Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grilled Chicken

It's summer and life is starting to get kind of crazy. Softball games and summer activities make fixing dinner more of a challenge if you don't want to eat a hamburger or hot dog every night. Enter "Grilled Chicken". Now, I realize that this isn't anything new, most people have managed to grilled chicken without my insights but it's a staple at our house so I thought I would share the things I've learned over the past 20 years of grilling. It's taken grilled chicken from a slightly charred, mostly dried out dinner to the cornerstone of many dishes in the Jiggle household.

The chicken in the picture is your basic BBQ chicken basted with a Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. I love BBQ sauce so we have several varieties hanging out in the fridge for those days that I don't have time to make it from scratch. Two nights ago we had Chicken Alfredo with basic chicken and a jarred Alfredo sauce. Chicken sandwiches and salad are also dishes that utilize this technique.

First off you have to decide if you are going to use breasts that are flash frozen or fresh. Typically the flash frozen breasts are already about the correct size and thickness for grilling. I once found a bag of "grill ready" chicken at Sam's that was truly the best chicken I'd ever to make my own fresh chicken work like that? Smash it out to a uniform thickness!
  1. Put the chicken in a bag and whack it with either a mallet or a frying pan. I use the frying pan, it's faster. Pound it out to about 1/2" thick. Trim off the raggedy edges that will burn and you are ready to go.
  2. Preheat your grill to about 350 degrees. On my grill that's about Med-ish. I typically let it preheat for about 10 minutes. If you aren't sure about how hot your grill gets you can get an oven thermometer and sit it in there for a baseline temp.
  3. I usually give the chicken a spritz of non-stick spray before I season it so I don't have to spray the grill and light myself on fire. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper or whatever you prefer. We tend to use Lowry's seasoning salt and black pepper most often. 
  5. Place chicken on the grill and shut the lid. Let cook for 6-8 minutes and turn. I like to only turn it once so give it another 6-8 minutes and whip out your meat thermometer. Your internal temp for chicken should be 165 degrees. Your juices will run clear when it's done. Don't over cook!! 
  6. Let chicken sit for few minutes before you cut into it.
  7. Frozen breasts will cook about this same length of time because they are typically smaller and thinner.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blackberry Chicken

Yum! I got my new Taste of Home magazine on Saturday and I've already read it cover to cover twice. Yes, I am a dork. :) In the magazine this sauce was over pork but we prefer chicken and I didn't have any pork chops anyway. I was afraid that using the steak seasoning on the chicken would be too overwhelming but it was actually really good and I will definitely do that again. Just use restraint when sprinkling...

We liked this and best of all it was on the table in about 30 minutes start to finish. Actually the chicken took less than that but I was waiting for the rice to finish so if you planned a bit better or had a faster side dish this could be really speedy.

Blackberry Chicken
adapted from Taste of Home magazine
servings 4

1/2 c. seedless blackberry spreadable fruit or preserves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
Dash ground cinnamon
pinch red pepper flakes
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Montreal steak seasoning
blackberries (I used frozen, they hold their shape better than most berries and are way cheaper than fresh)

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the preserves, lemon juice, soy sauce, cinnamon and red pepper flakes.
  2. Cook and stir over low heat until the preserves melt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Lightly sprinkle both sides of chicken with steak seasoning.
  4. Grill 8 min per side on a medium flame or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
  5. Serve with sauce and blackberries

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls

I've always been intimidated by yeast. It seems like every time I attempted it I either killed it right off the bat and the dough wouldn't rise correctly or I would get impatient and try to rush the process and ended up with rolls and cinnamon rolls that bore a striking resemblance to hockey pucks. So for many years I just avoided anything that looked like it might have a yeast component.

Then, I met Joan and Becky. They are both great cooks and make the best rolls and cinnamon rolls ever. I watched them do it and even tried to write down Joan's cinnamon roll recipe once but I couldn't make it come out right. However, they inspired me to keep trying. Assuring me that practice was all I needed and that I wasn't truly as yeast challenged as I thought I was they encouraged me to keep at it.

It's been several years now since those roll making lessons and I've made many hockey puck cinnamon rolls. I've tried all kinds of recipes and haven't been in love with any of them. This recipe is in several of my "ward" cookbooks and I finally decided to give it a whirl after I saw it on My Kitchen Cafe. The thought of light fluffy cinnamon rolls was too much to resist....guess what? IT WORKED!!! These rolls are light and airy and there isn't a hockey puck in the bunch!

Now if I can just resist eating them all myself...

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ ounce package instant vanilla pudding
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
6+ cups flour

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk

  1. In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside. In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend. Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Do not over flour the dough! It should be very soft but not sticky.
  2. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  3. Roll out on floured board to 34 X 21 inches in size. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. With knife put a notch every 1 1/2 inches. Cut with thread or serrated knife.
  4. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise until double again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden (don’t over bake). Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting (combine butter and cream cheese and mix well, then add vanilla and sugar and mix again, then add milk for desired consistency). Makes about 24 very large rolls.

*Freezable Recipe: After shaping the rolls and placing them on the baking sheet, cover with lightly greased saran wrap and a layer of tin foil. Store in the freezer. The night before you want to serve them take out the rolls and put them in the refrigerator. Let them thaw in the refrigerator. Take them out about 8-9 hours after being in the refrigerator and let them rise until doubled. Bake according to the recipe. (If you have less time, you can take the rolls out of the freezer and let them come to room temperature on the counter – about 4 hours, then let rise until doubled).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ABC Shrimp Salad

The season of BBQs and potlucks has begun. It seems like I don't make this salad all winter long but when it starts to warm up this is my "go to" salad, particularly if the event is a Hansen event. Maybe they don't think I can make anything else....I guess that's possible but at any rate I do this salad more than any other.

I didn't figure the NI on it because even using "light" mayo and Miracle Whip I am sure that the numbers are kind of scary.

ABC Shrimp Salad

1 pkg ABC macaroni (any macaroni works)
1 cup celery chopped fine
4 boiled eggs, mashed with a fork
1-2 cans shrimp rinsed and drained (I've been using frozen lately, 1 lb of 100-150 size)
2-3 chopped green onions

Combine and mix with the following ingredients:
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 cup mayo
1 1/2 tsp mustard
1 tsp vinegar
paprika, salt and pepper to taste

Chill well before serving.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dressed Up Banana Bread

When I'm trying to eat healthy I am ALWAYS trying to figure out how to have foods that I love fit within the healthy guidelines I'm trying to follow. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Cooking Light is one of my favorite "tools" to make this lifestyle work for me. I have never made a bad recipe that came from a Cooking Light source. Ever. So when I ran across this banana bread recipe I was psyched, I even had some nicely black bananas sitting on my counter begging to be used. So this morning, way too early for a Saturday I might add, I ran down to the kitchen and played mad scientist.

This is a very good version of banana bread, even if it weren't light. The banana flavor comes through, the bread is a good texture without any weird holes in it and I was very pleased with the way it raised into a pretty loaf shape instead of caving in in the middle or not raising at all like some quick breads do. Definitely a do again and again. The sugar on the top is a nice addition but it would be good without as well. Do whatever makes you happy. :)

Dressed Up Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light
12 Slices 4 pts/slice

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about three)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbs brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three small loaf pans (or 2 medium, or one large) with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Beat together sugar and butter in a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs and beat well.
  4. Peel bananas & mash well.
  5. Add to sugar, butter, and egg mixture.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, & salt) stirring until mixed in a small bowl.
  8. Stir into wet ingredients and beat at low speed just until moist.
  9. Spoon into prepared pan(s)
  10. Sprinkle top with brown sugar.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour (for one loaf) - shorten the baking time accordingly for smaller loaves.
  12. Banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Turn out of pans and continue cooling.
Calories 208; Total Fat 5.0g; Cholesterol 46mg; Sodium 221mg; Total Carbohydrates 37.5g; Dietary Fiber 0.9g; Protein 3.7g

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Repost

I'm back on the diet wagon so I've been going through my collection of healthier recipes. This is one that I posted when I first started blogging without a picture. So, with the addition of a few veggies I am going to repost the recipe WITH a picture. Don't let the long ingredient list scare you off, most of things I found in my pantry as staples.

Baked Sweet and Sour  Chicken

POINTS® Value: 6
5 servings

Serve with rice; count NI for rice separately.

1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/8 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup(s) pineapple juice
2 cup(s) canned pineapple, packed in juice
1 medium green pepper(s)
1 cup carrots
1 can water chestnuts
1/2 cup(s) Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp unpacked brown sugar
2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat 1 T oil over med high heat. Add chicken and cook about 2 min on each side or until brown. Transfer chicken to a 2 quart baking dish.

2. Drain pineapple well reserving 1/3 c juice. Spoon pineapple chunks evenly over chicken in dish; set aside.

3. For sauce in a med saucepan whisk together the reserved juice, cranberry sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, water, soy sauce and ginger. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

4. Pour over chicken and pineapple in dish. Bake, covered, for 25 min. Uncover and add pepper strips, stirring gently to coat with sauce. Bake, uncovered, about 5 min more or until chicken is no longer pink.

Per serving. 368 cal, 6 g fat, 82 mg chol., 589 mg. sodium, 41 g carb, 2 g fiber

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bri and I saw this recipe on the Recipe Girl website and decided that we needed to give them a whirl. She wasn't super impressed with the amount of peanuts, both the actual nuts and the peanut flavor from all the peanut butter and has decided that she would rather have Scotcharoos. I thought that they were pretty good but if I do them again I will put a caramel layer on top of the cookie, sub toasted almonds for the peanuts and use less chocolate on the top layer with a light sprinkle of sea salt. These are super rich, you will get more than the 30 pieces indicated in the original recipe.


Cookie Layer:
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 ½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats

Candy Bar Layer:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)
1 cup peanut butter chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup chopped peanuts\

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter chips
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil; spray foil with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, stir brown sugar, butter and corn syrup over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla; stir until smooth.

3. Place oats in a very large bowl. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats; stir to combine. Press oat mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan.

4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Don’t overbake (you don’t want it to brown) or it will be on the crunchy side. Let the cookie layer cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.

5. In the same saucepan, stir chips and peanut butter over low heat until melted and smooth.

6. Sprinkle ½ cup of chopped peanuts over the baked cookie layer. Pour chocolate over the peanuts; spread to make an even layer. Sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter chips and peanuts over the top; press lightly into the chocolate layer.

7. Refrigerate until firm; cut into squares.
Yield: About 30 pieces