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Sweet Onion and Cheddar Cornbread

Chili and cornbread is such a classic combination. On Monday I shared a delicious Black Bean Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash with you. Today I am sharing with you this amazing Sweet Onion and Cheddar Cornbread that with our chili.  Of course, while I have made several cornbread recipes over the years, cornbread with sweet onions and cheddar is a version I did not have a recipe for…until now.

The first step in creating this recipe was to select a base, and for that I went to a very trusty source – the back of the cornmeal canister.  Their Easy Corn Bread was a perfect place to begin.  The rest was a little bit of guess work and crossed fingers.

Sauteed onions and cheddar cheese are the perfect additions that take this basic cornbread recipe to a whole new level. The poppy seeds sprinkled on top add a little visual appeal.  Mike has already requested I make this again.  There is no doubt this Sweet Onion and Cheddar Cornbread will be making a regular appearance at our dinner table this chili season.

Sweet Onion and Cheddar Cornbread
 
Author:
Yields: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 1 tablespoon for topping)
  • ¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and saute until softened (about 5-7 minutes). Reserve 1 tablespoon for topping. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk milk, oil and egg until combined.
  5. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in onion and and cheese (do not over mix).
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved onion and cheese and poppy seeds on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from back of Quaker corn meal canister

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach - made in less than 30 minutes!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach

(Photos updated 2/23/2012)

As the weather turns cooler, we find ourselves gravitating toward soups, chili, baked pasta, all of those warm comfort foods. I have had a vision for this tortellini soup for quite a while, but simply have not had an opportunity to execute it. Until now…

Filled with healthy vegetables and hearty tortellini, Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach is the perfect comfort food for a crisp fall day, or any day for that matter.  And guess what?  It can be made in under 30 minutes!  Had I realized that, this soup would have been made long ago.

I put a range of 4 to 6 cups for the broth, so you can adjust to your preference. I like my soup on the chunkier side, so 4 cups of broth yielded the perfect consistency for me. I also used frozen spinach, which worked really well.   I recommend using both low sodium broth and tomatoes, so you can control the sodium by adding salt to taste.

As a great weeknight dinner, or a quick any time meal, we are looking forward to enjoying this soup all fall/winter long, and I hope you will too!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach
 
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, including juices
  • 9-10 ounces tortellini (fresh or frozen), any variety
  • 1½ teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen spinach, chopped (if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess moisture)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth and tomatoes. Turn heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
  4. Within the last minute of cooking the tortellini, stir in Italian herb seasoning, crushed red pepper and spinach. Taste, and add salt and pepper seasoning, as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan cheese.

 

Adapted from Food Network

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

A couple weeks ago, I enjoyed another Happy Magazine Day with the arrival of Cooking Light’s September, 2011 issue.  When I saw ‘Light Brownies’ featured on the cover, I was intrigued.  When I saw Peanut Butter Cup Blondies, I could not race to the store fast enough to pick up peanut butter cups!

These bars are easy to make and bake up into something amazing.  From the original recipe, I substituted half of the granulated sugar with brown sugar.  I also used skim milk, since that’s what I had on hand and generally prefer.  I used chunky peanut butter, and the little peanut chunks throughout the bars were awesome.  Last, I used milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet, but either would be great.  Dark or white chocolate chips would also be a delicious way to mix it up.

Chewy, peanut buttery, peanut butter cuppy, and oh so good, these bars are simply dreamy.  I adjusted the serving size from 20 to 16.  They are substantial enough to feel like you’re getting a big treat, yet they still come in under 200 calories per bar.  Not bad!

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
 
Yields: 16 to 20 bars
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ⅓ cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 (0.75-ounce) peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt (if using).
  3. In a separate medium bowl, stir to combine the peanut butter, butter, milk, vanilla and eggs.
  4. Add peanut butter mixture to dry ingredients, and gently stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips until combined (do not over mix).
  5. Pour batter in prepared baking dish. Arrange peanut butter cups over batter.
  6. Bake for 19 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 192 ~ Carbs: 26g ~ Fiber: >1 ~ Fat: 8.6g ~ Protein: 3.4g

Adapted from Cooking Light

Magic Burgers

We don’t eat a lot of meat in this house, but it’s been a while so why not, right?   Mike is a huge burger fan and often gets a stuffed burger of the day from a local restaurant.  Even though he loves to get those burgers out, he has been requesting I make Magic Burgers for some time now. I’m not sure where the term Magic Burgers came from…actually I remember years ago I made these and after one bite somebody said they’re like magic. 🙂  So anyway…

I like my burgers plain or with cheese,  maybe even potato chips.  But absolutely no ketchup, no bacon, no pickles, you get the idea.  Since I don’t like relying on toppings to flavor my burgers, I add flavor to the patties.

  
This is a basic recipe and very easy to put together.  I usually just eyeball the ingredients, but have listed below the approximate amounts for what I use.  Sometimes I sub green onions for the red onions, which is really good too.   Quick and easy to make, these burgers are a perfect last minute dinner just in time for the weekend.

Magic Burgers
Yields 4 burgers

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Salt
Onion buns
Toppings (as desired) 

  1. In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper until blended (do not over mix).
  2. Divide mixture into 4 patties (a little larger than the size of your buns) and shape them thinner in the center so they don’t puff up.  
  3. Put patties onto grill heated to medium high heat.  Cook until juices appear on the top of the patties (approximately 4-5 minutes).  Flip and cook on other side until done (about 4-5 minutes). 
  4. Place on top of bun and serve with desired topping.

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella

The first time I made this pasta, I was a little underwhelmed. It was good, but not great. While I love pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and chickpeas, there was something that just wasn’t doing it for me. However, I was not willing to give up on this recipe so easily. It had all the potential to be something fantastic, just clearly needed a little tweaking. 

First, I decided to marinate the tomatoes and mozzarella in the vinaigrette while I cooked the pasta. I also added some garlic for good measure. It then became obvious. While thyme may offer a unique flavor, it was just not right in this dish. What goes best with tomatoes and mozzarella is…basil! Nothing beats classic caprese-inspired flavors. 

As I hoped, with just a few changes, this dish became something extraordinary. It was simple, delicious and very easy to make. We enjoyed this pasta warm as an entree, but it would also be excellent served as a pasta salad. This quick and easy pasta has definitely landed a spot in our weeknight dinner rotation!

Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Yields 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

12 ounces pasta (any shape short pasta, any flavor; I used whole wheat & flax rotini)
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Coarse salt and ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Add tomatoes and mozzarella and toss until combined.  Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions.   Add chickpeas to pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot.
  3. Add tomato mixture to pasta.  Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce to coat the pasta (you may not need all of the water). 
  4. Season with salt and pepper, as desired and toss to combined.  Serve, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.
Adapted from Everyday Food

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are a delicious meatless taco recipe filled with black beans and vegetables. {gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, depending on toppings}
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are my favorite dish for meatless Monday, taco Tuesday or any day. They are fabulous! These tacos are made with mashed black beans, onions, peppers, chipotle peppers, spices, salsa, some broth, and then topped with any of your favorite taco toppings. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).
Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com
These Chipotle Black Bean Tacos can be vegan and gluten free, depending on the tortillas and/or toppings. I enjoy them as a vegetarian options, since I like to add a bit of cheese. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos
 
Author:
Yields: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
  • ⅓ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 6 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • Topping ideas for serving: spinach or lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped green onions, salsa
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and peppers to pan and saute for 3-5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chilis, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add beans and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until mixture has thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salsa. Mash lightly using a potato masher (or fork).
  5. Stack tortillas, wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 45-60 seconds.
  6. Serve ⅓ cup filling for each tortilla along with desired toppings.
Notes
Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Cooking Light

Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Happy Friday everyone!   I hate to the be the bearer of bad news, but can you believe the end of July is upon us?   Summer is whizzing by in the blink of an eye.  We are trying to take advantage of all that summer has to offer, though a few activities still remain on our ‘to do’ list.  On the other hand, we certainly are taking every opportunity to grill (something we did not do once last summer, back when I was still working, and we were stuck in our pizza/pasta/p’eggs routine).   

In any case, we are having a great summer here at Alida’s Kitchen, and I hope you are too!

After making Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes, I developed an appreciation for the delicious flavor of grilled tomatoes. So when I saw a Caprese Chicken recipe that grilled the chicken AND the tomatoes, it went on my ‘must make’ list immediately!   

Grilled Chicken Caprese is a simple weeknight (or quick weekend meal) that takes little effort and yields an impressive result.  First you make the marinade.  Then marinate slices of the fresh mozzarella (yum!).  While the cheese is marinating, you grill the tomato slices and chicken cutlets, which takes about 5 minutes.  Last, simply put everything together, let it sit a little bit if you can, and then eat!

The result is a delicious Caprese-inspired grilled chicken dish that is quick and easy to make. The original recipe states it takes 30 minutes, which sounds about right…but that includes eating time! 🙂  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Grilled Chicken Caprese
Yields 4 servings

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vingar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices, halved and patted
4 chicken breast cutlets (or butterflied chicken breast halves)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
8 tomato slices (2-3 tomatoes), cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices

  1. Make marinade/dressing: whisk together basil, vinegar, garlic and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference.
  2. Take 2 tablespoons of the marinade and pour over mozzarella slices, turning the slices to make sure cheese is coated.  Set aside.
  3. Pat chicken dry and then drizzle about a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on each side of chicken cutlet and season with pepper.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and spray grates with cooking spray or rub with oil. 
  5. Grill chicken and tomatoes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and browned and tomatoes are slighly charred (about 2 minutes per side).
  6. Transfer chicken to platter and top each cutlet with 2 tomato slices.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with mozzarella.  Cover with an inverted plate or tented foil and let sit for 5 minutes (up to 10 minutes, if you can wait that long).  Serve.  

Adapted from Cook’s Country, August/September, 2011

Veggie Pizza Puffs

Garden Pizza Puffs

Veggie Pizza Puffs

We eat a lot of muffins in this house.  We also eat a lot of pizza.  So when I stumbled upon a recipe for pizza made in a mini-muffin tin, it was like two worlds colliding into something brilliant!

Garden Pizza Puffs are cheesy, delicious and very easy to make. With only about 35 calories per puff, they are a fun and healthy option to satisfy your pizza cravings.

The original recipe is made with pepperoni, which would be pretty good.  I thought it would be even better with made vegetables and herbs.  The recipe written below reflects the vegetables that I used, though you can experiment with the same amounts of whatever meats and/or vegetables you like.  I have also used whole wheat and all-purpose flours, and either one works great.  The beauty of this recipe is the ability to customize everything to suit your preferences.

Served with a side of pizza sauce for dipping or with a dollop of sauce on each puff, these would make for a super cute appetizer at your next dinner party.  Mike and I had 10 puffs each and called it dinner.  These puffs would also be a tasty treat for kids.

Given the unlimited possibilities, I look forward to doing lots of experimenting with this recipe.  In the meantime, we will just have to continue to test several variations of pizza puffs.  Oh the sacrifices we make! 🙂

Garden Pizza Puffs
 
Yields: Yields 24 puffs (see note)
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • pizza sauce, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and egg. Fold in the cheese, garlic, onion, roasted red pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper (if using). Let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the batter and divide evenly among the mini-muffin cups (fill to about ½ to ⅔ full).
  4. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 mintutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan serve with pizza sauce.
Notes
Yields 12 puffs in a regular-sized muffin pan - adjust baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins are a healthy muffin recipe made with buttermilk, brown sugar and topped with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.  

When I boldly declared Whole Wheat  Peanut Butter Muffins as my favorite muffin of all time, Mike was not surprised in the least.  Not only do they have peanut butter, which I love, but they also have brown sugar and buttermilk, two of my favorite baking ingredients. Chocolate chips and chopped peanuts don’t hurt either. 🙂

Today I am sharing with you a muffin recipe that I thought was lost forever. Many years ago, I bought a bag of whole wheat flour, and featured on the back was a recipe for peanut butter muffins.  I decided to give the recipe a try and was blown away. The muffins tasted just like a peanut butter sandwich only in muffin form. They were incredible.

Fast forward years later, after many moves, the recipe sadly got lost in the shuffle. Until now! I googled away and found my beloved recipe at A Tasteful Garden. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so immediately got to work.

I decided to swap canola oil for butter and add chopped peanuts on top.  I also used mini chocolate chips.  I like that with small chips, it seems as though you get more chocolate per bite.  As with most quick breads made with whole wheat flour, these muffins are dense and hearty.  I find they are best enjoyed with a big glass of milk.

These muffins are even better than I remembered, and now thankfully will never be lost again!

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins
 
Yields: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray or muffin liners. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Cream together the oil and brown sugar. Add the peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape sides of the bowl often to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
  4. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Add half of the buttermilk, mix until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using. Bake until golden brown, 22-24 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from King Arthur Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins, found on A Tasteful Garden

Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese

My husband and I are creatures of habit.  We have a salad with dinner (almost) every night.  It’s usually spinach or mixed greens and tomatoes with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds.  It’s simple.  It’s tasty.  It’s routine.   


So when I had leftover goat cheese from the Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese, I wanted to shake our routine up a bit.  Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese became a welcome change from our usual salad.  The creamy goat cheese with the bitter radicchio with the sweet apricots is a combination that is simply a-ma-zing!  

 

Since I had mixed greens on hand, I decided to use that in place of the spinach.  This salad is equally delicious using just spinach.  I reduced the amount of the oil in the vinaigrette, which is nice and light and just pulls everything together.  Soaking the apricots is an excellent method to plump up the fruit into soft juicy bursts of sweetness.

Have a Happy Father’s Day weekend!  

Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese
Yields 4 servings
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
1 head radicchio, halved, cored and roughly torn
5 ounces fresh spinach or mixed greens
2 ounces soft crumbled goat cheese 
  1. Place apricots in a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand for about 5 minutes.  Drain and pat try with paper towels.  Cut into small pieces, if desired.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add spinach and radicchio to bowl with vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Add apricots.  Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese.
Adapted from Everyday Food (November, 2007)

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

It is not very often that a new recipe immediately leaps way to the top of the list.  But when I saw a tasty recipe in Experience Life magazine, I think my heart skipped a beat with excitement.  I got that ‘I just found a recipe that will change your life’ feeling.  Cheese, black beans, green onions, garlic and spices, all nestled in a tasty little jalapeno?  Seriously?  Time to fire up the grill!

In fact, I was tempted to simply grab a spoon and eat the filling straight from the bowl.

I resisted and instead stuffed these beautiful jalapenos.  The result is a delightful, healthy twist on a jalapeno popper.

This heavenly dish makes for a perfect appetizer at any summer gathering, yet is easy enough to whip together for a light weeknight dinner.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers
Yields 8 (appetizer) or 4 (dinner) servings

16 jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the peppers.
  2. Make a lengthwise slit down each pepper, leaving the stem intact; carefully remove ribs and seeds.  (Tip: a quick rinse helps remove the seeds from the inside, lessening the heat)
  3. Distribute filling evenly among peppers (about 1 tablespoon per pepper).
  4. Heat grill to medium heat.  Place stuffed peppers on a sheet of foil on the grill.  Cover and cook until cheese mixture has melted and peppers are softened, about 10-15 minutes.

Adapted from Experience Life

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Chicken

Sometimes is pays to be picky.  Or at least to be cooking for picky guests.  I was hosting a summer get together and, by request, was making my “Magic Hamburgers.”  However I knew one of my guests would not eat ground beef, so I was on a two-fold mission: find something delicious that she will like and find something with ingredients I already have.

Enter Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Chicken.  Mission accomplished.

I am so thankful for my picky dinner guest.  If not for her, I would not have found this recipe and my life in the kitchen would not be the same.

In all seriousness, this barbecue sauce is incredible.  I love that it is so easily made from basic ingredients commonly found in the pantry.  The hot sauce, along with the black pepper, add the perfect zing which can be altered to your heat tolerance.  I prefer using chicken tenders, though you can easily adapt this recipe to whatever part of the chicken you like to grill.  It also makes for great barbecue chicken sandwiches.

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Chicken
 
A simple barbecue sauce made with pantry ingredients.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenders
Instructions
  1. Mix first 6 ingredients in bowl.
  2. Place chicken in ziploc bag. Pour ½ sauce in bag, making sure chicken is well coated. Marinate for at least 4 hours.
  3. Grill chicken as usual, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Serve with remaining barbeque sauce for dipping.

Adapted from Food & Wine

Cheese Enchilada Casserole

Truth be told, after the birth of our son, my husband (Mike) and I fell into what some might affectionately call a “dinner rut.”  Our dinners were something quick and easy for Mike to whip together while I took care of putting the baby to bed.  And the rotation went something like this: pizza (frozen), pasta (fresh ravioli), Pei Wei (sesame chicken!), and eggs (which later morphed into “p’eggs”).  We were tired.  We were hungry.  Sometimes we had pizza 2 nights in a row.  After many many months we were ready for a change.  The baby was older and bedtime a bit more predictable.  It was time to dig into my recipe archives, and the revival of Cheese Enchilada Casserole was born.

Cheese Enchilada Casserole is an easy weeknight meal that’s full of flavor and is healthy too.  With some advance prep work it can easily be assembled and on the table in around 30 minutes.  There are countless variations that can evolve from this basic recipe – add chicken or black beans, vary the cheese or tomatoes or sauce.  Yet it’s just as tasty prepared in the version written below.

Cheese Enchilada Casserole
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (8 oz) fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup taco sauce
  • ¼ cup (1 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 9 6" corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix first 6 ingredients, through chili powder, in bowl. [This step can be done in advance]
  3. Place 3 corn tortillas in baking dish. Top tortillas with ½ of cheese mixture. Repeat. Top final layer with 3 corn tortillas.
  4. Pour taco sauce over tortillas and top with ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Slice into 4 pieces and serve.

Adapted from Cooking Light