Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sesame Chicken and Roasted Broccoli

As stated in previous posts, like this one:    

I only like Chinese food if I make it myself.  I like being able to control the ingredients in my food.  This is a recipe I did not include in the previous post on Chinese food so I thought I'd share it.  My recipe for Sesame Chicken is really good and easy.  Plus, I "oven-fry" the chicken so it's a little bit better for you.  Also, I'll share how I get my family to eat broccoli!  You heard me right, they eat broccoli.


2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 egg
1 cup corn flake crumbs (zip in food processor or smash in a zip bag)
season salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a plate with flour.  Line a second plate with corn flake crumbs seasoned with season salt.  Crack the egg into a bowl add a little bit of water (about a tablespoon or so) and beat.  Dredge cubed chicken in flour, then egg wash, then seasoned corn flake crumbs.  When they are all coated, place them on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Flip them over then bake for 5 minutes more.  Meanwhile, make the sauce.

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBS cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 TBS apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS canola oil
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
sesame seeds

In a saucepan, mix together sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in the chicken broth, water, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, ketchup, hot sauce, red pepper flakes and garlic.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

When chicken is done, toss it with the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds (as much or little as you like).  Serve over hot rice.  Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Here is my secret for getting my family to eat broccoli.  Roast it!  That's it.  So simple, but it completely changes the taste.  Delicious!


1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the broccoli on a cookie sheet and toss it with a little oil (a couple of tablespoons or so - not too much!)  Then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir it around to make sure it's evenly coated with oil and seasoning.  Put in the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until edges are just starting to crisp up.

Who knew Chinese at home could be so quick, easy and healthy, too!  I hope you give these recipes a try.  And maybe you're picky eaters will like broccoli, too?  It could happen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Make Middle Eastern Food at Home

My daughter and I love this restaurant called Albasha.  It specializes in Greek and Lebanese food.  We especially love the falafel and tzatziki sauce there.  We order it every time we go, which isn't often because my old-school Italian husband and pickiest-eater-ever son would sooner go hungry than try something new.  However, when she and I sneak away by ourselves, we choose Middle Eastern fare.  Because we go so rarely, I decided to try and make our favorite middle eastern food at home.  I'd been putting this off because I figured I'd have to go buy a bunch of weird ingredients or spices.  But, after a little research, I found that I could make these dishes with everyday ingredients I already had on hand.  Ya know what?  They came out great!  Here's how I did it:


1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
1 small clove garlic. coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 TBS chopped parsley
2 TBS chopped cilantro (I was out of cilantro so I just used 4 TBS parsley)
1 egg
2 TBS lemon juice
a big pinch kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup flour (plus more for forming patties)
Oil to fry them in

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, green onions, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, parsley, cilantro, egg, and lemon juice.  Pulse to combine.  Season with salt and pulse again.  Mixture should not be totally smooth; it should still have some chunks in it. Add in the baking powder and 1/4 cup flour and pulse just to combine.  Remove to a bowl and cover.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

 It will look light green.  That's from the parsley.

After chilling the dough, remove it from the fridge.  Meanwhile, put enough oil in a large skillet to reach halfway up the side.  Heat on medium-high heat until hot.  Here's how to tell if it's ready.  Throw a pinch of flour into the oil.  If it sizzles, it's ready.  

While the oil is heating, drop balls of the dough onto a plate of flour.  Roll the balls around in the flour and gently press to form patties.

Fry in batches (don't overcrowd the skillet) for about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.

These are so flavorful!  Especially when dipped in the Tzatziki sauce.


1 cup plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill
1 clove garlic (if yours are small, use 2)
salt/pepper to taste

In a blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, dill and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Blend until well combined.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marry.

This sauce is not only a great dip for falafel or veggies, it makes a wonderful salad dressing!

So, I hope you give these Middle Eastern dishes a try.  As you can see, they're easy to make with ingredients you probably have on hand.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Cannot Tell a Lie. I Love Cherries!

Cherries remind me of summer.  I absolutely love eating fresh cherries when they are in season.  However, I can get that great cherry flavor year-round thanks to dried cherries and cherry preserves.  If you know how to use these two ingredients, you can make some delicious cherry recipes.  Here are a couple:


1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cherry preserves

1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter (cut butter into cubes & put on a plate in fridge to get cold)
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix muffin ingredients together with mixer on medium speed until blended well.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Fill cups about 2/3 full with batter.

In a separate bowl, mix oats, flour, both sugars, and cinnamon.  Cut in the cold butter with a fork or pastry blender.

Stir in almonds.  It should look like this:

Sprinkle a little of this topping over each muffin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

These are so good!  You can't even tell you started with a box of cake mix.  They are perfect for breakfast or brunch and even dessert.  And they look like they came from a bakery.  My husband asked where I bought them.  Pretty and Delicious!

The next recipe is one that I dreamed up one night when I couldn't sleep.  How pathetic right?  I'm laying there, trying to sleep, but instead I'm thinking about how to put cherries in a cookie.  But, for once, my insomnia paid off!  These cookies are phenomenal!  My family went crazy for these!


1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if you're using a dark or non-stick cookie sheet).  Cream the butter, both sugars, egg and vanilla with a mixer until fluffy.  In a separate bowl, sift flour, soda and salt together.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until blended.  Gently stir in the white chocolate chips, cherries and pecans.  Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart (they will spread a little) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown.  Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a rack and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

So, there are a couple of ways to get that great cherry flavor anytime you want it.  I hope you give these recipes a try.  If you are a cherry fan, they are a must!  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Chocolate Toffee Squares

Did you ever have a Skor candy bar?  They are my favorite candy bar, hands-down!  Crispy toffee covered in chocolate, oh yeah.  Well, this easy recipe tastes a lot like that candy bar.  And you'll be surprised at the crazy ingredient in this one.


24 saltine crackers (yep, crackers)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (heaping) chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate-your preference)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large cookie sheet (with sides) with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer.

In a small pot, melt the butter and brown sugar.  Boil until it turns a caramel color.  This does not take long, just a few minutes.

Pour this mixture over the crackers, covering them evenly (it will spread in the oven, but try to get all the crackers covered).

Bake for 3-5 minutes, or just until it starts to bubble (watch it carefully).  The toffee spreads all over but don't worry, that's why you use the foil and cooking spray.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.  (I used mini chips, but regular-sized works, too)

Let them sit for a minute or two to get melty, then spread over the crackers with a butter knife or spatula.

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes or so (until completely cold).  Break them apart into squares.  Enjoy! (store leftovers in the fridge)

If you like toffee, you'll like these.  These little goodies are crisp and sweet with a hint of saltiness.  They remind me so much of a Skor bar!  Hope you like them!