Southwest Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend Jesse and I took another trip to Hong Kong. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all play time – we went to Hong Kong so that Jesse could officially get his Z Visa, basically a resident visa! It’s weird when things feel like they are such a long time coming, then once they happen it feels like it was all so fast! Who would have thought we would be living in China? Crazy.

We had these Stuffed Peppers early last week before our trip, and I was hoping to get this post up while we were in Hong Kong, but I completely forgot to take my lap top with me! Better late than never, though, because we really loved this dinner. Stuffed Peppers are bright, colorful, filling, and delicious.

 




Buffalo Chicken Sliders

As I said earlier this week, I have always been a huge fan of Spicy Buffalo Sauce. So when the craving hit, I knew I would need to act on it. The first step was sauce, which turned out be a great success. The second step was to decide what to do with the sauce one I made it (other than dipping random vegetables and an occasional finger in it).

As much as I love Buffalo sauce, I am not a huge fan of eating meat off of bones. Every once in a while I’ll get a craving for traditional wings, but usually I like to stick with the boneless variety. Keeping that in mind I tossed around a few ideas and finally decided that what I really wanted was Buffalo chicken sandwiches. More specifically, crispy coated chicken, with a balance between spicy sauce and cool creamy ranch, a few blue cheese crumbles, all on top of a soft and somewhat sweet bun. I don’t think I can even describe to you how much this meal hit the spot.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally then cut again into chunks *
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
heaping 1/4 tsp onion powder
heaping 1/4 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil, divided, plus more if needed (alternatively you can reduce the oild to 1 Tbsp and oven bake the chicken)
Slider buns
Buffalo sauce
Ranch dressing
Blue Cheese crumbles
Thinly sliced red onion

*I was going for sliders so I cut mine into about 2.5×2.5 inch pieces, about 5 from each breast. The key is to make sure each “chunk” is about the size of your slider rolls and no more than 1/2 inch thick.
 
Directions
In a shallow bowl, mix together the panko, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the egg in separate bowl.

Coat the chicken by dipping into the egg first, then the panko mixture.

To cook by pan frying, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches, so as not to over crowd the pan, until all of the chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Add additional tablespoon of oil in between batches and as needed if the pan becomes dry.

To cook by oven baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by placing a wire (cooling) rack over the tray and lightly spraying with non-stick spray.. Place the coated chicken on the wire rack and bake for about 10 minutes, or until a piece of chicken cut in half is no longer pink inside, rotating pan halfway through.

Serve on top of slider buns with Buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, and thinly sliced onions. Goes well with oven fries and celery sticks.

Breading/Coating recipe slightly adapted from the recipe I use for fish sticks, originally from Elly Says Opa.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Wow, that’s a really long name! Probably too long, but when thinking about this recipe it just didn’t feel right to leave any part out of the name. The chicken, vegetables, and roasted garlic sauce all work together to form one beautiful, filling, delicious pasta dish.

I knew that I wanted to make pasta for dinner and I knew what ingredients I had on hand, but I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So I went searching and what I found was very promising recipe on my friend Krystal’s blog (Krystal just had a baby, by the way!). I worked with what I had and used her recipe as guide, and what I thought was going to be a good dinner turned out to be a GREAT dinner! So much so that I’m putting it back on the menu for this week!

The first change I made was to use zucchini instead of broccoli (side note: why can I never spell either of those words right on the first try? mental spelling block) and penne instead of fettucine.  I also used milk instead of cream, but because I was worried that it wouldn’t thicken up enough, I added a tablespoon of corn starch. It worked perfectly and even held up and remained creamy for my next day lunch leftovers. Finally, I added mushrooms because it just seemed right.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Ingredients

1 head of garlic – roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much chicken per serving you want), roasted and sliced
12 oz. penne pasta
Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnishing

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose the tops of cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic, pinching the seams to seal. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cloves are tender and start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest, covered with aluminum foil, until you’re ready to serve, then cut into slices. (Roasting in the same oven as the garlic slightly infuses some of the garlic flavor into the chicken, mmm!)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook penne until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the milk and corn starch in a glass measuring cup, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the skillet. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the garlic and mix into the vegetables.

Create a well in the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the edges, slowly stream in the milk/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Work the vegetables into the sauce with the whisk then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved cooking liquid a tablespoon at time until you get the desired consistency.

Top each portion with the sliced chicken, extra Parmesan, and fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from Mrs.Regueiro’s Plate

Sloppy Joes

I have a confession to make. I’m a little intimidated by my new kitchen and supermarket. Baking has been going just fine, but my creativity in the dinner department has been somewhat lacking. Partially because my new kitchen isn’t as well stocked as I’m used to (though time will hopefully take care of that) and partially because going to the supermarket makes me a little nervous. It’s set up differently than I’m used, I can’t read the packages or labels, and I’m just generally being a big chicken about it.

One thing that makes me feel like I’m regaining my sense of control in the kitchen is to go back to somewhat classic meals. When Jesse and I were newlyweds, something that we had far more often than I care to admit was sloppy joes. Of course in the very early days it was a can of Manwich. Now that I’ve become more aware of the foods that I’m eating and have tried to make more and more things the homemade way, it was time to revisit that classic and give it a new homemade twist.

This Sloppy Joe recipe was just what I needed. I just slightly adapted it from the Pioneer Woman, using what I had on hand and slightly upping the veggie count. The result was a hearty, filling, warm-belly feeling, kind of dinner that was Jesse approved. It went perfectly with the Brioche Buns I made earlier in the day (only in a non-whole wheat version) and I went with Mac and Cheese for the side.

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients
1 Tbsp Butter
1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1/2 medium Onion, Diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced 
1/2 cup Carrot, Grated
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 cup Ketchup 
3/4 cup Water
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
3/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Paprika
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
Worcestershire Sauce, to taste (optional)
Dash of Tabasco Sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Brioche Buns (Hamburger Buns)



Directions
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain excess fat and return to the pan. 


Add the onion, green pepper, carrot, and garlic, cook until the vegetables start get tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the dry seasonings and ketchup. Stir to coat the ground beef and vegetables. Stir in the water and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire and Tabasco, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 


Serve hot on a bun (toasted if you like!)


Adapted from The Pioneer Woman