Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chinese Take Out Style Orange Chicken

I decided to give chinese take out style food a go...and this turned out so delicious!!

Chinese Take Out Style Orange Chicken
~Recipe adapted by Two Crazy Cupcakes from
***Marinate your chicken breast strips in OJ for at least 30 minutes.
16 oz orange marmalade
4 tbsp orange juice- no pulp
1 ¼ cups water
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar (I didn't have it the second time so I used white vinegar-- just as good)

3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (kikoman preferred)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of ground ginger or ½ tsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste but at least ¼ tsp)
3 tbsp cornstarch mixed 4 tbsp with cold water until completely dissolved with no lumps

Crispy chicken breast chunks:

Cut 3 breasts into thin chunks. Marinate strips in OJ for at least 30 minutes. Combine 2 cups flour with salt, pepper, Lawry’s season salt, cayenne pepper, pinch of baking powder. Dip chicken in beaten egg and coat in flour mix. Fry in 1-2 oil until golden –OR- oven crisp chicken 375 for at least 30 minutes turn halfway through cooking time.)

***You can also substitute crispy frozen breast tenders cooked according to package for chicken to make it fast and easy but "from scratch" tastes more like a restaurant.
1)      Combine all ingredients up to red pepper flakes in medium sauce pan.

2)      Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally so it does    not burn. Remove from heat.

3)      Prepare your chicken.

4)      Place your sauce back on medium high and bring to a boil. Stir in cornstarch/water mixture.

5)      Boil about 5 minutes or until thickened and just sticks to back of spoon.

6)     Before serving toss your crispy chicken in orange sauce. Serve over white steamed rice with broccoli.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters

This was so special I had to re-post and share with you. This post is brought to you from Michael, at Life to Her Years. He writes a great blog about being a father of a daughter. He started this list and currently is on rule number 168. Check him out it will make all you moms out there cry :)

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.
2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she add years to her… add life to her years.

3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.
5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually.

6. Buy her a glove and teach her to throw a baseball. Make her proud to throw like a girl… a girl with a wicked slider.

7. She will fight with her mother. Choose sides wisely.

8. Go ahead. Buy her those pearls.
9. Of course you look silly playing peek-a-boo. You should play anyway.

10. Enjoy the wonder of bath time.
11. There will come a day when she asks for a puppy. Don’t over think it. At least one time in her life, just say, “Yes.”
12. It’s never too early to start teaching her about money. She will still probably suck you dry as a teenager… and on her wedding day.

13. Make pancakes in the shape of her age for breakfast on her birthday. In a pinch, donuts with pink sprinkles and a candle will suffice.

14. Buy her a pair of Chucks as soon as she starts walking. She won’t always want to wear matching shoes with her old man.

15. Dance with her. Start when she’s a little girl or even when she’s a baby. Don’t wait until her wedding day.

16. Take her fishing. She will probably squirm more than the worm on your hook. That’s OK.
17. Learn to say no. She may pitch a fit today, but someday you’ll both be glad you stuck to your guns.
18. Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.

19. Teach her to change a flat. A tire without air need not be a major panic inducing event in her life. She’ll still call you crying the first time it happens.

20. Take her camping. Immerse her in the great outdoors. Watch her eyes fill with wonder the first time she sees the beauty of wide open spaces. Leave the iPod at home.

21. Let her hold the wheel. She will always remember when daddy let her drive.
22. She’s as smart as any boy. Make sure she knows that.
23. When she learns to give kisses, she will want to plant them all over your face. Encourage this practice.

24. Knowing how to eat sunflower seeds correctly will not help her get into a good college. Teach her anyway.
25. Letting her ride on your shoulders is pure magic. Do it now while you have a strong back and she’s still tiny.

26. It is in her nature to make music. It’s up to you to introduce her to the joy of socks on a wooden floor.

27. If there’s a splash park near your home, take her there often. She will be drawn to the water like a duck to a puddle.

28. She will eagerly await your return home from work in the evenings. Don’t be late.

29. If her mom enrolls her in swim lessons, make sure you get in the pool too. Don’t be intimidated if there are no other dads there. It’s their loss.
30. Never miss her birthday. In ten years she won’t remember the present you gave her. She will remember if you weren’t there.

31. Teach her to roller skate. Watch her confidence soar.

32. Let her roll around in the grass. It’s good for her soul. It’s not bad for yours either.
33. Take her swimsuit shopping. Don’t be afraid to veto some of her choices, but resist the urge to buy her full-body beach pajamas.

34. Somewhere between the time she turns three and her sixth birthday, the odds are good that she will ask you to marry her. Let her down gently.

35. She’ll probably want to crawl in bed with you after a nightmare. This is a good thing.

36. Few things in life are more comforting to a crying little girl than her father’s hand. Never forget this.
37. Introduce her to the swings at your local park. She’ll squeal for you to push her higher and faster. Her definition of “higher and faster” is probably not the same as yours. Keep that in mind.
38. When she’s a bit older, your definition of higher and faster will be a lot closer to hers. When that day comes, go ahead… give it all you’ve got.

39. Holding her upside down by the legs while she giggles and screams uncontrollably is great for your biceps. WARNING: She has no concept of muscle fatigue.
40. She might ask you to buy her a pony on her birthday. Unless you live on a farm, do not buy her a pony on her birthday. It’s OK to rent one though.
41. Take it easy on the presents for her birthday and Christmas. Instead, give her the gift of experiences you can share together.

42. Let her know she can always come home. No matter what.

43. Remember, just like a butterfly, she too will spread her wings and fly some day. Enjoy her caterpillar years.
44. Write her a handwritten letter every year on her birthday. Give them to her when she goes off to college, becomes a mother herself, or when you think she needs them most.

45. Learn to trust her. Gradually give her more freedom as she gets older. She will rise to the expectations you set for her.
46. When in doubt, trust your heart. She already does.

47. When your teenage daughter is upset, learning when to engage and when to back off will add years to YOUR life. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
48. Ice cream covers over a multitude of sins. Know her favorite flavor.

49. This day is coming soon. There’s nothing you can do to be ready for it. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be.

50. Today she’s walking down the driveway to get on the school bus. Tomorrow she’s going off to college. Don’t blink.
Photo Credits
I was unable to find the original source for #’s 1, 3, 7, 16, 20, 42, and 47. If you know the source for any of these, please tell me so I can give the photographers credit. Here are the rest:
4. Father of the Bride
14. The Life of Rachel
15. Certified Consumer
24. A Peakin To Our Lives
26. Dear Baby Blog
28. Baby Love Blog
32. My Blackbird Photography
34. Emily RC Photography
35. It’s What Makes Me Me
39. Popsicles and Pigtails
43. Irrational Obsessions
50. Lil Miss Bossy
And #’s 8, 10, 13, 27, 29, and 36 were taken by yours truly.
If a number is not listed above, the image came from Life Magazine’s online database of pictures hosted by Google Images.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Overnight French Toast Casserole

I hosted a baby shower brunch for a friend of mine and made a french toast casserole. Not only was it delicious but it was easy to make ahead of time.

***sorry about the unedited iphone pic but at least you get the idea of what it looks like :)

Overnight French Toast Casserole


10 cups cubed (1 inch) sturdy white bread (1 long loaf of French bread)

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese (at room temperature)

8 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2/3 cup half-and-half cream

1/2 cup maple syrup (pancake syrup)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar


Place bread cubes in 13"x9" baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Beat cream cheese well with an electric mixer at medium speed until completely smooth. Then beat in eggs at low speed until blended.

Add milk, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla and wisk or beat until smooth.

Pour mixture over top of bread and press bread down gently into egg mixture making sure the bread is completely coated.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning remove casserole from refrigerator and press down gently to re-soak bread and let stand on counter for 20-30 min.

Bake at 350* for 40-45 minutes or until set. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle top with confectioner's sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

This turned out delicious. It reminds me of a really quality chicken pot pie. Do you see those huge chunks of chicken breast in there? YUM! My kids really enjoyed this one! It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe with some minor changes to make it easier and tiny bit less fattening.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Printable Recipe
3 whole chicken breasts, bone in, skin on

Enough water to cover the chicken breasts

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (dried herbs)

5 cups chicken stock, low sodium

2 chicken bouillon cubes (I prefer organic to cut down on some of the not so healthy stuff)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)

3/4 cup flour

1 10-12 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables (2 cups)

1 10-ounce package frozen corn (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions -OR- frozen diced potatoes (optional)

1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (dried herbs)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup half-and-half

For the biscuits:

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

3/4 cup half-and-half -OR- whole milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2) ***This can been done day before or morning of to save some time. Poach the chicken: Place the chicken breasts in a pot with lid and cover with water. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and bay leaves. Cover and cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Set pot aside for 25 minutes and do not remove lid. Remove chicken to cutting board or plate and allow chicken to cool enough to handle. Then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

3) In a large glass measuring cup, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock in microwave.

4) In a large pot or Dutch oven (To save on dishes later I use same pot as chicken and just rinse it out), melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.

5) Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

6) Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick.

7) Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the half-and-half. Add the cubed chicken, mixed vegetables, corn, onions or potatoes, and Italian Seasoning. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

8) While stew is in oven, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the diced cold butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Optional-Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a sheet of wax/parchment paper and cover dough with another sheet of wax/parchment paper. Roll out with a rolling pin, to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter or use the the rim of a glass or jar like me.
9) Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are light brown and the stew is bubbly. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note from Barefoot Contessa: To make in advance, refrigerate the chicken stew and biscuits separately. Bake the stew for 25 minutes, and then place the biscuits on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until done.

*** I am sure this dish can be completed using ready to bake country style biscuits in a time pinch but I prefer to make my own so I can control what goes in them and make sure we are eating the most natural ingredients possible.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quick & Tasty Mediterranean Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Here is a quick and tasty bow tie pasta salad that I threw together one night when we were running short on time. This goes really well with the Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Turkey Burgers.

Mediterranean Bow Tie Pasta Salad

12 oz box bow tie pasta, cooked according to package, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 - 2 cups Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup sun dried julienne cut tomatoes herbs packed in oil, drained
optional: olives

1) Combine drained, rinsed pasta with vinaigrette.
2) Fold in feta and sun dried tomatoes.
3) Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Better if left overnight for flavors to combine.

California Sun Dried Tomatoes with herbs packed in oil are my favorite sundried tomatoes. I used these in salads, burgers, pasta, and chicken dishes. I love them mashed on a plate mixed with some oil from the jar, coarse sea salt, and fresh ground pepper to use as a sourdough bread dipping sauce.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Creamy Shells and Cheese

This has become one of my kids favorites. I got the original recipe from a newspaper article but I cannot remember which one. It has been in my recipe binder for quite some time.

Creamy Shells and Cheese
Printable Recipe

8 oz shell pasta, cooked according to package, drained and rinsed
12 oz can evaporated milk
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated colby-jack or parmesan cheese
8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1) Microwave evaporated milk and chicken broth until steamy (not boiling).
2) In large pot (I use the same pot from the pasta), over low heat melt butter. Whisk in flour and then steamy milk mixture. Cook until thickens about 3-4 minutes.
3) Whisk in Dijon mustard, grated colby-jack or parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
4) Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese until melted and smooth. Fold in cooked shell pasta.

***TIP: Sometimes we make this a meal by stirring in poached or grilled sliced chicken breasts and steamed broccoli.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jerk Chicken Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

Jerk Chicken Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

Field Greens or Baby Spinach
Jerk Chicken Breast, sliced with skin on
Carrots, sliced thin
Red Bell Pepper, diced
Ripe Mango, diced
English Cucumber, sliced or diced
Mango Vinaigrette

1) In a large bowl, toss all ingredients with Mango Vinaigrette to taste.

Mango Vinaigrette

1 whole ripe mango, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (for lighter taste) Use balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar for more flavor.
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 -1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup light olive oil or canola oil

1) In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients up to kosher salt. Blend well.
2) Slowly drizzle in oil while food processor is running. Combine until emulsified.
3) No food processor...that's can combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid and shake that baby up for 20-30 seconds.

Oven Baked Jerk Chicken Breast

lemon juice or white vinegar
3-4 whole chicken breasts with bones and skin on
1/4 cup mushroom soy sauce (I was taught by a Jamaican chef with this sauce but any soy sauce will work)
3-6 tablespoons Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning, to taste ***See Note
1/4 cup water

1) Clean chicken breasts with lemon juice or white vinegar and cut whole chicken breasts in half.
2) Place chicken breasts bone side down in baking dish.
3) Toss to coat chicken breasts with mushroom soy sauce.
4) Add water to bottom of baking dish.
5) Using back of spoon or gloved hands, rub walkerswood jerk seasoning all over top of chicken breasts.
6) Marinate at least 4 hours for full flavor.
7) Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or internal temperature reaches 160F.
8) Broil for 5-10 minutes to allow skin to crisp.

***NOTE: Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning can usually be purchased in most major cities at a caribbean grocer. Check your yellow pages. Take a lil field trip and you may discover a whole bunch of delicious products you never knew were out there.

Look out for another delicious recipe coming soon using Walkerwood Jerk Seasoning!
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