Monday, January 30, 2012

Let's Take a Trip: Mediterranean Chicken

Who wants to take a trip with me to the Mediterranean part of our world? Greece is on my bucket list. I WILL make it there before I die.

I ran across this recipe at Allrecipes.com and I instantly knew that I had to make it.

It is very hard to find Mediterranean food when I live in Northwest Ohio. I have searched out a few places, but is the food real Mediterranean? Is it authentic?

One thing about Mediterranean food; you either love it, or you hate it. Me, I love it!
I love all the spices, oils, olives, and flavors mixed together.

This dish was fun for me to make because it called for white wine......
What happens when you get a cook around a bottle of wine, olives, and loneliness?

This is what happens.....I was alone in the kitchen with a bottle of white wine, a jar of open kalamata olives, and a wine glass. Put them all together and that equals sips of wine and a missing half jar of olives. By the time the meal was made I was feeling pretty darn good......

One thing I found out, if you munch on the kalamata olive and take a sip of white wine while the olive is still your mouth, it forms an irresistible flavor on the palate.....I'm not joking!! That is the reason I ended up tipsy. I just couldn't quit....

To all you Mediterranean food lovers out there.....I hope you love this as much as I did. And of course, help yourself to the wine. Just make sure you save enough to complete your dish.....

Mediterranean Chicken

2 tsp. olive oil
2 TBS white wine
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts halves cut in bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. diced onion
3 cups tomatoes, chopped or diced
1/2 c. white wine
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 TBS chopped fresh basil
1/2 c. kalamata olives
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and 2 TBS white wine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
Saute garlic in pan drippings for 30 seconds, add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat, add 1/2 c. white wine and simmer for 10 minutes. Add thyme and basil and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Return chicken to skillet and cover. Cook over low heat until the chicken is heated through. Add olives and parsley to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This can be served over rice.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

A Winner!!

WE HAVE A WINNER!!

A winner has been drawn through Random.org.
# 17 was chosen and that number belongs to Keshakeke.

The prize has not been claimed (sad face), and I do not have contact information for the winner, so I am going to post this information to hopefully get her/your attention.

Please, please, please claim your prize Keshakeke!! You can email me at angie.walker41@yahoo.com.

If the prize is not claimed by January 30th I will have to draw another winner.

This is an awesome product, and I would really feel bad if the winner is forced to forfeit the prize.

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A Permanent Item: Apricot Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

Oh my heavens!! This has got to be the most fabulous of all fabulouses (is that a word?). I'm making it a word because these fajitas were out of this world fantastic.

The credit for this recipe goes to Smucker's Jellies and Jams. I was surfing the net for low sugar, low calorie recipes and I stumbled upon this one. Have you been to the Smucker's Web site? Oh my gosh! Who would have known you can do so much with jellies and jams?

My new itty-bitty work space. I'm getting used to it. But I couldn't pass up the gorgeous picture of colorful peppers and fresh cilantro. The colorful peppers just make me happy....what do peppers do for you?

The chicken is cut in strips and dipped in fajita seasoning before browning. This is where all the flavor is at....And I know I had more than one pound of chicken. What I did was, I dumped the whole packet of seasoning in a shallow bowl and dipped the chicken strips in it. OOPS!! I didn't follow the recipe directions. Shame on me.....

You can tell I had way more than one pound of chicken strips. My large skillet is over-flowing. I had to plate some of my browned chicken until I got it all browned, then dumped it back in the skillet with the peppers. And the peppers with the chicken makes a gorgeous photo.

Yes, I'm all about capturing beauty, and food is a beauty.

You could probably go all out and add onions along with the peppers. And you could also add the fajita toppings like, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, cheese, etc....But I really think that those things would take away from what is laying in that tortilla. We added a little shredded lettuce along with the fresh cilantro. The fresh cilantro is what makes this perfect. The apricot flavor (sweetness), peppers, cilantro, and seasoned chicken just go perfect together. If I owned a restaurant I would be serving this as one of my specials....Completely perfect!!

Apricot Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

2 TBS olive oil
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch strips (I used 4 chicken breast halves)
1 pkg. fajita seasoning mix
1 large green pepper, cut into strips
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 c. Smucker's Sugar Free Apricot Preserves
Flour tortillas
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large skillet. Coat chicken strips with fajita seasoning (I coated mine lightly. I didn't dredge them in it). Cook chicken 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque on both sides. Add red and green pepper strips. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until chicken is done and peppers are fork tender (I like my peppers a little crispy, so I just did the 2 minutes). Stir in preserves. Cook 1 minutes or until heated through (melted). Fill tortillas with chicken and peppers. Top with cilantro and shredded lettuce.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What A Kiss!: Chocolate Cupcakes Kissed By A Sugar Cookie

If these don't get you in the mood for Valentine's Day, I don't know what will.

The chocolate cupcake is my mom's chocolate cake recipe, and I'm so, so, so, sorry that I can't give out that recipe. There are a few lucky "fan's of the week" that have received this recipe as a gift, but if I publicize this recipe it wouldn't be fair to them.
All you have to do is keep being active on A'lil Country Sugar Fan page and you just may be the next one chosen for Fan of the Week. How cool is that? You may be the next owner of my mom's chocolate cake.

I ran across this recipe (Pan'o Sugar Cookies) and all of a sudden had a brilliant idea. That is one huge sugar cookie, huh? A thank you goes out to Country Cooks Across America.
My idea was to cut little heart shapes from this giant sugar cookie, but I quickly ran into a dilemma. I don't own a mini heart shaped cookie cutter. Although, I do own the complete set of biscuit cutters from Pampered Chef. So, that left me with little circles. A kiss is a kiss, right? No matter what the shape?

And I am one that doesn't like a lot of frosting on my cupcakes. Yup, I am the one that is scraping it all off and leaving a glob of frosting on the edge of my plate. OOOPS!! Sorry about the messy glob of frosting dishwashers.......

The Pan'0 Sugar Cookies is absolutely amazing and totally loved in my house. Definitely a sugar cookie in a pan....
Make sure you visit Country Cooks Across America. It is owned by three wonderful ladies that work very hard to bring the blogging world a piece of variety, scrumptious-ness, and all around great country cooking.

This recipe is linked to:
Cast Party Wednesday

Pan'O Sugar Cookies

2 sticks butter, soft
2 1/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. almond extract
4 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In your mixing bowl first cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time while beating on low.
Next add the almond extract and beat for 1 minute.
Place all dry ingredients into the mixer mixing well until blended. Spread mixture into a lightly greased jelly roll pan (did you notice how that said spread? I had to press it in with my hands).
Bake for 18-22 minutes or until center is cooked through and edges are golden brown. Let cool completely before frosting (I used a butter cream cheese frosting).

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Monday, January 23, 2012

STOP EVERYTHING!! Look What I Found!

WHOA!! STOP EVERYTHING!!

You should see what I found just ten minutes away from my house.....


In the picture above is (left) Staci and (right) Mo. Go and spend some time with these wonderful ladies. They sure do know their stuff about food, and they are extremely friendly too. I felt right at home as soon as I stepped in the door. And any questions I had were answered quickly, sincerely, and with tons of information.
Mo gave us a sample of fresh from the cow milk.....Have you ever tasted that? Oh, Glory Be!! I could be happy with that sweet creamy stuff in my coffee every morning. I am seriously considering buying stock in a dairy cow!!

I am a huge fan, lover, and I go nuts for Trader Joe's. But my dilemma is: I don't live anywhere near one.
My son (remember he's the nutrition freak) came home and told me about this new organic food store that he found in Bryan, Ohio. Just ten minutes away from our house. That was it!! That's all the information I needed to know. I dropped everything I was doing and headed to Bryan, with son in tow, of course. I stepped one foot into the store and instantly fell in love. I was in heaven, paradise, my own private dream. But wait, this isn't a dream....it's for real! And you should see what I found while I was there.....

Whole grain pastas, organic eggs, organic pasta sauce, goat burger, lamb burger, organic popcorn, and even some organic treats for my dog.
There is so much organic food in this store, I just wanted to take it all home, throw away the key, and no one bother me....I will survive in my own organic heaven.
There are nuts, dried fruits, teas, coffees, an endless supply of spices, fresh produce, and organic meats.
But it's not all food. Make sure you spend some time on the All Things Food Web site (the events calendar) because they have cooking show events, popular chefs, and even doctors that come and speak about nutrition. What an amazing place, and I didn't even know it was there. That is one of the downfalls of being a hermit.....DON'T BE A HERMIT!! Just look at the goodness I could have missed.

I will be following All Things Food very closely. I don't want to miss anything, and I am going to be the first in line for their next cooking show (with camera in hand, if they allow).
I am going to support my local farmers....Wal Mart can go to hell!! And I truly mean that!!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

Sydney, my soon to be, someday soon, in the near future, daughter-in-luv (daughter) loves to cook and bake like I do. When she finds or tastes something she really likes she goes in search of a recipe. She tried a buffalo chicken dip over the holidays and she searched the internet until she found what she was looking for.

Sydney found this recipe at Frank's Red Hot Web site. She used the buffalo Red Hot sauce in this recipe. It is for sure addicting. And if you didn't notice, I was just a little late on taking photos. We had already dug in before the "ding, you idiot, take pictures" nudged me in the head.
But even though I was a little late, my photos are proof that this dip is fantastic.

The recipe can be found here.

One thing that I've notice about Frank's Red Hot sauce, it's not really hot. The "Red Hot" on the bottle has always steered me away from it. It seems like the hot flavor is there, but the burning sensation is not (does that make sense?). This stuff is really good, and I've found out that I love it on pizza.

Also, keep in mind that you can make this recipe low fat, and with fewer calories. All you would have to do is use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cook your own chicken instead of using canned, fat-free ranch, and low fat mozzarella cheese. You could also use a healthy cracker instead of using tortilla chips.

Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, soft
1/2 c. ranch salad dressing
1/2 c. Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (it looked like Syd used the mixed cheddar and jack)
2 cans (12.5 oz.) white premium chicken breast in water, drained (Syd used 2 (10 oz.) cans)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cream cheese into a deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
Mix in salad dressing, Red Hot sauce, and cheese. Stir in chicken last.
Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bad News: Philadelphia Indulgence

Have you tried this new product from Kraft foods? It sounds and looks sinful, doesn't it? That's what I thought when I seen it in the grocery store. When something says "NEW" I am usually right on it. But have you ever purchased a "NEW" product that you're just not happy with?
To describe the taste of Philadelphia Indulgence, Dark Chocolate, it tastes like Jell-O chocolate pudding. So, if you like Jell-O chocolate pudding, you will probably love this stuff.
The one thing that swayed me away from this new product is:

See those little pink arrows? That is not good!!

And this lady here.....it's a good thing Kraft has her on their side.


I thought food companies were suppose to be making their food products more healthy for the public consumption....????.....???? Kraft? Are you paying attention?

But I was not ready to give up on this product totally. I pulled out my little Sponge Bob bowl and melted some of the Indulgence. I had some fresh pineapple that I just bought yesterday, and yes, I indulged. This is very good as a fruit dip, and I would assume would be delightful on fresh strawberries, but the calories kept flashing back.....Like a tiny yellow light in my brain, blink, blink, blink.....
If fresh fruit and this chocolate dip are the only things you're going to eat for the day, you will be fine.....

It is definitely better melted and served with fruit than it is spread on a bagel.
You may have to be the judge on this one. All I can say is, I was not impressed. I can do without this product. Thanks anyway Kraft!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

A Give-Away, an AWESOME Product, and FUN, FUN, FUN

I can't believe it!!

My very first give-away!

And this is the coolest digital software ever. I spent some time on Saturday putting together an electronic photo album. Since my daughter's birthday is in a couple weeks I decided to focus on that. I chose a pink album template that the software provided. I didn't think I was skilled enough to create my own yet, but that's okay, this software is very user friendly. I did sway from the templates that are provided and created my very own page in the album. I had so much fun. And the finished product is amazing!

I will be able to organize all of my photos into an electronic photo album. Doing this will save so much space on my computer. Also, the finished albums are fun to look at. Once you click the view album tab, the album will pop up, and the pages turn just like they do in a hand held album. The electronic version is so much more colorful and fun to look at.

If you want to take a peek at what My Memories has to offer, you can click here: "My Memories"

I want to show you some of the work I did on Saturday.

This is the front page of my album.

And this is the page I created myself starting with a blank page. See how much fun you can have with this? There is so much more that you can do with My Memories Scrapbook.
You can make calendars, cards, add videos to your book, and even add music.
Go ahead and look around the My Memories Web Site. I promise you will not regret it.

My Memories has been kind enough to offer a software package to give-away. Wouldn't you love to receive the software for this awesome product? For FREE?

To be entered in the give-away: All you have to do is visit My Memories, choose your favorite digital paper pack or layout and then leave your comment here.
You can also follow (LIKE) My Memories on facebook for another chance to win.
My Memories also has a blog. Give them a visit, become a follower, and that is another chance to win. The last day to enter is January 24th. Make sure you leave an email address for contact purposes. The winner will be chosen January 25th, the day of Randi's Birthday. Make sure you spread the word about this amazing give-away.....
Lots of opportunities here!

I absolutely loved creating a photo album for my daughter's birthday. I even printed it to give it to her in place of a birthday card.

Good luck to you all!
Winner will be chosen by Random.org
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Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year....New Change: Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

It is a new year, and I'm thinking I need to make some changes around here. With weight loss usually being the #1 resolution made by many, I figured that I should start focusing on low fat, low calorie, and healthy cooking. There are so many ways you can substitute ingredients to make foods low calorie, low sugar, and low fat without losing any of the taste. The ingredients are out there....we just need to force ourselves to purchase them.

I have a facebook fan (Mary Howard) that is my inspiration for this change. She is diabetic and she is making a serious change in her eating habits, sugar intake, and counting calories. So I am dedicating this change to her.
Once a week I am going to offer all of you a low calorie, low fat, low sugar recipe. One that has been tested by ME of course.

This is my first post, and man are these muffins delicious. The sweetener in these.....take a guess.....YUP, honey.
I cheated just a little and lightly sprinkled them with a cinnamon sugar mixture. Which is a perfect example of substituting ingredients. The cinnamon sugar mixture can be made with Splenda (let's keep that in mind).

I have heard that our weather (Ohio) is going to be getting colder. So colder weather means serving more soups. And what goes really good with soup? Cornbread Muffins!

But my favorite way of eating them is with maple syrup. And do you see what I have already done?

I replaced the maple syrup with sugar free breakfast syrup.....can't even tell the difference. By doing that I have saved myself tons of calories and sugar.

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

1 c. cornmeal
1 c. bread flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. low fat buttermilk
1/4 c. honey
2 TBS vegetable oil
Lightly sprinkle tops with cinnamon/Splenda mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and soda. Combine eggs, buttermilk, honey, and oil; add slowly to the dry ingredients. Mix until blended. Pour into paper lined cupcake pan, filling them almost to the top.
Bake until golden, about 15 - 20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another New Cereal: Krave

For real? Another new cereal?

Doesn't the cereal isle already take up about four rows of the grocery store?

But you know what? Kellogg's did good this time. Chocolate on the inside? And who says you can't eat chocolate for breakfast?

I sliced up one of my mini bananas to eat with this cereal. Banana+Chocolate+Milk=A breakfast to die for.....

But this is not the only new Krave that Kellogg's has produced. They have also produced a DOUBLE CHOCOLATE Krave. Oh my Lord!! Double chocolate in a cereal.....I'm in heaven now!!

And if you take a look....the nutrition facts aren't all that bad. This cereal was approved by my weight lifting, nutrition addict, eat many small meals a day, son. So, if he okays it, it's gotta be good.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

It's About Time: Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Guess what holiday is next?

Yup, you guessed it.....Valentine's Day!!

This is the perfect Valentine's Day cookie. You cannot go wrong with chocolate and cherries.
And what man, or woman doesn't like, love, crave, obsess, demand, etc... chocolate and cherries?

My taste tester (my son) reviewed these cookies right after they were made. Review results: "Man, those are good!"
So, if these cookies pass the taste test of my son....they are dang good cookies.

The dough for these cookies is kind of different. There is no egg, and the butter is cut in cold. The dough will be kind of crumbly, but don't fret......

When you make them into balls for baking, everything comes together fine.

It's kind of like playing with crumbly play dough.....yeah, get the kids involved with this one, they will love it....

I melted 3 blocks of candy coating white chocolate. After it was melted I added four drops of red food coloring. PINK says Valentine's Day, right?
I dipped half the cookie in the chocolate and then sprinkled them with red colored sprinkles while the chocolate was still wet.

I am so happy to be back in the kitchen baking and cooking for all of you. This move is killing me, and I feel like I have abandoned my followers and fans. It's about time I'm back in the kitchen, huh?

This recipe is linked to:

Foodie Friends Friday

And:




And:

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

1/2 c. red candied cherries, chopped
2 1/2 c. bread flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips. Stir in almond extract and food coloring. Knead mixture with hands until it forms a smooth ball (don't worry if you can't manage this part. I couldn't get mine to all come together, but my individual baking balls were fine). Shape dough into 1/4 - 1/2 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a glass (dampen with water) dip in sugar and press cookie to 1 1/2 inch rounds. Bake 12 - 14 minutes (mine took 14) or until centers are set. Cool in baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to cooling rack.
Melt 3 blocks of candy coating chocolate in a double boiler. When melted, add 4 drops of red food coloring. Stir until combined. Dip half of the cooled cookie in the chocolate, sprinkle with red sprinkles, and let dry on waxed paper.

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