Thai Cashew Chicken


I have to admit, you can probably count on both hands, how many times I’ve had thai food. There is a restaurant near where I live called Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) Thai that serves a cashew chicken dish that I absolutely adore. So, I thought I’d try my hand in making it, or something similar, at home. I found a recipe online that got rave reviews, but did have me raise an eyebrow when I saw fish & oyster sauces as two of the ingredients. I tweaked it a bit and am thrilled to report that it turned out delicious! As a vegetarian dish, this would be equally scrumptious if tofu was substituted for chicken or you just omitted the poultry and added more vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or cutlets
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Dash black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
  • 4 green onions, cut into 2″ slices
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Directions

  1. Mix fish & oyster sauces, garlic, sugar, black pepper and cornstarch.
  2. Marinade chicken in sauce for 30 minutes in fridge.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in wok or large skillet.
  4. Saute the sweet onion & bell pepper for a few minutes. Drain & set aside leaving oil in skillet.
  5. Saute the nuts & dried pepper flakes ’til nuts are slightly browned. Add a little more oil if necessary.
  6. Drain & set aside, leaving remaining oil.
  7. Increase heat to medium high  and add marinated chicken with marinade and water.
  8. Cook until chicken is done (no pink in the middle). Add more water as needed for desired consistency.
  9. Add sweet & green onions, bell & dried peppers and nuts to skillet. Mix and cook slightly.
  10. Serve over rice.

Shrimp and Grits


This has quickly become one of my favorite southern dishes, as the combination of flavors mesh so amazingly well together. It is pure southern comfort on a plate! If you like shrimp, you will thoroughly enjoy this!

Pictured here with the addition of scallops

Ingredients

  • 2 bacon slices
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined, medium-size shrimp
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 tsp canola or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • Cheese Grits

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  2. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet.
  3. Crumble bacon into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp with salt & pepper; dredge through flour.
  5. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet for 5 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add green onions, and sauté for 2 minutes.
  7. Add shrimp and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned.
  8. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice and hot sauce. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until broth is thickened a bit, stirring to loosen particles on bottom of skillet.
  9. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits & sprinkle with crumbled bacon pieces.

Recipe adapted from Bill Smith, Executive Chef at Crook’s Corner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Creamy Cheese Grits


If you’re from the South, then you know ALL about grits. If you’re not familiar with them, they are a staple in every Southerner’s kitchen and can be found on practically every restaurant menu in the Southern states. They mainly consist of hominy (dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali) and are similar to polenta. Grits can be served hot or cold and as a base for a multitude of dishes from breakfast to dessert, depending on the additives. Shrimp with grits is a very common dish on the east or Gulf coast. It is also common for people from above the Mason-Dixon line to have sugar with their grits. So, now that you got the low-down on grits, I suggest you try out this recipe and enjoy a good ol’ Southern dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) chicken broth
  • 2 cups low-fat or fat-free milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream (see below for healthier/lighter options)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 3/4 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the broth, milk, cream & salt. Slowly whisk in the grits.
  2. When grits begin to bubble, turn heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
  3. Allow to cook about 10 minutes or until thickened and smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, hot sauce & pepper. Thin out with a little extra milk, if desired.

* To make this lighter/reduce calories, you can omit the cream altogether & substitute water or increase the chicken broth or milk. Ratio is 1 cup grits to 4 cups liquid.

Popchips Chicken Cutlets


Some of you may be asking… what are Popchips? Well, for starters, they are my favorite chips. Why? For many reasons. First off, they are healthy, delicious and all-natural. They’re not fried or baked, but… popped. And NO preservatives. They come in a variety of flavors to tantalize everyone’s taste buds. So, while I was snacking on some, I thought, these would be great to use on baked chicken. I came up with a quick recipe that I literally, just whipped up. I decided to try the BBQ (pictured on the left) & also, the Cheddar. Scrumptious! I have a half cutlet left, so will reheat it tomorrow & serve it with creamy cheese grits that I made earlier today (I’ll post that recipe soon)! For those of you with kids, you can make chicken fingers or nuggets & just provide some dipping sauce for fun.

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 12 Popchips (any flavor)

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 375F.
  2. Line baking sheet with foil.
  3. In shallow bowl, combine cream, salt, pepper & honey. Mix well.
  4. Crush Popchips on a folded sheet of parchment paper using a rolling pin to make crumbs, place in separate bowl.
  5. Dip chicken in cream mixture, coat on both sides, and then dredge in chip crumbs.
  6. Place cutlets on baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas II


Here’s another recipe for chicken enchiladas that is on the healthier side, but still so very good!

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2  cups  chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2  cups  (8 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 2/3  cups  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4  cup  chopped onion (saute, if desired)
  • 1/4  tsp  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1  (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 8  (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4  cup  chopped green onions

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.
  3. Arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  4. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas and remaining chicken mixture.
  5. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas.
  6. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.
  7. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas


I just finished my second batch of these and will probably make a third sometime in the next couple of days… they’re that good! I am not a chicken enchilada connoisseur by any means, but think these are pretty darn tasty! After my first batch came out of the oven, I decided I wanted to add a little sauce on top, so I whipped up  a quick & hot enchilada sauce that turned out to be a nice addition. The only thing that I did differently the second time, was to make the enchilada sauce just before the dish was ready to come out of the oven.  However, you can skip the sauce if you’d like. This recipes serves four, so simply double the ingredients if you need to make more.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chopped chicken breast
  • 1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese (can use light or fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I prefer peach mango salsa w/medium hotness)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (sautéed)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 can condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 small can of green chilis, drained (or jalapenos for extra heat)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili pepper powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 4 medium flour tortillas

Enchilada sauce (optional)

  • 1 cup red Enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Lightly grease a 8×8 glass baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan & add onions; cook until soft or desired doneness.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream cheese, salsa, cream of chicken soup, green chilis, chili & chipotle powder and cook until melted/blended together.
  5. Add chicken and sautéed onions.
  6. Put a little of the chicken salsa mixture on bottom of pan (this step is optional).
  7. Lay out tortillas & spread a few heaping tablespoons of mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese down center of one tortilla.
  8. Roll jelly-roll style and place filled tortilla, seam side down in dish.
  9. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  10. Spread remaining chicken salsa mixture evenly on top of enchiladas.
  11. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Uncover, sprinkle with additional cheese. Add black olives and diced tomatoes (optional).
  13. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
  14. Remove from oven and serve immediately with or without enchilada sauce.

For the enchilada sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, combine enchilada sauce, sour cream, salsa and corn starch over medium heat, until blended and bubbly.
  2. Pour over baked enchiladas.

Southern Potato Salad


I lived in the South (Georgia) for many years and loved so many things about it. One was the people/friends that I made, whom I found to be truly down-to-earth and caring folks. Second… some of their delicious “southern” dishes. Southern Potato Salad, to me, is THE best and is the only kind that I’ll have now. I realize that everyone has their favorite kind of potato salad, but from the rave reviews I received at work this week when I brought this dish in, I’d recommend giving it a try.  This recipe serves 4, so if you need more, just double the ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes (I recommend Yukon Gold for their creamy & buttery texture)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp prepared mustard (yellow or Dijon)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (use regular, low-fat or fat-free)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar (white vinegar can be substituted)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp minced onion (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add peeled potatoes & cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes; drain & chop into cubes.
  2. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water; peel and chop.
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, celery, sweet relish, garlic, mustard, mayo, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Mix well, then add potatoes and toss gently. Chill for 2 hours before serving, sprinkle with paprika.

Raspberry Poke Cake


This is an easy and absolutely delicious cake to make for the holidays. The jello/gelatin makes it incredibly moist and flavorful! You can switch out the raspberry mix with strawberry or whatever flavor suits your fancy.

Original recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix (or white cake mix)
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 1 box (4-serving size) raspberry-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 container Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting (or thawed whipped cream topping)
  • Raspberries and/or blueberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F (or 325F for dark or nonstick pan).
  2. Spray bottom of pan with cooking spray; make and cool cake as directed on box for 13×9-inch pan
  3. Pierce cooled cake all over, but not all the way to the bottom, with fork (or use a skewer or handle of a wooden spoon).
  4. In a small bowl, stir gelatin and boiling water until smooth & dissolved; add in cold water.
  5. Pour liquid over cake carefully (I highly recommend using a turkey baster or spout measuring cup).
  6. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
  7. Frost & garnish (if desired).
  8. Store covered in refrigerator.

Note: to make this even more festive for the 4th of July, Labor Day and/or Memorial Day, use berries to design an American flag on top of frosting RIGHT before serving (putting the raspberries or strawberries on way beforehand will result in the juice bleeding with the frosting).

Chocolate Scotcheroos


A scrumptious dessert with Rice Krispies, chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch.

Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray — the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.  

Recipe courtesy of Kellogg’s.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies (or Cocoa Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (or peanut butter chips)

Directions

  1. Place corn syrup and sugar in 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and mix well.
  3. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well-coated.
  4. Press mixture into 13x9x2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
  5. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in 1-quart saucepan over low-heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm.
  7. Cut into 2×1 inch bars when cool.

Garlic-Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomato


Here’s a nice alternative to spruce up the tradition burger. Very flavorful and easy to make.

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light mag

Ingredients

  • 1  tbsp  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2  tsp  kosher salt
  • 1/4  tsp  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  lb  ground sirloin
  • 4  (1/2-inch-thick) slices beefsteak tomato
  • 1  tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4  (2-ounce) Kaiser rolls or other sandwich rolls
  • 4  baby romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

  1.  Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
  3. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
  4. Remove patties from pan. Add tomato slices to pan; cook 1 minute on each side.
  5. Spread about 3/4 teaspoon mustard over bottom half of each roll; top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 patty, 1 tomato slice, and top half of roll.

Note: you can add a little low-sodium beef broth to the meat for juicier burgers