Honey Sesame Chicken with Pineapple

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Nothing beats a quick and easy dinner especially on those days when you’re exhausted but still need to get dinner on the table. This recipe is super flavorful and as delicious, if not better, than take-out! Even your pickiest eater should enjoy this sweet and sticky chicken meal.

My kids are huge rice eaters so I like to serve this meal over white or brown rice which is also nice and filling. To make this meal even more complete you can add in some vegetables during baking. Good options are onion, green pepper or baby corn. You can even try a bag of frozen vegetables, Bird’s Eye® makes a delicious Asian Medley blend that you can steam right in the microwave and add after the chicken comes out of the oven. This meal also reheats nicely so you can have a delicious lunch the next day too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 2 lbs
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Clean the chicken of any fat and cut into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch to a large Ziploc® bag. In batches, add the chicken to the bag and shake to coat. Remove chicken and dip lightly in the egg. Set aside on a plate.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Place the chicken into the 9X13 baking dish. cover evenly with the drained pineapple chunks.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce and pour evenly over the chicken and pineapple. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes during cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over white rice.

**Tip – If you prefer your pineapple a little more firm, you can add them in the last 20 minutes of cooking instead of at the beginning.**

 

 

Kitchen Must Have – Sur La Table “Dizzy Dog” Cutter

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Stay with me here because I know this sounds like a silly and useless kitchen gadget but believe me when I tell, this just took my hot dog to the next level of perfection! I love my grilled dogs nice and charred, the darker they are cooked the better in my opinion. I love the crispy skin and slight crunch when you bite into them. The problem is, the inside of the hot dog remains the same no matter how long you grill the outside. Until now.

The Dizzy Dog® cutter cuts a spiral into each hot dog that when grilled, expands and allows the heat to get into the dog and cook it as evenly as the outside. Not only you do end up with a delicious charred skin but now the inside is perfectly cooked as well. Trust me when I say, they are absolute heaven! Even my kids, who don’t like hot dogs at all, eat these because they love the way they are cooked. And let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love a fun spiraled hot dog to boot? The other nice thing about the spiral design is that you can get condiments into all of the nooks and crannies and you can even stuff the spiral with yummy things like cheese or bacon. Mmmmmm.

“Spiralizing” the dogs only takes a few seconds each. You just pop them into the plastic cylinder and spin the cutter mechanism, it couldn’t be any easier. Even cleanup is a cinch, just toss it in the dishwasher when you’re all done. I highly recommend this nifty little gadget, I don’t think you will be disappointed. If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, just click here to be linked to the Sur La Table website. Act quickly before they are all gone for the season! Normally priced at $9.95 they are on sale for only $4.99! They would make a great stocking stuffer for the grill master in your life. Enjoy!

“How-To” Cooking – Different Types of Cream

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The main difference between the various creams that are available is the amount of fat content contained within them. The higher the fat content in cream the easier it will be to whip into stable peaks which are needed to achieve a nice, luscious whipped cream. Creams that are higher in fat are also less likely to curdle so they are the best choice for use in hot liquids such as soups or sauces.

  • Half-and-Half – As the name would suggest, this cream is composed of half milk and half cream. It has a fat content of 12% which is less fat than light cream but more fat that milk. It is most commonly used in coffee as it adds a nice creaminess however, half-and-half is not suitable for whipping as it is too low in fat. It is also more likely to curdle when added to hot liquids.
  • Light Cream – With a 20% fat content it is slightly creamier than half-and-half but still lighter than a whipping or heavy cream. It is suitable as an addition to coffee, scrambled eggs, or drizzled on a dessert. Due to the lower fat content it is not a good choice for whipping or to be added to hot liquids.
  • Whipping Cream – As the name would suggest this is the perfect choice for making whipped cream. With a fat content of 35% it will be heavy enough to create stable peaks when whipped and it will not curdle when added to hot soups and sauces. Whipping cream has just slightly less fat than heavy cream however, it is a perfectly acceptable substitution if heavy cream is not available.
  • Heavy Cream – At 38% fat this is the creamiest and most rich of the creams. It is nearly identical to whipping cream, less the slightly higher fat content, so they can be used interchangeably. It can be churned into ice cream, whipped beautifully and it will not curdle when added to hot liquids.

 

Homemade Fudge Pops

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Since I was a little girl one of my most favorite summer treats have been fudge pops. They are frosty and creamy and just so delicious. As yummy as they are though, anything that is store-bought is always made with extra fillers and icky ingredients so when I saw this recipe for homemade pops and realized just how easy they were to make we had to give them a whirl! I promise you, once you have these pops you might never go back to the prepackaged ones again!

This fudge pop recipe comes from “Everyday Food with Sarah Carey” and it’s just so quick and simple to make that you won’t believe it. (**see video below**) In fact, my daughter actually made this batch herself, I just assisted with the pouring because the mixture is very hot.

I have made these quite a few times now and while the original recipe calls for whole milk and heavy cream, I actually prefer them just a little lighter so I like to use 1% milk and half-n-half. I think that the “mouth taste” with the lighter ingredients is just a little better but feel free to make these however you wish. Either way they will be refreshing and delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 heavy cream or half-n-half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

In a 2 qt saucepan whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tbs of the milk until smooth. Then whisk in the remaining milk, cream, cocoa and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute. The mixture will begin to thicken up considerably at this stage.

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Stir in the vanilla and transfer the mixture to a large pouring vessel such as a measuring cup. Fill the ice pop molds and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours. Before serving, run the molds under hot tap water to release the pops.

fudge pops mixture

 

Video courtesy of “Everyday Cooking”

Chocolate Covered Apple Slices

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Sometimes it can be a challenge to get your kids to eat healthy, I struggle daily with this because I have two pretty picky eaters. Thankfully, my son at least loves fruit but my daughter will put up a fight over anything that isn’t junk food or a hamburger. So I thought that if we dressed up our fruit a little it would motivate her to at least eat something a little better than chips or pretzels. I used dark chocolate which is a bit “healthier” and with such a thin layer of the yummy stuff, this snack really is just fruit on a stick!

The little beauties pictured above were handmade by both of my kids. They were in charge of dipping and decorating and I think they did an amazing job! Plus, they were so excited to eat them since they were the sous chefs in charge. That is the great benefit of letting your kids help you in the kitchen, when they have some ownership over the food that is being prepared they are more inclined to want to try new things. No surprise, my daughter liked them!

For this batch of apples they decided to use sprinkles, diced pecans, mini chocolate chips and toffee bits for their toppings. You can really use almost anything you have in the pantry as a topping such as crushed cookies or graham crackers, mini marshmallows, crushed candy, sanding sugar, etc. This is a great opportunity for your kids to get creative in the kitchen. If you wanted to be a little “naughty” and amp these up a level, dip the apple slices into melted caramel first, let cool and then coat with chocolate. SO good!

Before you dip the apples into the chocolate I recommend that you give the slices a quick dip in lemon juice. The lemon juice will help to prevent the cut apple slices from getting brown and mushy. When you remove them from the lemon juice gently dry with a clean paper towel before you begin dipping them into the chocolate. Do not skip this step as you do not want to introduce any liquid into the melted chocolate because it can cause it to seize rendering it completely unusable. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 unpeeled apples, cored and sliced
  • wooden skewers
  • lemon juice, for preservation
  • 1 bag of chocolate melting wafers or other chocolate
  • assorted toppings
  • wax paper, for workspace

Instructions

Thoroughly wash apples then core and slice them. Place them into a bowl of lemon juice and gently swirl them around for a minute or two. Remove and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Place a wooden skewer in each slice. Sort toppings into small bowls or cups.

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Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip the slices, one at a time, into the chocolate and then gently tap them on the side of bowl or pot to remove excess chocolate. Hold the apple slice over the wax paper and sprinkle on the topping.

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Gently place the apple slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Place the finished slices into the refrigerator and allow them to cool and harden for at least 20-30 minutes.  Store them in the refrigerator until serving.

apple slices

Best Food Practices in the Kitchen

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Part of being a good cook, whether at home or professionally, means handling food with care and caution because it doesn’t take much to spread germs or make people sick. Something as simple as a bit of underdone meat or improperly washed produce can have very detrimental effects to one’s health. If there is one thing that I can impress upon you it is this: Move through your kitchen methodically and with careful attention to food safety. ALWAYS implement good kitchen practices in everything that you do. 

Whenever I go online I find myself a little stunned by many of the comments or suggestions that I read on other cooking sites or groups as there seems to be such a lack of regard for food safety and best practices in the kitchen. I am a real stickler for cleanliness and proper technique and I feel that both are essential when cooking or baking. All too often people overlook these simple but necessary practices in the interest of getting things done quickly or to save time and money but that can be so costly to your well being.

To that end, below are some very common (and unsettling) comments that I have seen come up time and time again. They are as follows:

  • “I forgot the meat out on the counter all night but it’s fine, I keep my house cool” – Keeping your house cool is not an acceptable substitute for a refrigerator or freezer which can safely keep meat at a consistent, appropriate temperature. If you leave meat out on your counter, especially unfrozen raw meat, you NEED to toss it. It does not take much for bacterial growth to take hold and meat is very susceptible to contamination. Any meat that has been kept out at room temperature should be discarded immediately.
  • “Well, it’s not like I have ever gotten sick from doing it this way” – My answer to that is simple. Count yourself lucky. Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Food poisoning is no laughing matter, avoid it by practicing safe handling of food in the kitchen.
  • “It’s fine to thaw meat on the counter, I always do it” – The problem with thawing meat on the counter is that it’s thawing at different rates. While the inner most part of the meat may still be cold and frozen the outside is thawing more quickly essentially leaving you with raw meat that is being kept at room temperature. Harmful bacteria can grow extremely rapidly at room temperature so avoid leaving your meat out on the counter at all costs. The safest method to thaw meat is in your refrigerator, in the microwave using a defrost setting or in cold water in the sink. Just be sure to change the water about every 30 minutes to ensure proper thawing.
  • “I always cool my leftovers before putting them in the fridge” – Harmful bacterial growth can occur quickly in warm food that is left out. Your safest bet is to package leftovers right away and place them right into the refrigerator.
  • “I don’t need to wash my fruits and vegetables, they are clean enough” – Unless you handpicked all of your fruit and veggies directly from the farm yourself (and even then they still need to be cleaned) the produce that you bring home from the supermarket is generally filthy. That beautiful orange from Florida that you’re about to bite into has been picked by a farmer and placed in a dirty crate or bag, has been processed for packaging, stored on a truck, transported, unloaded in a supermarket warehouse and then touched by employees stocking the shelves and customers picking through the fruit. Talk about manhandling! Protect yourself by thoroughly washing your produce in cold water or even better, use a simple vinegar wash. To make a vinegar wash -Combine 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar in a large bowl and soak your fruit and veggies. The vinegar wash will help to remove germs, pesticides, wax, and other icky grime.
  • “I love to use the leftover marinade for serving” – This one is an absolute NO-NO. Leftover marinade harbors a ton of bacteria and germs from the raw meat and should never be served alongside your cooked meal. If you want to serve extra marinade on the side, either make a smaller batch for serving or reserve some marinade before adding the meat to it.
  • “I washed my hands before I started cooking, I don’t need to keep re-washing them” – Your hands can be a breeding ground for germs so when you’re cooking be sure to wash them and wash them often, especially when handling raw meat. Remember, there is no such thing as washing your hands too much while cooking. The cleaner your hands, the safer the food preparation.
  • “I rinsed off the cutting board, it’s clean enough to use again” – Rinsing and washing are two very different practices. You should always scrub your cutting boards with hot, soapy water but even better, run them through a cycle in the dishwasher. I have at least 6-7 plastic cutting boards in my kitchen so that I always have a clean one ready to go without having to stop and wash them along the way. I also keep separate cutting boards for meat to avoid any possible cross contamination with other foods.
  • “It’s not bad, I tasted it and it smells and tastes fine” – Just because something smells and tastes fine does not mean it hasn’t gone bad. Sometimes the bacterial growth is not obvious enough for you to taste or smell however, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Instead of relying on your senses, use tried and true safe kitchen practices for storing, prepping, cooking and keeping leftovers. For reference, most leftovers should be discarded within just a few days, especially foods like homemade tomato sauce which can quickly mold due to its high moisture content and lack of preservatives.
  • “I use the same serving platter for the cooked meat that held the raw meat, it’s no big deal” – But alas, it is in fact a big deal. You do not want to ever cross contaminate your meal by introducing raw meat juices. Always place your cooked foods on a clean platter or surface. If you hate making extra work for yourself by using multiple platters or dishes try this little trick. Cover your platter with plastic wrap before placing the raw meat on top then simply remove the plastic wrap when you’re ready to serve and you will have a nice, clean surface for your cooked meat or other foods.

The above are just a few examples of comments I’ve heard or read time and time again however, there are countless other examples of unsafe food practices out there. The best thing that you can do is to make every effort to practice safe and healthy habits in the kitchen and when in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t take the risk. It’s far too easy to get sick from food and so often it can be avoided by following just a few simple safety precautions. Check out the links below for more useful information and tips!

USDA – Basics for Handling Food Safely

Livestrong – How To Clean Fruits and Vegetables with Vinegar

Easy Peasy Seasoned Rice

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Rice is a quick and easy side that goes well with almost every meal. I love it with grilled chicken and vegetables (as pictured above), tossed in hot soup or served with stir fries. The lovely thing about rice is that you can add in a plethora of spices and flavorings to amp up the flavor. For this recipe though, I like to keep it simple by substituting a good chicken stock (I like the Kitchen Basics® brand) for the water and sautéeing a little diced onion for flavor. I prefer chicken stock over chicken broth as it has a much deeper, richer flavor unlike broth which can be salty and watery. Add a little Kosher salt, ground black pepper and a handful of parsley to finish the rice off. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Uncle Ben’s Original Long Grain Rice, uncooked
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 1/3 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • small handful of fresh OR dried parsley

Instructions

In a large saucepan set over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the rice and “toast” over the heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and add the Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat down to medium-low and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes or until most all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove the rice from the heat and add parsley. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve hot.

EXTRA!! EXTRA!! Read all about it!! The KIDS CORNER is here!!

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Attention Moms and Dads!! The Simply Delicious Kitchen has added new content on the blog for your budding little chefs called, Kids Corner ! It’s filled with all kinds of fun activities, easy recipes for them to make in the kitchen and healthy snack and meal ideas for you parents to prepare for them. All are kid tested and kid approved! Click above to check out all of the new sections, “Fun for Kids“, “Happy Healthy Kids” and “Kids in the Kitchen“. Enjoy!

Kitchen Must Have – “The Amazing Olive” Olive Oil and Vinegar

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I absolutely love flavored olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar. They pack such a delicious punch and can really elevate your dish to something extra special. My favorite place to shop for these fine goods is at The Amazing Olive in downtown Port Jefferson, NY. Their store is beautiful and very well laid out with plenty of rustic charm and ambiance to go around. The best part is that you can sample ALL of the delicious oil and vinegar that they offer and with so many flavors to choose from, you might want to visit on an empty stomach!

A really good olive oil and balsamic vinegar are two staples in my home. My favorites are their Tuscan Seasoned Blend Olive Oil which is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of garlic flavor and their 25 Star Balsamic Vinegar which is rich, thick and so complex in flavor. Both are incredible and are a “must have” in my kitchen. I love to use the olive oil for dipping and to add extra flavor to my Italian Tomato Sauce . Also, a little drizzle goes a long way in adding amazing flavor to my Italian Meatballs as well.

Some other notable favorites of mine are their Apricot Organic Balsamic Vinegar and Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil both of which are so light and fruity. They are the perfect addition to a fresh, crisp salad and so much more flavorful and better for you than store-bought bottled dressings. I have a vast selection of their oil and vinegar because it’s just too hard to choose one or two plus, they are so versatile so the more the better. You can use them to flavor meats, drizzle on fruits and veggies, add to sauces and stews or even bake with them! Check out their Butter Flavor Infused Olive Oil  for use in all of your baking.

Aside from their expansive selection of oil and vinegar The Amazing Olive also offers an array of other wonderful products such as unique salts and spice rubs, an assortment of jams and jellies, gift baskets and handmade bath products! If you’re a local, you can even host a Tasting Party for up to 12 of your friends at both the Port Jefferson and Patchogue locations. Click here for more details on scheduling! Lastly, gourmet oil and vinegar make fabulous gifts and party favors and The Amazing Olive will help to make your event more special and memorable with personalized bottles complete with your choice of sayings, dates and pictures. Check out all of these great offerings the next time you’re in town.

Don’t live on Long Island? No worries! All of their amazing products can be ordered online by clicking here . Enjoy!

Fresh Green Beans

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Fresh green beans are a summer staple in my house. They are quick and easy to make plus they are a lovely side dish to so many meals, especially a nice steak dinner. The great thing about green beans is that are very versatile so you can easily adjust the seasonings to suit your taste. You can swap out the garlic for shallots or even add both! You can replace the olive oil with butter or better yet, brown the butter first for an even nuttier, more complex flavor. Add in slivered toasted almonds or crumble up some crisp bacon into the beans. You can even try experimenting with different spices as well for a unique and flavorful spin. However you choose to prepare them they will be a delicious and healthy accompaniment to almost any meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans, ends removed
  • 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced OR a spoonful of roasted garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir often. Sauté until they are glossy and bright green, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, salt and black pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir continuously while cooking.

Pour the water into the pan and cover. Cook another 2-3 minutes until the beans are bright green and “crisp tender”.

Remove the beans from the heat, add in the red pepper and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.