Poppyseed Chicken

This is the family recipe for a close friend of mine but the original recipe was something that could only be eaten by people with excessively low cholesterol levels, as it was somewhat unhealthy, to put it mildly. I have been thinking about the recipe a lot lately, so decided to play with it and see what happened. The original recipe is from the Danley Family.

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup olive oil
1 Tlbs butter, melted
1/8 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
2 Tlbs poppy seeds (approximately)

Mix the shredded chicken, yogurt, chicken broth, and mozzarella cheese, then put them in a 9x9 pan. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients, except for the poppy seeds. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the chicken mixture. Then sprinkle the poppy seeds over the top of the bread crumbs - as thick as you want. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

This looks a little odd, but it is goooooood, and really comforting. Just to show you how much I have changed the recipe, the original recipe called for a cup of sour cream, a sleeve of Ritz crackers, and a stick of butter. Yeurgh. But deeeelicious. My upgrades don't taste exactly the same, but it is close enough to make this occasionally and still not die of a stroke immediately afterwards.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? I put too much oil in my version, although I reduced the amount when I wrote it above. And nothing quite replaces the taste of the Ritz, but it is still pretty good.


Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins

Growing up, I was not a huge fan of pumpkin, and I still look askance at the gelatinous goop that comes out of cans, but I stumbled across a recipe for pumpkin puree and it looked so good that I bought a sugar pumpkin and gave it a shot. It was super easy and the puree is this bright, beautiful orange color that calls to me. Everything I put it into turns out tasting like autumn, including these muffins. The original recipe was from allrecipes.com.

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Mix the canola oil and the oatmeal together and let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you do the next steps. In another bowl, thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs, pumpkin puree, and oil/oatmeal mixture. FOLD the ingredients together JUST until mixed. Spray oil into the muffin cups and then flour the cups as well....or use cupcake liners. Fill the muffin cups with batter to 1/4 inch below the top, then bake in a 350 oven for 18 minutes.

The original recipe called for raisins and walnuts, but I don't like those, so I left them out. It also called for 1/2 cup of honey instead of sugar, but I was out of that, so I used sugar instead. It seemed like a lot of sugar, so I cut the sugar in half and the muffins were still plenty sweet, in my opinion. I would also have preferred to use applesauce in place of the oil, but I was out of that too. (Thank goodness payday is tomorrow!)

Rating - 5/5
Why? Pumpkin and spice and everything nice, that's what these muffins are made of.


Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

This is the best recipe in the History of Time. I am not going to put it here, because the original site has beautiful photography and I followed her recipe exactly. Seriously. Click here. It will Change Your Life. It is like fall in a little twisted bun. Sooooo good.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Creamy Shrimp and Bacon

I have modified this recipe quite a lot from the original. It is really filling, but takes a little prep to make. The original recipe is from Real Simple.

1 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 slices turkey bacon, cooked
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 cups milk
1.5 Tlbs whole wheat or rice flour
1 lb medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups of corn (can be fresh or frozen)

Cook the rice in the water and chicken broth. Chop the bacon into small pieces. Heat a nonstick pan with a little bit of olive oil and saute the onion until soft. Add the rice vinegar and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and flour and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp, bacon, and corn and add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until the shrimp is thoroughly cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve it over the rice.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of wine instead of vinegar and 1/4 cup heavy cream instead of milk. To make it healthier, I use turkey bacon, vinegar (because I don't have any wine), and nonfat milk. I also prefer it to be creamier, which is why I use so much more milk. I also bake the bacon ahead of time and freeze it to use in recipes like this one, but you could also use fresh cooked bacon.

Rating: 4/5
Why? I don't like to peel shrimp. =)


Jalapeno Poppers

Back in college, my friends and I looked forward to that one month a year when Sonic would have half price jalapeno poppers. Growing up, I had never really eated jalapenos, especially jalapenos that hadn't been chopped up and put into something else, and these were amazing! As I got older, of course I realized that the poppers were really unhealthy, so I stopped eating them, until I found this recipe on allrecipes.com.

4 oz neufchatel cheese
3 oz grated sharp cheddar
2 oz grated mozzarella
1/8 cup sour cream
7-8 jalapenos
1 egg
1 Tlbs milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tlbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

Wash the peppers and bring a small pan of water to a rolling boil. Drop the peppers into the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Then put them under running cold water to blanch them. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slice them lengthwise and remove the seeds, membranes, and stems. Mix the neufchatel, mozzarella, cheddar and sour cream together in a bowl. In another small bowl, mix the egg and the milk (I put the milk and egg in a bowl with a tight lid, then shake it until well mixed). In another small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Take one half of a pepper, dip the skin side in the egg/milk mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, and place it in a pan. Repeat with all the peppers. Then take a spoon (or a plastic bag with the corner cut out) and put the cheese mixture in each of the peppers. Sprinkle the remainder of the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

This is pretty good as is, but when I make it again, I will increase the amount of grated cheese and reduce the amount of neufchatel cheese. I think the filling is a little too creamy, but that is my personal taste. This is not going to taste like fried poppers, but it is crunchy on the outside, and definitely is pretty close to the fried popper feel. The original recipe called for mayonnaise instead of sour cream, but I hate mayo, so I never have it in the house.

Rating: 4/5
Why? Nothing can replace the serious crunch of the Sonic poppers, but I do like these quite a lot. It is an excellent way to use leftover jalapenos (because I always end up with too many) and they make a great snack, as they are easy to freeze and reheat.


Chicken Adobo

I teach in an area with a very large Filipino community, and apparently this is the national dish of the Philippines. It was quite delicious, although I would like to find a way to adjust the salt a little. This recipe is based off of one from allrecipes.com.

1 Tlbs black sesame oil
1 chicken breast, cubed
1/4 onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup low sodium tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 Tlbs cornstarch

Put the black sesame oil into a skillet and heat over medium heat. Saute the chicken breast until mostly done, then add the remainder of the ingredients and simmer over low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over brown rice.

I don't use a lot of salt, in fact, I generally cut the salt out entirely from almost everything that I eat (high blood pressure runs on both sides of my family), so maybe that is the reason that this was so salty to me. I am not sure how to adjust that, since I don't think you could realistically cut any of the ingredients with salt in them and still have adobo sauce. The only thing you might be able to do is to use water in place of the chicken broth and replace the sesame oil with olive oil, although I am not sure how that would effect the saltiness. The cornstarch is optional, since apparently adobo sauce is supposed to be thin, but I wanted it to be a little thicker.

Rating 3.5/5
Why? The flavor is good, but the salt is a lot for my taste. Simmering this for an hour means the chicken is super tender, which I loved.


Thai Chicken Pizza

This is easily one of my favorite recipes of all time. It takes some effort to make it, but the end result is fantastic, filling, and fabulous.

Pad Thai sauce
1/2 cup dried unsweetened dates, pitted and chopped
3 Tlbs hot water
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tlbs low-sodium tamari soy sauce
2 Tlbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove chopped garlic
2 tsp cornmeal
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella
1 chicken breast, cooked and thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup green onions, sliced
2 Tlbs unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Make the Pad Thai sauce first. Let the dates sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients in the food processor (or blender) and chop until relatively smooth. Then start the pizza. In a cast iron frying pan (or pizza stone), spray olive oil, then sprinkle with the cornmeal. Tap the sides of the pan until there is a thin layer of cornmeal on top of the olive oil. Roll out the pizza dough, and put it in the bottom of the pan. Top with the pad thai sauce (I don't use all of it), then half of the mozzarella, then the chicken, then the bell pepper, then add the rest of the mozzarella. Put it in the oven at 475 for 15 minutes, or just until the tips of the peppers start to get brown. Pull the pizza out, and top with the green onions, bean sprouts, cilantro and peanuts. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before serving.

I have a fairly small 12" cast iron pan, so that is what I use to make this. You could also use a pizza stone or a larger pan. I have tried making it on a cookie sheet type of pan, but only succeeded in ruining the pan, so I don't recommend trying it.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? This recipe is delicious, but does take some time to make. But on the other hand, it is so filling, one piece of pizza will fill you up quite easily. It is packed with vegetables and fiber and is incredibly satisfying.


Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I love pizza, so when I finally found a whole wheat pizza dough recipe that isn't too dry or chewy, I was very excited. I will publish my favorite pizza recipe on the next post. This is from Clean Eating.

1 Tlbs raw honey
1 C (-1.5 Tlbs) warm water
2.5 tsp yeast
2.5 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp gluten
1 tsp salt
3 Tlbs evoo

Breadmaker instructions: Put the honey, 1/3 cup of water and the yeast in the breadmaker and let it proof (rise undisturbed) for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the water, flour, gluten, 2 Tlbs of oil and salt. Run the breadmaker on the dough setting until finished.

Regular instructions: Put the honey, 1/3 cup of water and yeast in a bowl and let it proof (sit undisturbed) for 10 minutes. Add the flour, gluten, salt and mix it together. Then add the rest of the water and 2 Tlbs of oil, and mix well. Let it rise in an oiled bowl until doubled in size. 

Whichever way you make the dough, after it has risen once, punch down the dough, knead it for a few minutes and form it into a ball. Let it rise in an oiled bowl for 30 minutes. Roll out half of the dough for a medium pizza. You can freeze the remainder for up to 2 months or refrigerate it for about a week. When you want to reuse it, thaw it (if frozen) and bring it to room temperature before trying to roll it out.

Do not skip adding the gluten. It makes all the difference. I get mine in bulk, so I can buy just a little at a time.

Rating: 5/5
Why? I have tried different whole wheat doughs, and they are either made with half white flour or they are dry. This is the recipe that taught me that gluten makes whole wheat dough elastic. I have since used it in different applications, like in cinnamon rolls, where I want the dough to be softer and more elastic. It takes time to make this recipe, but I can get two pizzas out of it, which is about what I go through in a month.


Red Chicken Curry

I never cared for Asian food when I was growing up. I tried Chinese food several times and never liked it, and then living in Dallas didn't really help the situation, as they aren't known for their stellar Asian cuisine. But now that I live in Seattle I have learned what truly good Asian food is, and this has opened up new possibilities. This is a foodie town and I have grown up. One of my favorite Asian foods is red curry and I have  finally found a recipe that tastes comparable to that at my favorite Thai restaurant. This is modified from a recipe off of http://www.allrecipes.com/.

1 Tlbs olive oil
1 Tlbs sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken breast, sliced very thinly (1/4" thick or less)
1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 sweet onion, sliced 1/4" thick
14 oz can of lite coconut milk
1 Tlbs cornstarch
2 Tlbs red curry paste
2 tsp lime juice
2 Tlbs sugar
a handful of mung bean sprouts

Heat the oil (both of them) in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and saute for a minute or so. Then throw in the chicken and saute that for 2 minutes or until it is about halfway done. Then throw in the onion and pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid, mix the coconut milk, cornstarch, red curry paste, lime juice and sugar. Put the lid on and shake thoroughly. The red curry paste will still be a little lumpy, but that's ok. When the chicken is cooked, turn the heat down slightly, and add the curry mixture, smashing out any lumps as you do. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the bean sprouts and let it cook for another minute. Serve over cooked brown rice (or plain, if you prefer).

A few notes....If you don't have sesame oil, just use olive oil, but consider getting some sesame oil. It adds a really great taste. The curry should have a fairly thin consistency, so if it is too thick and you don't have any more coconut milk, add regular milk a tiny bit at a time until it is the consistency that you want. I prefer to slice the chicken really thin because that is how they serve it in my favorite restaurant, and it cooks faster, but do what works best for you. The original recipe also called for mushrooms and zucchini, but again, I was sticking to the recipe I like, so I didn't add them. Because you have to add things fairly quickly in this recipe, I would recommend prepping everything first before you start cooking.

Rating: 5/5
Why? the first time I tried this recipe, I followed the suggestion of one of the commenters and added peanut butter, which I did NOT like. This time I left the peanut butter out and really focused on making the smell match what I remembered. It turned out great, and is a pretty quick meal, which I like a lot. It took me about 15 minutes, including prep time, to put this together (not including cooking the rice). It is hot and spicy, another plus for me, and is fairly healthy if you use the lite coconut milk and go easy on the chicken.


Apple and Bacon Grilled Cheese

I have never been a big fan of grilled cheese, and used to ask my mom to make me just a plain cheese sandwich instead, but then I grew up, and one day a picture in Cook This, Not That! caught my attention. I love the sharp bite of this particular combination.

half an apple (I use a green Golden Delicious)
3 strips of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-3 Tlbs dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese OR enough very thin slices to cover the bread
4 slices of bread

Peel, core, and dice the apple, and eat the other half while you are waiting for the sandwich to cook. Mix the diced apple, crumbled bacon and mustard together in a bowl. The key to a good grilled cheese is to cook it low and slow, so heat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Spray one side of one piece of bread with olive oil and place it oil side down on the pan. Spread 1/4 of the cheese on the bread (or enough very thin slices to cover the bread) and then spread half of the apple bacon mixture on the bread. Top it with another 1/4 of the cheese, and then another slice of bread. Let it grill very slowly (it should take at least 8-10 minutes at least) and then spray the top of the bread with olive oil and carefully flip it over. Let it grill for another 8-10 minutes, then enjoy!

The original recipe called for a sliced apple and bacon strips, but I found that the apple didn't cook all the way through, so I changed it. This is the adult version of grilled cheese that is just the perfect thing on a cold, rainy afternoon.

Rating: 5/5 (when I take the time to cook it right)
Why? The thing with grilled cheese is that it takes time and just the perfect temperature on the stove top, which I have struggled to get right. When I get it right though, it is completely worth the 20 minutes of cooking because it really is quite amazing. I love the bite of the mix of sharp cheddar, sour apple, and dijon mustard and the slight saltiness of the bacon is perfect with it.


Chipotle Chicken and Rice

I am not quite sure how I feel about this recipe yet, so if you have suggestions on how to improve it, feel free to let me know. There is something....savory? missing I think. This recipe is from the Mustard Seed Cafe Cookbook.

1 Tlbs unsalted butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup water
1.25 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 chopped chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp cumin
1 cup brown rice
1 chicken breast, cubed or cut into small strips

In a 2 qt saucepan, melt the butter until it sizzles. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat until softened. Add the water, broth, chipotle and cumin. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 45 minutes or so until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, pan grill the chicken, then add it to the rice (if you want it flavored as well).

Rating 3.5/5
Why? I have never cooked with adobo chilis before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I love the smell of the chilis and because of that I think I was expecting the savoriness (is that a word?) of the rice to be stronger. I will probably try this recipe again, but maybe add some of the flavors of the adobo sauce to the rice. It wasn't as saucy as I would like, so another option would be to actually make adobo sauce to put over the rice. If I did that, I would probably add the chicken to the sauce and simply pour the sauce over the rice to serve.