Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

Welcome back, crock pot!  I love, love, love the crock pot, I just don’t use it enough.  So easy and I love the way the house starts smelling good halfway through the day!

I love Chinese food, but it’s typically not very good for you, so when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I adapted a bit to make it a little healthier and it was so good.  Another kid and family-friendly dinner.  It was also super-cheap; I had everything but the chicken already in the pantry.  Let me know what you think!

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • little less than 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 4 tbsp water
  • sesame seeds

Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and then place in the bottom of a crock pot.  In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, onion, vegetable oil, garlic and pepper flakes.  Pour over chicken and cook on low 3-4 hours or on high 1.5 – 2.5 hours.

When chicken is cooked, remove and chop into bite size pieces.  In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch with water and then stir into sauce still in crock pot.  Replace lid and cook on high for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce thickens a bit.  Once thickened, toss the chicken pieces with the sauce in the pot.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over brown rice and roasted broccoli.


Smoked Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash

Only two weeks to go in this long pregnancy journey.  One of the side effects I didn’t see coming was not really being into food very much…at least not new, interesting, untested food!  Most of what poor Frank has been eating over the last nine months have been the same comfort foods over and over again…hence, not much new blog material.

However, in celebration of reaching 37 weeks, I branched out last night and tried a new recipe that sounded good (for once) that I found in March’s Clean Eating magazine.  If you haven’t heard of this magazine, check it out.  A lot of the recipes are vegetarian, which doesn’t fly for Frank, but every now and then I find something we both really like.  This recipe was definitely one of them and when the veggies are fresh this summer, I bet it’s even better.  Definitely a do-over and super-easy.  Was ready in under 30 minutes (the magazine claims it only take 15 minutes, but I had to chop everything first).

 Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash (adapted from Clean Eating, March 2011)

  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and sliced into about 12 medallions
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of white corn niblets
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to blend together the rub for the pork tender (olive oil, paprika, cumin, S&P) and then toss the meat with the rub, coating well.  Seat bowl aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil to medium heat.  Saute the red pepper and onion for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add corn and lima beans, sauteing another 3 minutes or until heated through.  Pour mixture into another mixing bowl, toss with healthy dash of S&P to taste and cilantro (optional) and set aside, keeping warm.

Wipe out pan and heat last tsp of olive oil to medium heat.  Add pork medallions and cook about 3 minutes on both sides or until done.

To serve, spoon succotash onto plate and then place 2-3 pork medallions on top.  Can also spoon a little of the pan juices over the pork if desired.  Serve with a side salad and crunchy roll. 

Will be PERFECT for summer!

Spicy Shrimp with Linguine

I have no idea how in the world this recipe found its way into Cooking Light, but it did, I swear.  I’m not going to lie, I consider this is a little on the indulgent side, especially for a Monday, but it was calling my name.  I had every intention of making this super-healthy shrimp dish from my friend Jen’s fantastic blog, using herbs from my garden, but when I got home tonight, I changed my mind and decided on something spicy and carby. 

I had found this recipe in June’s Cooking Light and had a xerox of it in my office (long story) and had everything at home to make it, including the shrimp.  We only had to substitute whole wheat penne for linguinne, but no love lost.  Carbs are carbs in this house.  We really enjoyed this dish and you can make it healthier by using olive oil instead of butter and probably (not totally sure about this) skim milk with a teapsoon of flour for thickening instead of cream.  But try this once the right way.  Then figure out how to cut it back.  🙂

Another bonus:  it was on the table in 20 minutes flat.  Serve with a green salad and maybe French bread to soak up the extra sauce?

Spicy Shrimp with Linguine (or whatever)

  • 8 ounces of uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (with like Tony’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and keep warm.  In the bag that the shrimp came in, add the Cajun seasoning, red pepper and salt; shake well to coat the shrimp.

  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute about 3 minutes, until tender.  Add tomatoes and garlic, saute another 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (might have to adjust the heat). 

Add shrimp to pan; saute for 5 minutes or until almost done.  You don’t want them opaque yet, but just about there.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.  Let sit for a minute or two, until the shrimp are done. Pour shrimp mixture over pasta, mix well.  Top with chopped parsley.

Poppyseed Chicken

Why is poppyseed chicken not on the blog yet?  I have no idea.  I love this casserole, it’s the ultimate comfort food and really simple.  This is a well-known type of recipe, but the dash of curry powder makes it extra-special to me.

  The key to making it fast and easy for a weeknight supper is to have your chicken pre-cooked. Typically, I will just simmer a few boneless breasts (45-50 minutes with S&P) on the weekend and just keep them in a baggie in the fridge for when we need cooked chicken, for salads, chicken salad, whatever.

However, this past weekend, we had some friends over to grill out and in typical fashion, Frank bought about 6,000 chicken breasts for 10 people (he likes to buy in bulk…a trait I’m starting to pick up on as our married years tick by, but it still amazes me every now and then).  We threw them on the smoker, and of course, had 5,990 breasts left over…but they were perfect to make Poppyseed Chicken in a hurry tonight!  I love dinners that go in the oven and you don’t have to watch constantly on the stove.

This is a great casserole for a busy weeknight or to take to a new mom, new neighbor or a large dinner party.  Freezes well, too.  Serve with a green salad.

Poppyseed Chicken

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 8 oz. carton reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 can cream of celery (98% fat free)
  • healthy shake curry powder
  • 1 roll whole-wheat Ritz crackers, crushed up
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, shred your chicken into small bite-size pieces.

 Dump the sour cream, cream of celery and dash of curry powder and mix well with a spatula.  Spread mixture into a medium-sized baking dish.

In a separate, smaller bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  Put the Ritz crackers in a ziplock baggie and crush up to make crumbs with a meat mallet or something similar.  Pour the crushed cracker crumbs into the bowl of melted butter and add the poppyseeds.  Mix well.

Top the casserole with the crust, covering thoroughly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

Homemade Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

So, this was my first real attempt at homemade pizza and I must say, it was a serious success.  The flavors in this recipe were delicious together — those folks at Cooking Light know what they are doing.  There were a lot of firsts for me in this recipe.  First, chicken sausage.  What in the world is that?  Ask you butcher at — where else — Publix.  It looks just like italian sausage, just ten times healthier.  There was virtually no fat as they browned in the skillet.  While I’m talking about the sausage, you can break it into a lot smaller pieces in the skillet, Frank just likes them in bigger chunks.  It lots a little weird in these large chunks, but just go with it. 

Second ‘first’ — fennel. 

I bought a fennel bulb and had to Google it because I had no idea how to chop it or what to do with it.  Found this very informative video on the internet (what did we do before the internet, seriously?) on chopping fennel.  It’s a breeze, don’t worry.

Third ‘first’ — fresh pizza dough.  I had heard that Publix (am I obsessed?) makes incredible fresh pizza dough and I heard right, it was really good.  You can find it in their bakery section, in a small refridgerated case.

Fourth ‘first’ — pizza itself. 

But it turned out fabulously, please you MUST try this, I promise you’ll love it.  Serve with a salad of greens, tomato and red wine vinegar.  Let me know!

Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

  • 1 package of chicken sausages, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cub thinly sliced fennel (watch the video, I promise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • fresh pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup of Gouda cheese, shredded (I bought a wheel of Gouda and shredded myself)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (from my herb garden!)

Preheat oven according to the pizza dough label instructions, probably 450.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown sausage until cooked.  Remove from pan.  Add oil to pan and saute the onion and fennel with the salt, covered for 10 minutes or so, until tender and lightly browned.

In the meantime, place the dough on a lightly floured countertop.  Sprinkle about half a handful of flour on top of the doughball and roll it out with a rolling pin to desired thickness.

Move dough to nonstick cookie sheet.  Put the onion/fennel mixture on the pizza, then the gouda, then the cooked sausage. 

Bake for about 12 minutes or until crispy.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped chives and serve!

Cajun Shrimp Stir Fry

We really need to cook with shrimp more often.  They are super-healthy and cook in a flash.  And we both love shrimp.  The only drawback is that I’m picky about seafood and like my shrimp fresh.  And since I do all of my shopping for the week on Sundays, if we’re going to have shrimp, it’s going to be either Sunday night or Monday night at the latest.  I really wouldn’t let shrimp stay in the fridge longer than a day. 

But once you’ve committed to shrimp for dinner, this is a cinch and delicious.  Serve on top of cooked brown rice (use the instant kind for an even quicker meal.)

Cajun Shrimp Stir Fry

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • few teaspoons cajun seasoning (your preference)
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced in vertical strips
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced in vertical strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • hot sauce to taste

Toss shrimp with cajun seasoning in the bag that the shrimp comes in and set aside.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the peppers about 5-6 minutes, but not until they are totally tender yet.  Add the garlic, being sure to toss continously to keep the garlic from burning.

BEGINNERS TIP:  I use tongs to saute peppers and also to cook the shrimp.  It makes it easier to grab several and toss and turn.

shrimpies with seasoning in the bag

 Remove the peppers and garlic to a plate and set aside.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and add a 1/2 tbsp of more oil.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes, turning frequently.

BEGINNERS TIP:  cooking shrimp is delicate.  They cook fast, no more than 5 minutes total.  Just watch them closely and turn them as they start to turn opaque.  You don’t want them really pink, then they are over-done.  You really just want them opaque, as they will continue to cook in the hot pan, even after you’ve turned the heat off.

Add the wine, lemon juice, peppers/garlic back into the pan, mix with the shrimp and cook another 2 minutes, being sure not to over-cook the shrimp.

Serve with brown rice and hot sauce, if preferred.

Shrimp and Pesto Pasta

My sweet friend, Lindsay, made this dish for us one night last summer.  It was one of the first times I met her now-fiance and we had such great fellowship sitting outside on her patio and drinking wine well into the night.  We sort of made this up that night and since then, Frank and I have duplicated it many, many times.  It’s a simple, fast, healthy (if you use the reduced fat pesto) and filling dinner and it is also great for a dinner party because it can feed as many people as you want — just be sure to check for shrimp allergies/hatred.  If shrimp is a game-breaker, just substitute chicken.

Shrimp and Pesto Pasta

  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 box of Rotini pasta (the corkscrew kind)
  • 1 bushel asparagus
  • 1 tub of pesto (see below for tips)
  • 1/4 cup of shaved fresh parmesan
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
  • S&P

In the sack that the shrimp comes in, shake a healthy amount (maybe 2 tbsp) of Old Bay Seasoning and then shake and roll the bag around to coat the shrimp.  Move to a grill basket.  On a cookie sheet, roll asparagus in olive oil (maybe a tbsp) and S&P to taste. 

Grill the shrimp and asparagus.  Put the asparagus on first, it takes longer than the shrimp.  BEGINNERS TIP:  Shrimp are done when they are lightly pink and slightly opaque, no longer than 5 minutes, usually.  Take them off the heat as soon as you think they are ready and put them on a cold plate; otherwise, they will continue to cook on the hot grill pan and get too tough and overdone. 

While they grill, in a large dutch oven, cook the pasta according to box instructions, drain and put the pasta back into the pot.  While the pasta cooks, in a small saucepan, heat up the pesto on a very low setting.  When selecting your pesto, get the kind that is refridgerated, in a small tub (Bertolli is a good brand).  This section at the store is typically where they keep refridgerated pastas and cheeses.

When the aparagus is ready, move to a cutting board and chop the first 2/3 of the stalks into bite-size pieces.  Add to the pasta.  Add the shrimp as well, then using a spatula, add the pesto and mix well.  Add the cheeese and another dash of salt and mix again.

Serve immediately; preferably with a crisp white.  This dish is perfect for dining al fresco in the upcoming nice weather.  Enjoy!