Monday, February 27, 2017

Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern

This is what I call a "pull from the frig" dinner, or a "use up all the veggies that are left" dinner.

Do you every have those types of meals?  It's really something I throw together from odd and ends from the frig, and the easiest dish to do that with is a stir fry.  I love stir frys and you may know since I've posted many variations of them such as this popular Chicken, Green Bean and Mushroom Stir Fry and this extra tasty General Tso's Chicken - Lighter Version.  When you make them yourself they are so much better than takeout.

Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern

Trust me.  You can complete a whole meal in about 20 minutes with prep, which is faster than delivery AND you control what goes in it....such as the sodium, and NO MSG.   Making your own food is so much healthier and it really is easier than you think.

Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern


So since I was in between grocery store shopping I found an array of vegetable to use in my weeknight stir fry after we got home from the gym.  Lot of vegetables along with chicken as the protein are the great basis for this dish.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  They pretty much all work together well.  I used a combination of edamame, broccoli florets, red bell peppers, onion, bok choy, water chestnuts, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini.  Then I threw in some cashews for good measure! 

To make this even easier I used the help of two bottled sauces mixed.  I've found that this stir fry sauce is really tasty, and along with this Szechuan sauce, which is spicy and tastes amazing, make a great combination.  Using both tames the heat a little, but if you want it really spicy use the Szechuan sauce alone.

Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern

So the same method applies to all my stir frys.   Dredge the protein in cornstarch and cook it.  Remove it.  Cook the vegetables, add the cashews, then add back the protein.  Add the sauce and stir until well coated.  That's it!  Don't shy away from this, it truly is one of the easiest and fastest meals you can make.  This variation is no exception!!!  This sizzling, spicy, dish will have everyone asking for seconds.


Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

Serves: 4 servings

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c cornstarch
3 Tbls canola oil, divided
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup edamame, thawed
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 cup bok choy, chopped
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/4 onion, sliced
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup whole unsalted cashews
1/4 cup stir fry sauce
1/4 cup Szechuan sauce
hot cooked rice

    On a plate toss the chicken with the cornstarch.

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola and in a large skillet or wok.  Add the chicken and cook on medium-high until browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from the pan, and turn the heat up to high.

    Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet.  Add all the vegetables and cook 4-3 until they are crisp tender.  Add the cashews and stir until slightly roasted.  Return the chicken and any juices back to the skillet.  Add the stir fry sauces and toss to coat.  Serve over hot cooked rice if desired.

    Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern

    Spicy Szechuan Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry - A weeknight treasure that's 1000x better than takeout! Slice of Southern

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern

    Who ever said "Old Fashioned" is out of style is soooooo wrong!

    Take a look around you.  Have you noticed clothing from the 70's lately?  Embroidered jeans anyone?  Haha! Even the colored hair that was so a punk rock style of the 80's is back in fashion.  I've been there, done that, but I still love it!  So what's old is also new.  Especially in the case of Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern

    So times you just crave the things you grew up with.  Which led me to Mom's recipe box.  She has a box overflowing with recipes from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's, and I have them all!  Sifting through that box brings back so many precious memories of my mom cooking, and all of my relatives as well.  It is such a treasure to pull out a recipe that's in her handwriting and smudged from cooking.  I can't tell you how many special moments we've had over the years cooking, but making a recipe of hers just brings her back as if we are doing it together again.

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern


    I'm not sure where she got this recipe from originally, but the card is pretty worn.  I do recall Mom making these cookies throughout the years so I was glad I ran across it.

    Do you remember eating Oatmeal cookies growing up?  What makes these special is that they have mini chocolate chips inside.  The recipe called for regular chocolate chips but I thought the mini ones would be just a great hint of chocolate.  The cookie is slightly crispy on the edges, and chewy in the center, which I just love.  The oats give texture and the bits of chocolate make them a little decadent.  They keep well for several days but try and stop at one cookie!  They'll be gone before you know it.

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern

    Remember, "old fashioned" is new.  Try these cookies!


    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    make 4 dozen cookies

    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup light brown sugar
    1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla
    3 cups oats
    1 cup mini chocolate chips 

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large bowl, add the two sugars and butter.  Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the ingredients together until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix until blended.  Add in the flour and baking soda and mix until combined.  Stir in the oats and the mini chocolate chips.   

    Using a cookie scoop, scoop the batter and place it on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until they are light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit 1 minute.  Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool. 

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern

    Old Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - just like mom used to make! Slice of Southern

    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts


    With the weather cold here I find myself baking a whole lot more that usual.  Is that strange?

    There just seems to be something comforting about baking on the weekends and having a leisurely breakfast, especially if it is raining outside.  So looking through my Pinterest Boards for inspiration I decided to make baked doughnuts.  Because, they are healthier when baked right? 

    So today's indulgence is going to be Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts because I LOVE anything chocolate (who doesn't?).  I rarely make doughnuts and haven't ever posted a recipe for them yet so here we go!  Don't be fooled by doughnuts as they are easy to make and you only need a specialty doughnut pan to bake them in.  I used this one here


    Baked doughnuts are still an indulgence but since they are baked you lose all the fat from frying.  There is nothing better than the smell (and taste!) of hot chocolate cake doughnuts fresh from the oven!  If you can contain yourself and wait until they cool you can sprinkle powdered sugar on top for an extra special sweetness.  To be honest some of ours didn't make it that long!

    Wonderfully moist, these chocolatey decadent cake doughnuts can be made in about 30 minutes.  You'll have a perfect breakfast treat, or snack for the weekend. 

    Kitchen Tip:  The batter is thick and it is easiest to pipe the batter into the ring molds.  Use a piping bag or just a plastic zip lock bag and snip off the tip as a make shift piping bag.  This is what I did.  You'll have the doughnuts done in no time.  This recipe makes about 20 doughnuts so using two baking pan works.  If you don't have two just bake them in the one pan in batches.


    Baked Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

    makes 12

    1 3/4 cups flour
    2/3 cup cocoa
    1 1/4 cups brown sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup milk
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 tsp vinegar
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    Powdered sugar (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two regular sized doughnut pans. If you don't have two pans, simply bake the batter in two batches.
      In a large bowl, add the, flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, . Set aside.
      In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar, and oil. Add to the dry ingredients. 

      Mix until well combined.  Spoon the batter into a plastic bag and seal.  Cut off one tip to form a piping bag, and pipe the batter into the pan about almost full.  

      Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

      Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after loosen their edges, turn out onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  

      adapted from King Arthur Flour

      Thursday, February 16, 2017

      Orange Salad with Arugula and Spinach


      I've been posting a lot of soups lately such as my Greek Style Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup and the latest, Seriously Good Tortellini Vegetable Soup.  We always love a good soup when the weather is cold, but we also love a good salad to go with it.

      I would say that soup and salad are MGG's favorite meal.  So when there's soups there is also salad right behind it.  I usually gravitate to produce that is in season to inspire my salad.  My local grocery store had some wonderful looking oranges.  These were Cara Cara oranges and I find them slightly more sweet than navel oranges and a little less acidic.  The flesh is a little deeper orange and they taste a little like a berry.  I love them so I bought a bunch and used them in my salad.  Orange have tremendous health benefits and they make the salad light and fresh tasting.

      Orange Salad with Arugula and Spinach

      You certainly don't have to buy Cara Cara oranges for this dish, navel orange are fantastic and taste wonderful as well.  Along with the oranges I mixed some arugula and spinach together as the base.  Keeping the toppings simple, I added feta cheese and some chopped almonds for crunch.

      The dressing is light and bright to match the salad.  A lemon vinaigrette is enhanced with some chopped mint, which just takes the salad to the next level.  You have to try this salad!!!

      So next time you have soup make sure to make a salad as well to round out the meal.  Or just have the salad as a light lunch or along side some brunch dishes.  This one is a keeper, so make it before all the wonderful juicy oranges are gone until next year!


      Orange Salad with Arugula and Spinach

      serves 4

      2 cups arugula
      2 cups baby spinach
      2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
      1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
      1/4 cup almonds, chopped

      2 Tablespoons shallots, diced
      1/4 cup lemon juice
      2 Tablespoons mint, chopped
      2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/8 teaspoon pepper
      2 Tablespoons olive oil

      In a jar add all salad dressing ingredients and shake well to combine.  To a large platter add arugula and spinach.  Add a little dressing and toss to coat.  Layer on the orange slices, feta cheese, and almonds.  Drizzle additional dressing over the top and serve.

      Monday, February 13, 2017

      Valentine Rice Krispie Treats


      Happy Valentine's Day!

      If you need a quick last minute treat to make for your kids class at school, or for your honey, these adorable Valentine Rick Krispie Treats are ideal!

      These treats are extra special when cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter.  To take normal rice krispie treats over the top I've use strawberry flavored marshmallows and mixed in some tart dried cherries.  To take it up another notch for Valentine's Day I dipped one side in dark chocolate and sprinkled them with valentine colored sprinkles. 


      What's better than berries and chocolate?  Why I believe that they go hand in hand.  So instead of dipping strawberries in chocolate, dip your strawberry flavored rice krispie treats in dark decadent chocolate.  The combination is perfect!

      So why not make these super cute Valentine's Day goodies. Just 6 ingredients and you are good to go.  This batch made 14 treats for me, and will vary depending on the size of your cookie cutter.


      Valentine Rice Krispie Treats

      makes 14

      3 cups Rice Krispie cereal
      2 1/2 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
      1 10oz package of strawberry flavored marshmallows
      1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
      1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
      Valentine colored sprinkles (optional)

      Place the butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat on full power for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

      Add the cereal and cherries to the bowl and stir until well combined.  To a 9x13 pan lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray, add the cereal mix and spread out evenly with a spatula.  Refrigerate until set about 30 minutes.

      In a deep bowl add dark chocolate and melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between sessions, until melted.

      Remove the rice krispies by the wax paper and cut out the heart shaped treats.  Dip one side in the chocolate and place on another piece of waxed paper.  Top with sprinkles if desired.  Return to the pan and refrigerate until set!

      Saturday, February 11, 2017

      Seriously Good Tortellini Vegetable Soup


      The more rain we get in Southern California this winter the more soup I'm going to make!

      It's raining again here, (and I'm not complaining...we need it bad!) so another soup in on the menu.  Plus, soup is good for you and I've been under the weather this last week and a good soup helps heal the body and the soul.

      This is a basic vegetable soup that I added some tortellini pasta to for a little extra substance.  This is the soup that depends on quality ingredients so the flavors shine.  This is also the soup that you go to on a cold winter night and you want something quick.  It takes about 40 minutes to make.  I love having a steamy bowl of delicious soup in under an hour, don't you?


      Carrots, celery, and zucchini along with really good chicken broth (I use low sodium to control the salt content) make up the base for this soup.  There aren't any added flavors such as spices or herbs, other than salt and pepper.  Then we add in the additional items of chopped tomatoes and cheese tortellini with a final sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Trust me this soups flavors shine in the wonderful broth.  It's not a whole bunch of soup, as it serves 4 healthy portions, so you can certainly double this for more. 

      If you want to make and freeze the soup l would suggest not adding the tortellini before freezing.  Add it when warming up the soup and allow the pasta to cook for about 5 minutes.  Note:  Tortellini will soak up all the broth and bloat up if added prior to freezing.

      We love this Seriously Good Tortellini Vegetable Soup and make it often because it is so simple and quick.  A perfect weeknight meal in under 45 minutes.


      Seriously Good Tortellini Vegetable Soup

      Servings: 4

        2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
        2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
        2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
        1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
        Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
        6 cups low sodium chicken broth
        1 lb. cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
        2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
        1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

        In a medium to large sauce pan over medium high heat, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

        Add the carrots, celery, and zucchini to the pan and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

        Add the tortellini and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes and taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

        Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

          Tuesday, February 7, 2017

          Sizzling Chicken Enchilada Casserole


          If you've got some leftover chicken just hanging out without anything to do I have the recipe for you!

          Whenever I cook chicken I cook extra because I know I'm going to make a scrumptious dish with it later in the week.  That goes for roasting, poaching, grilling, pan frying...whatever!  Extra chicken is the bomb! 

          Today, I'm craving Mexican food!  Living in Southern California you are exposed to it everywhere.  Although Mom never really made anything other than tacos, I adore all Mexican food and make it often!  So no one was surprised when I planned to whip up this Sizzling Chicken Enchilada Casserole using the leftover chicken from the Super Bowl feast we had.


          Did I mention how easy this casserole is? 

          5 ingredients...that's it!  Chicken, beans, cheese, corn tortillas, and enchilada sauce.  It's so easy to throw together you can't hardly call this a recipe.     

          The key is to get a really good enchilada sauce.  I prefer one from Sprouts Market that is in a bottle.  It's a little zippy on the spice, but has none of the tinny flavor I find with canned sauces. This is the basis of your flavor, so make sure it's one you like!  Then you just layer the ingredients and you come out with melty, cheesy chicken goodness!  It tastes just like an enchilada without all the fuss of rolling them!

          Do yourself a favor and make this dish the next time you have leftover chicken.  Everyone will ask for seconds!


          Sizzling Chicken Enchilada Casserole

          1 14 oz jar or can Enchilada sauce (I used Sprouts brand)
          2 cups cooked and shredded chicken meat
          1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
          2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
          6 corn tortillas, 6 inch each

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

          In an 8x8 baking dish pour a little of the enchilada sauce over the bottom.  Add 2 corn tortillas on the bottom of the pan, overlapping if necessary.  Layer 1/2 of the chicken, the beans, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat the layer with 2 more corn tortillas, the remaining chicken and beans, 1/3 of the sauce and cheese.  Add the last 2 corn tortillas to cover.  Over the top pour over the remaining sauce and cheese. 

          Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes to brown the top.  Serve warm.

          Thursday, February 2, 2017

          Sloppy Joe Sliders


          It's February you guys!  I can't believe that the days are just flying by.  I hope your month is off to a great start. 

          We grilled burgers last night since the weather in Southern California has been sunny the past few days.  I love the rain and all and we surely need it, but it's nice to be able to go outside for a change. 

          Every time I buy ground sirloin I ponder on what to do with the extra hamburger meat.  I usually gravitate toward a nice meat sauce for spaghetti or even some Sloppy Joes as a last minute thought.  Which led me to today's recipe.  Sloppy Joe Sliders!


          This is the perfect solution for my Super Bowl menu this Sunday.  Sliders are great snacks and sloppy joe sliders are super easy to make!  Who doesn't love a good sloppy joe?  All the guys and even my girlfriends are going to love them. 

          Served with some mini pizzas, my homemade salsa and avocado dips, and a nice healthy green salad to round it out and I'm done.

          I used my standard sloppy joe recipe below and found the best little slider buns at a local butcher shop but Hawaiian rolls will work perfectly as well.

          Take it easy on yourself this game day and make these quick and easy Sloppy Joe Sliders, they'll be gobbled up in no time!


          Sloppy Joe Sliders

          1 tablespoon canola oil
          1 medium onion, finely chopped

          2 cloves garlic, minced
          kosher salt and ground pepper
          1 pound ground beef
          1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
          1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
          12 slider rolls, split (toasted optional)

          In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.

          Add ground beef to skillet. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes.

          Stir 3/4 can of tomato sauce to start and Worcestershire sauce into beef mixture in skillet. Taste for flavoring.  Add more tomato sauce or Worcestershire sauce to adjust flavor to your liking.  Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.

          Season the mixture with more salt and pepper, if desired. Spoon onto toasted slider buns, and serve.


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