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 =)

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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

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!

Stuffed Manicotti, not so traditional!

Last night I made my stuffed manicotti, and it turned out really well. My husband and mom both really enjoyed it, and I thought it was one of my better ones too. I am always playing with recipes and making my own twists on things, so I thought I would share this one!

I originally adapted this recipe from The Geometry of Pasta, which is really a fantastic book for anyone who likes know more about how things became part of our lives, and not just food on our plates. The history and recipes are fantastic!! The artwork is very cool too.

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey

Salt, Pepper, Fresh Garlic, Italian Herbs

1 tray of Manicotti (the brand I buy has 7 per tray)

3 cups of fresh spinach

At least 1 1/2 cups of Ricotta, or just a 15 oz container is fine

1/2 bag of Parmesan cheese, you can use an Italian blend too, that works nice as well, we always have cheese in the house so I just use whatever I have

2 large egg yolks

Fresh grated nutmeg, of course if you don’t have a fresh nutmeg the dried spice will work as well, I use about a teaspoon

2 tbs butter – last night I didn’t have real butter so I used margarine and it worked just as well. I only needed to adjust the flour ratio and added a tablespoon more

3 tbs of all purpose flour

3/4 plus 3 tbs of milk

3/4 cups of your favorite red sauce, I think that a sweet red works best in this recipe rather then a salty.. that may be overload!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425

In a skillet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and Italian herbs brown your ground turkey, cooking it all the way and remove from heat to cool

Boil a large pot of water and add manicotti, I also throw my spinach on top because it floats and I like multitasking, When the spinach has wilted and darkened take it out, rinse with cold water, squeeze excess liquid out and chop finely =) And when the manicotti is al dente, rinse with cold water and set  aside

In a bowl combine Ricotta, Egg Yolks, Spinach, Salt and Pepper to taste, Nutmeg, Garlic, and when the turkey has cooled down a little bit, enough that it won’t start cooking the egg yolks, combine with the rest and mix well, make sure you taste this… if it doesn’t taste good now it won’t later and adjust the salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a 9×13 pan, cover the bottom with your red sauce

Fill a pastry bag with your ricotta mixture and pipe into manicotti shells and place on top of your red sauce, I usually have some left over that I just pipe at the edge of each shell… and give the rest to the dog =)

In your turkey skillet melt butter and add flour and combine till it’s nice and pasty, then slowly add the milk stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth

Pour your white sauce over top of the stuffed manicotti and make sure you smooth it out over the entire shell so the edges don’t get crispy

Top with your cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes, I usually broil for about 2 minutes right before I take it out

Let it rest for as long as you can stand, about 10-20 minutes and then serve =)

This is definitely a family favorite, and I have fun making it!

Pair it with a great spinach salad and some garlic bread! It is also super delicious the second day!