Monday, July 27, 2015

Classic Chicken Sliders | Tyson® Foods

There are few things that entice me to stand outside in the Florida heat. The "perspire while getting the mail" heat. The "feel like you're putting you're buckling your baby into a roasting pan when you secure him in his car seat" heat. The "glasses steam up when you step out of the cold grocery store" heat. It's intense and atrocious around these parts, mid-summer. 

All that said, I totally stood in front of a searing hot grill cooking up these sliders last week. Because nothing quite compares to the taste of char and smoke and caramelized barbecue sauce, and it's worth taking a second shower to get that classic flavor that is synonymous with summer. 

I like to get fancy at the grill from time to time, but sometimes you just want plain and simple staples like grilled chicken slathered with barbecue sauce. And sweet & spicy pickles. Let's not forget those.

Slap these spice-rubbed Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs {available for a great price at your local Walmart} on the grill, and it'll be like you rang the dinner bell. As the smell wafts out, the family will bring it in. They'll be happy to take a break from the pool floats and shade trees after a bite of these diminutive delights. Though they're small in size, the combo of dry rub, pickles and KC Masterpiece® Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce is brimming with flavor!

So go ahead and brace yourself for the heat with an icy lemonade or a cold beer -- these bites are worth a little sweat! 

Classic Chicken Sliders
Recipe courtesy of KC Masterpiece 

21 oz. bottle  KC Masterpiece® Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce
Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 package dinner/slider rolls

Dry Rub:
1½ teaspoons onion salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander

Spicy Pickles:
16 ounces dill pickle chips
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
2 cloves minced garlic

1. Halve each chicken thigh to make small for sliders. Combine dry rub ingredients in a bowl. Liberally apply to both sides of cutlets.

2. Place pickles in a bowl, keeping the jar and discarding the juice. Add sugar, red pepper flakes, hot sauce and garlic. Stir and let stand until the sugar dissolves. Place the mixture back into the jar and refrigerate until needed.

3. Build a charcoal fire with Kingsford® charcoal for direct grilling. Grill chicken directly over the hot coals for 2-3 minutes per side (or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the center of the chicken is no longer pink).

4. In a small saucepan, heat the KC Masterpiece Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce until warm, about 5-10 minutes. Remove cutlets from the grill and dip them in the sauce. Assemble sliders by slicing dinner rolls, placing chicken on roll and topping with pickles. Spear with a toothpick and serve.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Asian-Inspired Stuffed Peppers

I've been somewhat of an innkeeper lately with a friend of ours staying over at our house a few days a week as he completes a work project up our way. It has been no trouble at all having him as a house guest; in fact, it's brought back some fun memories since he was my husband's college roommate and my neighbor during my first year at the University of Florida.

We often give him credit for bringing us together since he knew before we did that we were meant for each other. So I figure least I can do is give the guy a hot meal and a place to stay since his foresight is part of the reason for my happy marriage.

But there is nothing that makes you think about your eating habits like having a house guest. I've found that the days that he stays with us, I try to offer variety and creativity in my cooking rather than just tossing together whatever is easiest as I would do if it were just the two of us. {Because it's completely fine to serve "chicken. again." to your husband on a regular basis.} You'd think that with all the time I spend in the kitchen, this wouldn't prove to be a difficult task... but you'd be surprised how often you fall back on boring "reliable" when no one else is looking.

In a way, having someone else to feed has been a creative cooking exercise of sorts, which I greatly appreciate because I've been in a bit of a rut.

After returning from a weekend of indulgence at the Food & Wine Conference, I've been trying to get as many vegetables and healthy things as possible into my meals. But feeding two guys is no time to serve "light & fit" dishes, unless you want rustling in the pantry as they look for something to snack on immediately after dinner. That's how these Asian-Inspired Stuffed Peppers happened.

Hearty enough to satisfy the guys, but healthy enough to fit into my allowances for the week, they proved to be a crowd-pleaser. I bulked up just a pound of ground turkey meat with a variety of veggies and added quinoa for extra protein and fiber, which stretched the filling enough to fill 6 large pepper halves {and feed two hungry men}. The simple sauce bumps up the flavor factor and makes you want one forkful after another.

These peppers were thumbs up all around and still simple to make, which made for a happy visitor and pleased regulars, too. Don't wait for a house guest to try these out with your family!

Asian-Inspired Stuffed Peppers
Makes 6 stuffed pepper halves

3 large green bell peppers, seeded & sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey meat
1/2 cup carrot, diced or chopped
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sriracha {or more if you like heat}
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil. Place halved bell peppers on pan and set aside until ready to fill.

2. In a large, deep skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and saute until softened and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Add turkey meat to skillet and saute until no longer pink.

3. Toss in carrots, broccoli and zucchini and cook for about 4-5 minutes until just starting to soften. Add quinoa and stir to combine.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together soy sauce, water, sesame oil, sriracha, ground ginger, garlic and cornstarch {try to make sure there are no cornstarch lumps if possible}. Add to meat and vegetable mixture and stir until everything is well-coated and sauce is slightly thickened.

5. Spoon filling evenly among bell pepper halves. Bake for about 5-20 minutes or until the peppers become slightly tender.

Serve hot or warm.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bean & Cheese Zucchini Rolls {a.k.a. Zucchitos}

A few things:

1. I just returned from a weekend in Orlando for the Food & Wine Conference and oh. em. geeee.  So much good food, information and amusement. {Enough to elicit expressions suitable for a teenage girl, clearly.} I want to tell you all about it but, let's be real, I still haven't shared the recap from my trip to Philly 2 months ago. So, yeah.

2. I didn't think this could ever, ever happen because I'm a bit of a margarita snob, but I'm totally digging these Sandra Lee Cocktail Time ready-made margs. I know. They were sent to me to try out and I was all, "Yeah, this is gonna taste like lime-flavored Pinesol", and then I completely had to eat -- er, drink? -- my words because it was truly tasty. I should have known to trust good ol' "Aunt Sandy", homegirl knows her boozy drinks. They reminded me of back in the day when I used to frequent OTB for happy hour margaritas. Except now I'm old and instead of starting the night with margaritas, a few sips and I'm ready for bed.
3. These Bean & Cheese Zucchini Rolls look horrendous. Let's just be clear about that. There is no angle or light that could make these look pretty, and quite frankly, I couldn't care less because I just wanted to stuff them in my face. This isn't Glamour Shots, this is dinner.

Here I am, trying to channel darling Faith from An Edible Mosaic and savvy Julius from Droolius who gave a fantastic presentation on how to photograph difficult food during FWCon and all I can think is, "Good grief, these look pretty gross."

Pay no mind to this disturbing fact, my friends. Because what you've got here is a better-for-you version of a bean & cheese burrito. A "Zucchito", if you will. They taste like a heavenly little Mexican-inspired pinwheel of dinnertime love. And best of all, they only require 4 ingredients.

A smear of refried beans and a sprinkle of cheese is all it takes to turn zucchini into a vegetable fiesta. For a bit of a zesty kick, these rolls are nestled into a pool of your favorite salsa verde {enchilada sauce would do the trick, too} and baked until tender. Serve with a side of rice and you've got yourself a meal.

They may not be a work of art, but their looks are nothing a few margaritas won't beautify. ;)

Bean & Cheese Zucchini Rolls {a.k.a. Zucchitos}
Makes approximately 12 rolls

1/2 cup salsa verde {I like Trader Joe's brand}
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into thin strips *
1 can refried beans {I buy the vegetarian kind because they don't contain lard}
3/4 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
{Optional} Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour salsa verde into the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking dish and spread with a spoon. Set aside.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil {so you can just toss the mess when you're done}, and place zucchini strips on sheet. Spread about 2 tablespoons of refried beans onto each strip, stopping a half inch or so shy of the end.

3. Sprinkle each with about a tablespoon {or more, if you'd like} shredded cheese. Carefully roll the strips into a pinwheel until you get to the bare end -- leaving that spot without refried beans will make for "cleaner" rolls. Secure with a toothpick, if needed.

4. Place the rolls in the baking dish** as close to each other as possible to help make sure they stay rolled up, nestling them down into the salsa verde.

5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving {to avoid all the filling falling out}. If desired, dollop a little sour cream {I use nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead} on top. Serve with Mexican rice, or as seen here, with chipotle-infused rice.

* It really helps to get the zucchini pieces as thin as possible so they don't snap when you roll them. If you're not in a rush, baking the strips for a few minutes to soften them first will also help make them more pliable. Even if they break, they'll still be good... just uglier than they already are.

**I placed mine with the open side facing up, but placing them with the open sides lying horizontally may help them take a better shape.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pops | Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk

Remember those frozen ice pops {in all their technicolor glory} that we'd clamor over as kids? How about those creamy dessert pops that probably contained everything BUT actual cream.  I get a little woozy just thinking about how much high fructose corn syrup and food coloring I probably ingested in one summer alone. Eek.

I may have grown up, but that doesn't mean that the cravings for frosty frozen pops cold desserts have subsided in the least. Except now, I can make my own to suit my preferences. And my preferences almost always include chocolate.

So imagine my joy when I discovered that Silk now makes a chocolate version of their creamy, dreamy cashewmilk! {Vanilla-lovers: They've got you covered, too!} Now we're talking.

Since I was already smitten with Silk's Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, I was pretty psyched to give this a try -- especially at 90 calories per serving. But I couldn't stop there, of course. What fun would that be?

Is there any combination better than chocolate and peanut butter? YES. Chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels. Something about the roasty taste of peanuts and the hint of salt from the pretzels just makes chocolate taste, well, chocolatey-er,  and the creaminess creamier. {I may or may not have sipped this directly from the blender.}

Um, yeah. Team Chocolate all the way.

You could certainly enjoy a glass of chocolate cashewmilk straight up, but I promise you won't regret whipping up these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pops for a cool sweet and salty treat.

Have you tried Silk Cashewmilk yet? Which team would you be on: Team Chocolate or Team Vanilla?

For more great ideas, coupons and more visit Silk Cashewmilk's website!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Pops

2 cups Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk
1/4 to 1/3 cup natural peanut butter {I used salted}
Approximately 1.5 ounces good dark chocolate, melted
1/4 cup salted mini pretzels, crushed {I used gluten free}

Special equipment: Ice pop molds {or alternatively, small paper or plastic cups}, wooden popsicle sticks

1. Add cashewmilk and peanut butter to blender; blend until well combined.

2. Divide evenly among ice pop molds.* Freeze for about 3-4 hours or until solid.

3. Remove pops from molds and drizzle {or dip} with cooled melted chocolate. Quickly roll or sprinkle in crushed pretzel pieces. The chocolate should solidify almost immediately, but you can also place them on baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and return to the freezer for a few minutes to allow chocolate to harden completely.

*My ice pop molds come with their own plastic lids/sticks, but I prefer wooden sticks, so I freeze the molds with the liquid in them until they are slushy but not frozen solid {about 1.5 hours} and then insert wooden sticks so they will stay upright before continuing to freeze.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Grilled Tyson® Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

What is it about the smell of a smoky grill that brings everyone out of the woodwork and magnetically draws people to gather 'round?

It could be the memories of long summer days. It might be the recollection of a favorite family recipe sizzling away on the grill grates. But even though we all look forward to the finished product being served up for us to enjoy, it's the togetherness that makes grilling out something we crave.

Around here, we're lucky to have "grilling weather" pretty much year round, which means lots of time to experiment with different recipes and spend time outdoors enjoying the sunshine and one another. But once we approach those super steamy summer months, I have to admit I prefer sending the husband out to do the grilling while I stay cool indoors!

Even if you're not standing right alongside the "grillmaster" in your family, you can still participate in the food prep when you tag team on recipes like this one -- Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney.

Smoky with a hint of heat thanks to a dusting of ground chipotle chili pepper, grilled Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs {available fresh or frozen at your local Walmart} create a fantastic balance with sweet, fruity chutney. The chicken is perfect grilling up in advance and turning into lunch on the go for a family picnic, beach day or a portable lunch any day of the week.

Though the flavors of the chutney are complex, putting it together is pretty simple... and a great excuse to work in an air conditioned kitchen while the sweating is going on outside!

No matter who does what job, the whole family will come together to enjoy these chicken wraps when the work is done. And that's truly the best part!

For more products & recipes to bring your family together this summer, visit Walmart's Gather 'Round the Grill ideas!

Grilled Chicken Wraps with Peach-Ginger Chutney

Tyson® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper {or smoked paprika}
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 whole wheat wraps
1 cup greens of your choice {I used mixed greens}
1 tomato, sliced

1. Preheat grill. Season chicken thighs with chipotle chili pepper and salt.

2. Grill chicken thighs until fully cooked through and juices run clear, about 5-7 minutes on each side {until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.}

Remove from grill place onto a plate covered with foil to rest. Once cooled, chop or slice into pieces. Set aside until ready to make wraps.

For Peach-Ginger Chutney: 
Adapted from Fine Cooking

2 peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 large pieces
1 shallot, finely diced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

2. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the peaches have softened completely, stirring often.

3. Once cooked, remove the large pieces of ginger and the thyme stem. Mash with a fork or potato masher to achieve desired amount of chunkiness. Set aside unit ready to use.

To assemble wraps:

1. Lay out wraps and distribute greens and tomato evenly between the four wraps. Place grilled, chopped chicken thigh onto each wrap and top with a heaping tablespoon of chutney.

2. Carefully tuck in the sides of the wrap, then fold over and wrap tightly to secure the contents of each wrap. Place seam-side down and secure with a toothpick with desired, or cut in half to serve.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa

True story: I was almost killed by a cherry tomato over the weekend. No lie.

Here I am, trying to get back on track with eating {mostly} healthy, and the plan completely backfires and literally almost does me in.

When you're a mama-on-duty 24/7 and eating becomes secondary to -- well, everything -- it's easy to get into the habit of grabbing things that are more treat-like than nourishing and forget to consume enough servings of fruits and veggies.

So, I've been making more of an effort to eat mindfully and choose carefully when it comes to my daily diet. Over the weekend, I wanted to munch with reckless abandon... but I behaved myself and stuck to mostly healthy choices. {Minus some ridiculous homemade brownies that happened. Balance, people.}

During my weekly visit to Trader Joe's, I had been seduced by some beautiful, vibrant red cherry tomatoes. When lunchtime came around on Sunday and I needed a quick bite, I reached for a handful of them with a dollop of hummus.

Steve was playing with Cole and I was happily snacking away when suddenly -- POP. I bit down and was nearly drowned by a giant wave of seeds and juice that erupted forth from the tiny tomato with the power of a Nerf Super Soaker.

I can imagine that the look on my face was priceless; the choking and gagging that ensued was enough to rouse Steve, who usually just looks at me like he's had enough of my dramatics when something of the sort happens.

Coughing, hacking and gasping for breath followed as I tried to get some air. As it turns out, aspirating tiny seeds is quite unpleasant. Once I cleared my airway, I sputtered words of disdain for the offending tomato {though quite delicious, if I'm being completely honest} and assured Steve that there was no need for the Heimlich or a call to 911.


I doubt that a chocolate bar would assault me in such a violent fashion... just sayin'.

Consequently, cherry tomatoes and I are taking a little break from each other for a while. Meanwhile, I've come up with another quick dish that probably won't try to drown you or infringe upon your airway at all as long as you chew carefully while I recover: Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa.

I can't tell you how many times I've made this, and I can't get sick of it. Roasty-toasty broccoli {I like it almost burnt to a crisp} gives a nutty and textural bite to simple quinoa salad. Punctuated by salty bits of feta cheese, everything is brought together with an easy lemon vinaigrette for a tangy zip.

Healthy eating may extend your life -- or, it may cut it short! Ha. So you might as well enjoy the things you eat; this dish will kill two birds with one stone!

Roasted Broccoli & Feta Quinoa

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 or 2 tablespoons extra for roasting broccoli
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or your favorite herb
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by lining with foil. Place broccoli florets on pan and drizzle with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how toasty you like your broccoli.

2. Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette by whisking together 1/4 cup olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon, garlic, marjoram and a small dash of salt. Set aside.

3. When broccoli is finished roasting, remove from baking sheet and place in a medium bowl. Add cooked quinoa and crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over top and fold ingredients together gently until well combined.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes | Castello #BluesdayTuesday

I am officially outnumbered by men in my household. We started out 50/50 when we moved in together many moons ago. Then we added on a fur-baby who tipped the balance in favor of testosterone. And now, the addition of our son has really pushed me into the minority.

My mother-in-law, who also lived in a male-dominated household in her child-rearing years, promises that it's not so bad. She even confided that most times it's nice to be the queen among kings. I'll take her word for it.

So far, all I'm seeing is a heightened tolerance to foul smells and a growing commitment to meatier meals. {Though currently, we're still testing out the waters with fruits and veggies for Cole. But I see what's coming up ahead.}

It is no secret that I'm not a huge meat eater. I could happily subsist on meals like cheese and crackers, seasoned veggies and the occasional bowl of cereal. You know, "girl food." But a girl's gotta adapt, which is how I got into all this cooking business to begin with. {Still no red meat for me.}

Whether I'm cooking something to please the "hims of the household" or to indulge my own palate, there is one great equalizer: cheese. Yes, I try to use it sparingly but it just goes so well with so many things. {And it's so darn delicious.}

Case in point: Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes. I mean, who doesn't love cheesy potatoes?

Tangy, creamy Castello Extra Creamy Danish Blue shines in this easy side. If you are a lover of blue cheese, your mouth will do a little happy dance and rejoice. That sharp blue cheese "bite" is unmistakable, but mellowed by the creaminess and richness of this decadent rendition. Combined with crispy, smoky bacon there's a little love in here for everyone.

Give this crowd pleaser a try... it'll impress boys and girls alike!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Castello Cheese for Summer of Blue; I have been compensated for this post. However, as always, the opinions you read here are all my own.

Blue Cheese & Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes
Makes 6 servings

3 russet potatoes, scrubbed & dried
Olive or canola oil
Kosher salt
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2.5 ounces {approximately} Castello Danish Blue Cheese, plus extra for sprinkling

1. To bake potatoes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place directly onto center rack and bake for about 1 hour or until tender. {A knife should easily pierce the potato.} Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

2. Once cooled, cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the insides leaving a thin wall of potato so that they are sturdy, taking care not to puncture the skins; place in a medium-sized bowl.

3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place potato boats on a baking pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, to the potato in the bowl, add Greek yogurt, butter, salt, garlic and onion powders. Mash until smooth {or use a hand mixer, but don't overmix or you'll get gluey potatoes}. Gently fold in 3/4 of bacon {reserve some for crumbling on top} and Castello Danish Blue.

5. Scoop filling into each potato boat, dividing evenly among each one. Top each potato with reserved bacon and extra blue cheese.

6. Return to oven for another 15-20 minutes until heated through and the top just begins to brown.

Serve hot.