Bloggers Bake for Hope

Bloggers Bake for Hope is an annual campaign that raises money for breast cancer research. This year, the funds are being donated to the Avon Foundation. Bloggers donate baked goods, people bid on them, and the highest bidder gets the delicious goods delivered to their door. Pretty fantastic, right?

This year, I’m supporting Bloggers Bake for Hope by donating a baked good. You can go here to bid on a batch of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Cake, made by me.

Bidding starts at $15 and is live now through midnight ET on May 2nd.

There are also tons of other yummy treats up for auction too – you can check them all out here.


Dijon Chicken Club Melts

This is a meal I’ve made several times. Each time, I intend to blog it but I either get so excited to eat I forget to take a picture – or rush through taking a picture and can’t manage to get a good one. This time was really no different – once it came out of the pan I snapped a few shots and then ditched the camera to dig in. This picture really isn’t the best, but I decided it was time to share the recipe anyway.

These sandwiches are super simple but they’re super flavorful. The chicken on it’s own is excellent too. We usually double the marinade and grill up about a pound of chicken, eating some that night and saving some for these sandwiches. It makes for a quick, easy weeknight meal.

Dijon Chicken Club Melts
(from Homemade by Holman)
Serves 2

1 oz. + 1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. honey
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. salt
1 large chicken breast
4 slices white bread
2 slices mozzarella cheese
4 slices bacon
2 t. Dijon mustard

In a small bowl, whisk together first eight ingredients. Add chicken breast to bowl and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat grill and cook chicken over medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove from grill and let sit for ten minutes before thinly slicing.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Remove bacon grease and wipe out pan with a paper towel, return pan to stove and reduce heat to medium.

Lightly butter one side of bread slices, spread mustard on non-buttered side of one piece of bread. Add one slice of cheese, 2 slices of bacon, cut in half, and half the chicken to each. Top with remaining slice of bread and place buttered side down in the skillet.

Cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown and flip. Cook about another 3 minutes until cheese is melted and sandwich is golden brown.

Cheesy Grilled Potatoes

I find that even when we grill our main dish for dinner, I often end up turning on the stove to make side dishes. I’m always on the hunt for dishes I can throw on the grill along with whatever else I’m making.

These potatoes came out great! They’re easy to throw together and cook in the same amount of time it took me to prep-and-grill up some chicken.

Cheesey Grilled Potatoes
(adapted from Taste of Home)
Serves 2-3

2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. minced onion
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. seasoned salt
Pinch of pepper
1 T. butter
1 strip of bacon, chopped
1/4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Transfer to a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil. Dot with butter.

Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender.

Carefully open foil. Sprinkle the bacon cheeses over potato mixture. Grill 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Transfer to serving bowl.

Slow Cooker Chicken with White Wine Sauce

Moms are good for lots of things. They’re always happy to offer opinions on outfits. They always send you home with more leftovers than you need. And, they don’t complain when you raid their cookbook shelf for new ideas.

I haven’t wanted to cook much lately – especially by the end of the day – so I’ve been seeking out dinners that will be on the table shortly after I get home. When I was flipping through the slow cooker section of the Sandra Lee Semi Homemade The Complete Cookbook at my Mom’s a few weeks ago, this recipe caught my eye. It’s quite different from any other slow cooker recipe I’ve made and I really loved it.

The recipe calls for dry white wine but I used a Riesling because that’s what we had in the fridge. It came out great. I’m sure this would be fine with whatever white wine you have handy. Don’t want to use wine? Chicken broth would be a good substitute.

Slow Cooker Chicken with White Wine Sauce
(adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade The Complete Cookbook)
Serves 2

12 pearl onions, peeled
2 strips bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. dry white wine
2 t. Italian seasoning
2 t. minced garlic

In a frying pan, fry up the bacon. Remove from pan and drain fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in remaining bacon grease.

Add onions and browned chicken to slow cooker. Sprinkle bacon pieces over the top.

In a separate bowl, whisk together soup, wine, Italian seasoning and garlic.  Pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Pretzel Crusted M&M Cheesecake

This was one of the desserts I made for Easter – and it was a huge hit. It’s pretty easy to see why, though. Pretzel crust, a layer of fluffy cheesecake, a layer of dark chocolate ganache and it’s all topped off with M&Ms. You really don’t get much better than that!

Because each later of the cheesecake is done separately, it’s pretty time-consuming but you could spread the steps over several days easily. I had a little bit of trouble with the crust – mine was a bit crumbly. If, when you’re pressing the crust into the pan, it doesn’t seem to be sticking together enough, add a few more tablespoons of butter.

Pretzel Crusted M&M Cheesecake
(slightly adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)

For the crust:
3 c. crushed salted pretzels
2 T. sugar
13 T. salted butter, melted (plus more if needed)

For the cheesecake:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c.  sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz.  dark chocolate chips
5 T. salted butter, cubed
3 large egg yolks
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
M&Ms, to decorate

Preheat oven to350F degrees and grease a 9″ springform pan and line the base with baking paper. Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. If the mixture isn’t sticking together enough, add more melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing tightly into an even layer. Bake for 10 mins or until just going golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 320F degrees. In a large mixing bowl bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat to combine. Add egg yolks; beat on low speed just until combined. In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form then gently fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over the crust, place tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at the reduced temperature until the centre is almost set – mine took about 45 minutes. Cool in tin on a wire rack for an hour, then chill in the fridge until completely cool.

In a microwave in 30 second bursts, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, place egg yolks and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and whisk mixture continuously (or it will turn into scrambled eggs) until it reaches160F degrees, or for about 10 minutes mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Set bowl in ice and stir until cooled, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over cheesecake and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle m&ms on top to decorate then refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan before serving.

Baked Chicken Cheesesteak Spring Rolls

 The latest recipe swap theme was recipes from celebrity chefs. I’ll admit it: I’m not really up on my celebrity chefs. I was a bit relieved to see that I got a recipe from Guy Fieri – I know who he is! And, I know he makes food my husband would like – double bonus!

I sort of associate Guy with bar food – absolutely delicious but not terribly healthy. I healthied-up this recipe a bit by using chicken instead of beef, decreasing the amount of cheese and baking the spring rolls instead of deep-frying them. I was really thrilled with the way they came out. They were fantastic.

Baked Chicken Cheesesteak Spring Rolls
(adapted from The Cookaholic Wife, originally from Guy Fieri)
Makes 8-10 Spring Rolls

1 T. olive oil
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
12 oz. Chicken Cheesesteaks
4 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
16-20 spring roll (or egg roll) wrappers
Cooking spray

For the dipping sauce:
2 T. spicy brown mustard
2 t. ketchup
2 t. honey
Chipotle sauce to taste (I used about 1/2 t.)

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red pepper, green pepper and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, just until the vegetables are soft. Remove the vegetables from the pan.

Break up the chicken cheesesteak slices and add to the pan. Stir frequently until cooked through. Drain any excess grease. Return the vegetables to the pan and add the cheese. Lower the heat to low and stir frequently until the cheese has melted.

Lay a spring roll wrapper with a corner facing you so it makes a diamond shape. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture into the bottom portion of the spring roll wrapper. Fold the corner closest to you up to the filling and then take both sides and fold them in. Use a pastry brush a little water onto the remaining corner of the spring roll. Take the filled portion of the spring roll and roll it up to the remaining corner. Press down lightly to seal. (You can find videos of this on YouTube if you need to see it demoed.)

Place another spring roll in front of you in a diamond shape. Brush all of the edges of the spring roll with water. Place the previously rolled roll into the center of this wrapper. Fold the bottom corner up, fold in each side and roll to meet the top corner. Repeat with remaining rolls.

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the sealed egg rolls on the baking sheet seam side down and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly brown, turning halfway through baking.

Whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce and serve alongside.

Mediterranean Chicken Kebab Salad

We’ve been using the nice weather to our advantage and grilling regularly. I really can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate that it’s still light out after 7 pm. It puts me in such a good mood.

Another good-mood inducer? A big, filling salad for dinner. Especially one that’s reminiscent of a Greek salad and topped with warm grilled chicken.  I served this along with parmesan flatbread – it was a perfect spring dinner.

Mediterranean Chicken Kebab Salad
(from Skinny Taste)
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinnless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 T. lemon juice
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. garlic, crushed
Kosher salt  and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/4 c. cucumber, peeled
1 1/4 c. diced tomato
1/4 c. diced bell pepper
2 T. red onion, diced
1/4 c. black olives
1 1/2 t. vinegar
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
2 t. olive oil
1 t. fresh dill
1 t. fresh parsley
1/8 t. dried oregano
8 c. shredded lettuce
1/2 c. feta cheese

Combine the lemon juice, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Marinate for 2-3 hours.

In another bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, black olives, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, dill parsley and oregano. Refrigerate until needed.

Thread chicken on skewers and cook on a grill over high heat for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through.

Top lettuce with cucumber mixture, feta cheese and a kabob.

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal

When I posted the recipe for Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal, I mentioned that baked oatmeals are some of my favorite breakfasts. This version is one of my other current favorites.

I love apples, but I love them less out of season. Here in NJ, we’re blessed with tons of pick-your-own orchards and load up on apples each fall. By the time spring starts to roll around, all of the apples in stores have been in storage for a few months and aren’t quite the same.

In my opinion, once they’re baked you can’t tell they’re not fresh-off-the-tree, so this is one of my favorite dishes for out-of-season apples.

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal
(from Smells Like Home)
Serves 6

1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 c. maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 c. milk
1 large egg
2 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 t. vanilla extract
1 apple (any kind), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease or spray a 2-quart casserole dish with either butter or cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, toss together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, milk, egg, the melted butter, and the vanilla.

Place the diced apples in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle about two-thirds of the raisins over the top of the apples, then cover the fruit with the oat mixture.  Drizzle the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the milk as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle the remaining raisins over the top of the oats.  Bake the oatmeal for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the oats have set.

Remove the oatmeal from the oven and serve hot with more maple syrup.

Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa with Mustard Vinaigrette

Marriage is about compromise. I indulge my Italian husband by regularly including pasta on our menu plan. He lets me make the kielbasa my German self loves – as long as I don’t make him eat sauerkraut. It works for us.

We’ve grilled up pierogies and kielbasa for dinner before, but I’d never topped them with anything. Mostly because I struggle with what to pair it with other than sauerkraut. This vinaigrette was such a simple addition and packed a really big flavor punch. And, it made both Mark and me happy!

Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa with Mustard Vinaigrette
(slightly adapted from How To: Simplify)
Serves 2-3

1 lb. kielbasa
2 T. spicy brown mustard
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 lb. frozen potato and cheddar pierogies (do not thaw)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium.

Grill kielbasa for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustard and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil while whisking until combined. Set aside.

Combine the remainder of the extra virgin olive oil, onion, and pierogies in a large bowl and toss to coat. Flip the kielbasa and add the onion and pierogies, covered, to the grill until the pierogies thaw (about 5 minutes). Turn the pierogies and onion and grill, covered, until everything is cooked through (about 4 minutes). Transfer the pierogies to the bowl. Separate the onion roughly chop. Coin slice the kielbasa. Add both to the bowl containing the kielbasa and pierogies.

Pour the mustard vinaigrette in the bowl and toss to coat the kielbasa, pieorgies, and onion. Season with salt and pepper.

Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders

Chicken fingers dipped in honey mustard are probably my favorite thing ever.  When Mark and I were first dating, it’s all I ordered when we went out to eat. I’ve branched out since then, but I still get really excited about them.
I was recently talking easy weeknight meals with some friends and one of them, Katie, suggested this recipe. I was immediately completely smitten.  These are so good and so easy! Make them. You won’t regret it.
Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders
(From Pink Parsley)
Serves 4

1 c. panko breadcrumbs
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 T. butter, melted
Heaping 1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 T. honey
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into vertical strips

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.  Lay a baking rack over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a pie plate, combine the panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne.  In another pie plate, or a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the butter, mustard, and honey.  Working one chicken strip at a time, dip the chicken first into the mustard mixture, then the panko.  Turn and pat the breadcrumbs on all sides to be sure each piece of chicken is fully coated.

Carefully arrange the chicken tenders on the baking sheet, and cook 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through.