Baked Chicken Alfredo Ziti

The husband loved this dish. I think mostly because it was made of leftovers but totally remade. We had some ziti that was cooked for meat sauce and we had the beer can chicken leftovers. Luckily, we had milk, Parmesan, chicken broth, garlic and some mozzarella too.

I cooked 2 cloves of minced garlic with 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter. Then I added 1 Tbsp of flour and cooked it a bit. Then, I added 1/4 cup of chicken broth and about a cup of milk, a good pinch of salt and a couple shakes of dried oregano. I let it cook until it thickened a bit. I then added freshly grated Parmesan.

In a pie dish, I layered cooked pasta then cooked cubed chicken, then a sprinkling of mozzarella, finished with more cooked pasta and dumped the sauce over all of it. I added a bit more Parmesan and then popped it uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 17 mins.

I let it sit for 10 mins before serving.

You can add other stuff to. I think some red pepper flakes would be good or cooked mushrooms. My kiddos don’t like either so, it was made just as I said above.

Enjoy!

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The Best Belgium Waffles

People! The holidays are just on the horizon and that means we can indulge a bit on the sweets and decadent breakfasts. Who am I kidding? We make these monthly.

These waffles are a family favorite. They freeze really well and can be popped in the toaster for a quick weekday breakfast. You can serve it with fried chicken or cheesy toppings to make it savory.

The trick to making the best waffles is the waffle maker and mix. You can get both at Williams Sonoma. The waffle maker is an investment. Well, shoot so is the mix but it’s sooooo worth it. The waffle maker is the All Clad 2 waffle maker. It’s great and consistent. The mod is the gluten free or regular Willams Sonoma Bellgem Waffle Mix.

Go out and splurge on this set for yourself, your kids or someone who has those little humans running around their house. It’s a great gift.

Notes: I heat the waffle maker to 4. I add an extra tablespoon of butter to the mix (and always let it sit 15mins before cooking). I use a 1/3cup mix for each waffle. I freeze them flat in the freezer and then bag them (otherwise they bend in funny shapes and won’t fit In the toaster).

Happy Waffle Wiggles!!

Honey Cakes

These are typically eaten for the Jewish New Year to insure a sweet new year. I’m a bit late posting because I wanted to see how well they froze. The answer: perfectly! These would be wonderful holiday gifts too especially in the little loaf pans.

Honey Cake

Exact recipe from Smitten Kitchen

    3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
    1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    4 teaspoons (about 8 grams) ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil
    1 cup (340 grams) honey
    1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
    1/2 cup (95 grams) brown sugar
    3 large eggs at room temperature
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
    1 cup warm (235 ml) coffee or strong tea
    1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. I made mine in one full-size loaf pan plus four miniature ones.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

Freeze once cooled and store for up to 3 months.

Spicy Basil Chicken and Yellow Curry

I could eat this everyday. It’s fun to mix it up too by plopping an over easy egg on top. After the first day, the gai gra prow gets spicier and the richness of the fried egg perfectly balances the spice. I think I’ll make this tonight.

I do have two little humans at home. So, I pull half the sauce from the pan of the gai gra prow before adding the chilies and they devour it.

Gai Gra Prow (Spicy Basil Chicken)

  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (I used Hoisin sauce because I didn’t have oyster and it was delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper (I used jalapeños and it was fine)
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.

Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies.

Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.

Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice.

Yellow Curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Half a yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 carton of firm tofu cubed
  • 1/3 cup yellow curry paste
  • 10 baby golden yukon potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Handful of mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • Half red bell peppers, cubed
  • Handful of green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut cream (it’s like coconut milk, but even more luscious)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
  • cilantro and rice for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until the onions are fragrant and softened. Add the chicken and curry paste; saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with the curry paste.

Add the coconut cream and 1/2 cup water to the pot – simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the veggies are fully cooked, adding more water depending on the consistency you want for the sauce. Stir in the tofu toward the end so it doesn’t break up.

Stir in the fish sauce and brown sugar to really take it up a notch. Seriously – so good. Serve over rice.

Beer Can Chicken For The Win

This is a very easy Sunday night meal that gives the best leftover chicken for the rest of the week. Cook 2 and your weeknight protein is set.

Beer Can Chicken

(NY Times Recipe)

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 4 to 5 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika, or mild smoked paprika
  • 2tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chile de arbol or red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 can beer, ideally yellow in hue, with the top half consumed or poured off (Tecate is a great choice)
  • Barbecue sauce (see recipe, or use whichever recipe you like), for basting chicken and for serving (optional)

Build a fire in your grill, leaving approximately half the grilling area free of coals. If using a gas grill, turn burners to high and then, when ready to cook, turn off the burner on the side where you will place the chicken. If using an oven, heat to 425 degrees.

Remove neck and giblets from chicken. Rinse the chicken in cold water. Pat dry.

Combine all the spices in a large bowl, then apply the dry rub to the chicken, inside and out.

Put the beer can on a solid surface. Pick up the chicken and, taking a leg in each hand, put the cavity over the can and slide the bird down onto it. Carefully transfer the bird and the can to the cool side of your grill, its back to the fire, balancing the chicken upright and using the legs to support it in this position. If using an oven, place the chicken upright in a roasting pan using the same method and place carefully into the heat.

Cover the grill and cook for approximately 1 1/4 hours, basting with barbecue sauce twice during the final half-hour if you’d like, until the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or until the legs are loose in their sockets. (If you’re using an oven, you can tent the bird with foil after 45 minutes to keep the skin from getting too dark.) De-can and carve.

Peach Crisp

I’ve made tons of crisps over the years. I’ve done all the berry combinations and have always loved how easy they are to throw together. Then, I had this one. You guys, it is mind blowing good. The peaches with the pecans, not to mention the stick of butter. It is perfectly crispy with warm oooey peaches. You should make this today.

Peach Crisp

Adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest.

Filing

  • 5 cups peeled and sliced peaches (the recipe says thinly but I coined them to be too soft so I fattened up the slices a little)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Crisp

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the filing ingredients together in one bowl. Add to a 9″ round pie pan.

Mix the crisp ingredients together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle on top of the peach mixture. It’s going to sit really high like a mountain.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 40-45 mins. Let it cool for 20 mins before trying to take a bite. It’s like molten lava underneath.

Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Cooking by the Camp Fire

I went all out at this year’s annual 4th o’ July camping trip. No, I didn’t stay up late, hooting and hollering over charades. In fact, I was in bed before the kids most nights. And no, I didn’t start my day with Mary’s and continue with beers/wine until sundown. Rather, I prepped and cooked my toosh off.

I made Jan’s cobbler, fried donut holes, made Schmitty’s chicken and taziki wraps and topped it all off with firepit pizza – which was by far, the biggest success. I’m still craving it.

Next time you go camping or have a craving for delicious cobbler, donuts or pizza, try out these recipes. They were a big hit!

Jan’s cobbler
* 3 cups blackberries (or combo of berries)
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup rolled oats
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1/8 cup grated asiago cheese
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3 oz butter (chilled and cut into 1/4″ bits)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly butter a deep pie dish (or you can double the recipe and use a 9×12 baking dish). Put the berries in the dish. In a separate bowl, mix the next five ingredients. With fingers, squash in the butter with the mixture until its course and crumbly.

Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake until top is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.

Let it cool before diving in. This travelled really well in the cooler and tasted great chilled.

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Schmitty’s Chicken Wraps
* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 TBSP dried oregano
* zest of half a lemon
* pinch of salt and pepper
* 3 garlic cloves minced
* pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
* 1/2 red onion, sliced in strips

Wisk everything together in a medium bowl. Reserve half the marinade. Out chicken in a ziplock bag with half the marinade and freeze if you’re going camping.

The night before heading out, put the tomatoes an onions and the other half the marinade in another ziplock bag and leave in the fridge.

Grill off the chicken over the camp fire and serve with wraps, taziki and the marinated tomato mixture.

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Camping Donuts
* 1/2 cup veggie oil
* 1 package of instant biscuits (you know, the kind that pops out of the canister)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/8 cup cinnamon
* 1 brown bag and some paper towels

Put your sugar and cinnamon into the brown paper bag and set aside. Heat up the oil in a frying pan over med/low heat.

Break each biscuit into four pieces and roll into a ball.

Gently drop one hole into the oil. It should create bubbles instantly around the edges. Put the rest of your holes in the oil but don’t crowd the pan. You’ll need room to turn the holes over as they cook.

As soon as they’re golden brown, drain on paper towels and then drop into the paper bag. Give ’em a little shake and then watch them get gobbled up.

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Camp Fire Pizza
* 1 package ready-made pizza dough (you can handmake the dough if you’re motivated, just freeze it for better travel)
* 1 container of marinara (I got the stuff from the refrigerated section)
* 1/2 cup mozerella, 1/4 cup parmesean, 1/4 cup asiago – all grated
* olive oil
* dried oregano
* toppings (we did two pepperonis and one zucchini and summer squash) we obviously tripled the recipe
* disposable grate for grill

Get the coals ready.

Cut up any toppings really thin (they don’t really cook).

Roll out the dough – I just pulled on the sides until it was pretty even and rather thin.

Rub olive oil on one side and place the oiled side down on the disposable grill. Set this on the campfire grate and stand watch. It’ll bubble and get chat marks. It should be done in about 2-5 mins.

Remove from the fire and oil the top side. Flip the pizza and top the recently cooked side with sauce, cheese, toppings and a sprinkle of oregano. Top with a foil tent and place back on the fire. Cook for another 2-5 mins checking the bottom and rotating when necessary.

Pull it from the fire. Cut it up. And wait for the OMGs.

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