Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Burgers


Sometimes you take a bite of something and it turns into a happy little dance party in your mouth.  For example: A Buffalo Chicken Burger.  My oh my.  My taste buds were like, thank you Aimee!

I'm about to get real honest with you.  I had some chicken in my freezer and I was bored and somewhat broke and looking through all my cabinets contemplating spring cleaning when I found my kitchen-aid meat grinder--unused, still in the box and it was sad.  It was calling out to me.  Use me, I was free on a shopping spree courtesy of a returned, broken keurig to a store that shall remain nameless but has a great return policy.  I actually thought I was buying a food mill which i was planning on using for applesauce.  Fail on my part there.  Turns out the food mill attachment is MUCH more expensive.

Soooo, I thawed out that chicken, actually read the directions for the food grinder and got to work. Have you all seen the prices of ground chicken lately?  It's over $4 a pound?  That's crazy!! However, you can buy boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.99 a pound and grind your own like I did! Or you can just purchase a pound at the grocery store. It's a lot easier. 

How pretty is that mixer? Someone once told me to put it away so that my counter looks less cluttered. I laughed and stared at them in disbelief. It is a work of art. 

There are a few possibilities other than burgers for this chicken mixture. If you're going the low carb or gluten free route, just use it for lettuce rolls or corn tortillas for tacos. For now I am in love with this in burger form. 

Beware that chicken makes a bit of a sloppier burger than ground beef as it holds more water. I recommend chilling this, once you have formed your patties, for at least 30 minutes. Also, make sure that you have oiled your pan. 

Now that I've finally gotten my nerve up to use this meat grinder I can't wait to find more things to grind up! I'm looking forward to making some sausage this summer as soon as I can work up the nerve to buy sausage casing. 

Buffalo Chicken Burgers


1 pound ground chicken
2 carrots, grated
1/3 cup onion, grated 
1/4 to 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together except oil. Form into patties about 3/4 inch thick and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat a large skillet over medium to medium low heat. Place enough oil in the bottom of the pan to cover, about 1-2 tablespoons.   Place the burger patties in the skillet and cover with lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip each patty, covering the skillet again. Flip every 4-5 minutes cooking for a total of about 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the burger.  You can insert a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Chicken should register 160 degrees. 

I served these on fresh pretzel buns with homemade ranch dressing. To die for!! 

Cincinnati Chili Dip--Again (Because it's that good and you need it for basketball)

It's that time of year y'all!  March Madness is upon us!  The play-in games began last night and the big dance officially begins tomorrow!  I love, love, love this time of the year!  Lexington is buzzing with basketball fever (more than usual, if you can believe it) and spring is in the air!  

In honor of the first game that I'll get to watch, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats taking on the Harvard--wait, does Harvard even have a mascot?  For blog post purposes we'll just call them the Harvard Hipsters.  Sadly, I won't get to watch the entire game but I'm meeting up with a couple of my girls from work for a much overdue lunch date.  Yes, in Kentucky girls get together and watch basketball.  Not only that, we actually know what we're talking about.  

Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, Cincinnati Chili Dip.  Make this for your watch parties.  It will disappear quickly so make a double batch.  I promise if you look hard enough you can find Cincinnati chili.  It's either in the frozen section or the canned chili section.  They sell it in Florida so don't give me any lip, sass or excuses otherwise.  Just do it.  It will not disappoint.  Plus, you can throw it together in 5 minutes. 

Cincinnati Chili Dip


1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
1 can of your favorite Cincinnati style chili (frozen works, too)
1 bag of grated cheddar cheese

Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  If your cream cheese isn't completely softened you can place it in the pan and stick it in the oven for a few minutes until it's spreadable.  Cover with the can of chili and then sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.  Use as a dip with tortilla chips.

See how good that was?  I won't even say I told you so!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bluegrass Picadillo

One pot meals. Did I get your attention?  Easy cleanup. That did it, right? The cleanup is what it's about for me. Always.

Other than the weather, there is nothing I miss more about Tampa than the food.  Fresh seafood mixed with tropical cultures.  You can find a Cuban joint or a restaurant specializing in grouper on every corner. I must stop now or I will cry.  One if my favorite Cuban dishes is Picadillo. It's a ground beef dish with olives and raisins. Of course there are many variations and almost ever Caribbean/Central American culture has a version of this dish. Some with potatoes or plantains. Whatever was local and whatever was available--that's how these cultures have all survived. 

I've changed it up a bit by adding some more veggies but using lean ground beef makes it a super healthy meal, perfect for any night of the week. It comes together in a cinch--especially if you use frozen vegetables! 

Bluegrass Picadillo


1 pound ground beef
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/3 cup green olives, roughly chopped
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper 

In a large skillet brown ground beef. Add green peppers, jalapeño, red onion, garlic, water and all of the spices.  Stir. Cover and let simmer over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes. Add olives, corn and tomatoes. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat. Serve with beans and rice 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ.  Chicken.  Pizza.  My three favorite words.  At least for the time being.  If you've been around Fork Heart Kentucky long enough, you know I have lots of favorites and they change on a daily, if not on an hourly basis.  Barbecue is kind of a mainstay in my life though.  Have I mentioned how desperately I want a smoker?  I have gone so far to research how to make my own.  Have I also mentioned that I am not handy?  Oh, that's right.  I totally have.  

Last week I shared my Slow Roasted BBQ Pineapple Chicken recipe with you.  As promised, here is just one thing you can do with it.  This works well for a quick weeknight dinner when served up with a green salad or a light weekend lunch.  Either way, it's a lightening fast, throw-together meal.

I'm always on the lookout for new products that feature all natural ingredients and when I found these awesome-sauce TortillaLand tortilla's at Meijer, I decided to give them a try.  Head on over to their website where you can occasionally find a coupon! I love saving money.  Anyway, these tortillas.  They only have five ingredients--all of which are easily pronounced and none of which are chemical compounds.  They are sold in the refrigerated section of your grocer and are actually raw tortillas.  Don't stop reading!!!!  Seriously, all you do is throw them into a skillet for 60 seconds and presto-chango a fresh, piping hot, delicious tortilla.  Soooo good!

I'm raving about tortillas because this BBQ Chicken Pizza is actually made on tortillas.  It saves time AND makes it slightly healthier--not all that bread to fill you up! That's a win in my book!!

All you have to do is cook your tortilla, if your using a raw or fresh tortilla, which I would recommend but it certainly isn't required.  Then you brush on your favorite BBQ sauce.  I have recently come across some great all-natural store bought sauces.  One day I will perfect my own sauce but until that day comes I'm thankful for options!  

Next, load it up with your toppings.  I keep mine pretty simple and base it on the BBQ Chicken Pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.  Best one ever!! 

Mmmm mmm good!!!  All that's left is to throw it in the oven!!  Now keep in mind with this recipe that nothing is "exact" so I'm not putting in measurements.  I just grab some ingredients and go!

Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza


Red Onion, diced
BBQ Sauce
Mexican Cheese, shredded

Place cooked tortillas on a baking sheet.  Brush with BBQ sauce.  Top with chicken, onion, cheese and cilantro.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Enjoy!! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Have we discussed my obsession with Chipotle? No?  It's safe to say I'm completely in love. This affair has been going on for about 7 years now.  Possibly longer.  I wish I could remember that first visit vividly. Oddly enough the only thing I remember was that corn salsa. Please tell me you've had the corn salsa. I could eat that with a spoon. Seriously. 

How much do I love Chipotle? Let me count the ways. Guacamole, tortilla chips, fresh salsa and that cilantro lime rice. Is there a better way to fill a burrito or a burrito bowl? I think not. I have taken to the burrito bowls over the past few years. To me, they're just easier to consume. 

Can I just talk about some of the garbage that's been on tv lately? First of all, every day at 2pm in the break room at work, I am fortunate enough to listen to Dr. Phil (where is that sarcasm font). What's more  annoying than actually listening to these inbred hillbillies he pays to appear on his shows, is that people still believe Dr. Phil to be credible. Was he ever credible to begin with? That's my question.  Also, I accidentally caught about 10 seconds of the bachelor on Monday night and I have no idea what that is all about. 

Ahem.... Sorry. I'll step down off my soapbox now.  Where was I? Oh that's right, Cilantro Lime Quinoa. Sometimes I will make this on a Sunday and I can use it in different ways thoughout the week in lunches, as a side or a main dish! It's easy to make and super good for you! 

Look at all that green!! I can't wait to see that outside soon!! 

Cilantro Lime Quinoa


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 lime, zest and juice
1/3 to 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup green onion, sliced

In a medium saucepan bring the broth and the zest of 1 lime to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Stir in cilantro, lime juice and green onion. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for later use.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Slow Roasted Pineapple BBQ Chicken

I've had a slight obsession lately with slow roasting chicken on Sunday. I'm guessing there are two reasons for this. 

1. It takes five minutes to throw together. 
2. I get multiple meals out of it!
3. It's healthy!

I wasn't planning on throwing in a third reason but being good for you AND easy? Hello, win, win! 

Honestly, if you can turn on your oven and successfully rip some foil from the roll, you can make this chicken. 

I've been so busy lately that having  chicken already shredded in the fridge has been a huge time saver! I can throw it on a sandwich, use it on tacos or just steam some veggies in the microwave for a quick dinner. 

Obviously I haven't been microwaving anything at home.  I just realized while talking to my mom that I've been microwave-less for 10 1/2 months. Whaaaaa??? I'd say I'm adapting quite well. 

Check back later this week for a couple other ideas using this quick and delicious chicken! For now I recommend drenching it in some BBQ sauce. Mmm mmm good!!

Slow Roasted Pineapple BBQ Chicken


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 jalapeño, diced
1/4 cup pineapple, roughly chopped (I used canned)
1 cup pineapple juice
BBQ dry rub

Cover the entire outer surface of the chicken with the dry rub. Coat well. 

Place in a baking dish with the jalapeño, pineapple and pineapple juice. Cover with foil. 

Roast in a preheated 250 degree oven for 3 hours. 

Remove from oven and shred with two forks. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Kentucky Hot Brown Mac and Cheese

Home improvements are not my thing.  I'm single and apparently not very handy.  I can wield a paint roller like nobody's business but when it comes to much more than that, forget about it.  Here's the thing though--between projects I don't seem to think about how bad I am at these things.  Then I spend hours perusing Pinterest and I think, "I can do that".  Wrong.  I cannot do that.  Then I watch Rehab Addict and Nicole Curtis makes everything look so easy.  Two episodes of that show and I want to take a sledge hammer to my walls and open up spaces that don't even exist.  

I think it's time I bring awareness to this disorder that I have.  I'm calling it Home Improvement Amnesia, or HIA.  It's a serious issue that needs to come to the forefront.  I will shed some light on it.  You see, my house is full of those horrendous wire shelves.  It is my goal to rip every single one of them down.  I just have one left to go.  Who came up with this idea of wire shelving?  Did this person ever try to actually put things on these shelves or were they just thinking aesthetics?  (By the way, they aren't even aesthetically pleasing.)  This brings me to my laundry "nook".  It's not an actual room.  Just a washer and dryer, and of course a wire shelf, behind two pantry doors.  It also houses my hot water heater.  I won't even go into attempting to paint behind that thing.  After watching way too many episodes of the Property Brothers, I got out my screwdriver and pliers and went to work removing this stupid shelf.  After two days, it was finally down and I was able to paint which as I mentioned, is my specialty.  Not so much the cutting in part but the rolling.  Anywho, it's all painted and I just attempted to put up a new, solid shelf that my items will actually sit on.  Needless to say, I'm now writing a blog post because I am not handy.  At all. 

Obviously I am frustrated and the only thing that can cure my frustration is comfort food. My perfect idea of comfort food? Mac and Cheese. This is Mac and Cheese kicked up a notch though: Kentucky Hot Brown Mac and Cheese. Oh yeah. Smokey, meaty, creamy, Delish.  It will pretty much fix any mood from sad to frustrated. 

Plus, bacon. So you know it can't be wrong. 

Kentucky Hot Brown Mac and Cheese                                            Printer Friendly


5 slices bacon
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 quart milk
Pinch of nutmeg
3 cups Swiss cheese
1 cup turkey, chopped
Tomato, diced for garnish 
Breadcrumbs, for garnish
Salt and pepper 
1 pound pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or large sauce pan, cook bacon over medium low heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a foil lined baking sheet. Place in a cold oven. Turn oven to 400 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is done. Place on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside. 

In the same pan, melt butter. Sprinkle in flour. Cook for 5 minutes or until roux has thickened. Slowly whisk in milk, 1 cup at a time.   Add pinch of nutmeg. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in turkey and cheese. Add pasta to sauce and mix until well incorporated.  

Preheat a shallow skillet over medium heat. Toast breadcrumbs for about 4 minutes. Sprinkle on top of each bowl of pasta. Also garnish with diced tomatoes and crumbled bacon. 


Maple Balsamic Glazed Salmon

I did it.  I finally took the plunge.  It was scary but I overcame my fear of commitment and I just went for it.  Yes, I bought a treadmill.  I've never been happier.  His name is Earl and he is perfect.  He is always there when I need him and so far he is completely reliable.  It's getting pretty serious.  I think I'm in love.

Isn't he handsome?  We are having a really great time together.  I have been trying to spend quality time with Earl every day.  We've been watching Breaking Bad.  I'm really looking forward to watching some baseball with him soon.

With this new relationship I figured it's time to get serious about making some changes in my eating habits too.  I've been spending most of my time in the grocery store reading labels.  I have one word--gross.  Actually, gross is normally preceded by the word um which is followed by a question mark.  Is um a word?  I'm saying it is.  I've decided that if I can't pronounce the ingredients in something, I'm no longer purchasing it.

Another change I've decided to make is to eat more fish--especially salmon.  I love Salmon.  Since it's still freezing cold here and my grill is frozen shut (no, I'm not kidding about that), it has to be roasted in the oven.  Anytime I oven roast fish I prefer to finish it off with a glaze.  I'm not sure how this started but now it's a habit that I can't seem to break.  Hence, this recipe for Maple Balsamic Glazed Salmon.

I'm lucky enough to have a fantastic store that specializes in olive oil and vinegars right down the street from me.  Stuarto's has some amazing flavors of balsamic vinegars.  Anything from a coconut white balsamic to an 18 year aged traditional balsamic and everything in between.   If you're in the Lexington area you can stop in and sample anytime during their business hours.  They also appear at the Saturday farmers market in Cheapside Park in downtown Lex.  Seriously.  Go.  Your tastebuds will thank you.  If you aren't in Lexington, don't worry.  They ship. Did I mention that they also have sea salts and naturally flavored cane sugars?  Ah-mazing.

I made this recipe with an aged traditional balsamic but the possibilities are endless.  I served my salmon with a green salad and some of the most perfect potato wedges I've ever made.  Simply seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil in order to not over power the flavors of the fish.

Maple Balsamic Glazed Salmon                                                 Printer Friendly


12 ounces salmon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan combine maple syrup, vinegar, rosemary, garlic and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil.   Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place salmon on a foil lined baking sheet.  Brush with lemon juice.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with all of the glaze.  Return to oven for about 5 minutes.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tomato and Mozzarella Quiche

One of my favorite things about the weekends is making a delicious breakfast while sipping on some piping, hot coffee. Sometimes it's pancakes. Other days it's biscuits and gravy or maybe eggs and bacon. Either way, breakfast is one of my favorite meals.

Recently, due to an excessive amount of pie crusts in my fridge, I've had a fascination with quiche.  They're kind of a blank canvas and the possibilities are endless. A couple of weeks ago I made one with country ham. Today I made one with tomatoes and mozzarella. I threw in some fresh basil and onion for good measure. Mmm mmm good! 

Basil is one of my friend Lauren's favorite herbs. She grew some from seed last year and inspired me to do the same this year.  She also happens to be a vegetarian and I create my vegetarian recipes with her in mind.  Plus, this quiche reminds me of caprese salad and the last time she came to Lexington for a visit she made one for me.  It was so delicious! Lauren has all kinds of creative vegetarian dishes that she makes. They are full of color which makes them even more delectable! 

Quiche works perfectly for a single girl. A slice of it and a side if fruit and you have breakfast for most of the week! Win, win my friends!! 

Plus, you really can't get much easier than mixing some eggs, milk and cheese and throwing it into the oven, can you?

Tomato and Mozzarella Quiche                                          Printer Friendly


6 eggs
1 cup milk or heavy cream
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 1/2 tablespoon to 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 (9inch) pie crust

In a small skillet sauté diced onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. 

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk or cream together.  Stir in tomato, onion, white pepper, salt, garlic powder, basil and cheese. 

Pour into pie crust and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let rest for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve!