Hard Cider and Brown Sugar Chicken

cider chicken

You guys, this was SO good! I mean REALLY good! There was so much flavorful, rich, sticky, yummy goodness. The best part? It’s so ridiculously easy to prep that you will have it all ready to go within in minutes. Bonus, it cooks quickly too so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time! I served the chicken with my Easy Peasy Seasoned Rice and steamed green beans.

I absolutely LOVE the New England region of this country so it’s no surprise that one of my most favorite cookbooks is from a true New England girl, Jessica Robinson. This recipe comes right from her cookbook entitled: New England Farmgirl: Recipes & Stories from a Farmer’s Daughter. It’s a really awesome cookbook filled with easy to make comfort food. I followed the recipe exactly however, instead of slicing the chicken into strips I chose to slice my chicken breasts and pound them thin. To cook them all evenly and at the same time I used my Presto 06852 16-Inch Electric Skillet with Glass CoverThis inexpensive skillet is worth having in your kitchen, click here , to read more about why I consider this appliance a kitchen “must-have”. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup hard apple cider
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1-2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil

Instructions

Place the cider, brown sugar, molasses, salt, pepper, mustard and paprika into a large bowl or Ziploc® bag and mix until well combined. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Warm the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and discard any remaining marinade. Cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and allow to rest on a plate for a few minutes. Drizzle with any remaining glaze from the pan. Serve hot.

 

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

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I am a HUGE fan of apples and I love to eat them every which way from Sunday. Raw, sliced on a ham sandwich, cooked alongside pork or chicken, on top of a fall salad, in cakes and cookies and as good old-fashioned applesauce. Apples are such a delicious and versatile fruit, the possibilities for using them up are simply endless. This is my favorite recipe for homemade applesauce because it’s not only scrumptious but it’s SO easy to prepare, it practically makes itself! It’s so easy that even your kids can help you make it!

I love to use a variety of different apples so that I get a more complex and interesting flavor. Some of my favorites are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady , McIntosh, and Lemonade apples. Of course you can use just one variety but don’t be afraid to try out different combinations as well. Traditionally applesauce has a smooth consistency however, I really love to bite into and taste the fresh apples so I like to keep my applesauce chunky. A simple potato masher is perfect for making chunky applesauce as it allows you to control the consistency to your liking. If you prefer a smooth applesauce, simply run the cooked apples through a food mill or blend using an immersion blender or countertop blender.

Last note, feel free to adjust how much sugar you use in this recipe. You can increase, decrease or eliminate it entirely depending on the level of sweetness you prefer. You can also adjust the spices as well. I tend to go light on the ginger because it can be an overpowering, bold flavor but if you prefer to use more, go for it! You can even substitute the ginger for apple pie spice, baking spice or any other warm fall spices that you may have handy. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12 medium-sized apples, any baking variety such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc.
  • 3 tbs apple cider or apple juice
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Instructions

Peel, core and dice the apples into large chunks.

Place the apples, cider, butter, brown sugar and spices into a large pot. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender.

For a smooth applesauce – Blend using either a food mill, blender or immersion blender to desired consistency.

For a chunky texture – Use a handheld potato masher to mash the apples to desired consistency.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

carrots

These are my favorite way to prepare carrots! It’s not only an easy recipe but also full of delicious flavor which makes these carrots a great side dish to almost any meal. They are perfect with a roast chicken, meatloaf or Thanksgiving dinner! This recipe comes from one of my favorite cooks, Ree Drummond who is better known as, “The Pioneer Woman“. Click here to link to her site.

The recipe calls for Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey® but really any good whiskey will work well. My personal favorite is Tullamore Dew® which is also what I use in my out-of-this-world Whiskey BBQ Cocktail Meatballs . Also, when I am in a rush and don’t have time to peel a bunch of carrots, I have used the small baby carrots instead. Just grab a paring knife and dice them up into small, thick “pennies”.  For an extra kick of flavor, top the finished carrots with chopped chives. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 2-3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick circles
  • 1/2 cup Jack Daniels® or other whiskey
  • 3/4 – 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped chives, optional

Instructions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two batches, cooking for 60-90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet.

Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining butter. Once the butter melts, sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. Stir together and then add the carrots to skillet. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes.

Pour onto a platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

 

Brown Gravy Meatballs Over Buttered Noodles

gravy meatballs

I absolutely love me some homemade meatballs and I could drink hot gravy by the gallon so I thought to myself, why not bring these two delicious things together? Brown Gravy Meatballs over Buttered Noodles is a really warm, cozy meal that is perfect for the cool nights of autumn. It’s also really easy to make and the best part?……………it’s kid friendly too! What kid doesn’t love buttered pasta and meatballs? My kids devoured this meal and even asked for seconds!

To make the meatballs, I used my Italian Meatball recipe but I just rolled them smaller into bite-sized servings. I like to bake them simply because you don’t have to pay attention as you do when frying but if you prefer to fry, that is perfectly fine too. You can even make these meatballs ahead of time which really speeds up the cooking of this meal. Simply thaw the cooked mini meatballs and add them right to the hot gravy mixture to warm through. So easy!

In our house we LOVE gravy and when making pasta dishes such as this one my husband specifically asks for his noodles to be very “saucy”. Therefore, I like to double the brown gravy so we have plenty to go around and if there are any leftovers, they will stay more moist in the fridge. You can use beef broth in this recipe as well but I much prefer beef stock as it has a much richer, beefier flavor. Kitchen Basics® brand is my go-to but any brand will suffice. Lastly, add as much (or as little) red wine as you’d like, no need to measure and be overly specific here. The red wine adds a really nice, rich flavor to the finished brown gravy. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb of 80% ground beef or a combination of beef and pork
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 slices white bread, crusts removed and moistened with water

For the brown gravy

  • 2 cups beef stock, divided
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs ketchup
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • splash of red wine

For the finished dish

  • 1 lb wide egg noodles
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions

For the meatballs – Preheat oven to 350ºF. Except for the white bread, combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, do not over mix or the meatballs will be tough. Break off small pieces of the moistened bread and add it to the meatball mixture. Mix into the meat and then continue to add more bread until it’s all combined.

Form the meat into bite-sized meatballs and place them about 1″ apart on a sheet pan lined with a Silpat® or aluminum foil. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, the meatballs can also be fried in oil until crispy and golden brown.

For the gravy – Whisk together 1/2 cup beef stock and cornstarch in a small bowl, set aside. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a pan. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until golden brown and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups beef stock, Worcestershire and ketchup and mix until well combined. Add to the pan along with a splash of red wine. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add more beef stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.

To finish – Add the cooked mini meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat. Keep warm over low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the softened butter.

Place the buttered noodles on a large serving platter and top with the brown gravy meatballs and sauce. Garnish with parsley, Serve hot.

**TIP – Make the mini meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for later use in this dish. Thaw the cooked meatballs and then add them right to the hot gravy mixture to warm through. Proceed according to recipe instructions.**

Honey Sesame Chicken with Pineapple

honey sesame chicken.jpg

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.**

 

 

Easy Peasy Seasoned Rice

kabob

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.

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.

Best Ever Steak Marinade

steak

Making your own steak marinade is very easy, super flavorful and SO much better than anything you can buy in a packet at the supermarket. Store-bought marinades are always loaded with ingredients you cannot pronounce as well as a ton of sugar and salt. Try this delicious marinade the next time you grill up a steak and I promise you will never go back to the store-bought version again. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mustard (Dijon, yellow or deli style)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. Pour over meat and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Grill meat as desired.

**Tip – Baste the meat with the marinade as it grills. Do not serve any of the leftover marinade as it is contaminated with the juices from the raw meat.**

Summer Tortellini Salad

tortellini.jpg

I love a really good tortellini salad. Not only are they flavorful and delicious but they are so easy to make as well. There is an Italian deli by me that makes a great tortellini salad but at $7/lb it’s a little pricey for my taste. Instead, I make my own which is just as yummy and way more wallet friendly. Plus, it feeds a crowd!

This is one of those recipes where you just need to eyeball everything and adjust to your liking. You really do not need to measure AT ALL which is why this recipe is a cinch to make. Plus, you can add in or take out anything you wish. Don’t love olives? Drop them! Like a lot of onion? Add more in! Prefer a drier salad? Use less oil! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this tortellini salad, just go with your gut and play around with the flavors until you’re happy with how it tastes.

I really love this salad as a side dish to my BBQ meals in the summer but it also makes an awesome light lunch as well. You can even throw in a little grilled chicken and fresh mozzarella and now you have an easy summer dinner or picnic lunch. You can serve it cold or at room temperature however, I prefer it somewhere in between. When the salad is too cold, you lose some of the flavor. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for just a bit before serving really allows all of the flavors to pop. Keep a little extra oil on hand as it tends to dry up just a bit in the fridge, add some oil and toss just before serving. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs cheese tortellini, cooked al dente and cooled
  • 1 can of large black olives, sliced thick
  • 1/2 lb Sicilian cracked olives, pits removed and roughly torn
  • Oil from the Sicilian cracked olives
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced
  • Handful of fresh torn parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, add the cheese tortellini, black olives, Sicilian olives, red onion, red pepper and torn parsley. Drizzle the reserved oil from the Sicilian olives all over the salad. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and a healthy amount of ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Adjust seasonings as needed and allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that the flavors can come together. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

**Tip – If you do not like Sicilian cracked olives, use plain extra virgin olive oil on the salad. Alternatively, you can also toss the salad with a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette or Italian dressing.**

 

“Peachy Pie” Smoothie

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Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, fruity smoothie? They make a great quick breakfast or treat for any time of day! With summer underway fresh peaches will be at their peak in July and August so why not grab a bushel and make yourself some yummy smoothies to start off your day?

I like to double or triple this recipe when I make it so that I have leftovers. You can freeze the remaining smoothie mixture in a resealable bag and the next time you are in the mood for a smoothie, you’ll just need to add some of the frozen smoothie mix to your blender along with a little extra milk and blend. Easy peasy! I also like to use the leftover smoothie mixture to make Smoothie “Monster” Pops for my kids. It’s a healthier alternative to store-bought frozen pops and they love the creamy texture. I love that I can sneak in all kinds of healthy fruits without them even knowing.

This recipe is really nice because you can play around with the fruit combinations and spices to achieve whatever flavor profile you’re looking for. Another favorite smoothie concoction that I love is pineapple with a little shredded coconut and a splash of coconut extract. It tastes like a delicious virgin Piña Colada! Lemon Strawberry and Banana Berry are other really nice combinations to try. Creating your own smoothie flavor is easy, just keep the base ingredients of yogurt and milk the same and then throw in whatever fruit and spices you desire. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peaches, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored lowfat yogurt

Instructions

Pour the milk into the blender along with the yogurt, vanilla extract and spices. Add the frozen peaches last. Blend until smooth. Serve cold.

**Tip – I use a little bit of Truvia® (stevia) to sweeten my smoothies. You can use granulated sugar, agave, honey or not use anything at all.**