Quick and Easy Orange Chicken

On our first trip to the grocery store in months we stumbled upon this little bottle of heaven sauce! This whole moving process has been intense. We basically haven’t cooked for ourselves since October! I can’t even tell you how sick and tired to death I am of fast food. How do my pants even fit at this point?!? Between packing, cleaning, madness, passive aggressive tension, moving, living room camp outs,painting, new carpets and finally moving furniture into rooms I just haven’t even been able to think about cooking! The last few weeks I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new post, and I finally found it!

This yummy dinner is done in under 30 minutes and tastes amazing! The chicken is lightly crisped and the rice has been seasoned. The Panda Express sauce is tangy and bright and just plain delicious.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 Cup Minute Rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp each Garlic and onion powder and 1 tsp Parsley flakes.
  • Panda Express Orange Sauce, we used about 1/3 of the bottle but I am not going to tell you how to live your life.

In a large ziploc bag or Tupperware add the flour and spices and chicken. Seal it and shake for a minute until your Chicken is fully coated.

In a skillet add about 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 360 degrees. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer (we had to do 3 batches) and fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Longer if your pieces are bigger.

Add chicken and sauce in a bowl and toss to coat.

Serve on top of seasoned rice.

Happy eating!

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Bacon Pesto Apple Brie Hors D’œuvre

This simple dish is a sure fire crowd pleaser! You get a nice herby flavor from the pesto, the awesome bacon flavor, a bright kick of apple and the creamy Brie cheese! I wish I had bought a whole wheel instead of just a wedge. That way you can get even more melty cheesy goodness.

We made a different version of this before and we learned that if you are melting Brie slices it’s better to remove the rind.

I think this would make an excellent dish for a New Years get together! I made them for a starter to Christmas dinner and they sure did disappear fast! We paired them with champagne and it was most excellent!

Want a great idea for dinner? Try some French Onion Soup!

Feeds 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Baguette, sliced on the bias (on a slight angle)
  • 1 wedge to 1 wheel Triple Cream Brie- remove the rind
  • 4 slices Bacon, fried and chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Garlic and Basil Pesto
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay out your baguette slices. In a small bowl mix the pesto and chopped bacon together and spoon over the bread. Add 1-2 slices of Brie on top.

Bake for 5 minutes until your cheese is nice and melted.

While they are baking slice your apple with a mandolin on a middle or thick setting. Place the apple slices on top of the baked bread slices. Serve on a cheese board or platter with a side of grapes. Happy New Years everyone!!!

Apple Rosemary Roasted Turkey

If you are into kitchen gadgets you would love a turkey cannon! No more waking up before dawn to get the turkey prepped and roasted for your big holiday meal. I always remember my mom and dad getting very stressed out about getting the turkey in the oven on time. And then making sure they check on it again and again. And then Levi used to host a big Friendsgiving, he was quite fond of the turkey in a bag method. It was convenient that’s for sure.

But if you want your turkey to cook quickly, be super moist, and jam packed full of flavor then you have to try a turkey cannon! I make my own flavored broth to put in the metal tube and then when you put the turkey in the oven the tube helps cook the turkey from the inside out as well as infusing the flavor of your broth into the meat. Yum!

We did this for Thanksgiving last year and I have no idea why I never posted it. I was probably too busy chomping down on all that yummy turkey! We made it again this weekend so we could have some of our own turkey leftovers.

Ingredients:

Broth:

  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 slices of Granny Smith Apple
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs  fresh Rosemary

Turkey:

  • 12 lb Turkey, completely thawed
  • 1 quarter of an Onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 Slices Granny Apple
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 handful fresh Italian Parsley
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, softened

First make the broth:

In a medium saucepan add all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turkey Time:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove from the packaging, and make sure you remove all the gizzards and icky stuff. Pat the outside of the turkey dry. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the apples, onions, shallot, parsley and rosemary.

Place your turkey cannon in a deep roasting pan. Pour your broth into the cannon until it’s up to the first hole. Place the turkey on the cannon. Secure the legs with cooking twine, in a pinch you can reuse the plastic the legs come secured with.

Mince the garlic and mix in with 2 tbsp softened butter. Cut 1 slit in the skin above each breast. Use your hand to spread the butter and garlic mixture in between the skin and breast. Spread the rest of the butter over the top of the skin all over the bird.

Bake the bird until it’s internal temperature in 165 degrees. It will take about 90 minutes depending on the oven. I highly suggest getting a wireless meat thermometer, it will change your life. Otherwise, check your temp after the first 60 minutes and then about 15-20 minute intervals until you’ve reached the desired temp.

 

Remove turkey from oven, cover in aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.

 

Please please please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I also want to make a video of this process. But that will have to wait until after the big move.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!! I am so thankful for all of you who follow and support me in all my crazy cooking adventures….love you all!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

This one is a serious throwback! My sister made a version of these many many years ago, it was one of our very first Pintrest ventures. I thought they were delicious! I’ve been wanting to recreate them for years, but Levi has always been very skeptical. So this week I decided that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I mean how could he not like them….chicken-good, pasta- good, basil and garlic- good, cheese- good and I decided that I was going to add a little something extra, Alfredo sauce-gooooooood!

 

And guess what…..of he loved it! This is kind of like a zesty chicken alfredo. I mean who wouldn’t love it? The original recipe doesn’t call for any sauce so the shells end up a little dry. I poured some homemade alfredo into the bottom of the pan and the result was amazing!

Tip- I call for 25 pasta shells because I like to leave myself a little room for error.

Ingredients:

  • 25 Pasta Shells, cooked for a few minutes below package directions. You will want them very al dente. Drain and let cool.
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (optional- 1/4 cup prepared pesto)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream or Half n Half
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2 Cups Kraft Italian Blend Cheese

In a medium skillet heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil over a medium heat. Add onions and saute until they are soft. Add ground chicken, cook until slightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese until fully melted.

In a small food processor add the basil, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Chop until very fine. Mix in with the chicken. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add garlic. Cook until butter turns a dark yellow. Whisk in flour, cook for an additional minute. Add cream 1/2 cup at a time constantly whisking. Add parmesan.  Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish pour 3/4 of the alfredo sauce. Spoon the chicken mixture into the shells and place in the alfredo. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over the top and top with cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. If you want the cheese to brown turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Riches to Rags recipe click here for link. 

Green Chile & Beef Tamale Pie


One of Levi’s favorite dishes when we go to Mexican restaurants is a tamale. I’ve never actually had one myself, but I wanted to try making something similar for him. I certainly do not have the skills or the know how to make an actual tamale wrapped in corn husk. I ran across a few different recipes online that seemed pretty standard so I figured I could make some personal adjustments and it would work out. And boy was I right!! This pie was a little spicy and a little sweet, very cheesy with a nice crumbly texture. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 7 oz Green Chiles, chopped and your desired level of heat
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp Chile Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Cup Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheese, I used Tillamook 2 Cheese Mexican Blend
  • Toppings: Sliced Green Onion, Cliantro, Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl whisk together the corn bread mix, milk, egg, green chile’s and corn. In a large cast iron pan or 9×13 baking dish, spray with cooking spray and fill with the corn bread mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cornbread is cooking, in a medium skillet cook the beef with the chili powder and cumin. Once the meat has browned, drain any excess fat.

Remove the cornbread from the oven and poke all over with a fork, pour green chile enchilada sauce evenly over the top. Add the beef and top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and return to oven for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil, turn on the broiler and broiler for about 2 minutes to brown the cheese.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Add desired toppings and enjoy!!

Adapted from 2 Teaspoons recipe here. 

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Stuffed Pork Loin


One of the best appetizers you can order is a skillet of warm, creamy spinach and artichoke dip. With a side of crusty bread or pita chips you just can’t go wrong! It’s creamy, cheesy and slightly tangy….an all around crowd pleaser!


Levi saw a picture of a stuffed pork Loin just randomly on something and made his signature “ooooooooh” noise that immediately adds that dish into my meal plan. We already had the Loin at home but we needed the string to truss (secure roasts or birds with string) the roast up. That ended up being quite the adventure that took us all over Walmart several times and ended up at Home Depot. We read that you want the string to be 100% natural because if there are any synthetics they might melt into your food. Yuck!

Once we got home we spent hours finishing up the editing our first how to video. You can now follow us on YouTube on our Squishy Cupcakes channel. After that long and slightly frustrating process I was a little worried that this meal would up in the same long and frustrating process. Luckily for me it ended up being super easy!!!! Prepping the roast and the dip only took about 10 minutes and then into the oven with the roast and onto the couch drinks in hand for us! 


Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Pork Loin
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup Spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

On a large cutting board filet the pork Loin. Do this by taking a long sharp knife and make a cut downwards about 1/2 inch in from the side. Cut down until you have 1/2 inch left at the bottom. Flatten the flap you just cut and run your knife horizontally into the Loin and keep making cuts until you have a flat piece of pork. Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap and a hand towel. Use a meat mallet and pound the pork starting in the middle and working your way out until you have an even thickness.

In a medium bowl using a mixing spoon combine the cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Add the onions, garlic, cheeses, spinach and artichoke hearts. Stir until well combined.

Season the back side of the filleted Loin with the steak seasoning. Flip over and spread the dip evenly leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides. Roll up the loin along the long side for faster cooking. If a little filling comes out sides just wipe it off.

Using 100% white cotton twine truss up the Loin seam side up  by tieing it really tightly on each end and twice in the middle. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with tin foil and place the Loin on the rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees.

Mixed Berry Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz blue raspberry vodka
  • 1 oz white rum
  • Mixed berry juice 
  • Fresca
  • Fresh raspberries

After a delightful canyon drive in the jeep and a small nature hike, we got home and started making dinner and I just whipped this together. It’s really tasty!

I added the liquors and ice first, then filled about 3/4 of the way up the glass with that mixed berry juice. Top it off with Fresca and some fresh raspberries! Enjoy 🙂

White Walker Cake

How ’bout that finale?!?! In case you haven’t noticed yet we are HUGE Game of Thrones fans! I am coming up on 10 recipes dedicated to this series. So far I have made cupcakes, cookies and this cake. Anything else you want me to try? Only one more season left for these fun experiments……how depressing is that?!?! I sure hope we don’t really have to wait until 2019 for the final season.

I must say….I was very satisfied by the way this season ended. Especially Sansa and Arya banding together and executing the character whom most people have wanted dead since the very beginning. That moment brought so much joy to my heart because I was seriously questioning whether or not they would end up killing each other. I felt like I had been losing the Arya that I have been rooting for for 6 years, and now I know that she is still the same fiercely loyal and determined girl I have grown to love. Sansa is finally taking control of her destiny and I love it! Maybe she will become the Queen of Winterfell if Jon Snow realizes that marrying his aunt is icky. Who knows…..isn’t that the whole point of this show,  some predictions come true but in the end…..you just never know.

I’ve been wanting to try a poke cake for awhile, they are quite the trend. I can tell why! The moist cake and light fluffy frosting make for an amazing combination! Most recipes call for Cool Whip Topping, but I am not all about that noise. Whipped cream frosting is definitely the way to go! The next question was….what flavor should a blue cake actually be? Blueberry is the natural answer, but that would turn out more purple than blue. Since it is the end of summer I wanted to go for a final tropical hurrah before heading into the holiday baking season. I went with a cream of coconut and lime drizzle. Perfect flavor and  easy to get a nice shade of blue. I generally prefer gel color, but you would probably be better off with a liquid dye for the coconut. Still use gel for the coconut flakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix (and ingredients to prepare-eggs and oil)
  • 15 oz Cream of Coconut- usually found in the drink aisle
  • 3 Limes- Juiced
  • 8 oz Coconut Flakes
  • Food Dye- black and light blue
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Prepare the cake according to box instructions.

In a small bowl combine the cream of coconut and a few drops of blue food dye until you get your desired hue. Use a fork to poke holes evenly across the top of the warm cake. Evenly and slowly pour the cream of coconut across the top of the cake. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment whip the whipping cream for 5 minutes until soft peaks form. In a medium bowl use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. With the mixer on low add the cream cheese to the whipped cream 1/4th at a time,scraping down the bowl each time.  Mix for 1-2 minutes until it’s fully incorporated and thick stiff peaks form.

Take your cake out of the fridge and use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top. In a small bowl dye 1/3 of the coconut flakes black, and then dye 1/3 of the flakes blue. Layer the coconut over the frosting.

Store in a covered dish in the fridge.

Adapted from The Country Cooks Coconut Cream Poke Cake

Cookies of Fire and Ice

 

Who is ready for the Game of Thrones Finale on Sunday? I have been reading all the online theories and basically any article or post that I come across. Has there ever been a show that generated this much talk? I’ve never thought so much about a show or book before. I wish that I could pick up on all the subtle references and inferences that drives the conversation forward. I am just in awe of people who can pick up on these hidden gems and generate predictions. Amazing.

So for last year I made Cupcakes of Fire and Ice….click here for the recipe. And they have been really popular so far, but I’ve always felt back that they are just white chocolate flavored. I wanted to make a party desert that doesn’t just look cool it also tastes super amazing! So I decided to recreate my Lemon and White Chocolate cookie for the “Ice” and I came up with a whole new combination for the “Fire”. Red Velvet Raspberry with Chocolate Chips, these turned out so soft and chewy! I split the batch in half and dyed one half red and the other an orange-red and swirled them together to get a cool fire effect!

Check out the Dragon’s Breath Pulled Pork for the perfect GoT party dinner!


You can decorate these cookies with your favorite sprinkles for some extra shine! I hope your viewing parties are amazing and that you enjoy the finale!

Ingredients for Lemon Ice Cookies:

  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 package Whipped Meyer Lemon Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Emulsion
  • 2 Eggs
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one Meyer Lemon
  • Finely grated rind of one Meyer Lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • Light Blue Food Dye- I prefer gel dye
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer mix the sugars and butter until it forms a grainy paste. Add the pudding, vanilla and lemon extracts, and eggs. Mix well. Add the fresh lemon juice and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until you have a thick cookie dough. Add blue food coloring till you reach your desired shade. Use a big spoon to mix in the white chocolate chips and lemon rind.

Use a cookie scoop or a small spoon to measure out cookie dough into 1 inch balls on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned on the bottom.  Add sprinkles. Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Store in an air tight container.

Ingredients for Red Velvet Raspberry Cookies:

  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 package Red Velvet Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp Raspberry Emulsion (optional)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 6 oz Fresh Raspberries
  • Orange and Red Food Dye- I prefer gel dye
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer mix the sugars and butter until it forms a grainy paste. Add the pudding, vanilla and raspberry extracts, and eggs. Mix well scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until you have a thick cookie dough. In a small bowl crush the raspberries into a pulp. Use a big spoon to mix in the chocolate chips and raspberries. Separate the dough into two bowls. Add red dye to one and orange to the other until you’ve reached the desired shade.

Use a cookie scoop or a small spoon to measure out 1/2 red and 1/2 orange cookie dough into 1 inch balls on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer shiny on top under the oven light. Add sprinkles. Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Store in an air tight container.

 

Cheddar Chive Waffles


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 chives (1/8 cup) chopped

Directions:

Preheat your waffle iron, we put ours on 5. Our waffle iron is a rotating Belgian waffle type.

Preheat the oven to 200° F.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk to combine the egg yolks, milk, and butter. Make sure the let the melted butter cool enough to avoid curdling the milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites to soft peaks.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until they are almost combined. Add the egg whites, cheese, and chives to the bowl, and gently fold them in until combined. If you are a fan of the Great British Baking Show and Mary Berry, you will know this as, “Around the outside and through the middle.” Make sure not to be too rough as this will defeat the purpose of the whipped egg whites which is to make the waffles light and fluffy.

I use the portion cup that came with the waffle iron which will make 3 large waffles. I cook for approximately 5 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate it just after putting in the batter and then once the steam stops, rotate it back and check until you have reached the desired golden brown color. If the waffle isn’t crisp at this stage, that is just fine as they will crisp in the oven.

Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and place the waffles on that in the oven to let the waffles crisp up.

Once all waffles have crisped, top with whatever you’d like and enjoy! We love to use these waffles with fried chicken and gravy for delicious chicken and waffles. You can also leave out the cheddar and chives for non savory waffles! Enjoy these delicious waffles!

Recipe adapted from FifteenSpatulas.