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    Bringing back the lost art of home cooking.
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    Feb 26, 2013 9:38AM

    Enchilada Casserole

    I make this casserole when I am in the mood for enchiladas, but do not have the time or patience to roll them out.  Or I make it when I have some free time, because it freezes beautifully.  It is delicious, filling and healthy. I usually make it with lean ground beef, but you can substitute almost anything for the protein like leftover chicken or shrimp. My favorite vegetarain substitution is brown rice which makes a wonderful bean and rice enchilada casserole (add in an extra can of beans to up the protein and fiber content).

    It is a foolproof recipe and everyone will love it!

    Enchilada Casserole

    1 large onion, chopped
    1 # lean ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken
    2 1/2 cups salsa
    1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
    2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    6 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches) or corn tortillas
    1 1/4 cups of frozen corn (I like Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Corn)
    3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, plus extra for serving
    2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
    1 cup shredded lettuce
    1 medium tomato, chopped
    1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

    In a large skillet, begin to cook the onion over medium heat . After the onions begin to soften (about 5 minutes) add in the meat. Stir and cook until meat is no longer pink; drain.
    Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn (optional), taco seasoning and cumin.

    Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 9 X 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
    Place a whole wheat or corn tortilla on top of meat mixture. Layer with half of the meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.

    Top the casserole with as little or as much grated cheese as you want.

    Cover with foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.

    Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
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    Jan 30, 2013 8:55AM

    Baked Honey Sriracha Wings

    Superbowl Sunday is one of my favorite food holidays.  If I could pick any foods in the world to eat (hold the nutritional consequences), it would always be greasy bar food.  Pizza, nachos, potato skins, onion rings, truffle fries (I guess I go to some fancy sport bars), mozarella sticks, chicken fingers and, of course, wings.  Needless to say, my doctor put the kibosh on that kind of eating.  Something about cholesterol, triglycerides, LDLs and HDL's, weight gain, blah, blah, blah.

    So what's a girl with low brow taste to do? Come up with her own versions of bar foods that are easy enough to be made at home and are healthy enough to eat whenever the craving strikes.  Chicken wings are perfect for this recipe make-over, primarily because baked chicken wings are just as tasty, usually even tastier, than it's fried counterpart. In addition, you can easily swap out any chicken part for the wings to slim down the calories even more. My favorite cut of chicken to use in this recipe is bone-in, skinless chicken thighs. Thighs have all the flavor of the wing, but the pieces are larger, which makes for a better main course dinner.  


    Baked Honey Sriracha Wings

    2 lbs chicken wings
    1 tbsp butter
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/4 cup Sriracha
    1/4 cup Honey
    1 tbsp lime juice
    1 tbsp soy sauce

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

    Lay out the chicken wings on a baking sheet covered in parchment and completely cover with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Bake for 25 minutes or until the wings are nice and crispy. At this point you could eat them just like this or add any type of seasoning.

    While the wings are cooking, add the butter to a small sauce pan until melted. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
    Add the Sriarcha, honey, soy sauce, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Once the wings are finished, gently remove them from the pan and toss with the sauce.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: baked wings, Sriracha, chicken wings, wings, honey
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    Dec 12, 2012 2:13PM

    Chicken With Olives,Oranges and New Potatoes

    This is a super-easy, one pan meal adapted from Tyler Florence's cookbook, "Stirring the Pot".  The original recipe called for the use of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Forgive me while I go on a tiny rant.

    First, a confession.  White meat confuses me. Why would anyone eat the white meat, when the dark meat has twice the flavor for half the price?????  I am going to tell you a secret of the culinary world: We all hate white meat chicken. Ask any chef, butcher, or food writer, and you will find a serious disrespect for the humble chicken breast.

    I know what you are thinking, the white meat is "leaner", therefore healthier.  In actuality, the difference is negligible: according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 g of white meat has 0.56 g of saturated fat and 114 calories; while the same amount of dark meat has 1 g and 119 calories.  

    You are much better off spending your poultry money on organic, free-range dark chicken meat, than the nasty, factory farmed breasts you find in most supermarkets. Even when I roast a whole chicken at home, the dark meat goes first. We are always left with a plate of white meat, that only gets eaten if it is converted into something tastier, like chicken salad, chicken quesadillas or chicken chili.

    So, back to the recipe. I substituted whole chicken legs (they are the legs, with the thigh still attached), sometimes known as the leg quarter. The only adaptation I make when using dark meat in place of white meat in a recipe is to increase the cooking time. There is no tried and true rule about how much to increase the cooking time by, but I usually start with an increase in time of 25%. In addition, I always use my meat thermometer to check that the dark meat has reached 170-175 F.


    Chicken With Olives,Oranges and New Potatoes

    4 whole chicken legs (thigh still attached) - skin on OR 2 large chicken breasts, split in       half down the middle – skin 
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    1 cup medium black olives, pitted
    1/2 orange, sliced into round circles
    4 large new potatoes, skin-on, ¼-inch thick-sliced
    1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, for garnish

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Set a large oven-proof pan over medium heat and add a 3-tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season chicken all-over with plenty of salt and pepper then add to the pan skin-side down.

    Cook for 7-8 minutes until the skin is nice and golden then turn chicken over and add potatoes, orange slices and olives evenly over and around the pan. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and shake the pan around a little so everything get’s coated nicely with the oil and chicken juices – this also helps settle everything into place. Cook for about 5 minutes on the stove-top until you get a little color on the potatoes.

    Season once more with salt and pepper then pop the whole pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature has reached 170 F using an instant read thermometer.

    Garnish with fresh parsley stems.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
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    Nov 25, 2012 7:56PM

    Roast Chicken and Potato Dinner

    Does anyone really need another recipe for a roast chicken?  I doubt it, but this version is so exceptionally easy, flavorful and juicy, that I had to share it.  It's a little unusual to roast a chicken in a cast iron pan, but once you try it, you will wonder why no one thought of this before.

    Most of the prep work is done the day before, so an hour before dinner, you can get this in the oven in five minutes.  It's the world's easiest dinner.  This recipe is fast enough to serve on a weeknight to the family, but gorgeous enough to serve guests.



    Roast Chicken and Potato Dinner

    1 T. kosher salt
    2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
    1 whole chicken, 3-4 #
    4 T. butter, softened
    2 lemons
    4 medium size potatoes, cut into chunks
    Optional: garlic infused olive oil and truffle salt


    The night before you plan to cook the chicken, mix the salt and pepper in a small dish. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the mix, the gently work the mix under the skin of the breast (between the skin and the meat). Put the chicken in an uncovered bowl and refrigerate 24 hours.

    Preheat oven to 400.

    Place the chicken in a 12 inch cast iron skillet, breast side down. Place half the butter in he cavity and smear the rest on top of the bird. Cut lemons in half and place inside the cavity. Tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine.   Place the chicken in the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes.

    After 10 minutes, add the potatoes to the pan. If you want, drizzle a little garlic infused oil over the potatoes for extra flavor. Cook an additional 50 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 F.

    Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 2 minutes. If the potatoes are not golden brown, remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest. Mix the potatoes well and return the pan to the oven for 5-10 minutes. When the potatoes are done, sprinkle with salt and pepper OR sprinkle with truffle salt.  

    After the chicken has rested for 10 minutes, it is ready to carve. Serve with the pan drippings drizzled over the top.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: roast chicken, cast iron, Potatoes
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    Jul 30, 2012 7:28PM

    Boycotting Chick-fil-A? Make Your Own "Chick-fil-A Sandwich" At Home!

     

    Here is the recipe for a homemade version of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich.  Whether you are boycotting them because of their recent anti-tolerance statements, or because you know how unhealthy fast food is for you, there is no reason for you to get down about missing out on your favorite chicken sandwich.  Sure, this recipe calls for frying the chicken, but at least you are making it home, and not adding in any unnecessary chemicals or preservatives. And of course, this is only an occasional treat to be enjoyed once every year or so.

     

    "Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich"

    recipe courtesy of Serious Eats

     

    Kosher salt

    Sugar

    2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, split horizontally into 4 cutlets

    2 teaspoons paprika

    2 tablespoons black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1 cup milk

    2 large eggs

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 tablespoons powdered non-fat milk

    1 tablespoon baking powder

    2 quarts peanut oil

    4 soft hamburger buns, toasted in butter

    8 dill pickle chips

     

    Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 1 quart of cold water. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag and add brine. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

    Meanwhile, combine paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and MSG (if using), in a small bowl. Set aside

    Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    Combine flour, non-fat milk powder, baking powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons of spice mixture in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Drizzle 3 tablespoons milk/egg mixture into flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the flour mixture is coarse like wet sand.

    In a large wok, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, preheat oil to 350°F.

    Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with remaining spice mixture. Transfer to milk mixture and turn to coat. Working one cutlet at a time, allow excess milk mixture to drip off then transfer to flour mixture. Turn to coat, pile extra mixture on top of cutlet, and press down firmly to adhere as much mixture as possible to the meat. Lift cutlet, shake off excess flour, then slowly lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining breasts.

    Cook, turning breasts occasionally until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

    Place 2 pickles on each bottom bun and a fried chicken cutlet on top. Close sandwiches, then cover with an overturned bowl or aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes to steam buns. Serve immediately.

     

     

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: chick-fil-a, sandwich, Chicken
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    Jun 22, 2012 6:29AM

    Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken

    Hi everyone...

    Sorry I have not been blogging this month. June has turned into a busy month, and although I have been cooking, I haven't been posting the recipes.  Don't worry, I've got lots of good ones that I need to type up. One recipe I am really excited to share is an Upside-down Apple Caramel Tart. You won't believe how delicious it is, and how gorgeous it looks on a plate.

    In the meantime, are you looking for a delicious and simple chiken dish to throw on the grill (who isn't)?  Try this amazing Spicy Honey Chicken.  It it a savory, spice rubbed chicken topped with a sweet honey glaze.  Great for a weeknight family meal, and easy enough to cook for a crowd.  Plus, any leftovers can be used in a salad, on quesadillas or in a sandwich (chicken on sourdough bread with arugula, tomatoes and a spicy peach chutney is absolutely a killer lunch or dinner). This will not be your typical, boring, dried out grilled chicken...trust me!

    Be sure to check out my cooking videos at Dacor.com or the CIP YouTube channel.


    One more quick thing....several people have told me that they no longer receive email updates to the blog. Try signing up again and see if it works.  I am still working on integrating this blog into my Cooking In Pajamas website so soon you can find my recipes.  You could also like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter. Plus, follow my boards on Pinterest!  
     
     

    Ingredients:

    8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2# (yes, you can use white meat, but dark meat is half the price and twice the flavor)

    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    Rub:
    2 teaspoons granulated garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder here)
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon coriander
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
    Glaze:
    1/2 cup Honey
    1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar

    Instructions:
    Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well.

    Use kitchen shears to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

    While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it's not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the honey glaze for later after the chicken has cooked to pour on right before serving. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.

    Warning: this can be a hot mess, literally. It's sugar, and it's gonna drip. But the smelly smoke is worth it for a minute or two. Just leave your grill on for a few minutes after the chicken is done to burn off any excess glaze. It's totally worth it once you taste this stuff.

    If you don't have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler. Just be sure to open a window in case you burn your glaze!

     
    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: grill, barbecue, honey, bbq, Chicken
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    Mar 17, 2012 10:24AM

    Mediterranean Chicken With Feta, Olives and Tomatoes on A Bed of Couscous

     

     

    Here's the deal.  I love feta cheese. I love olives. I love tomatoes. I love couscous.  There are tons of recipes with this combination of ingredients, but I haven't found the perfect marriage of these ingredients.  I decided to come up with a chicken dish, using only ingredients I had in my house.

    It just so happened that I made a Costco run last week, and had purchased a big bag of frozen chicken cutlets, a huge container of cherry tomatoes, a ginormous jar of olives and a brick of feta that was, well, the size of a brick.

    We were in the process of choosing a restaurant to dine at with another couple when I decided I really didn't want to shower and get dressed (I could wear my yoga pants all day, every day).  I knew I had the makings of a good dinner, so we invited our friends to come to our house instead.  The meal was a big hit.  In addition to the chicken dish, we had sweet and spicy pickle chips, cheese and Phil's homemade bread as a last minute appetizer.  We served the chicken with a Greek salad on the side, and dessert came out of my freezer (I always keep homemade desserts in the freezer).

     

    Mediterranean Chicken With Feta, Olives and Tomatoes

    1 c. uncooked couscous

    3 c. chicken broth

    6 thinly sliced chicken cutlets

    4 tsp. EVOO

    1  tsp. seasoning salt

    1  tsp. dried oregano

    1 tsp. garlic powder

    pinch of kosher salt

    pinch freshly ground pepper

    2 c. grape tomatoes, halved

    1 c. pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped (or any salty, pitted olive)

    ½ c. crumbled feta cheese

    1 c. chicken broth

    ¼ c. chopped cilantro

    Cook couscous according to package directions in chicken broth (instead of water). Set aside and keep warm.In a small bowl mix together seasoning salt, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside 1 tsp. of this mixture.Brush both sides of chicken with 2 tsp. olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with the seasoning mixture.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add chicken and cook 4 - 5 minutes per side, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Add 1 c. of the chicken broth to the skillet that the chicken was cooked in. Degaze the pan if necessary. Once the broth is simmering, add chicken back to pan. Lower the heat to the lowest simmer setting, and keep warm.In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, feta, the remaining 2 tsp. EVOO and remaining seasoning. Stir well and test for seasoning.Transfer cooked couscous to a platter. Top with chicken and a a few spoonfuls of the broth.  Top the couscous and the chicken with the tomato mixture. Garnish with cilantro.


     

     


    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: feta, olives, couscous, Greek
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    Feb 5, 2012 11:47AM

    Funny picture that made me laugh

    Maybe it is funny to me because I am making chicken soup right now!

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~
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    Dec 14, 2011 4:37PM

    Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken

     

    Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken

     

    I wish I could take the credit for creating this beautifully balanced Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken dish, but that title goes to Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco, of the Oprah Channel.

    This meal has every delicious flavor you could want all in one bite.....sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy and tangy.  The sauce for this dish cooks down to a rich and smooth consistency, it is hard to believe there is no added cream.

    I am sure you will find this version is so much better than any take-out you will order.  It tastes better, costs less and is much lower in calories, fat and sodium than the restaurant preparation of this dish.  It is definitely a dish that you will want to serve at your family dinner table or serve to dinner guests.

     

     

    Spicy Peanut Butter Chicken

    recipe courtesy of Kristina Kuzmic-Crocco

     


    1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
    1 cup mild salsa
    2 Tbsp soy sauce
    2 Tbsp honey
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
    1/2 tsp curry powder
    1 lb chicken tenders
    Salt
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    Garnish:
    3 to 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
    1/2 cup whole peanuts

    Mix together the first 7 ingredients (peanut butter through curry powder). Set aside.
    Season tenders with salt.
    Heat olive oil in a large skillet (use a skillet that has a lid), over high heat.  Quickly brown tenders on both sides (they don’t need to be cooked through, just quickly browned).
    Remove chicken onto a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
    Depending on the size of the skillet, you might have to brown the tenders in a few batches.
    Once all the tenders are browned, turn the heat down to low.
    Add peanut butter mixture, then add cooked chicken back to the pan.
    Cover and cook on low, for 30 minutes.
    Remove the lid, and cook until the sauce reduces and thickens a bit.

    Garnish with scallions and peanuts.

    Serve with basmati rice.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: asian, ginger, salsa, rice, peanut butter, peanuts
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    Sep 15, 2011 4:32AM

    Five Spice Oven Broiled Chicken

    I hate being on a diet.  I know, I know....diets don't work, you need to change your lifestyle.  Yeah, right!  Let's face it, I don't know many people who can maintain their ideal weight for any long term period, without some effort.  We all gain and lose weight throughout the year.

    So this summer, I found myself up a couple of pounds.  Not enough to need a new size of clothing, but enough that my favorite jeans were hard to button.  Ugh....if I don't nip this in the bud right away, the scale is going to keep creeping up!

    Everyone loses weight differently, but for me the easiest and quickest way to lose weight is to reduce my consumption of carbs.  Not the healthy ones, like fruit and veggies.  I eliminate breads, rice, and pasta.  Unfortunately, that eliminates most of my favorite foods.  My favorite "go-to" dinner is some kind of breaded chicken cutlet.  Chicken can be so bland, and I can really spice up a yummy breading mixture.

    I needed to find a different way to make my chicken.  Of course, I could roast a whole chicken, but that gets boring after a while.  I came upon a recipe for a "16 Spice Dry Rub" by Bobby Flay.  It looked delicious, but I never want to take the time to blend 16 ingredients!  I gave that recipe to Phil, because he loves preparing complex dishes that are labor intensive and I decided to come up with an easy to make seasoning for chicken, with ingredients that were already in my pantry.

    The result was delicious.  This chicken is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, but also tasty enough to serve company.    It can be eaten warm or room temperature, and is great as leftovers.

     

    5 Piece Oven Roasted Chicken


    3 tsp. dry mustard powder

    4 tsp. garlic powder

    3 tsp. chili powder

    1 tsp. cumin

    3 tsp. paprika (I use a blend of sweet paprika and smokey paprika)

    1 tsp. kosher salt

    ½ c. honey

    2 tsp. fresh lime juice

    8 chicken thighs (if you use breasts, lessen the cooking time)

     

    Preheat the broiler to high.  Line a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and foil for easy clean-up.
    In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic powder, chili, cumin, paprika and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine honey and lime.

    Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Roll each piece in the spice mixture to coat well.  place the chicken on the prepared pan.

    Broil 5 minutes on each side.

    Brush one side of the chicken with the honey mixture and broil one minute.  Flip the chicken over, and brush with the honey mixture again.  Broil one more minute.

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: chicken ~ Tagged with: broiled chicken, Simple, easy, healthy, Chicken