Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Aunt Nancy’s Chicken Bites

These wonderful little Parmesan and cracker crumb coated bites of chicken never last long around my house!  My husband says they are much better than anything McDonald’s serves up (yeah, of course they are made from scratch and not “pre-chewed” patties of chicken).  I was cleaning out my pantry and fridge today to make lunch.  I served them with couscous.

I got this recipe from one of my aunts.  Thank you Aunt Nancy!  I get my kids involved in the process.  Crushing the cracker crumbs in a bag and adding seasonings and cheese…

Aunt Nancy’s Chicken Bites

Serves 6-8

  • 6 large chicken breast halves, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups Ritz Crackers, crushed with a rolling pin
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 F
  2. Cover two baking sheets with foil. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Mix cracker crumbs with cheese, seasoned salt, thyme, basil and pepper. (You can just add them to the bag you used to crush the cracker crumbs)
  4. Dip chicken pieces into melted butter and add a few pieces at a time to the bag of crackers.  Close the zip lock and have a child shake the bag to coat the chicken.
  5. Place the chicken pieces about 1/2 inch apart from each other on the baking sheets.  Repeat process until all chicken pieces are coated and on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake uncovered until golden brown 20-25 minutes.  Yields about 9 dozen pieces.

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My Favorite Lasagna

I love Lasagna.

Nothing screams comfort food to me more than lasagna.  Something about it — I think it’s the carbs – call out my name and say “Eat ME!”  My oldest daughter turns 13 this week and this was her requested Birthday meal – well, we started off with her favorite breakfast: blueberry pancakes, then had subway for lunch and lasagna for dinner.  This is about the lasagna!

One of my friends gave me the recipe for Spinach Lasagna.  It has been a recipe in our family for about 15 years now.  I like having meat in my lasagna, so now I make the same recipe but add a package of cooked mild Italian sausage to the mix.  I use the Barilla brand noodles because they are flat, but you could use any pasta you want.  The best part of this is: you DON’T have to COOK the pasta ahead.  Just lay them down in the lasagna dry!  Terrific and easy to make!  Even easier to eat.  It is a great way to sneak in those vegetables that the kids won’t go near, but when mixed with cheese and pasta they don’t seem to notice.

Nan’s Spinach Lasagna – Nan P.

Ingredients

  • 15    ounces    Cheese, Ricotta
  • 2    cups    Cheese, Mozzarella — shredded
  • 1    large    Egg
  • 10    ounces    Spinach, Frozen, chopped — thawed and drained
  • 1    tsp    Salt
  • 3/4    tsp    Oregano
  • 1/8    tsp    Pepper
  • 1    clove    Garlic — minced
  • 2    cans    Sauce, Spaghetti — 28 ounce each
  • 8    ounces    Lasagna noodles — uncooked
  • 8    ounces    Sausage, Italian, Sweet — optional

Instructions
Mix 1 cup Mozzarella, ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, spices together. In a greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish, layer 1/2 cup sauce, 1/3 of noodles, cheese (optional cooked sausage), Repeat with sauce, noodles, cheese, noodles, sauce.  Top off with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with foil.  Bake at 350° F for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.

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Boston Market Meatloaf

Boston Market Meatloaf!  Mmmm

I don’t know about you, but I love the meatloaf at Boston Market!  I think the name of the chain used to be Boston Chicken, but they changed the name in the 90’s.  I always wanted to be able to make it at home.  I don’t think it is spot on but it does come close! — I’ve had issues with the meatloaf falling apart on me in the past, though that has been less of a problem when I added an egg to the mixture for binding.  Our family has nicknamed it “lumpy meatloaf” for the very reason that it does not keep its shape very well.  But that is forgiven, because it does have a really good flavor!

The recipe originates in one of the books by Todd Wilbur (Even More Top Secret Recipes: More Amazing Kitchen Clones of America’s Favorite Brand-name Foods).  If you do not have the series of books, I think they are worth picking up.  He has copycat recipes by common and popular food chains.

http://www.toddwilbur.com/

Boston Market Meatloaf – Todd Wilbur

Ingredients

  • 2    cups    Sauce, Tomato
  • 3    Tbsp    Barbecue Sauce — Kraft Original is good
  • 2    Tbsp    Sugar
  • 1 1/2    lbs    Sirloin, Ground — 10% fat
  • 6    Tbsp    Flour
  • 3/4    tsp    Salt
  • 1/2    tsp    Onion Powder
  • 1/4    tsp    Black Pepper — ground
  • dash    Garlic Powder

Instructions
For Sauce: Combine Tomato sauce, Barbecue sauce and sugar. in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until it begins to bubble, stirring often, then remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 400F
In a large bowl, add 1 cup of Tomato sauce to the meat.  Use a large wooden spoon or your hands to work the sauce into the meat until it is well combined.
Combine the remaining ingredients with the ground sirloin – flour, salt onion powder, ground pepper, and garlic powder.  Use the wooden spoon or your hands to work the spices and flour into the meat.
Load the meat into a loaf pan (preferably a meatloaf pan with the 2 sections that allows the fat to drain. but if you don’t have one of those a regular pan will work.  Wrap foil over
the pan and place into the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take the meatloaf from the oven, remove the foil and if you aren’t using a meatloaf pan, drain the fat.
Using a knife, slice the meatloaf all the way through into 8 slices while it is still in the pan.  This will help to cook the center of the meatloaf.  Pour about 2 Tbsp of reserved tomato sauce over the meatloaf and let it stream down the center. (do not spread the sauce)
Place the meatloaf back into the oven, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until it is done.  Remove and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.  Serve with remaining sauce.

Changes I have made: add an egg.  I doubled the sauce because I like to have extra on the side.  You can vary the flavor by using various BBQ-sauces.

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Strawberry Crepes

My Aunt Helen is a wonderful cook.  I had the honor of living with her and my Uncle briefly when I was in College and she would make these wonderful Strawberry Crepes for dessert.  This was the summer that I met my husband.  I still like to make these from time to time and now my children enjoy them too!  Today I made them for breakfast.

Strawberry Crepes

Makes 12 crepes-Serves 4 (3 Crepes per serving)

For the CREPES:

  • 1 cup bisquick mix
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

For the SOUR CREAM SAUCE:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 pints sliced fresh Strawberries

Grease a 6-7 inch non stick skillet lightly; heat until hot.  Beat baking mix, milk and eggs with a hand beater or whip until smooth.  For each crepe pour 2-3 Tablespoons batter into the skillet and rotate until the batter covers the bottom.  Cook until golden brown.  Gently loosen edge with spatula, turn and cook other side until golden brown.  Stack placing waxed paper between each; keep covered to prevent them from drying out.  Mix 1 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Hull and slice 1-2 pints fresh strawberries.  Place 1 Tablespoon sour cream mixture across center of each crepe.  Sprinkle with sliced berries.  Roll and place on plate or serving platter.  Repeat;  Top with additional sour cream and berries.  Enjoy!

For the crepes, I combined 1 cup Bisquick mix with 3/4 cups of milk and 2 eggs.

I use my favorite non stick pan.  As I pour in the batter I rotate the pan so it is as thin as possible.  I did add about 2 Tbps of milk in addition to the milk to make the batter a little thinner.

This helps the crepes to be very thin.

I have the sour cream and brown sugar mixture close at hand to fill the crepes.

And the strawberries as well

As I finish cooking the crepes I put them directly on the plates for serving, I find this  slightly easier to assemble and then later I do not need to transfer them from a platter.  While the next crepe is cooking I assemble the crepe and roll it and keep an eye on the crepe that is cooking so it does not overcook.

I put about 1 Tablespoon of the sour cream and sugar mixture down the middle of the crepe.

Next I put a few spoon fulls of sliced strawberries on the sour cream sauce

I roll up the crepe and place it to the side of the plate so I make room for the other 2 crepes.

After the crepes are finished I drizzle more sour cream sauce over the top of the crepes and add some more strawberries.

Set the plate aside while you finish the other three servings and present your loved ones with a treat that will keep their bellies smiling for a few hours.

This makes a great dessert for special guests, or a great brunch treat.

I did once make these for a gathering of 20 people, but my back actually started hurting from making the crepes.  I would double this recipe, but making crepes one at a time for a larger group is not something I will do again.


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Pepperoni Calzones

I made these Calzones and the Italian-Style Pasta Salad for my

Pepperoni Calzones

husband’s birthday dinner.

You can easily add your own choice of filling.  For my husband and myself we add artichoke hearts and mushrooms… play away to your heart’s desire.

The dough recipe was from a Betty Crocker Cookbook and I have made it so often now that it is fully memorized.  Yes, it is good and don’t be intimidated by making your own dough, it is easy to do and if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook, just put it all in there and knead it.  Easy easy easy!

Pepperoni Calzones – Betty Crocker

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 package Yeast, Active Dry
  • 1 cup Water — warm
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3 cups Flour

Filling:

  • 8 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 4 ounces Mushrooms, Canned — stems and pieces
  • 1 tsp Basil, Dried
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 clove Garlic   — crushed
  • 4 ounces Olives, Ripe — sliced
  • 8 ounces Pepperoni — hormel mild
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper — chopped
  • 1 cup Cheese, Mozzarella — shredded
  • 1 largeEgg — beaten – to brush tops of dough before baking

Instructions

Dough preparation: Disolve yeast in warm water.  Add sugar, oil, salt and 1 cup of flour.  Mix together well.  Add flour ½ cup at a time to make a nice dough.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.  Put in a greased bowl and cover; allow to rise about 20 minutes.  Divide into six equal portions and roll out into 7 inch circle on a lightly floured board..
Mix tomato sauce, mushrooms, basil, oregano, garlic, and olives together and spread over half of each circle within one inch of the edge.  Top with pepperoni, green peppers and cheese.  Carefully fold dough over filling and pinch edges to seal securely.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rest about 15 minutes.Brush with beaten egg to give dough a nice sheen.  Bake in 375° F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Warm Italian-Style Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

I originally found a recipe in “Taste of Home” Magazine that was an Italian Pasta, but I accidentally heated it up the first time I made and we discovered we loved it that way.  Plus it had grated carrots in the original and we didn’t like it.. so a few changes later it is mine!

Italian Style Pasta Salad
Serves 6
Ingredients

  • 14 1/2    ounces Tomatoes, with garlic and onion — canned
  • 16    ounces    Caesar Dressing — Marie’s is good
  • 2        Onions, Green — thinly sliced
  • 15    ounces    Artichokes, Canned — hearts, cut up
  • 20    ounces    Tortellini pasta, Cheese — refrigerated
  • 1    medium    Green Pepper — chopped
  • 6    ounces    Olives, Ripe — drained, pitted
  • 3    ounces    Pepperoni — sliced, mild
  • 1/2    cup    Cheese, Parmesan — shredded

Instructions

In a 13x9x2 inch baking dish combine first 7 ingredients.  Add cooked tortellini pasta and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and heat at 325° F for 30 minutes.

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Happy Birthday David Breakfast

My husband had his birthday last week.  Today it is Birthday Observed.

It started with my egg skillet breakfast that was inspired by another picture on foodgawker.  I made my own changes.

Egg Skillet Breakfast

Serves 5

  • 4 cups Hash brown potatoes, browned in oil (about 10 minutes)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 package bacon cut into strips
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Haas Avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup Colby/Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 eggs per serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

I prepared the hash brown potatoes in a non stick skillet over high, turning occasionally.  This process took about 10 minutes.  Depending on your taste it may take longer or shorter. Season them with salt and pepper.  When they are golden brown scoop them into a bowl and set aside.  Use the same skillet to cook up the Onion and bacon pieces over medium heat until they are crisp.  Remove the bacon and onion with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a few paper towels.  Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and put the chopped tomatoes in to just cook a minute or two.

Spray a ramekin or cast iron skillet with cooking spray.  Layer the bottom with some hash browns.  Just enough to cover the bottom.  Top with bacon and onion, tomatoes, diced avocado, sprinkle with Colby Jack Cheese.  Crack and egg and put on top (you might want to make a little well so the egg does not decide to go to the side).

Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and put in preheated oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes to desired doneness.  The egg white should be cooked but the yolk still a little runny.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve. Warn the little ones that the dish is hot.

My husband said it was worthy of a Birthday Breakfast.  That is all I needed to know!

Printable Recipe

Onions, chopped, bacon, sliced

Browned Hash Brown Potatoes

Cast Iron mini skillet with Hash Browns

Top with cooked bacon and onion

Top With Tomatoes

Top With Avocado

Sprinkle with Cheese

Top With Eggs

While the Eggs bake watch my son’s toys joust

Now that is a picture of a satisfied customer.