Greek Meatball Wraps

On one of those beautiful pre-spring days I wanted to put something together for dinner that was filling but lighter. This hit the spot. These Greek meatball wraps were warm, cool, crispy, meaty, and crunchy. I was really happy with these and will definitely make these again.
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Ingredients:

16 oz ground chicken
1 tsp ground garlic
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup oatmeal
1 shallot, chopped

Directions:

Mix meatball mix together and let sit for 5 minutes before baking.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll into balls and bake for 30 minutes.
greek_meatball_formed_590_390I use a cooling rack ontop of a baking sheet. It helps keep the meatballs crispy and not soggy from the grease (there’s not much grease since I used ground chicken rather than beef).
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I served them on wheat naan wraps with tzatziki, veggies, hummus, and feta. Check out whose nose was a bit too close for comfort!
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These were really good. The meatballs were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I don’t fry my meatballs since a) I hate frying for the mess & the oil and b) it’s much easier and healthier in the oven.

I liked the wraps. The naan was perfect. Since it’s more pricy, leftovers were in wheat pitas. The pitas worked fine. I liked how doughy the naan was.
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Crockpot Sesame Chicken

My crock-pot really doesn’t get as much action as I’d like. I really want it to get out more.

Most slowcooker meals need to cook 4-6 hours. There’s an occasional 8 hours but when I’m gone about 11 hours it just seems like if it has to “keep warm” so long after the cook time that it won’t be that great. I decided to do something with chicken on a Sunday since I’d be able to cook it just the required 4 or 5 hours. I’d be home for the wonderful smells in those hours too!
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It wasn’t fantastic. I guess you can judge this one on your own. Mr. J wasn’t crazy about it, but he’s just really crazy about sesame chicken at his hometown restaurant and it couldn’t compete with that. This is a good one to switch things up if you’re eating the same things over and over again.
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Slowcooker Sesame Chicken

(adapted from Keeping Up With the Joneses)

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts
1 bag of baby carrots
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup honey
2 tbs garlic, minced
2 tbs ginger, minced
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sesame oil (optional)
4 tbs cornstarch (with 3 tsp water)
2 tbs sesame seeds

Directions:

Cut chicken into cube chunks and add to the slow cooker with carrots.
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Mix chicken broth, honey, garlic, giner, soy sauce, sesame oil and add to the slow cooker.
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Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
Remove chicken and keep warm while mixing the rest of the sauce in the slow cooker itself or in a pot on the stove.
Mix the cornstarch and water and whisk into the sauce.
Let it cook on medium high for about 5 minutes as it thickens.
Serve it all together and top with sesame seeds.
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We had this over rice (his = white, hers = brown). I liked that it had some different flavors than we’d had recently, but it really couldn’t beat the deep fried version of Mr. J’s favorite Chinese restaurant.

The leftovers were pretty good the next day for lunch too! I just felt like it didn’t add anything for this to cook that long. I think I could have pretty easily made the same thing, if not better, by adapting the recipe and cooking it to serve, rather than in the crock-pot.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Made Easy

Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds tricky but my way is very simple and could easily be tweaked into anything else! (Isn’t my new serving plate awesome??)
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I don’t exactly have “knife skills”, or great butterflying technique so I cut a pocket and filled it. It is much easier than trying to roll it back up and keep the good stuff inside.

Ingredients:

2 Chicken Breasts
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 slices of deli ham, sliced thick and chopped
1 egg
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

Cut a pocket into the side of the chicken breast carefully not cutting through the top, bottom, or all the way through.
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Stuff it with the cheese, then the ham.
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Whisk the egg with mustard and 1 tsp water.
Combine the breadcrumbs and add salt & pepper to taste.
Dip each stuffed chicken breast into the egg mixture then into the breadcrumbs.
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Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

I was really happy with these! I think I did well cutting the pockets to get almost all the way to each end so the filling was well spread out.
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I mixed up a little roux with more cheese and more mustard to put on top. It wasn’t the most perfect cheese sauce I’ve ever made but wasn’t too bad.

This would be a great meal to impress guests because you could have it pretty prepped before they even came. It isn’t even many ingredients.

I think I might see what I could to making this into a casserole. Each chicken breast is a lot of food for one person and when you add ham and cheese it’s not a light meal.

I served this with a sliced potato bake thing. It really was an excuse to use my new le creuset and I wanted to make something in it that would be appropriate for the gifter.
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I was trying to just par-boil the potatoes a bit but they went further than I planned on while the chicken was coming together. The potatoes were too soft to mandolin so I did thicker slices and topped them with butter, sour cream, and rosemary fleur de sel.

Curry Chicken Salad fit for Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss! This Curry Chicken Salad was the best I could do to honor the late writer of The Butter Battle Book, the Lorax, and Sneetches as an example of ooblek or wumbus because of the zing, bam, wow, pow this has.

I expect my birthday tomorrow to have the same kind of impact! My birthday food theme might be my best yet!

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I pretty much only like sandwiches when I make one myself and eat it immediately, or if it has all sorts of crazy things on it and it gets pressed, and occasionally when a restaurant makes it. That might sound like all the sandwiches you can think of, BUT I don’t bring them to work as lunch. If I’m going to have one, it has to be packed separately and assembled and eaten immediately.

I thought of curry chicken salad because it doesn’t have to be a sandwich and it is different. It was a great use of some leftover rotisserie chicken.
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Ingredients:
2 cups, chicken breast or rotisserie chicken
2 tbs curry sauce
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
1 tbs light mayo

Directions:
Shred chicken into bite size pieces
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Mix chicken with curry sauce, grapes, and add mayo to taste.
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Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
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This made about 3 size-able servings. I had one as a sandwich and two other servings topped salads. I think the grapes are necessary to cut the spice with some sweetness. The zing makes this great.
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Balsamic Citrus Chicken, You Heard That Right

At my wedding shower, the guests each gave me recipes and I couldn’t have been more excited. I got some great one including one of the only things my Grandma could cook, in her own handwriting, a few from grandmothers on both of Mr. J’s sides.
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I broke out this chicken one with the littlest bit of hesitation. I questioned balsamic and citrus but was widely impressed with Mrs. P’s Chicken with Balsamic Citrus Sauce. Mr. J called it one of the best things I’ve made in awhile! I was a bit snap-happy so feast your eyes on this.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, and flour
1 shallot
1 tbs honey
1 cup chicken stock1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Pound chicken breasts thin and dredge in flour, salt, and pepper mix. (Check out how easily I pounded chicken tenders…unpounded is on the right)
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Heat a large skillet with 1 ½ tbs butter and 1 ½ tbs olive oil to medium temperature and saute chicken in batches, keeping the others warm.
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Leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan, add shallots, honey cooking until shallots wilted. Increase heat to high.
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Add chicken stock and lemon juice.
Boil until reduced to about ½ cup.
Reduce to medium temperature and add heavy cream. Cook until slightly thickened.
Add balsamic vinegar and return to a boil.
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Add chicken back in until heated through (about 1 minute).
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This. was. amazing.
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I loved the balsamic flavor since it reduced down and was creamy. The vinegar wasn’t too assertive. I had questioned the citrus in there but it was a great touch.

I served it with some mashed “potatoes”. I did half potato and half cauliflower florets.
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I whipped them and mixed in some plain greek yogurt and butter. Mr. J didn’t suspect a thing before I told him! The mashed potatoes were light, fluffy, and a great accompaniment.
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Have you ever been asked to give a recipe to a bride-to-be? Did you think she’d actually make the recipe? I really treasure these and will have more to come!
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As Southern as Fried Chicken

I went to Charleston, SC to celebrate my favorite sister’s 30th birthday. These posts are wayy overdue but you know how it is. One day it’s a beautiful early fall day and the next a turkey is on the table!
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I did my research before we went as in I perused menus and took a gander at historical sites. I actually included a list of foods we had to eat in the south including: fried chicken, fried pickles, grits, fried green tomatoes, dirty rice, and bbq. I have to say we did a pretty good job.For her birthday we enjoyed a totally memorable meal of fried chicken. Finger lickin’ good. We went to Jestine’s Kitchen and loved every bite.

They brought some homemade pickles to get us started. Yum! Totally tart and crunchy. I love when people give me pickles!
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Then we got an order of corn fritters. They were more filler than corn but they were good…especially with the spicy compote.
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I got the fried chicken basket which meant I got 2 pieces of chicken, a side, and slaw. I chose fried okra because fried + fried = delicious. It was so good! I’ve only ever had pickled okra but even that is rare and not something you see in the north.
jestines_chick_basket_590_390This was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Sis got the fried chicken plate with collards and mac & cheese. It was all really good and was wayyy too much.
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The atmosphere was really nice. I liked how casual it was. It felt homey and friendly. There was a line around the corner when we left.Pssst! I have some tastes of the south coming up as well so stay tuned!

Cheap & Easy Chicken Enchiladas

I have to do a price breakdown for these Chicken Enchiladas because they were so filling and actually used so few ingredients. Cheap? Easy? Quick? YES PLEASE!

I whipped these up for dinner in a hurry and was thrilled. They were really good and I’d never made enchiladas before. I don’t know what was stopping me.
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Ingredients:

1 chicken breast
1 tbs taco seasoning
½ yellow onion
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans
½ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cup enchilada sauce
4 wheat tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar
½ cup salsa

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dust chicken with taco seasoning before grilling it. Once cooked through, shred the chicken.
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Sautee the onions until almost translucent and add in the cooked chicken, corn, tomato sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.
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Fill four tortillas with half of the cheese, and the chicken mixture.
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Place the filled enchiladas, seam side down, into a baking dish on top of ¼ cup of enchilada sauce.
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Top them with the rest of the sauce and bake for 20 minutes.
After taking them out of the oven, top with remaining cheese.
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I served the enchiladas with the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had. They’re Tostitos artisan recipe chips with roasted garlic & black bean. Yum. These are seriously really good.
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That was it! I thought they were filling and easy enough to just serve the enchiladas with some chips and salsa. Mr. J LOVED it. I was afraid it might be a bit too spicy for him but he really liked it. I tell ya, he loves anything with a sauce!

The enchilada sauce was much spicier before it was cooked. I’m not sure why. I got a mild canned sauce but I hear they’re not hard to whip up.

Chicken enchiladas would be an easy one to prep in advance and just assemble and bake when ready.  I’ll totally make them again. I still need to make my own taco seasoning…I use it so much and hate that it seems to only come in packets.
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Here’s the estimated cost breakdown I could come up with (thanks to the local Peapod listings):

Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

chicken: $1.50 (1 breast)
onion: $1.25 (1/2 of a onion)
black beans: $0.50 (1/2 of a can)
tortillas: $1.32 (4, 8” tortillas)
enchilada sauce: $2.00 (1 can)
shredded cheddar: $1.94 (1/2 bag)

total: $8.51 for 4 enchiladas ~$2.12 per serving.

Do you see that? Crazy! I already had frozen corn and salsa but the rest is totally cheap. The pricing really surprised me. I knew this meal was cheap but it makes a single $4 frozen enchilada look pitiful!

Chili Cookoff

Way back when, I mentioned a chili cook-off I entered. I didn’t win but it was a great excuse to make some chili. It also got me thinking about my next birthday cook-off/taste-off…especially after last year’s booming success!

Ms. J from Better Than Butter introduced me to the cookoff. Guess what?! She won!! Woohoo!

I made a chili recipe my friend Ms. A graciously gave to me after I complimented her chili profusely about 5 years ago. It is modeled after Wendy’s Chili and it’s realllly good. I told her I’d share my winnings but I didn’t quite win. I came in a pretty respectable 4th (out of 11 or 12?).
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Here’s the recipe, with a few of my own tweaks, to make a HUGE batch. I recommend cutting in half if you aren’t serving an army or if you don’t want leftovers for weeks. It’s just too easy not to make more often.

Ingredients

3 lbs. ground turkey
1 can tomato sauce (29 oz)
1 can tomatoes with green chilis (10 oz)
1 can kidney beans (29 oz with liquid)
1 can black beans (29 oz with liquid)
1 large onion, diced
1 cup green chili, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
3 tbs cumin powder
4 tbs chili powder
2 tbs black pepper
3 tbs salt
3 cups water
1 tsp liquid smoke

Directions

Brown the meat and drain.
Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes and onion.
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Add the beans, chilies, celery, and garlic.
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Add the spices.
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Finally add water and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for 3 hours

The chili cook-off was a fundraiser for the Arlington Boys & Girls Club. It was $10 to enter a chili and $1 to sample and vote during a fall event they were having. I thought it was fun and it was great to see the community support.

We served non-stop for 90 minutes. I filled a huge crock pot. Most folks ran out even serving small amounts! It was so busy  that we (the chili cookers) didn’t get to sample everyone else’s chili! We were asked to list the ingredients so the tasters could have that info. I would have liked to see what everyone used.

I didn’t serve any toppings but totally should have. People had tortilla chips, cornbread, cheese, onion, etc! I had a bit leftover so Mr. J and I ate that with cornbread muffin tops once I got home.

Chili Surprise

I’m a little backwards on my timeline here but shhh! Don’t tell anyone you haven’t seen honeymoon meals before seeing this honeymoon-return-meal.

I’m lucky to call one of the kindest humans I know, my friend. Ms. L not only supported me through allllll my wedding planning as a bridesmaid, but she cooked a meal and delivered it to me with all the fixings so I could put off grocery shopping after the honeymoon. How well does she know me?!

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She made Ina Garten’s chili and sent onions, sour cream, shredded cheddar, and corn chips for toppings. AMAZING! I ate it for meals on end before actually grocery shopping. It was delicious and I hope she kept some for herself too!

Chicken Chili (Ina Garten’s recipe)

Ingredients

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
1/8 cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
For serving: Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

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Directions

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly.
Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.
Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

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It was such a thoughtful gesture and we loved it. I ate it for lunch all week too. I’m totally stealing this idea and giving somebody a meal when I think they’d need one. Thanks Ms. L!

Speaking of chili…I entered a Chili Cookoff! Can’t wait to share that with you too!

 

Chicky Parm

While I’m eating my way through Italy & Spain, I figured I’d share my Chicken Parmesan recipe with you. I was really happy with it and will definitely make it again. Chicken Parm isn’t always something I order out, but I do love it. We had some mammoth chicken breasts from our favorite butcher which feed 2 so I knew just what to do with one. As you may recall, Mr. J grabbed Lemon Pepper marinated chicken and he wasn’t a big fan.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast (or 2 normal sized)
¼ salad dressing (Italian or Greek)
½ Parmesan Cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
1 egg & tbs water, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs (I mixed Panko & regular)
¼ cup shredded mozzarella (or sliced Provolone)
Pasta (quantity & variety of your choosing)

Directions

Marinate the (defrosted) chicken breasts in salad dressing.
Butterfly or slice a pocket into the breast. I don’t claim to have strong knife skills so I cut a pocket rather than mess with it too much. Stuff each breast with a few tablespoons of Parmesan.
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Carefully dip each breast into egg then breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (yes, this was 1 breast, halved!)
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While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta to serve with the Chicken Parm.
Take chicken out when cooked through and top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Return to oven just until melted.
Serve over pasta.

Mr. J and I loved it! I probably didn’t stuff it with enough cheese, but I think it was a nice touch. The chicken was super moist and the breading had a great crunch.

I didn’t quite make my own sauce, but I did doctor-up some jarred sauce with my own seasoning and some tomato paste. I finished the pasta in the sauce which was good, but my timing wasn’t perfect so it was a touch over-cooked.
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I wonder about making a few at a time and freezing them. It seems like a handy thing to have pretty ready for a busy weeknight dinner. I keep chicken in the freezer anyway so I’ll have to remember this when I’m defrosting chicken and needing an idea.

I didn’t bake it again after it cooked through since I wanted the crust to be really crunchy and feared it might get sogged. Maybe next time I’ll try pounding it out to be really thin instead of stuffing it. Either way would be delicious. Baking the chicken instead of pan frying definitely kept the moisture in, and I usually don’t like frying things.

This was a great dinner that got us pumped up for our honeymoon to Italy & Spain!