Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders

For those of you wondering "What is panko?" let me tell you you're in for a treat. Panko is a Japanese style bread crumb. Panko, unlike your "normal" finely ground/dense bread crumb is a larger, more airy crumb which results in more of a lighter, crispier coating.
It's perfect for breading so many things: fish, chicken, shrimp, pork and it also makes a great crunchy topping for so many different casseroles or to add a little crunch on top of some homemade mac & cheese. Panko bread crumbs can be found in almost any grocery store, so go out, buy yourself some and give it a try!

Last night I made some homemade panko crusted chicken tenders and my little boys ate them up! I also made a roasted red pepper aioli for dipping (stay tuned for that recipe)

Let me tell you these are so much more flavorful and healthy than frozen store bought or fast food chicken nuggets that kids always tend to love.
Now I'm not saying these are a great low fat food, they are in fact deep fried, but it helps that I use lean chicken breast rather than the processed chicken "parts" that go into the store bought/fast food and even most restaurant chicken tenders.

Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders


1/2 c. of flour
1 t of salt
1/2 t of pepper
1 t of garlic powder
3 eggs
about 1 & 1/2 c. of panko bread crumbs
3 large chicken breasts cut into strips or nuggets and removed of all fat
about 1 & 1/2 - 2 c. of canola or vegetable oil


Make a little assembly line... first put your flour in a ziploc bag along with the salt, pepper and garlic powder and shake to mix the seasoning.
Crack your eggs in a bowl and whip with a fork.
Spread out the panko on a large plate. At the end of the assembly line have a large empty plate to place the chicken tenders on
Take your cut up chicken breasts and add them to your ziploc bag, seal and shake to coat with the seasoned flour. Add a few of the chicken strips to the egg and coat, then to the panko to coat and repeat until all of the chicken is breaded

In a large sauté pan add your oil (about a 1/2 inch deep) and heat over med-hi heat for about 8 minutes. To test if the oil is hot enough add a few panko crumbs, if they start sizzling the oil is ready. Place some paper towels on a large plate to have ready for when the chicken is done

You will need to fry the chicken in about 2-3 batches depending on how big your sauté pan is. Cook the chicken tenders for appx 2 & 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.

You may need to add more oil in between batches to keep it at least 1/2 inch deep, if you do make sure you give it a minute or two for the oil to heat up again before you add the next batch

4-6 servings

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Perfectly Grilled Steak Fajitas

These fajitas are so simple, they only take about 35 minutes to make. You will have yourself a delicious meal in no time with just a few fresh ingredients, spices and a slab of beef!  Oh, and some tortillas too

The cut of steak I prefer to use is top sirloin, it is a reasonably priced meat, without too much fat and if you grill it right it will come out juicy and tender every time. But really, you can go with whatever cut of steak you prefer or have on hand


1 top sirloin steak, about 1-1.5 lbs
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large white onion
10-12 small flour tortillas
2 T of canola or veg oil

*Dry rub for the steak*
1 t of cumin
1/2 T of paprika
1/2 T of garlic powder
1 t of salt
1/2 t of pepper
Mix in a small bowl and set aside


Pre-heat your grill to medium-hi
Take your steak and rub both sides with the seasoning blend, set aside

*for the peppers and onions*

Pre-heat a large sauté pan over med-hi heat
On a large cutting board cut the tops off of the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and white membrane
Slice the bell peppers and onion into strips (see pic below)
Add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the peppers and onion and sauté for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are not crisp anymore

*for the steak*

Now, I wish I could tell you exactly how to grill your steak but unfortunately we all like our meat cooked to different temps, ie: medium, medium-rare, medium-well ect.  Then factor in that all steaks have a different "thickness" to them and every grill is different, most have hot spots (I know mine does) so you know better than I do as far as grilling your own steak.
What I can tell you is how I grilled the steak on MY grill to a medium. I preheated the grill on med-hi for 15 minutes, placed my steak on and let it grill with the lid open for 8 minutes, then I flipped it and grilled for another 5-6 minutes with the lid closed, leaving the temp of the grill set at med-hi the entire time

When done grilling your steak place it on a cutting board, cover with foil and let sit for 10-15 minutes
When you are ready to slice the meat, make sure you slice AGAINST the grain, this helps ensure that it will be tender. If you slice with the grain your steak ends up being more tough and chewy

Once all of the steak is sliced and the veggies are cooked take a flour tortilla, place a few strips of steak, some of the peppers and onion on it and serve

About 4 adults

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stuffed Shells

A family favorite in our household! This recipe will make enough to feed a crowd...which is what I did.

One of my dear friends from NM came to stay with us over New Year's weekend with her husband and kids. She has 3 little boys, we have 3 little boys, so to say the least there was a whole lot of mouths to feed! The stuffed shells did the trick.
This recipe will make two trays (about 32-36 shells.) Keep in mind you can always cut the recipe in half, or just freeze the other half for an easy weeknight dinner.


1 box of jumbo pasta shells
1 lb of ground mild Italian sausage
3 jars of your favorite pasta sauce or about 6 cups of homemade sauce (will post my recipe for that later)
3- 15oz containers of part skim ricotta cheese
1 C of grated or shredded parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 T of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
6 cloves of finely chopped garlic (you can also use the chopped garlic in a jar that you buy at the store, if so you will need about 2 T)
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T of finely chopped fresh basil, when using herbs fresh is always better but you can substitute dried basil if that's what you have on hand
2 t of kosher salt
1 t of pepper
2-3 C of shredded mozzarella cheese


Boil shells according to package directions, when they are done run under cold water to cool, set aside
Preheat oven to 350•
Preheat a medium sauté pan over med-hi heat
add the ground sausage, chop up while cooking and cook until no longer pink, drain the fat then set aside and let cool

In a large mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper, mix all ingredients well

Place the cooled sausage on a cutting board and chop until there are no large chunks
Add the sausage to the cheese mixture and mix until well blended

Grease two 9 by 13 oven safe dishes and add a cup of pasta sauce to coat the bottom of each dish
Spoon the meat/cheese mixture into each shell until just full and place the shell stuffed side up in the dish
When finished stuffing all of the shells top each one with the remaining pasta sauce and the mozzarella cheese
Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes

Yield  about 10 adults
Cut the recipe in half it will yield 4-6 adults

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Garlic-Roasted Asparagus

If any of you out there are not asparagus lovers this dish will turn you into one! A great, simple but tasty weeknight side dish that can be paired with almost any main course. Hey, it's a great way to get those greens in too!


1 bunch of fresh asparagus
2 T of olive oil
2 T of chopped garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste


preheat your oven to 425•

Take one asparagus stalk holding it closer to the end and snap, toss the bottom piece and keep the greener part, line that piece up with the rest of the bunch and cut off the rest of the ends making the whole bunch even in length, this is to get rid of the woody, chewy end that is not really edible
Place all of the asparagus in an 9 by 13 baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, add the chopped garlic, salt and pepper
With your hands toss all of the ingredients together until well coated
Roast for 15-20 minutes tossing the asparagus half way through the cooking time
Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice from half of a lemon, give one last toss and serve

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oven Baked Ribs

My first choice to cook ribs would be in a smoker, but really how often do we have the time to stand over a smoker for hours?
The next best thing... oven roasted ribs. These are so delicious and so easy to make, and yes they will turn out so moist and tender that they will fall off the bone!
I make these with my homemade BBQ sauce but if I'm short on time I will use my favorite store bought sauce, nothing wrong with that!

BBQ sauce~


2 T of vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 of a small white onion grated
2 T of tomato paste
1 T of chili powder
1 T paprika
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups of water
2 cups of ketchup
1/2 c of firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 T of soy sauce
1 T of worcestershire sauce
1 T of kosher salt
1 t of freshly ground pepper
1 T of stone ground mustard


Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, grated onion, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika and red pepper flakes, then stir and cook until the paste is a dark red. Add the water, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, worcestershire, salt, pepper and mustard. Cook over med low, or at gentle simmer for about 30 minutes



1 3-4 lb slab of pork spare ribs (or whatever type of ribs you prefer)
1 T of kosher salt
1 T of fresh ground pepper
1 T of garlic powder
1 T of paprika
1 T of chili powder
2 cups of apple juice or you can use veg or beef broth or water, whatever you have on hand (this is just to keep the meat moist)


Preheat oven to 325•
Grease a roasting dish with a rack inserted with non stick spray. In a small bowl mix the salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder to make a dry rub, set aside.
Remove the membrane from underneath the ribs, then cut the rack in half and place in your roasting dish.  Coat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub, then add your liquid to the bottom.  Place in the oven to cook for 2 hrs.  Remove from the oven and baste both sides of the ribs with your bbq sauce then place back in the oven. Baste the ribs with bbq sauce another 4 or 5 times over the next hour and a half
*total cooking time should be about 3.5 hrs*
Remove the ribs from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing

1 3-4 lb rack of ribs should feed about 4 adults with a side dish