the pan. Stir in the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Tropical Chicken Salad

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Thankfully, the temperatures have finally started to rise around here, allowing us some much-awaited walks and outdoor playtime. After living in two urban areas, where most of our needs could be met within a few minutes walk, I can’t even begin to express the value I place on our proximity to a well-stocked, walking-distance grocery store in our current suburban neighborhood. Had I never become accustomed to walkable grocery access, it might not matter so much. But to me, our ability to walk to our grocery store is worth more than any other feature of our home.

Once walk-friendly weather arrives, daily trips to the grocery store become part of our routine. I plan our meals in the morning. Then, the kids and I walk down to the store to gather the ingredients. It’s practically like living in Provence, making daily trips to the outdoor market for freshly picked produce, meats, and fine cheese! Well…maybe not quite like Provence, but we’ll take what we can get!

So, on a recent bright, sunny, morning, the boys and I set out for our grocery walk. My four-year -old had suggested chicken salad for dinner. The addition of tropical fruit flavors was my contribution to the dish. Not only do the sweet fruits add a delicious accent to our salad, but tropical fruits, such as the pineapple, mango, and kiwi I selected, contain an enzyme which has been shown to help prepare a woman’s body for labor. And at this point, barely a week from my due date, I’ll gladly give nature a helping hand.

I hadn’t initially planned for this meal to become a family cooking activity. The boys were happily playing in the living room when I began cooking. But, as soon as my little men caught the sight and smell of the fruits, they were at my side like glue, begging bits of mango and pineapple. Moments later, they were asking to help with “the steps”. So, after a quick trip to the sink to wash their hands, my little chefs joined me in the kitchen.

This recipe is ideal for young chefs of any age. Older chefs can prepare the entire dish independently, from start to finish, especially if you start with precooked chicken. Younger chefs will need more support, but with child-safe cutting tools, there are plenty of ways for them to get involved. Chopping fruits, measuring ingredients, and mixing are ideal activities for little chefs. It’s also a great opportunity to taste new fruit flavors, which may be less familiar than the more common apples, bananas, and berries many kids are accustomed to.

Tropical Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded*
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup salted cashews, coarse chopped
  • 1 kiwi, diced
  • 1/2 cup mango, diced (Click here for my photo guide on How to Dice a Mango)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced (Click here for my photo guide on How to Chop a Pineapple)
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
*You can use pre-cooked chicken, packaged or pulled from a rotisserie chicken. Alternately, you can cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts by placing them in a pot of water, bringing to a boil, and simmering for approximately 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.

Directions

Combine the chicken, green onions, mayonnaise, mustard, and cashews in a large container. Stir until well blended. Gently fold in the fruit. Season with salt and cayenne pepper, as desired. Refrigerate until serving.

Serve on doughy bread with avocado, if desired.

Chicken with Prosciutto, Brie, and Figs

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Some things just go together, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, wine and cheese, family and laughter, children and…messes, bodily fluids, and noise. And some ingredients seem to beckon for others; peas and carrots, chocolate and peanut butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, Buffalo wings and bleu cheese dressing.

I spend my time dreaming up new ways of combining my favorite flavor friends…turning chicken wings into a lasagna or steak dinners into pizzas or pizzas into salads.

Lately, one of my favorite combinations has been calling to me; prosciutto with brie and figs; a perfect blend of savory, sweet, and creamy.  I’ve married these flavors in warm cheese tartlettes and tasty thin-crust pizzas. I’ve earmarked the combination for a unique twist on a creamy macaroni and cheese. And for now, I’m going to roll them inside a chicken breast and call it dinner!

Chicken with Prosciutto, Brie, and Figs

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4-5 slices prosciutto
  • 8-ounce wedge brie, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound the chicken breasts down to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thickness. Line the chicken breast with slices of prosciutto. Top the prosciutto with pieces of brie and the sliced figs. Tightly roll the chicken, tucking the ends in. Secure with toothpicks, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Dip the rolled chicken into the beaten eggs, then roll the chicken in the panko, until well coated. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the chicken in the pan, seam-side down and cook for a minute or two on each side, until golden brown. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until completely cooked through.

Just What the Doctor Ordered – Chicken with Matzoh Ball Soup

This has been a rough winter for my family in the general health department. I blame it on my three year old starting nursery school. Up until this year, my family has been in our own personal germ bubble. The kids stay at home with me and my husband works in an office by himself. Our biggest exposure to germs occurred sitting at the doctor’s office for well-visits. But now, with my little guy in school, we’re exposed to the full spectrum of winter viruses. We’ve become regulars at the pediatrician and it seems like one of us is always on antibiotics for some condition or another. Even our labrosaurus rex has endured a winter full of vet visits and internist appointments! Add that to the ever-accelerating schedule of my normal third trimester prenatal appointments and I’m pretty sure my family is solely supporting the medical community of the Central New York area. You’re welcome doctors, nurses, and midwives.

This week, we’re in the midst of dealing with another virus, which has knocked each of down in succession like a family of dominoes; first one kid, then the next, then myself, and then my husband. Three out of the four of us are still wrapped in blankets and using tissues like they’re going out of style. The contractor, who’s currently remodeling our bathroom, hasn’t removed his face mask in days and it’s got nothing to do with drywall dust!

When all the medicine in the medicine cabinet fails to heal what ails you, there’s only one thing left to try; homemade chicken soup! A few months ago, I shared my step by step guide for preparing a delicious, flavorful chicken soup from a leftover chicken carcass. The process is the same, even if you’re starting with a whole, raw chicken.

  • Throw the chicken in the pot with a bunch of rough chopped vegetables. Use whatever you’ve got on hand; celery, carrots, garlic, onion, shallots, parsley, etc.
  • Cover the chicken and veggies with water.
  • Bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for 3-4 hours.
  • Strain the broth into a pot and set the chicken aside to cool. Discard the veggies.
  • Simmer the broth uncovered, if desired, to reduce the liquid and produce a stronger flavored broth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull apart all of the meat and throw it in the broth.
  • Add the veggies of your choice to the broth. (I used sliced carrots and leeks.) Simmer, just until the veggies are tender.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Voila! Chicken Soup!

**Click here to see the full step-by-step guide to making chicken soup.


Typically, I serve my chicken soup over cooked orzo pasta. Other noodles, pasta, or rice work well too. I recommend keeping your pasta or rice separate from the soup. Otherwise, it will absorb the broth, leaving you with undesirable, mushy pasta or rice.

Another alternative to accompany your chicken soup are matzoh balls. To be honest, I have very minimal experience with matzoh balls. It is not something which my family ate often, if ever at all. I’ve ordered a bowl of matzoh ball soup from a deli at one point or another, but I honestly can’t recall the exact taste or texture of the balls. That being said, I’m clearly no expert in matzoh ball making, but I’m always up for a culinary adventure.

From what I gather, there are two schools of thought regarding the preferred matzoh ball texture; sinkers and floaters. Sinkers are more dense and require the edge of a fork to cut apart, whereas the floaters are lighter and more likely to fall apart on their own in your soup. As a matzoh ball novice, I have no strong personal preference. I pulled a few of the best sounding ideas from a variety of matzoh ball sources to develop my very own matzoh ball recipe. The result is a flavorful and tender ball, probably more in line with the sinker variety. Works for me!

Matzoh Balls for Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

Combine the matzoh meal with the salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the vegetable oil until smooth. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then, fold the egg mixture into the matzoh meal, just until combined. Do not over mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour, until the mixture is firm. Form the mixture into 1 – 1 1/2″ balls. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Carefully drop each ball into the water. Once the balls have risen to the surface, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid as it simmers.* Once cooked, remove the matzoh balls from the liquid with a slotted spoon. You can add the balls immediately to your soup or store separately and reheat with the soup, as desired.

*I’m not completely clear on why you’re not supposed to open the lid, but it seems to be common matzoh making advice, so I think we best obey!

Enjoy and stay well, my friends!

‘Thunder Bowl’ Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Just when you thought I’d covered every possible incarnation of Buffalo chicken themed food, I’ve got another one for you! We’ve already enjoyed luscious Chicken Wing Dip, a decadent Buffalo Chicken Pizza, a tasty Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, and mouthwatering Chicken Wing Lasagna. And today, we’ve got Mini Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins; the perfect bite-sized way to enjoy all the flavor of Buffalo chicken wings, without the bones!

This recipe is inspired by a recipe I ran across on another food blog, Sprinkles of Parsley. I’d originally intended to make them as part of our Super Bowl party menu. But at the last minute, our planned party turned into a quiet night on the couch.

News of the party cancellation was easily the most distressing to our three year old, who’d spent weeks telling everyone he encountered about our planned ‘Thunder Bowl’ party. We’re still not quite sure how he dreamed up this ‘Thunder Bowl’ idea or what exactly he expected to happen during this grand event…Two men enter, one man leaves. Perhaps he’d imagined that we’d harness his little brother to his shoulders in Master-Blaster style and engage in some sort of rough and tumble mischief.

Whatever he’d been thinking, he was devastated to learn of the cancellation. He couldn’t be consoled without the promise of special Thunder Bowl treats. Bust the deal, face the wheel, Mommy!! And so, Super (or Thunder) Bowl party aside, I still had to try my hand at these tempting little appetizers!

I wonder what other ways we can come up with to get our chicken wing fix…perhaps Buffalo chicken eggrolls, ravioli, or maybe even quesadillas?

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Baby Red Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or other hot sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
  • 2 cups Chicken, cooked and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 3-4 Green Onions, sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the potatoes. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until fork-tender, but firm. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half and scoop out most of the insides using a spoon or melon baller. (You can reserve the scooped potato insides for another purpose.) Brush both sides of the potato skins with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the potatoes cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and bake for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Combine the melted butter and hot sauce. Toss the chicken in the sauce until well coated. When the potato skins have finished baking, fill each skin with the sauced chicken. Top each potato skin with a sprinkle of gorgonzola, cheddar and green onions. Bake for 5 minutes, until hot and melty.

The Kids Cook Monday – Chicken and Green Beans with a Twist

Tired of coating your chicken in plain old bread crumbs?? Did you know that you can bread your chicken with just about anything that crumbles? So, leave your bread crumbs in the pantry and pull out a box of Cheez-Its instead.

I have to admit, I’ve been on a major Cheez-It binge lately. I don’t recommend this diet to any health-minded individual. Nor am I proud of the quantity of Cheez-Its I’ve consumed in the past few weeks. They’re irresistible to me. If only my local grocery store would ban me from buying them. (But thank goodness they don’t!)

But, back to the chicken. If you can crumble it, you can coat your chicken with it. Cheez-Its, crackers, potato chips, croutons, cereal…the possibilities are infinite. Like Doritos? Smash them up and coat your chicken with ’em. More of a corn chip fan? Go crazy with crushed corn chips. Another fun option? It turns out that those crunchy French-fried onion pieces, which you’ve probably seen on green bean casseroles, make a delicious chicken breading too. Have fun and liven up your chicken. It’s a great way to get the family excited about a simple baked chicken dinner. Follow the same procedure you would to coat your chicken in bread crumbs; season with salt and pepper, dip in an egg wash, coat with the crumbs, and bake.

On the side, we’re serving another dish with a twist. Bird’s Eye makes a fantastic frozen vegetable dish, called Beans with a Twist. It’s a super tasty combination of green beans, wax beans, baby carrots, and dried cranberries, in an herbed butter sauce. To Bird’s Eye’s credit, it is absolutely delicious and free from the unnecessary preservatives or sweeteners which are so commonplace in many other prepared foods. I’ve bought this dish for myself on several occasions and always enjoy it.

Recently, while rummaging through the freezer, the kids found one of my packages of these tasty veggies and requested to have it with their dinner. The possessive side of me wanted to save them for myself, but what mom is going to deny their child’s passionate request for veggies?? The kids loved the simple veggie dish. So, along with our chicken, I decided to serve our own homemade version of Beans with a Twist.

This entire recipe is full of opportunities to get kids involved in the kitchen. Children of all ages are expert food crushers. In fact, my experience has been that toddlers come preprogrammed with impressive destruction abilities. The best way to go about crushing your Cheez-Its (or other desired breading) is to place the quantity in a ziploc and let the kids go to town. Running a rolling pin over the bag or smashing with a child-safe mallet or fists are all effective methods.

Cutting the soft, steamed green beans is another excellent, kid-friendly task for tonight’s recipe. I wasn’t the only one to receive new cutlery for Christmas. The boys received a set of child-friendly, but effectively sharp, plastic knives. Made by Curious Chef (available on Amazon.com), these knives are not toys, but rather real, functional kitchen tools for little chefs. Before using, we reviewed a few basic knife safety rules, such as watching out for fingers and I modeled how to safely hold the green bean with one hand, while cutting with the other. Then, under close supervision, the boys took care of chopping the beans. My boys will be cutting julienne and brunoise vegetables in no time! A regular plastic dinnerware knife would also make an appropriate cutting tool for most young chefs.

So, join in on the Kids Cook Monday fun and get cooking as a family. And if you don’t have any pint-sized helpers of your own, borrow someone else’s kids or simply awaken your inner child. Just be careful with those plastic knives!

Breaded and Baked Chicken with a Twist

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups Cheez-Its, crushed (substitute crushed potato chips, French-fried onions, chips, or other crackers, if desired)
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the beaten egg mixture. Then, press the chicken into the crushed cracker crumbs to coat. Place the coated chicken in a baking dish and bake until fully cooked. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. My large chicken breasts took about 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Chicken is fully cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, as measured with an instant-read meat thermometer.

Green Beans and Carrots with a Twist

Inspired by Bird’s Eyes’ Beans with a Twist

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Green Beans and Wax Beans, steamed until tender, but crisp
  • 1 1/2 cups Baby Carrots, steamed
  • 1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 cloves Roasted Garlic, smashed into a paste*
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

*Click here to see my photo guide on How to Roast Garlic.

Directions

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the roasted garlic paste and stir until well combined. Add the beans, carrots, dried cranberries, and chives. Toss to coat with the roasted garlic butter. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

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