Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quinoa & Veggie Chicken Nuggets

I don't like the word nugget. It's weird, mostly. And, especially unappetizing.

There are some things we just can't control in life. Chicken Nuggets: Life Lesson, 1:1.

These are not like anything you are going to get in a greasy bag through your driver's window. They are made of with everything good and nutritious. Kale and quinoa disguised by a nugget. Packed with flavor and rolled in Parmesan. Nugget. Nugget. Nugget.

(PS - Don't forget to enter the giveaway I have going on right now!)

Quinoa & Veggie Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients
Chicken:
1/3 cup finely shredded zucchini
1/3 cup finely shredded carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped kale
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup cooked quinoa (I used 1/3 cup red, 1/3 cup regular)    
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 pounds ground chicken breast (or sub for ground turkey) 
salt and pepper to taste

Breading:
3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.


2. Mix all chicken ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Combine bread crumbs and Parm together in a small bowl. Scoop out about 2 Tablespoons of chicken (I just use my cookie scoop), roll in breadcrumb and flatten.


4. Arrange nuggets on lightly greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.


5. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn on broiler to brown. Watch closely - they will brown fast after a few minutes!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Week in Review: Grandway, Danielle LaPorte & Giveaway

You guys. This week has been insane. Aside from the chaos of work overload (a good thing, right? kinda?) I have met some incredible people this week.

On Wednesday, I met up with Grandway and a few other Utah bloggers. (Remember the apron review and giveaway I did a while back? Same guys.) We had an awesome lunch and got to hear all about their company's story and show us all of their insanely cute products. I mean, seriously - I can't even wait to go into more detail about how great these guys are! They are sincere and honest, and out to make a real difference. And, I want one of every. single. thing. they make.

I am so excited to soon be sporting this little badge on my blog!


Oh, and PS - did you happen to see my Instagram of all of the goodies they sent us home with? I can't decide which is my fave! Stay tuned more Grandway product reviews and giveaways. It's going to be awesome.


So then - yesterday, I got to go take a few photos from the Startup Princess evening with Danielle LaPorte. This woman is beautiful and amazing. I found myself forgetting to take pictures at times because I was just in a trance listening to her!


Danielle's big thing is desire mapping - basically, turning your goals inside out and striving for the feelings that you want to achieve and have, rather than the actual goals themselves. I wish I could describe it in her own words - I left the night so motivated and excited to read her book Fire Starter Sessions. Her focus leans on the side of business, but her theories and ideas are applicable to anyone striving to become better.

Seriously, go check out her little promo video for the book - which she describes as "a soulful and practical guide to success on your own terms." You'll understand why I am so excited to read it!


I was practically giddy to leave with a signed copy of her book, which basically means that we are best friends now. Oh yeah, and because we are best friends - she signed a book for one of my readers too! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cheesy Bread Friday: Ode to Hilhi Class of '05

Back in the olden days of Hillsboro High School, Friday was a special day: the last day of school for the week, no after-school practices, the day Jenna did her Friday Dance, and Cheesy Bread Friday.

Cheesy Bread was served weekly - a giant white roll wrapped up with cheddar cheese and served with a little cup of marinara. Taking into account the current regulations against childhood obesity in public schools, I would assume (and hope) that 1:1 cheese to white bread is no longer served at the Spartan cafeteria (or at least as a complete meal in its own). Regardless, the memories, conversations, and laughs over greasy fingers have more than well made up for its low nutritional content, leaving lasting friendships that are far from bland.

In a bout of nostalgia a few months ago I decided to have my own Cheesy Bread Friday. We kept a few for our ourselves, and shared the rest (more to get rid of the temptation than out of kindness) - not realizing what a hit they would be! I have made them several times since, usually to replace a dinner roll on special occasions - and they have remained a favorite!


Cheesy Bread
makes 24 
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
6 - 8 cups flour (sub up to half with whole wheat flour)
2 Tablespoons dough enhancer (optional, but recommended)
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning mix (optional)

1 1/2 lbs shredded cheddar cheese (these are cheese rolls, not diet rolls: commit.)
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning mix (optional)

Directions
1. Combine water and sugar, and sprinkle yeast on top to proof. When bubbly, add in 3 cups of flour and dough enhancer. Stir to an even consistency. Add in salt and Italian seasoning, and enough flour to bring the dough together. Knead until smooth (5-6 minutes in KitchenAid, 12-15 minutes by hand).
2. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
3. Punch down dough and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. (This helps loosen its elasticity so that it is easier to roll out.)
4. On a lightly greased or floured counter - roll out dough into a long rectangle - about 10x36-inches. (about 3x the length of your 9x13-inch pan)


5.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over dough, leaving about 1-inch free. With a pastry brush - or your fingers - dampen the last inch with water. This will help to seal the dough once it has been rolled up.


6. Roll up tightly, and cut into 1.5-inch slices. I like to use a piece of dental floss for a clean cut. You should end up with about 24 rolls. 


7. Place the rolls in two 9x13-inch pans (12 in each) for cinnamon-roll-style cheesy bread. Or, place on a cookie sheet (with more space in between) for more individual rolls (like in the first picture).


8. Let rise one more hour, or until doubled in size.
9. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Sprinkle the top with more dried herbs, if desired. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on pan size, or until done and golden brown on all sides.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Feta Berry Salad with Candied Walnuts

This is a quick and easy salad that tastes like summer. Also, like a lettuce-y dessert.


Feta Berry Salad with Candied Walnuts

Toss together:
lettuce - love Costco's organic spring mix
fresh berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (sliced)
feta
candied walnuts (directions here)
dressing - Ken's Steak House LITE Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette is my FAV bottled sweet dressing

 

This salad is also great with a honey balsamic! (1:1:1, honey:balsamic:evoo, +drop of mustard, s&p)



Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe for Love: Raspberry Bavarian, Nutella Mousse and Dark Chocolate Layered Cake

Planning a date-night-in for Valentine's Day?

Try out these little lovelies for dessert. Layered dark chocolate cake, Nutella mousse, and raspberry Bavarian make for the perfect combination of edible elegance.


A few months ago, my friend Lindsey sent me a link to this beautiful Chocolate-Raspberry Bavarian Torte at Sprinkle Bakes. I tried it a few weeks later with just a few slight variations (subbing out the liqueur), while taking the lazy route and layering it all in a in a trifle dish. It was still pretty, and very yummy, and I loved the combo of flavors - but I thought it needed something a little different, just out of personal preference.


So, the second-go-around I switched out the genoise with my favorite dark chocolate cake from allrecipes.com, and added in a Nutella mousse. I'm a little obsessed with tiny desserts - so, of course it needed to be single-serving.

Anatomy:

The Bavarian and mousse are both light, but have different textures that really compliment each other. Of course, you can't really go wrong with the two-ingredient Nutella mousse, and the dark chocolate cake just wraps the whole package up! And, to make it even better - you can make these days, even weeks in advance. They freeze up perfect, and thaw out as if they were fresh.


Dark Chocolate Cake
recipe from allrecipes.com

Ingredients
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare pans by greasing and lining with parchment (optional, but recommended). I used one half-size cookie sheet (18x13-inch) and one 9x13-inch pan. You could also use 3 9x13's or two smaller-sized cookie sheets.
  2. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the prepared pans (so that they are all the same thickness).
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 40 minutes (depending on size), or until done. Allow to cool.
Assembly
Once the cake has cooled, cut out small circles using a cookie cutter or glass. Mine were about 2 1/2-inches wide, and I made about 36 total. 
Then, wrap a strip of freezer or parchment paper around each piece - enough to overlap about one inch, and about 3-inches high. Secure with a piece of tape. I would definitely suggest using freezer paper - its sturdier and holds together much easier than parchment. (Tape does not stick well to parchment)

Set these aside while you make the other two layers... 

Nutella Mousse
Ingredients
3 cups heavy crea
1 cup Nutella

Directions
  1. Whip cream to stiff peaks, fold in Nutella.
Assembly
Spoon your mousse into a pastry bag, or if you are fancy like me - a Ziploc with the corner cut off. Pipe the mousse over the cakes in their little paper tubes, about 1-inch thick. Use a knife or toothpick to spread it around so that they layer is somewhat flat-like.

Raspberry Bavarian
recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes 

Ingredients

3 bags (12 ounces each) frozen unsweetened raspberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder (1/2 oz.)
1 teaspoon raspberry extract (optional)
3 cups heavy cream
  1. Let raspberries thaw in the bags. Combine raspberries (along with whatever juice/ liquid is in the bags) and sugar in a saucepan. Heat to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into bowl. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine water and gelatin in heatproof cup and let stand 5 minutes.  Heat in microwave for 10 seconds or until gelatin turns to liquid.
  3. Whisk liquid gelatin and extract into raspberry purée - make sure there are NO gelatin chunks!
  4. Beat heavy cream in bowl until stiff peaks form, using electric mixer at high speed. Fold raspberry mixture into whipped cream.
Assembly
Just like the Nutella mousse, pipe the Bavarian over the Nutella mousse about 1-inch thick.  
Chill in fridge for at least four hours, or freeze the cakes for two hours - in their paper sleeves. When ready to plate, carefully cut or remove the tape from the paper and unwrap the cake. Serve with Nutella drizzled underneath or on top of the cakes. If frozen, let thaw for about 20 minutes before eating.






Wednesday, February 6, 2013

the 3-Minute Mouse-Pad

As a graphic-designer-by-day, I use a huge mouse-pad so that I have enough room to move my mouse around the screen freely. I have used the same one for a few years now - and it was getting nasty.

I found a few tutorials on Pinterest for mouse-pad recovers that suggested Mod Podging fabric to your existing mouse-pad. I was a little worried that the Mod Podge would have left me with a stiff, inconsistent texture - but I was ready to give it a try, hoping for the best. 

Sponge brush in hand, I glanced over at some Wonder Under (an iron-on fusible webbing) laying out on my desk that I had out from working on some shoes for my Etsy shop. At that moment, I'm pretty sure I visualized a cartoon light bulb floating over my head.

The rest is history.

How cute is this? Ironing the fabric to the mouse-pad with Wonder Under was so much faster than using Mod Podge would have been. And even better, the texture and flexibility is perfect.


What you'll need:
fabric
Wonder Under (iron-on fusible webbing)
an old mouse pad
a hot iron


First, cut out a piece of Wonder Under slightly bigger than your mouse-pad. And, your fabric just a little bigger than that.


Iron the Wonder Under to your fabric. Let it cool, peel off the paper backing, then iron to your mousepad. 


 Trim the edges.


 If you think that the fabric may fray - treat the edges with a little Fray Check.


Done.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chicken Green Chili Salad (Bajio Copycat)

Back in the good old days of Rexburg, Idaho - there were only a handful of decent places to eat out. I didn't really care for the only sit-down, Wingers - and Taco Bell serves Pespsi instead of Coke, so that's obviously out of the question. But then... there was Bajio.

My roommates and I went there at least once a week. I celebrated a few birthdays there, and I'll never forget when my soon-to-be-husband told me he wanted to marry me over a Chicken Green Chili Salad. Romantic, right?

**Edit: Vahe wanted me to clarify that he did NOT, in fact, propose to me at Bajio. We just had our first "marriage talk" there. I got a text soon after I published... "Now the whole world thinks I proposed to you at Bajio!" Haha! Love him.**

We went back to Rexburg about a year ago, excited for lunch and memories at Bajio. Which, without my permission, is now a Costa Vida! My heart and stomach sank simultaneously when I saw that the Bajio flames had been extinguished by the Costa Vida wave. That's slightly dramatic, but its the truth.

At least the manager - the one who always spoke Spanish to Vahe - was still there, and still spoke Spanish to Vahe. (My (brown) Armenian husband doesn't speak Spanish.)

Anyways - after we were back home I set out to make the salad myself. I tried a few copycat recipes I found on various blogs. They didn't really cut it for me. So, I tried out my own little version.

Here's how it went:

Chicken Green Chili Salad (Bajio Copycat)



Ingredients:
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies
1 cup salsa verde
1/3 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
pinch of salt

2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into strips

Romaine lettuce
Salad toppings (diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar, cilantro, black beans, lime, avocado, sour cream)

Directions:
1. First, caramelize the onions by heating olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Throw in the onions, and let them cook until they are very soft, and a light brown color - about 15-20 minutes. Add in the brown sugar, and stir for a few more minutes, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set aside.
2. Next, make the sauce by combining the green chilies (do not drain, just dump in the entire can), salsa verde, sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the grilled chicken strips and onions to the sauce, and bring to heat one more time.
4. Serve hot over romaine with desired toppings.

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