Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Absolute Best Orange Chicken

We are huge fans of Chinese food over here and Orange Chicken is the favorite. I had to try making it healthier than at your typical drive thru or deli counter. It actually surprised me how easy it is to make. With it going into the crock pot to cook, it freed up my evening. All I needed to make was some rice and voila...dinner that pleased everyone. This recipe was enough for 4 adults and 3 kids with a little to spare. :-)

Orange Chicken

4 chicken breast, cut into small squares
1 cup flour
olive oil
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup ketchup
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (I did 1/2 honey, half brown sugar)

Mix orange juice, concentrate, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, and ketchup. Set aside.
Put flour on large plate. Generously coat raw chicken pieces with flour. Pour some olive oil in a large skillet and brown chicken on a little over medium heat. Chicken doesn't have to be fully cooked, just browned a little bit. Add more oil if necessary. Put browned chicken in crock pot. Pour sauce mix over top. Cook on high for 3 hours or until completely cooked through. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Basic Burritos

These are pretty basic, nothing exotic or special, burritos. Tasty, hearty, filling, easy. Nothing gourmet here! But, they are Craig's favorite to have in the freezer for quick lunches. I like to have them, too, for a fast dinner that requires no thought save to preheat the oven. This recipe is for 40 burritos. Nice for stocking the freezer and better for you than commercial frozen burritos! 


2 lbs lean ground beef (I always stick with organic when it comes to my meat)
1/2 cup taco seasoning
1 1/2 cup water
6 cups PREPARED rice
1 cup OR one can of: (make sure to rinse beans {except the refried ones} if using canned)
Black beans
White beans
Refried beans
4 cups (or one quart jar) salsa
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin

5 cups shredded cheese

40 burrito size tortillas 
Foil (pre-cut from Costco is best!)

Begin by browning beef. Once cooked, add water and taco seasoning and let simmer for a bit. Meanwhile cook rice according to package directions. In a LARGE bowl, combine beef, rice, beans, corn, salsa, and seasonings. Mix well. Get a 2/3 cup measuring cup. Fill tortillas with scant 2/3 cup filling. Sprinkle with cheese. Roll. Wrap in foil. Freeze. 

Bake on 400 for about 20 minutes. 

(photo from Chicken Burritos showing how to fold)

Best way to foil wrap...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Roasted Broccoli

This is, by far, the best broccoli I have ever made. Crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Healthy, too! My kids don't like broccoli at all, but this stuff? They were so sad the pan was empty! Next time, definitely making way more!!

Roasted Broccoli

Garlic (3 cloves per head of broccoli)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper (best fresh ground)

Line pan with foil. Don't wash broccoli. In the words of the famous Jacques Pepin "If bacteria could survive that oven, it deserves to kill me." ;-) The broccoli won't crisp properly if it's wet, so if you must wash, do it much earlier in the day and lay it out to dry thoroughly.

Anyway. Put broccoli on foil lined pan. Drizzle quite well with olive oil. Distribute minced garlic all over. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper and ground salt. Bake on 400 for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn. You want golden, not fried. 

(before disappeared too fast to get an after shot)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chicken Chili

I'm a fan of crock pot meals because I am more motivated in the morning than the evening! I've actually made this recipe twice this past month because my kiddos liked it well enough. The leftovers make a quick lunch! 

Chicken Chili

1 can rotel
1 can corn, not drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 
1 can white beans, not drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp oregano and basil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 onion chopped fine
dash of salt
2 chicken breasts, raw
1 package cream cheese

Put everything in the crock pot on low until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Stir back into the crock pot with cream cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and serve immediately. If the cream cheese sits in the crock pot too long it'll start burning on the edges. We ate this with *gasp* MORE cheese on top and some sour cream. We like cheese 'round these parts =)

Mexican Casserole

We are big fans of Mexican inspired foods over here and I am a fan of casserole dishes. Easy to make while the kids nap, and refrigerate until time to make dinner. This re-heats in the oven quite well, too. 

Mexican Casserole

1lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded cheese
100% whole grain tortillas

Begin by browning ground beef in a pan until cooked through. Add seasoning and about 1/2 cup of salsa. Begin by layering in a 9x13 pan, 
1/2 of beef 
1/2 of corn
1/2 of beans 
a layer of tortilla
the other half of beef
some cheese
another layer of tortilla
the other 1/2 of corn and beans 
some salsa
a little more cheese

Bake on 350 until the cheese bubbles. I don't know exactly how long it was...maybe 20 or so minutes? I mostly just estimate when it's done! I served this with some chips and sour cream.

Pizza Crescents

This is a perfect go-to snack food for when company is over and you need something fast! Reminds me of party food. Something kids and adults alike will eat and enjoy! We dipped ours in pizza sauce. 

Pizza Crescents

1 roll crescents
4 cheese sticks, cut in half
24 pieces pepperoni
pizza sauce 

Unroll crescents. Place 3 pepperoni pieces at wide end. Put half a cheese stick on top of pepperoni and roll, folding corners over top when done. Bake on 375 for about 10 minutes.