Sweet and Spicy Mayo

This is the dip I mixed up to go with Chopped Meal One. I saw this dip on The Art of Doing Stuff with a recipe for sweet potato oven fries that I can’t wait to try!

The original called for mayo (1/2 cup), sriracha chile sauce (1 tsp), and cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp).

I played with this just a little, and ended up making something that may become a fridge staple!

1/2 cup light mayo (always Hellmann’s)
2 tsp Sriracha (this is Thai chile sauce – you can find it at any grocery store or Walmart for probably $3 a bottle)
a dash of cayenne pepper, since I like the heat from the Sriracha better than cayenne
2 tsp (maybe a bit more) Frank’s Sweet Chile Sauce (again, found anywhere – this is a spicy sweet and sour sauce)

The Frank’s was what put this over the top for us! Luke, Matt and I really loved it. And the best part was that it was great with the fries, great with carrots, and great with the chicken, too!

Chopped Dinner, Take 1

For why we’re doing this, read here

I finally felt like everyone was healthy enough around here to make a real dinner (kids have been sick with fever for days), and wouldn’t you know it, Bennett’s fever returned, and a return trip to the doc revealed bronchitis. Oh well…could be much worse. In 24 hours he should be good as new!

Anyway, dinner was a success…I didn’t get chopped!

First up was Jack Henry, because he turned in his list of basket ingredients first. Here is his list (I dare you not to smile at its adorableness):

Ok. (He got 2 of those ingredients from watching an episode of Chopped: the fries and the carrots. We regularly eat carrots; we almost never eat oven french fries.)

I will admit to being less creative than I originally planned to be, given that this week has practically sucked every bit of my ability to think sanely out of my system. Plus, I really, really wanted my kids to eat their dinner, as no one’s had much of an appetite this week (Bennett’s lost a pound this week!), so I didn’t want to mess with things too much. I promise to try and bump up the creativity next time. 🙂

The only truly incorporated ingredient was the goldfish. I put about a cup of them in my food processor along with about 1/2 cup of unseasoned panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and a little black pepper and garlic salt. Pulsed it all until it was a fine powder and put it on a plate.

I pounded chicken breasts flat (seriously, good therapy to beat up chicken with a hammer) and then dipped them in milk and then in the crumb mixture, and put them on a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet, and baked them at 425 for about 20 minutes. I normally wouldn’t cook chicken on that high a temp, but the fries were in the oven at the same time, and that’s what they needed. And really, the chicken came out perfect!

I went with a “Sticks” theme…I cut the carrots into tiny little strips, I cut the chicken into strips, and the fries were already, obviously.

I made a sauce that I will definitely make again, based on one I saw online today…I’m calling it Sweet and Spicy Mayo, and it’s getting its own post here. It was too spicy for Bennett and Jack Henry; Luke, who likes spicy things, deemed it the best part of dinner.

So, here’s what the plated meal looked like!

luke's plate, with 3 different dips

he saved the chicken for last because he didn't think he'd like it...but he was wrong! he ate several strips of it.

Next up: Bennett’s choices. And they’re even stranger than Jack Henry’s, I must say.

Lasagna Bianco

Normally, I don’t like posting main dishes so totally devoid of nutrition (I like to save that for the appetizers and desserts). But this is just so good, and such a good dish for having company over, that I had to share. I haven’t made it in a while (and truthfully, it’s perfect for summer when everyone has zucchini fresh from their gardens…not me, but other people) and it sounds so good right now! There are a lot of ingredients and it takes a little time, but this is not a difficult recipe.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz alfredo sauce*
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained completely
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1 pkg Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
16 oz shredded Italian cheese blend
1 zucchini, thinly sliced

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces. In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic. Cook for 3-4 more minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. In medium bowl, stir together ricotta, spinach, egg and Italian seasoning.

Here is how you layer it in a 9×13 baking dish that you’ve coated with cooking spray (these measurements are approximate):
1/3 cup sauce
4 noodles
All of spinach mixture
1/3 cup sauce
1/3 of the cheese
4 noodles
All of the chicken mixture
1/3 cup sauce
1/3 of the cheese
4 noodles
All of the zucchini
Rest of sauce
Rest of cheese

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

This will feed 6-8 adults (at least, when you factor in salads/bread/sides/etc).

*Quick homemade alfredo sauce that is AMAZING:
2 cups half & half (do not use fat-free…trust me)
6 T butter
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat half & half and butter. Add garlic and salt and pepper. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Blend in cheese. Continue to cook sauce to a medium-thin consistency.

Jalapeno Hummus

Matt and I were fortunate enough to attend the Illini/Mizzou basketball game on December 23rd…actually, it was unfortunate because Illinois was AWFUL and we lost. BUT: Matt and I sat in a suite and I ate my weight in crostini and roasted red pepper hummus. Which made it all okay.

When the Christmas festivities settled down, I had to find a suitable recipe, and decided to go with a Jalapeno version for my first try. This is great as a dip for vegetables or chips or pretzels of any kind, a spread for sandwiches, or spread on a bit of crostini or any crusty bakery bread. It is spicy, though! But it’s healthy and relatively low in fat, so a great alternative to dairy-based dips. I’ll post more hummus recipes as we try and like them!

I did buy some really good Roasted Red Pepper from Trader Joe’s and had the kids try it, and none of them liked it (Jack Henry wouldn’t even touch it, which is no surprise). However, I will try again with milder flavors because I think there’s a chance this could work!

1 cup garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas)
3 Tbl tahini
2 Tbl lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/3 cup canned/jarred jalapenos plus a little juice (NOTE: I would recommend starting out with about a 1/4 cup and adding more if you want it spicier…it’s pretty hot)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste

Put everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You might need a few drops of water or some of the juice from the jalapenos (if you want it hotter) to make it smooth enough.

Spaghetti Sauce

I once commented to my friend, Heather, after making homemade spaghetti sauce for the first time that it wasn’t worth all the effort, and I was returning to bottle sauce. She replied that I needed her recipe!

And she was right!

This sauce is loaded with vegetables, and while it is a bit time-consuming to make, it is not at all difficult and it makes a lot, so you’ll have an extra meal or two to put away in the freezer. My kids eat this without a complaint, and I often don’t serve an additional vegetable with this because I just want them to eat the sauce!

Here is Heather’s recipe, with the couple of additions I’ve made to it:

1 lb lean ground beef (if you don’t eat beef, ground chicken or turkey will work fine in this)
1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped finely or crushed
a handful of baby carrots, chopped finely (I think Heather uses whole carrots and shreds them)
1/2-1 zucchini, shredded (I use a whole zucchini or close to it)
OPTIONAL: fresh mushrooms, as many as you like, chopped finely (I know that Heather uses canned mushrooms, but I have a serious aversion to those, so I use fresh)
OPTIONAL: yellow, red or green pepper shredded (I don’t usually use this, but I think it would be good!)

Put all of this in a stock pot and cook until the beef is browned (chop the beef up while cooking so it’s in really small pieces). Drain well.

Add to the pot:
28 oz diced tomatoes (1 large or 2 regular-sized cans) – I run these through the food processor to take away the chunks, as my kids wouldn’t eat this if it was chunky
8 oz tomato sauce
12 oz tomato paste
1 cube beef boullion dissolved in 1/2 cup water or red wine (Heather uses a full cup in hers)
2 T fresh parsley (1 T should do if using dried)
1/2 T brown sugar (Heather uses a whole T; we prefers ours a little less sweet)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

After you’ve added all the ingredients, simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the lid on because it may pop!

I freeze this into portions that our family will eat for dinner, and this time I also kept out a larger portion (probably 3-3.5 cups) and made lasagne with it and it was delicious!

Freezer Pizza Sauce

First of all, I loved the name of this.  Freezer.  I thought, if it has freezer in the name it sure must freeze well! 🙂  You all may have a recipe for pizza sauce that you use already, cause I’ve tried lots.  But, this is my favorite!  I love this one.  I found this on recipezaar.com

2 tbspns olive oil
1 cup onions, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced (again, I used the jar kind – already minced!)
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano or 3/4 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until just soft, not browning.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes, or until sauce is desired consistency.  Use a stick blender or food processor if you prefer a smooth consistency.  ( I used my magic bullet here as I knew a smooth consistency would be better for the kids to eat it.  Otherwise, they may have refused.)

My additions!…..I added baby food sweet potatoes and squash for some hidden veggies!  Now, I only used the baby food because I have some leftover that Kenzie wouldn’t eat anymore.  When those run out, I will definitely cook those veggies and through them in.  You can definitely double this recipe to have more in the freezer.  We actually used some from the freezer the other night for dinner and it tasted like I just made it that night!  I waited to post until I knew it did well in the freezer 🙂