Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Muffins

These are adapted from my Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffin, I wanted to post another very different option!

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese muffins:

12 oz cream cheese softened

1 stick of butter

1 1/2 cup of sugar

4 eggs

2 egg whites

9 tablespoons of buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

2 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups of mini chocolate chips

Cream cheese topping:

6oz cream cheese

1 1/2 – 2 cups of powdered sugar

A few table spoons of creamer

I added a 1/2 tablespoon of dutch process coco powder which is what is in the picture… but I wouldn’t do it again. I think it would be way better with just the regular cream cheese topping!

Directions:

Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and cream again until smooth. Add eggs and egg whites beat until just combined, add in  the buttermilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill paper lined muffin cups with batter, 3/4 full, these spread out much more then when the batter has fruit in it, so leave room for them to grow! Usually I don’t but in this case you definitely need to follow the 3/4 rule!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 turning around halfway through.

While the muffins are cooling beat the cream cheese and creamer until smooth, and add powdered sugar until smooth and creamy, adjust amount of powder sugar accordingly, add more if it’s too runny, and add a tad more creamer if it’s to thick!

Fill a pastry bag and pipe on a drizzle! Although it’s not exactly a drizzle it’s a cross between a glaze and icing…. it’s super creamy and melts in your mouth! Very yummy!

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Strips with Honey Dijon Dipping Sauce

So this is not one of my more healthy dishes, but it sure is yummy and a lot healthier then the alternative!

This tastes a little bit like Chick Fil A =) especially if you get the pretzels down to a really fine flour texture

I want to try and bake it next time to see if turns out just as yummy!

I adapted it from Fine Cooking, you can find the original here!

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Strips with Honey Dijon Dipping Sauce
Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3 cups of pretzels
Garlic Powder
3 tbs Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard – I use Beaver brand here in Oregon, but if you live anywhere that there is a Wegmans they make a fantastic mustard! I would even go for the whole seed mustard, super yummy!
3 large chicken breasts sliced into strips
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise – I am a miracle whip person and I like the lesser calories so we use that here in our household
The original recipe called for dill… I hate dill, but if you like it you can add it to the sauce
3 tbs of Agave
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Get out 3 shallow containers for the process, flour with ground pepper in dish one. Eggs, mustard and a tablespoon of agave in another. Process the pretzels in a magic bullet or food processor, I love my magic bullet it really makes flour like consistency which helped make the breading really light!  Transfer the pretzel flour to your third container and add some garlic powder, a little bit of salt and 3 tbs of powdered sugar. Line up the flour, egg, and pretzel bowls in that order.

Dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour, then the egg, and then the pretzel flour, coating well and shaking off the excess. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup mustard with the miracle whip, agave, (dill if you’d like) and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add strips to pan making sure there is room in between each strip. Cook until the first side is dark brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the second side is golden-brown, about 2 minutes more; if the chicken seems to be browning too fast, reduce the heat to medium. Transfer to a clean cutting board topped with paper towels and cover with a paper towl and dishtowel  to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

I served this with baked french fries. I sliced potatoes into long strips, coated with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic and baked for about half an hour, and some steamed broccoli! Super yummy kid friendly meal!! My husband thinks we should have this once a week =) It is definitely a new loved dish!

This was a pretty easy recipe and took about 40 minutes for everything! Pretty quick and definitely super yummy =)

Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Pizza – The farmers markets are starting soon!

So we just moved and life has been a little crazy, in an absolutely fantastic way though!

I have an amazing new stove and oven that is called the beast… because, well, it is a beast =) it cooks and bakes so evenly! And Friday night… the glass top shattered… so I am hoping tomorrow we will be able to find a replacement top so I can keep the beast I have fallen in love with! But in the mean time I have been baking dinners and foods and tonight, was the first fruit pizza of the year! I make them often because they are so easy, quick, and delicious especially when the weather starts warm up!

Ingredients:

1 tube of sugar cookie dough, or you can make one from scratch

1 pack of cream cheese

about 1 cup of powdered sugar

1/2 tsp of vanilla

Fruit of your choice, Strawberry and Kiwi are our favorites, but Raspberry and Strawberry work good too, and Raspberry Blueberry

Directions:

If you are using the tube of cookie dough, let it get to room temperature then use your hands to flatten it out onto a pizza pan dusted in powdered sugar, if you rub your hands in the powdered sugar too you won’t stick!

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes

Let the cookie cool completely, and place in the fridge for best results.

In  your mixer whip the cream cheese, add the vanilla and gradually add the powdered sugar. I do not make mine very sweet so add according to your taste. I find with the sweet sugar cookie I like more of the cream cheese flavor.

Spread over the cool cookie and place sliced fruit and enjoy!

1 Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole <3 Yum!!

I have a very picky mother, who I take care of and lives with my husband and I so for me to find a way to sneak in something… heaven forbid… healthy, is pretty astounding! I adapted this recipe from Eating Well…Living Thin(er), She has a ton of really great recipes over there! But I knew for my family I would have to hide the Quinoa a litttttle bit better then the original recipe. So here is my take on it… and I have yet to tell anyone they ate something healthy and full of quinoa! If you have never tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) this would be a perfect starter recipe! Quinoa is a really great grain packed with a ton of protein and a lot less carbs then rice. It can be used in place of rice or couscous and takes on any flavor you give it! It’s also really great in cold salads too!

1 Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

3 good sized boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small cubes

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves

Salt and Pepper

Oregano

Basil

2 cups frozen or fresh broccoli

Soup/Cheese sauce:

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup preferably low sodium

1/3 cup miracle whip

1/3 cup of light sour cream

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/4 cups of cheese… I used a blend of parmesan, Colby jack and low fat mozzarella

1/2 teaspoon Splenda/Sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa (see note)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To cook quinoa:

1 cup quinoa

1 3/4 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, this step is very very important because if it is skipped or not rinsed well enough the quinoa will be bitter!  In a medium sized sauce pan combine the rinsed quinoa, water and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until you see a white ring around each grain and it’s light and fluffy.

Directions:

While quinoa is cooking, heat a large deep skillet with some olive oil, a tablespoon or two of butter if you choose and garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs (season to your family’s taste), simmer for a minute or two, add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally, add frozen broccoli, simmer over medium high heat until chicken and broccoli are cooked, about 15 minutes. If you are using fresh broccoli, only throw it in the pan for about 7 minutes at the end or it will get super mushy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees- I like one pan meals and chose to use my deep large skillet that can go right into the oven, so if you have one of these that would be easiest, but a greased 9X13 will work just as well!

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, shredded cheeses, sugar, a few grinds of sea salt and pepper, and nutmeg and mix well.

Drain your chicken and broccoli skillet of any excess liquid and add soup and cheese mixture, coat all of the chicken and broccoli and then add in your cooked quinoa, smooth out and top with extra Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes uncovered and bubbly on the edges, golden on top!

Serves 6-8

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins <3

So my husband said he has monthly meetings, and is responsible for taking snacks…. which I was completely unaware of so he would run tot he gas station and buy packaged donuts…. can you say grossssss especially when his wife is a pretty darn good baker! Geeeeze! So I said let me know when the next meeting is, and I will start making muffins or cupcakes or pastries for you guys. He said awesome, by the way it’s tomorrow!  So I pulled out one of my favorite muffin recipes that I have changed, changed again, and changed again to become my go to all time favorite! It’s very versatile, this time I decided to Strawberry. A couple other combos I have tried are Raspberry, Raspberry Blueberry, Raspberry Blackberry, Raspberry Blueberry Marionberry which is a yummy northwest berry, Peach, and Raspberry Chocolate Chip I am allergic to Bananas but they would be really good too with some walnuts! Really, whatever combo you can come up with would probably be yummy!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins:

12 oz cream cheese softened

1 stick of butter

1 1/2 cup of sugar

4 eggs

2 egg whites

9 tablespoons of buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

2 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 pints of strawberries, 1/2 pint pureed in food processor- whichever fruit you choose always take the 1/2 pint and puree it. It really adds the flavor of the fruit into the muffin.

Cream cheese drizzle:

4oz cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

A few table spoons of creamer

Directions:

Puree the 1/2 pint of strawberries and finely chop the rest.

Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and cream again until smooth. Add eggs and egg whites beat until just combined, add in  the buttermilk and vanilla and strawberry puree and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in the chopped up strawberries.

Fill paper lined muffin cups with batter, 3/4 full…. to be honest I never follow this… I fill them pretty much the entire way even on cupcake recipes. I like the big round dome on top!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 turning around halfway through.

Let sit in pan for about 5 minutes to set before removing from pan

While the muffins are cooling beat the cream cheese and creamer until smooth, and add powdered sugar until smooth and creamy

Fill a pastry bag and pipe on a drizzle! Although it’s not exactly a drizzle it’s a cross between a glaze and icing…. it’s super creamy and melts in your mouth! Very yummy!

Hope you enjoy!!

My Moroccan Valentine’s Day Dinner

Back in May my husband and I went to Florida and did the Disney World thing, we stopped at Epcot the first night. I was sooooo sick, I actually wasn’t sure we were going to make it on the trip. Even though that first day I was pretty miserable, it was one of the more memorable times. We stopped at Morocco in Epcot because I literally thought I was going to die from heat, the worst cold and sinus infection of my life and awful blisters on my feet! We stopped to have a really nice dinner, not knowing what to expect. We had Chicken B’Stillia for an appetizer and I had ordered Chicken CousCous and my husband ordered Kababs. It was, to this day one of the best meals we have ever had! And Ever since he has been begggggggging me to make it for him. So this Valentine’s I wanted to make a completely Moroccan dinner for us to enjoy!

 

Those are a couple pictures from the restaurant in Epcot. We had belly dancing entertainment and Aladdin and Jasmine came to eat dinner with us too. It was a very cool experience!

I was really intimidated by the work of this recipe, but really it was a lot of fun and not all that hard!

My recipe for Chicken B’stillia:

1 Chicken roaster, about 5lbs

1 sweet onion, chopped coarsely

1 bay leaf

1 box  good chicken stock- I use the low sodium Pacific Organic

Water as needed

Garlic

A dash of turmeric

Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage

Combine all together in the crock pot and cook in for 10-12 hours (I cook the chicken the day before so that after it cools, I shred it and put it in the fridge along with the left over stock in the bottom of the crock pot.)

When the chicken cools, take off the skin and shred it to fine pieces, which doesn’t take much since the crock pot pretty much took care of that. Put chicken in fridge until needed.
If you put the liquid stock from the cock pot in the fridge the night before it will be jelly like, that is completely ok, just put  1.5 cups of stock into a small pot and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to about 3/4 or so cups of stock. Reserve for later

Liquid from crock pot, Chicken Stock

3 tbsps butter

1.2 an onion processed in the food processor or magic bullet till it is mush

½ sweet onion processed the same

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

Combine these ingredients in a large pot and sauté for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
While the above is cooking, combine all the following ingredients in a bowl:

1.5 cups minced cilantro

3/4 cup minced parsley

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon turmeric

2 tsps kosher salt- if you are using regular broth I would omit this completely or only use a ½ tsp.

1.5 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1.5 tsps fresh-cracked black pepper

1 cup dried currants

Herb Mix

It’s really important that you choose high quality fresh herbs… dried ones just will not do for this recipe! It will help meld the flavors and give even taste through out.

When the onions are sautéed nicely add the above herb mixture and combine together cooking for a minute or two.

about 3/4 cups of chicken stock (the reduced stuff)

plus reserved chicken

Turn heat off and add chicken broth, then the shredded chicken and combine till everything is coated well and mixed nicely. You should taste it in case it needs a little salt or pepper, but it should be fine.

Add chicken stock to herb and onion mixture

Add chicken to mixture- I mashed any large chunks left over

4 large eggs, beaten thoroughly

Combine the 4 beaten eggs, and mix again till everything is combined. You can pop this in the fridge the day before, or just until you are ready to put it into the pan

Add eggs and mix together

Use a 10 or 11 inch spring form pan for this pie. It will make everything so much easier!

1/2 cup melted butter

2 sheets Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets, which is what I used and found it to work really well, the original calls for Phyllo dough but this is a serious pie and I found this to work better

Butter the bottom and sides of your spring form pan and then lay one sheet on the bottom and press out till it comes up the sides a little. You will have 4 corners sticking up and that is ok just leave them there! You will place the top sheet on so the top corners fit into the spaces to form a complete surround.

Fill the dough with your chicken filling and smooth out, but not to the edges, it will be a mound shape. Thicker in the center.

Place the second sheet on top, opposite of how the bottom was places, press the corners down into the spaces and then pull up the bottom corners to seal it and pinch any open gaps closed.

Top the entire thing with lots of melted butter, make sure that it’s almost saturated! You can also put this into the fridge all closed up if you are doing other things, and just pop it in the oven when ready!

Butter it all up!

Bake it for 55 minutes, or until caramel brown, in a 350 degree oven.

½ cup of powdered sugar

1 or 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Combine in a bowl for sifting over the pie right before it is ready to be served. You can dust it over the entire pie after you release the spring form, and then again once it is plated for an all over dusting sugar. It is really important that you do not skip this step!

Chicken B’stillia is usually served as an appetizer so before I started working on the B’stillia I cut cubes of New York strip, parsnips, carrots, mushrooms and left over onion and garlic mash in a bag, filled with some chicken broth, marsala wine, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and tumeric, popped it into the fridge and let it marinade for a few hours.

When the B’stillia was in the oven I threw it into a big deep skillet and let it simmer

Marinade bag dumped into skillet

After the B’stillia came out of the oven, I let it rest took a cup of juices from the steak “stew” and boiled it in another pot, and added a cup of couscous, let sit for 5 minutes, and fluffed, plated, and topped with the steak mixture.

Classic Moroccan dish

 

Our Dinner set up =)

So that was our dinner! It was a lot of continuous work, but it was very very worth it!! It makes me want to visit Morocco badly! Maybe that will be our next traveling adventure =)

I hope you all had a fantastic Valentine’s day! I think this may be a new tradition of ours!

Marriage Monday, The eternal debate of Valentine’s Day

First off, I have to say that I am incredibly spoiled to being with. I have a husband who is willing to buy me anything I could ever want (as long as we can afford it lol) and who is willing to go through a lot of trouble, even moving, to make me happy!

This Valentine’s day I said all I wanted was for all the pieces in the puzzle to finally fit together and for us to be able to relax, settle down and move forward in life. I don’t ask for to much right =). I also have been searching for a wedding band since we got married… so about a year and a half now… and I either find one I really like that is 30,000 dollars or I can’t find one at all. We were shopping for what I think is a pretty great Valentine’s day present to ourselves, New Bedding! Which I am completely happy with. Seriously there is nothing better then getting into your bed and feeling like you are on a cloud! But anyway, we decided to stop at the Jewelry store on the way home and I found a gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring that looks really pretty with my solitaire, so he bought it for me and I was able to pick it up yesterday! It’s the first wedding band that I have actually worn since we got married. I haven’t been able to find one that is comfortable enough for me to wear all the time. But I found it, here it is! =)

That isn’t really why I started writing… I started writing because out of all the people I know, I have to say there is a big divide. They either go all out and celebrate Valentine’s Day allllll day or completely boycott it out of their world. Both I think are kind of extreme. I feel like I get spoiled all the time so having an extra day doesn’t really feel necessary for me. I really enjoy reading the cards my husband picks out, he is really good at pickings that say exactly what I need to hear at the time. I know all you guys out there are gonna hate me for saying it, but taking the time to pick out a card and write a note inside means more to me personally then any flower or piece of jewelry out there. It really is the little things. Through out our hectic lives we often don’t take time to pay attention to those little things so I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a day to remind us of what it’s important… not the flowers or chocolate which both are great, but what it is we are doing what we are doing, why we chose to be with the person we are with or why we are taking time out for ourselves. Wherever you are in life, it’s important to take time and think about why we are where we are.

I know I am really bad at remembering to give those words of affirmation to my husband, to say thank you really for all the amazing things you do for me and how much I appreciate them, so I am very open to having a day to remind me to do those things and an excuse to be cheesey and mushy because we all need to hear that we are wanted, loved, and appreciated it. Those things can NEVER get old! Just because men may not be the absolute best at showing their feelings or expressing their needs, the little ego boosts and reminders that they are important in providing for us really goes a long way!

I understand the point of view of those who boycott Valentine’s Day, I really do… and I completely agree, that we should show our love and appreciate every day… but really lets face it… we are a society that is all about me, and remembering to share with our loved ones those important words and actions of affirmation doesn’t happen to often.

Sometimes we feel that we are showing our spouses how much we love them, but the way we are doing do is like a foreign language to them and our acts of love of words of affirmation are not getting heard, which leaves the other feeling a bit low in the love tank. We have to learn each others love languages, which can be really challenging, and does take time. I think that it’s an ongoing process and never really stops evolving. I know I struggled a lot with this at the beginning. My love language is acts of love, choosing to do the dishes after I cook a meal shows me you love me and appreciate what I made, taking time to pick up a few things around the house says I value what you do and want to help because I love you… acts of love speak to me more then any materialistic thing and even sometimes words of affirmation. I still need to hear that you appreciate me and love me but showing me says a whole lot more…. and having a husband who loves to buy me things often left me feeling unloved because those gifts weren’t my love language and the communication was getting lost so I read a book shortly after I had gotten married and I wish it could be a book that all couples have to read before getting engaged, and even if you aren’t in a relationship it still should be a book you read.  It’s called The 5 Love Languages,     It’s written by a Christian author, but do not let that deter you from reading it if that is not your faith!

So this Valentine’s Day even if you are normally one who boycotts it, I challenge you to learn your own love language and the love language of your partner and make an effort to show them you love them in a way that they understand! =) I know I will be working hard today and tomorrow to make my husband understand how loved and important he is, which I am guilty of not telling him nearly enough!