February 27, 2013

Honey Chicken with Fried Rice

Life has definitely changed since having our baby. We have less time to ourselves, less sleep, and less date nights. That's why we stayed in for Valentine's Day this year. We were not at all eager to brave the crowds with a seven month old. Even though she does do pretty good on outings. I think she loves all the attention. :) We stayed in the previous year too, because I was pregnant and only wanted one thing. Take out Chinese food.

I thought I'd carry on the tradition but instead of ordering in I opted to make my own. A take-out fake-out. I've never made fried rice before and I have to say it was so much easier than I thought it was going to be. I've made the honey chicken many times before as it comes from one of my favorite blogs. It's a cinch to make and comes out pretty tasty.

We had brownie sundaes for dessert, after baby fell asleep. I wonder what will happen next year.

For the Honey Chicken
Source: How Sweet Eats
Servings: 2

1 pound thinly sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup broccoli florets
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup honey
salt and pepper to taste

In 2 separate bowls, add the egg whites (lightly beaten) and the cornstarch. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in egg whites and then lightly dredge in cornstarch. Add to the skillet and let brown for 2-3 minutes, then flip. Continue with remaining chicken pieces, and do so in batches if needed. Add honey and toss to combine. Remove chicken from pan to make fried rice.

For the Fried Rice
Source:  Iowa Girl Eats

2 cups cooked rice (preferably cold)
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
3 teaspoons sesame or wok oil, divided
2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Heat (using same pan that you used to make the chicken) 1 teaspoon oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add frozen mixed vegetables and green onions. Stir fry until tender, about 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Push vegetables to the side of the wok then add egg and sesame oil mixture into the center and scramble. Add honey chicken, rice, and soy sauce to wok then toss well to combine. Taste and add additional honey or soy sauce if needed. 

February 22, 2013

Friday Finds & Faves

I'm starting a new series on the blog called "Friday Finds & Faves." I'll share with you any recipes I found over the week that caught my eye or that I'm dying to bake. I'll also talk about anything I'm currently obsessing over, loving, craving, dreaming, reading... I'd love to hear what you're favoring too! This should be fun. :)

I found some new banana muffins that I'd like to bake.

I also found a new banana bread! Looks like I need to buy some bananas this weekend.

I'm so over winter and ready for Spring. This lemon pound cake sounds like the perfect way to celebrate.

Nutella is a huge favorite in this house so I know these nutella cupcakes with nutella frosting would be perfect for us.

Birthday Cake Oreos. Need I say more?

Normally I'm not a huge fan of Easter. Easter candy, sure, but the colors, all those pastels...ick. That's why i was pleasantly surprised to love all the Easter decor I saw at World Market this week. I love having a seasonal centerpiece on our dining room table and I really wanted to pick up this cute one. There was also an adorable cookie jar (that I can't find online). It was pink and said "Let them eat cookies." Loooove.

Fellow TV junkies, how are you liking The Vampire Diaries? Last night's episode had me on the edge of my seat, or rather, couch! I won't give it away but emotionless Elena? This should be interesting.

I'm finally getting into Maggie Stiefvater's Ballad series. I loved her werewolf series so much and forgot what an amazing writer she is. What are you reading?

Share your finds and faves this week with me!

February 21, 2013

Creamy Baked Ziti

There's something comforting about digging into a a plateful of warm, cheesy pasta. We all love it, whether we'd like to admit it or not; pasta is a guilty pleasure. I, personally, can't get enough of it and if I could I'd eat it daily. If only the guilt that comes after didn't exist.

Baked ziti has always been a favorite of mine. I always have the ingredients on hand and whenever I'm in doubt of what to make for dinner, this is a great go-to meal.

It's an easy meal for a weeknight, perfect for busy families. You could even make it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge before it's time to bake it. I like to add sausage to mine, but you can also add ground beef. I also mix it up time to time by adding red or green bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. Using a jar of marinara sauce is best, although I have used a can of plain tomato sauce, simply adding some of my favorite seasonings to liven it up. You really can't go wrong!

Source: Kraft Foods

4 cups penne pasta 
1 jar  (24 oz.) marinara sauce 
1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained 
6 oz. cream cheese 
3/4 cup  sour cream 
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt. Remove from pan; drain. Meanwhile, add marinara sauce, tomatoes and cream cheese to same pan; cook on medium heat 5 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. Return pasta to pan; mix well.
Layer half the pasta mixture in 13x9-inch baking dish; cover with layers of sour cream, 1 cup mozzarella and remaining pasta mixture. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake 20 min. or until heated through.

February 11, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

This weekend one my very best friends came to visit. She is one of those rare people that I instantly clicked with from the very first conversation. We have so much in common; a desire for things sweet and savory, the ability to shop till we drop, and a TV lineup longer than we'd like to admit. I've only known her for a year and she already feels like family.

It was her birthday earlier in the week and since I couldn't be there to celebrate with her I thought I'd make her some belated cupcakes. It's been a while since I've baked after all, and a birthday is a perfect excuse to tie an apron around my waist.

The hubby got me a cupcake calendar for Christmas this year. It's adorable and every month has a new cupcake recipe glossing the pages. Instead of using the one for February, I skipped all the way to June, knowing they would be the perfect cupcakes for my friend.

I can't tell you how amazing this frosting was. It definitely stole the show and we devoured these cupcakes in a matter of 24 hours. Luckily, I saved the little that was left in the mixing bowl for those middle of the night cookie-slathered-with-frosting cravings.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

For the frosting
3 tablespoons strawberries, fresh or frozen, pureed
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time and then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed sugar and butter. Mix well. Stir in milk until batter is smooth. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and let cool completely.  Cupcakes must be completely cool before topping with icing.

For the frosting
Blend 1 cup butter and salt on medium high until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar and blend well. Add vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree. Blend well. Frost the cupcakes and top with sprinkles if desired.