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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crispy & Tender Baked Chicken Nuggets {or strips}

My mom always made breaded chicken tenders growing up and I have always loved them. They can be made into chicken strips or nuggets. They are baked at a high temperature - just enough to cook them through (I check them with a meat thermometer and make sure they get to 165 degrees F) and leave a nice cripsy-ness on the outside.   I also love this recipe because you can easily change up the spice mixture to create another flavor.  I'll post two spice combos that we like.  

We had these for dinner on Monday with some oven roasted potatoes, quick rolls and a green salad! It was the perfect meal -  I don't usually serve that many things in one meal but we were taking dinner to a friend who just had a baby - and I know how ravenous I am after having a baby - so we had to make it a full meal to make sure this new mommy was satisfied! 


Crispy & Tender Baked Chicken Nuggets {or strips}

Printable Version {Click Here}


2 pounds chicken (cut into strips or for bites into 1-2 inch pieces (bite size))
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup crushed saltines or corn flakes (I like the crispy-ness of cornflakes)
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated (or powdered works great too)
Seasonings (see two options below)
½ cup milk
1 egg

Seasoning option 1: Herb & Parmesan
½ - ¾ teaspoon basil
½ - ¾ teaspoon oregano
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Seasoning option 2: Garlic Ranch Parmesan
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 pkg or 3 tablespoons ranch seasoning packet (or can sub 1 ¼ teaspoon of McCormick Bon Appetit Seasoning salt)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with grease.  

In a shallow dish  combine crushed corn flakes, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings of choice based on the two options above.  

In a small bowl beat milk and egg together.  Prep chicken by trimming fat off and cutting into strips (if you prefer chicken strips) or small bite size pieces for chicken nuggets.  

Dip each chicken piece into the egg/milk mixture on both sides and then roll in the seasoned bread mixture.  Place each piece on the baking sheet.  

Bake for 8-9 minutes on one side - flip and bake 5 more minutes. Checking the temperature when done to make sure they are at least 165 degrees F.  
Dip in BBQ sauce and enjoy! :) 

Recipe Source: adapted from a mixture of a few recipes I've found from Mel's Kitchen Cafe & Blog Chef

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spiced Peach Butter {or plain}

Have you ever heard of fruit butters?  Apple butter is pretty famous in my husband's family. My father-in-law makes it about every year and we love enjoying it.  It's a thick sauce of cooked apples and sugar with some spices.  It's great for toast, peanut butter sandwiches, ice cream topping, etc.  

My sweet friend had a peach tree that needed picking and she let me get a whole big box. I had spied a recipe for peach butter in my Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preserving -  and wanted to give it a try if you've never canned food for preserving before, be sure to get a book or read about it from a reputable source such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation).   I'm not sure why it's called peach butter or apple butter, but my guess is that it's about the consistency of spreading butter on bread, which it's perfect for.  It's basically applesauce or peach sauce slowly cooked with sugar and spices until it caramelizes and turns a deep brown color. Mmmmm!  My daughter, husband and I have been enjoying our peach butter on toast, bread and butter, and peanut butter sandwiches. But right now I'm dreaming of a peach crisp with vanilla ice cream drizzled in peach butter.  There are lots of ways to use this yummy stuff.  It'd be a great cheesecake sauce - super yummy for the fall time!  Oh man I can't wait for fall, it's my favorite!

A few weeks ago I had a lovely smell filling my house.  I was simmering a pot of this peach butter. I simmered it for 4-5 hours til it was nice and thick. The smell was making me crazy for fall. The temperature here was a bit cooler too, and so I had this big craving for fall.   Fall is my favorite time of year, I was so giddy!  I think my husband thought I was a little nuts, I just wanted to cook and bake everything fall like - rolls, bread, pie, cinnamon rolls, soup.  The temperatures have since gone back up and so it's not feeling so fall-ish in the air, but I'm really anticipating that again in the coming months.  

Peaches were ready here in Albuquerque about a month ago - I know in other parts of the country peach season is just about ready to begin. So hopefully you can make some of this tasty peach butter.  Our apple tree is just about ready to be picked, and I'm excited to make some apple butter. I'll have to share my father-in-law's famous recipe when we get that made up.  

Happy canning!  (also if you need canning equipment - you can find it here)

Spiced Peach Butter {or plain}

Yield: about 4 pints
Recipe from the Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preserving - Published in 2009


4 to 4 ½ pounds peaches (about 36 medium size peaches)
½ cup water
4 cups sugar

Spiced variation:
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (any combination of these spices)
*If you want plain peach butter do not add the spices.


****Note (please read before beginning): This recipe is for canning spiced peach butter with the boiling water method.  If you are not familiar with proper food preservation methods please read about it here and follow all instructions:  or purchase the Ball Blue Book here: Ball Blue Book
It is very important to follow proper canning instructions to ensure the safety of the food.  The high heat of this process kills yeasts, molds, and other bacteria.  Failure to follow the exact method could result in spoiled food and major sickness including food poisoning such as botulism.  

To prepare the pulp:

Wash and blanch the peaches. Blanching is putting them in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute and then into a clean sink full of cold water. This makes them very easy to peel.  Peel, pit and slice the peaches.  In a large saucepan or stockpot - place peaches and ½ cup of water. Simmer the peaches over medium-high heat until they are soft.  Puree the simmered peaches with food processor, blender or immersion blender.  Measure 2 quarts of peach pulp.  

To make the peach butter:

Combine the peach pulp, sugar and spices (omit spices if you want plain peach butter) in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Cook over medium heat - reducing heat as it comes to a boil, until it reaches a nice soft simmer, stir occasionally, being careful to not have the heat to high that it burns.  Cook until the mixture is thick enough to round up on a spoon (about the consistency of jam - or slightly thinner if you prefer).  It took about 3-4 hours for mine to reach this consistency.  And I stirred it every 5 to 10 minutes making sure it didn’t get stuck to the bottom.  Cooking it on a low-slow simmer helps it to caramelize nicely.

Ladle the hot butter into clean and hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Remove any air bubbles with spatula.  Wipe any spills from the jar, especially where the lid will touch and seal.  Adjust the two-piece caps on the jars - until tight. Do not tighten as tight as you can. Just enough to know it’s closed.  Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (adding time for altitude adjustment). See chart below.  I had to add 10 minutes to the processing time for my altitude - for a total time of 20 minutes.  

Following canning guide for removing jars and letting them cool.  (link at the top of the recipe or in the Ball Blue Book).  

Boiling-Water Canner Altitute Adjustments (from the Ball Blue Book - guide to preserving - 2009)
Altitude in feet
Increase processing time
1,001 to 3,000
5 minutes
3,001 to 6,000
10 minutes
6,001 to 8,000
15 minutes
8,001 to 10,000
20 minutes

Monday, August 11, 2014

Taco Dogs

I spied this recipe from the Taste and Tell Blog a few weeks ago and immediately added them to my menu plan. 

Taco style hot dogs is a great twist to the classic all American hot dog (bun, dog, mustard, ketchup and some optional relish).  I am a huge fan of homemade guacamole and salsa and thought these two things I love would definitely make any hot dog better!  And they sure did!  I loved all the extra flavor and fun that came with this idea of a taco dog!  Grilling the tortilla just enough to melt the cheese and give it a light crisp was the perfect touch.  

Summer isn't over yet, so hopefully you'll have time to enjoy these this year! 

Taco Dogs


8 hot dogs, grilled
8 6-inch flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Taco dog toppings:
red onion or green onion, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Any other taco toppings you love
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. Prepare toppings

2. Heat grill over med-high heat and grill hot dogs until done.

3. Top each tortilla with guacamole, and salsa then the grilled hot dog, top with onion, tomato, cilantro, olives and lastly cheese.  Press the cheese together to kind of seal the tortilla shut.
4.  Lightly spray each side of the taco dog with cooking spray and grill over medium heat until the cheese melts and you have some light grill marks on your tortilla.  

5. Dunk in more guacamole and salsa and enjoy!

Serves: 8 - one taco dog per person

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chicken, Feta, Mango Tacos {Yum!}

A few weeks ago on Facebook I mentioned that I had planned a month of oven-free meals.  Living in the desert heat with a swamp cooler makes it so I don't want to turn my oven on unless I HAVE to.  And 3 weeks later, I've only baked some bread, rolls, and a few batches of cookies. I haven't used the oven once for dinner.  It's been great!  I'll be ready for fall time when I cam turn my oven on all I want! :) 

I've tried a few new recipes that have been so yummy! This is one of my very favorites.  I found it on the Atheno's web page.  They make feta cheese, I LOVE FETA CHEESE! 

The flavors here were awesome, there was the savory taco flavored chicken, with sweet juicy mango bits, tangy feta, buttery smooth avacado and fresh cilantro and tomatoes. I'd thought I'd died and gone to taco heaven!  We'll be enjoying these year round for sure, but I thought they were particualry summer appropriate.  I hope you'll love them as much as I do!



Chicken, Feta, Mango Tacos  

Printable Version {Click Here}


1 ½ pounds chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning
¾ cup green salsa
The ingredients below are to top your tacos, you don’t have to have these particular measurements, but this is a rough idea of how much you’ll want.
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 avocado, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
6-8 flour tortillas, cooked and warm


1. In a non-stick skillet heat oil over medium heat and add chicken and taco seasoning, and cook until no longer pink and juices run clear.  Turn off heat and toss with salsa.  (can keep warm on low heat if desired while you chop up everything)
2. While chicken is cooking, warm tortillas and chop the rest of the ingredients and place in bowls for topping each taco.  
3. Top each tortilla with chicken mixture, and the desired amount of the rest of the toppings, roll up and enjoy!.

Recipe Source: Adapted from 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

{Thick & Soft} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my goodness, these are goooooood cookies! I don't think I've ever had a PB chocolate chip cookie that really melted in my mouth like this one did.I had been making peanut butter cookies from a classic cookbook,  but they weren't really hitting the spot. So I googled, soft peanut butter cookies and found this recipe. They looked like what I was after, and they sure hit the spot.  We took them to a friends game party and I got lots of comments that they were really good cookies!  So now that they've met my satisfaction and had good reviews from some friends, I thought they were worth saving as "the peanut butter chocolate chip" recipe that I will always go to.  So now I am sharing them with you.  


{Thick & Soft} Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Version

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon. baking soda
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup chocolate chips (I prefer 1 cup mini chocolate chips)


1. Mix the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer on medium speed until light and creamy in color. Add the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and beat until combined well.

2. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients together: baking soda, flour, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.  Slowly add the dry ingredients (⅓ of the mixture at a time) and mix until just combined.  Try not to over mix, this makes the cookies more dry.

3. Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F.

5. Drop tablespoon-size (approximate) balls onto ungreased cookie sheets, and press each cookie down slightly to flatten.

6. Bake for 9-10 minutes until set and very light in color, they will appear under-done. If you cook until they brown they will be dry and crumbly.  That’s the trick with PB cookies, it’s a bit harder to tell if they are done, but you’ll let them cool on the cookie sheet and they’ll continue to cook a bit more.

7. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

8. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days for optimal freshness.  


Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from Rachel Ray's website

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pizza Bites {or Pizza Rolls}

I spied a recipe on a favorite food blog of mine over a year ago, I pinned it, and then finally made them this last week. And they were a hit, we all loved them! My sweet 3 year old loved making them with me (in fact as we made them she starting telling me how to do it each time she made another one, so I decided to snap a video of her. Check out her tutorial below). And because she made them, she knew they'd be good and she ate them.  She goes in spurts of eating good and not, right now she's in one of the not so good eating stages, but she gobbled these right up.   

I used the same dough recipe I use for making pizza dough or breadsticks, with an added tablespoon of olive oil (a tip I got from Leesh). The breadstick recipe makes 24 breadsticks, so I thought that would be about as many pizza bites as I would get out of the dough too. We used two pieces of pepperoni and a small cube of mozzarella cheese inside each roll, it was perfect, not too bready or cheesey.  Just right! They all fit in a 9x13 pan. 

And don't forget to see this cute video on how to assemble them by a 3 year old. My favorite part occurred after I turned the camera off, she showed me the roll and said, "see mom, it's perfect cause I made it!". Guess we need some lessons on humility around here. Ha!

Here is the YouTube link:


Pizza Bites {or Pizza Rolls}


1 recipe pizza dough
48 slices pepperoni
24 cubes of mozzarella cheese (I cut them about an 1” x ¼” - I guess they are more rectangles)
PIzza or spaghetti sauce for dipping (I like Hunts)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and parmesan to top

Pizza Dough:
3 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat 2+ cups of all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil


Make pizza dough first.  Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer and mix to combine.  Add water and olive oil and mix.  Mix for one minute, if dough is still sticky add more flour until it cleans the side of the bowl of your stand mixer (knead in mixer for 3 minutes on high).  If doing by hand after your minute of mixing with a spoon add more flour to the table and need for 3-5 minutes adding flour as needed so that it’s slightly tacky but not too sticky to handle.  

Once done kneading coat counter or table with flour and cover the dough to rest for 10-30 minutes. Grease a 9x13 size pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once dough has rested roll it into a large rectangle about 11x17.  Cut the dough into 24 squares with scissors or pizza cutter. Place a cube of cheese and 2 pepperoni in each square and fold the edges together and pinch it into a roll. Place the seam side down in a greased 9x13 pan. Repeat with the rest of the rolls. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese.  

Bake at 400 for 12-18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Eat while warm and dip in pizza or spaghetti sauce.  


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow. This chicken enchilada recipe is a recipe my mom made for us growing up. It's always been a favorite of ours and anyone we've shared it with. 

The original recipe calls for cream of chicken soup in the sauce.  But I've kind of outlawed it at our house - and make my own from scratch. The recipe is a lot faster to make with the cream of chicken soup, so I've included both versions of the sauce recipe. Pick your way of making it and either way they are both tasty!

I love that I can whip these together pretty fast.  If I don't have precooked chicken in my freezer or canned chicken, I will often throw a pound of chicken in my 1 quart crock pot with a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/3 cup of water in the afternoon and cook it on low for 4 hours and it's ready just in time to bake these for dinner.  I also have froze these ready made and then thawed before baking, so it's a great freezer meal too.  (I love these kind of meals!)

I've posted a few pictures of the process of making these, it's really simple.  Enjoy some Enchiladas! 

FYI, we love these topped with fresh salsa.  Click here for my favorite quick and easy Restaurant Style Salsa

Recipe below pictures.  


Also, if you are in need of some meal ideas for cinco de mayo, check out our recipe index or these quick links to some other favorites. 

Main Dish
Fajita Seasoning

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Printable Version

8-12 flour tortillas

For the filling:
1 pound or 2 cups of cooked chicken
½ to 1 large can olives, sliced (use as many olives as you love)
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
½ - 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, monterey jack or colby)

Sauce (without cream of chicken soup):
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon chicken base (or 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 3-4 oz can green chiles
½ cup sour cream

Sauce (with cream of chicken soup):
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 3-4 oz can green chiles
¼ - ½ cup milk (to make as runny as you like)

More grated cheese for the top (about ½ cup)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  And spray grease a 9x13 casserole size dish.

Start with the sauce.  You’ll want to smother a little sauce in the bottom of the pan to help them from sticking to the pan.  

Option 1: For the from scratch sauce:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium size sauce pan. Add 3 tablespoons flour and mix, then add milk and whisk thoroughly to make sure the mixture is smooth. Add chicken base/bouillon salt and pepper, let mixture come to a simmer and simmer for 5-10 minutes til mixture is thick and smooth.  Remove from heat and add the green chile and sour cream.

Option 2: Sauce with cream of chicken soup:
Mix soup, sour cream, green chile and ¼ - ½ cup milk until mixture is smooth and has a thick, yet runny consistency.  

Mix the filling mixture together and fill tortillas with 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture and roll them up.  Place them in the greased and sauce covered pan.  Smother with the sauce and top with a little cheese.

Bake for 30 minute or until bubbly and slightly browned.  

Serve with salsa on top or any other desired toppings (guacamole, sour cream, green chile sauce.)
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