Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chicken-Turkey Bacon Bites

It's Thursday and I haven't blogged all week.

I'm not really sure what I did this week.  Or where this week went.

Oh!  I got new wires today on my braces.  My teeth are sore now.  Aren't you glad you know that.

And I did seven loads of laundry yesterday.

It's been a super exciting week around here.

And now I'm choosing this random recipe to blog.  I made it for a Christmas party, which means I made it last month.


I can't even remember what I did three days ago, much last month.

But I did make this recipe!  And it's really good.  Chicken, turkey bacon, rolled in brown sugar and chili powder.  Sweet, spicy, bacon-y chicken.

In a little bite size.

You'll probably want to make these for your Super Bowl party.

Just sayin'.

Chicken Bacon Bites
Slightly Adapted from Paula Deen

4 chicken breasts, cut into large bite-sized cubes
1 lb. turkey bacon, cut into thirds
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 T chili powder

Wrap each turkey bacon piece around a piece of chicken and secure it with a toothpick.  Combine the brown sugar and the chili powder in a bowl.  Roll the chicken bites in the brown sugar mixture, coating them well, and line them in a 9x13 casserole dish or baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until chicken is done and bacon is crispy.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf

This has become a regular thing in our house.  The texture is light and tender - not dense and tough like some meatloaf - and it brings the flavor.

Some facts about this dinner:

  • The first time I made it, my husband thought it was beef.  He couldn't believe it was turkey.
  • My kids love this "meatnoaf."  Love.  Really.
  • It makes a lot and the leftovers might be even better than the first night.
  • It's comfort food.  So you should serve it with mac 'n cheese.  
  • I don't eat meatloaf, because meatloaf is gross.  I do eat this, because it's nothing like regular meatloaf and it's delicious.

My husband wanted me to show you his favorite way to eat this meatloaf.  On two slices of white squishy bread, naturally.

So now that we have that out of the way, let's make it.

Saute some onions in a skillet and then add some other yummy delicious things.  This mixture will go inside the meatloaf so we need to let this cool while you get the meatloaf together.

Ground turkey (not turkey breast - it's too lean and will be dry):

And we'll need some eggs and breadcrumbs to hold it all together.

Now you can add the cooled onion mixture.

And mix it together with your hands.  Just combine it - don't over-work it, okay?  Not necessary.

Spread it out on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment...

And now we need to mix the sauce.  Because it's all about the sauce.

It'll cover the meatloaf.  That's just how I roll.  No stingy sauces in Pithy's Kitchen.

And then you bake it.  And here's what it will look like.

Y'all, this meatloaf is so full of flavor, you won't even believe it.  If you think you don't like meatloaf (hi, Mom), then please try this.  You can leave a nasty comment if you don't like it.  I'm not worried because I know you'll love it!

Turkey Meatloaf 
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 tsp thyme leaves) or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 lbs ground turkey (not ground turkey breast - it's too dry)

2 eggs
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs


1 1/2 cups ketsup
2 T brown sugar
2 T vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Dijon mustard

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  Saute the onion until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper, garlic, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and thyme.  Stir to combine and let it come to room temperature while you work on the rest of the meatloaf mixture.

In a large bowl, add the meatloaf, eggs, breadcrumbs and the cooled onion mixture.  Use your hands to combine it, but don't over-work the meat.  Just stir it lightly with your fingers until it's combined.  Form it into a loaf shape and place it on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the ketsup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and Dijon.  Pour it over the meatloaf.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45-55 minutes, until cooked through (about 160 degrees internal temperature).  Let it rest for about 5 minutes and then slice and serve.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baked Oatmeal

My girls eat oatmeal for breakfast about four mornings a week.

They don't know it's an old-person breakfast.

But it is, isn't it?  I mean, isn't that what your grandparents always ate for breakfast?

Oh well.  It's good for you, it's easy, it's cheap, it's warm, and you can put brown sugar on top (only on mine.  I never add sugar to my kids' oats.  I'm mean that way.).

So occasionally, I'll make this baked oatmeal.  And then I'll serve it to my kids with sliced bananas to "decorate" it.

They love decorations.  Of any kind.

And I loved this baked oatmeal.  It's an easy way to do oatmeal for the whole fam.  And you can certainly add anything you want - dried fruit, apples, nuts.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
4 T butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 bananas, sliced, for topping
Extra milk, for topping

Stir together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, chocolate chips and salt.  Spread in the bottom of a greased 7x11 baking dish.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla.  Pour over the oat mixture.  Bake in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until bubbly.

Serve immediately with bananas and extra milk on top.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels

I'm not sure what's wrong with me.

I mean, I made these a month ago (that was before Christmas.  Even though Christmas feels like it was at  least three months ago.), and I'm just now sharing them with you.

That's just wrong.  I made them for a party, so I didn't get to eat as many as I wanted to (i.e.: the whole batch), so I turned around and made them again.  Immediately.  Like, as soon as I got home.

It tastes like you scraped the peanut butter out of a Reese's cup, smashed it between two pretzels and dipped it in chocolate.

Yes please.

These little treats are representative of my life.  Imperfect and a little messy, but sweet and good.

So here were are in January.  And everyone and their brother decided to "go healthy" this year.  Boring.  Whatever. You see, I'm always healthy, as my recipes make clear.

I'm able to justify most things.  Especially things involving sweet and salt.  And peanut butter and pretzels.  And virtually anything involving chocolate.

Life's too short to skip dessert.

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels
You'll end up with roughly 50 sandwiches

1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 T butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Square pretzels (I used Snyder's brand)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar paraffin wax

Mix together the peanut butter, butter and both sugars until well combined.  Make a ball of about 1 1/2 tsp peanut butter mixture and smash it gently between two pretzels.  Place on a sheet tray and refrigerate for about an hour.  Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate and the paraffin wax in a double boiler (just a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water).  Dip half the pretzel sandwich into the chocolate and place it on parchment paper to cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

Okay, y'all.  Several people have asked me recently about freezing meals.  So I thought I'd do a post about it, because I do have an opinion about freezing meals.

I have an opinion.  You're shocked, I know.

Do I like to freeze things?  The law school answer applies here: it depends.  So here we go.

In general, no, I don't like to freeze things.  I like fresh food and fresh flavor.  And the freezer can change the texture, flavor and consistency of many things.

BUT there are exceptions to this rule.

I have frozen these casseroles with great success, and at any given time my freezer contains at least one of these things:

Baked Chicken Fettuccine
Chicken Tetrazzine
Fiesta Baked Spaghetti
King Ranch Chicken

There are a few keys to freezing casseroles: assemble it, let it cool to room temperature, wrap it tightly with foil (or, better yet, use a glass casserole with a tight-fitting lid) and put it in the freezer unbaked.

When you're ready to cook it, let it thaw (it's late at night as I write this and I just typed unthaw.  Maybe you should find another blog with an author who actually has a brain.) and bake as directed.  Now, some people will tell you to let things thaw in the fridge.  If you have a week and a half, go for it.  But it takes an eternity for things to thaw in the fridge, so I generally thaw them on the counter.  Food experts advise against this method for safety reasons (i.e., bacteria may have a chance to grow), but since I'm not a food expert, I'm not going to advise you against the counter-thaw method.  For whatever that's worth.

Plus, I always figure that the heat of the oven should kill any bacteria that might grow.  Right?

Sure.  Whatever.  I'm neither a scientist nor a germ-a-phobe, so you probably shouldn't believe anything I say.

A few things I have NOT had success freezing: soups (maybe you can freeze some soups, but the ones I have frozen are not worth eating), anything with a lot of dairy (it tends to curdle), and anything with green onions (freezing alters the chemistry of the scallions and gives them a bizarre flavor.  It's awful.  Will never make that mistake again.).

So what's in my freezer?

Glad you asked.
  1. Nuts - pine, pecan, walnuts, almonds.  Freezing nuts keeps the oil in the nut from turning rancid and preserves them.  Toast or cook with nuts straight from the freezer.  No thawing necessary.
  2. Vegetables - bags of peas, broccoli florets, chopped spinach, corn, etc., straight from the grocery store's freezer.  
  3. Chicken breasts & whole chickens - I stick them in the freezer when I get home from the grocery.
  4. Shredded cooked chicken - I make a whole chicken in the crockpot, shred it, and freeze the cooked shredded chicken.  When I need to make a casserole or salad calling for cooked chicken, I just defrost in the fridge (it thaws quickly) and proceed.  If I'm making a casserole that will be baked anyway, I usually toss it in frozen and let it defrost while the casserole bakes.
  5. Dough balls - I buy Rhodes brand so I can have yeast rolls relatively quickly.  These balls are as good as homemade yeast rolls.  I've never actually made homemade rolls, but my mom has, so therefore I know about these things.
  6. Homestyle noodles - I buy Reames brand for chicken noodle soup.  Remember, you can't freeze the cooked soup, though.
  7. Pasta sauces - marinara, Bolognese and pesto freeze well.  I always have bags of pesto in my freezer that I make in the summer when my dad grows about a half acre of basil.  I make it in the summer and it lasts all year long - I use it in lots of things but pesto pasta salad is my favorite.
  8. Chocolate chips - because I buy the huge bag at Sam's and there's more room to store it in my freezer than there is in my pantry.
  9. Pillsbury pie crust - I never know when I might need to make a pie or a quiche.  And I'm a stickler about Pillsbury brand - I'm fine with generic on many items, but generic piecrusts ain't worth buyin'.  When you're ready to use, thaw these at on the counter until completely room temp very soft (this is one of the tricks of a flakier pie crust).
  10. Homemade cookies and brownies.  Freeze the dough, unbaked (just put the dough balls in the oven frozen and bake as you normally would), OR freeze the baked cookies.  Store these, baked or unbaked, in tupperware or a freezer bag.  With brownies, you want to bake them, cut them into individual servings, wrap them in plastic wrap and then place them inside of a freezer bag.
  11. Chicken stock - I always have some of this, usually from my whole crockpot chicken.  Store it in a freezer storage bag or tupperware.
Feel free to ask questions or opine in the comments.  

Happy Winter.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Black Bean & Rice Salad with Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

This is one of those summer salads that I like to make in the winter.

You know, so that I forget that it's cold outside.  Temporarily, at least.

My kids love it.

But then again, my kids could live on black beans, corn, rice, avocados, onions, bell pepper and tomatoes.

Oh.  I guess that's everything in this recipe.

I taught them to love onions when they were babies.

Now they think onion breath is normal.

And they think tomatoes are "cherries" and pop them like M&M's.

I don't correct them.  Cherry is a cuter word than tomato.  Plus, tomatoes are fruit, after all.

I have no idea what that has to do with anything, either.

The sisters can down an entire container of grape tomatoes before I can turn around, so sometimes I have to make this with the three tomatoes -- er, "cherries" -- that I can squeeze from their little sticky fists.

But that's neither here nor there.  I think you'll like this salad.  In the words of my mom, "have you blogged this??? It's fabulous!"

But then again, she is my mom.  And thus my biggest fan.  So maybe you won't think it's as fabulous as she did.  But then again, you might.

I think I've said enough.  See you later.

This recipe is linked on: The Country Cook.

Black Bean & Rice Salad with Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups cooked rice, still warm (this is about 3/4 cup long-grain white rice, cooked in 1 1/2 cups water until tender and water is absorbed)
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. whole kernel corn, drained
2 avocados, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I use about a handful of grape tomatoes)

Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette
1 bunch cilantro leaves (about a cup)
3 T olive oil
1 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 3-4 limes (about 1/3 cup juice)
1 T sugar

Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Pulse the vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and turn it on until the dressing is combined and it looks like a vinaigrette.  Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

You can eat this immediately at room temperature (my favorite) or chill it first.  This will not last for more than a day in the refrigerator since the avocado will begin to get mushy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken

So everyone's seen this recipe floating around on the internet by now.

At least most everyone has.

It's super-easy, and I added tomatoes and onions to make it even yummier.

I love a good crock pot recipe!

So you just put the onion in the bottom, then the chicken - you can use thawed or frozen chicken breasts.

and then pile everything else on top.

The cream cheese and cream of chicken soup make it creamy (obviously), the tomatoes cut the creaminess, and the Italian dressing gives it seasoning and great flavor.

So good.  I served with sauteed Brussels sprouts.
Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken

1 onion, chopped
3 chicken breasts (thawed or frozen)

1 packet dry Zesty Italian Dressing mix
8 oz. cream cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk or chicken stock
15 oz. can diced tomatoes, not drained
Hot cooked pasta, for serving (we used penne)

Place the onion in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Place the chicken breasts on top.  Sprinkle over the Italian dressing mix, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Cook on low for about 3-4 hours.  Remove the chicken breasts with tongs and chop into bite-size pieces.  Stir the sauce and return the chicken to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for another hour or so.  Serve over pasta (we used penne).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love starting the week with cookies.

You'll never guess where the inspiration for these cookies came from!




I know - such obscure places, huh?

Oh, and my love for cookies is always an unspoken place of inspiration for a cookie recipe.


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil with the sugars.  Add the eggs, vanilla and peanut butter and mix again.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.  Use a cookie scoop to scoop cookies on a cookie sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are and how done you want them.  Don't overbake or they will be crumbly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Artichoke Dip

Oh, people.

I haven't been blogging... and it's not because I joined Facebook (I didn't), or got a smart phone (my phone is still dumb), and it's not because I'm on Twitter (I have never Tweeted)...

...nor is it because I'm potty-training my 2-year-old (she's training me more than I'm training her) or sleeping (that doesn't happen much in this house).

So, where have you been, Pithy?

Sweet of you to ask.

I joined Pinterest.

I'm hoping that therein lies the secret to potty-training.

That's the bottom line.

So, in the meantime, do you like artichokes?

Me too!

This is about the only food my husband doesn't eat.

Yet he eats this dip.

That's a pretty good endorsement.

This is my mom's dip and we love it when she makes it.

I suppose we're perfectly capable of making it, but it's just more special when she makes it.

I'm off to pin some more crafts that I'll never do, pictures of a kitchen I will never have, and recipes that I'll probably never make.

See ya later.  Probably on Pinterest.

Artichoke Dip

2 15 oz. cans artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
8 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Pita chips and crackers, for serving

Combine all ingredients and spread in a greased 8x8 baking dish.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until bubbly.  Serve hot with pita chips and crackers.