Tag Archives: chicken

Make-Your-Own Salad Night: Chicken Apple Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

What would you say if I told you that, during our time living in Switzerland, Make-Your-Own Salad Night was my girls’ single most requested meal?

I wouldn’t have believed me either.


But it’s true. When so many other things were different from what they were used to, we could count on the produce at our corner market to be both familiar and amazingly fresh. The bottle of Ranch dressing we brought with us helped too. (Don’t worry–I have a delicious clean dressing recipe at the bottom.)

Since returning, it’s still one of the few meals that don’t get any pushback or “how many bites?” Because they can make it how they want. Both of my big girls prefer to separate all the ingredients on their plates and eat one at a time.


You can make this your own; I’m a big fan of fruity salads, so I just keep it simple with chopped apples, seasoned chicken breast, and balsamic vinaigrette, but I pull out as many of my girls’ favorite raw veggies and fruits as they can fit on their plates, and it all gets eaten! Tailor this to your (and your kids’) preferences and any dietary needs, and every once in awhile, add something that’s a little bit of a stretch for them to let them try: kale instead of spinach, for a start.

If making your own dressing sounds intimidating, start with this one. It has 4 ingredients and all you do is shake. Plus, you know what’s in it, and most importantly, what’s not in it.

Do you do a Make-Your-Own Salad Night? What do you include?


Chicken Apple Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Greens of choice
  • Chicken breast, seasoned as desired and grilled or broiled
  • apple, diced
  • vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup GOOD-quality balsamic vinegar (trust me, it’s important)
    • 1/4 cup grapeseed or other light-tasting oil (avoid olive oil)
    • 2 tsp prepared Dijon mustard, no-sugar-added
    • 1/2 tsp (or more, to taste) dried Italian herbs
    • dash salt
  1. Assemble greens, chicken, and apple.
  2. Add vinaigrette ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake vigorously until well incorporated. Drizzle over salad and enjoy!

Adapted from here

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free | Nut-free | Clean eating | Paleo


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Easy Baked Chicken. 5 minutes of prep. Yes, really.

I know all of you moms can relate to this:

When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.

Mother-in-law to the rescue!

chicken prepThis easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. parmesan
  • up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
  3. Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
  4. If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
  5. Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
  7. Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.

dinnerSeasoned brown rice

  1. Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
  2. 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
  3. Serve with chicken.

What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?

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Creamy Chicken Taquitos.

I’ve been MIA for awhile… We’re preparing for Baby Girl to get here in less than 2 weeks, & my energy level hasn’t exactly kept up with the to-do list.

One item on that to-do list that I have been able to check off has been to make double batches of meals & freeze half, like these meatballs, & these taquitos:

I adapted the recipe from the Our Best Bites that have been all over Pinterest. Theirs uses green salsa & green onions; not having either of those on hand, I made mine “red” taquitos. (Or rather, since they’re creamy, maybe they’re “pink” taquitos.) I also decreased the spice factor a little, since The Munchkin seems to not sleep well after consuming moderate amounts of chili powder. Weird? Yes. Could just be correlation rather than causation, but it’s true.

  • 3 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup medium salsa
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried cilantro (or 3 Tbsp. fresh, but seriously, dried cilantro is like my new favorite addition to my spice cabinet)
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced yellow onion
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • small flour or corn tortillas*
  • salt

* I first tried it with both types, & while the corn would be healthier & higher in fiber, they just didn’t hold up. Observe:

The cracked ones on the left are the corn. So now I just use flour.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 & line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients until well incorporated. Then mix in the cilantro & onions.
  3. Add chicken & cheese & mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat a few tortillas at a time between 2 paper towels in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or so. Then spoon a couple Tbsp. of the chicken mixture onto the bottom third of a tortilla & roll it as tightly as possible. Place, seam-side-down, on the cookie sheet.
  5. Repeat with remaining chicken mixture & tortillas, then spray with cooking spray & sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  7. If you want to freeze them, place them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet & freeze for a half hour or so, then place in a labeled Ziploc bag for up to 3 months & bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
  8. If you have leftovers, freeze any baked taquitos & microwave on high for a minute to a minute & 10 seconds. They won’t be crispy, but still delicious.

Now, I will likely be MIA for a little while longer until I get used to being a mommy of 2 Munchkins. Until then!

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Winger’s Sticky Fingers.

A few Christmases ago we got the bright idea to drive from Indiana to Utah for the holidays with a 6-month-old Munchkin. In all fairness, she did fabulously on the long trek; what didn’t do so well was our car — a little blue Subaru Impreza wagon I’d had since college & driven cross-country more times than I could count. Her name was Ella. Just past Kansas City, she started to overheat despite the near-freezing weather. We pulled off into the thriving metropolis of Mound, MO, & spent the next couple hours at the only dealership in town trying to see if the very nice Ford guys could fix it. They filled her up with coolant & sent us on our way.

We made it to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Fortunately there was at least a Subaru dealer there. Several more hours later we were back on the road. We made it almost all the way across the state before she started overheating again. We couldn’t go more than 50 mph, so we limped into Sidney, NE, where our motel was, late at night with an overtired child & an overheating car.

The next morning, a Saturday, we poured more coolant into the tank & made it just across the Wyoming state line — less than 30 miles — before having problems again. The local mechanic gave us 2 options: stay over the weekend to wait for parts, or limp to Cheyenne a couple dozen miles ahead. Another several hours at another Subaru dealer later (you can imagine The Munchkin was getting a little sick of repair shops) we were told the problem had been resolved. But we hadn’t so much as left the Cheyenne city limits before the problem reoccurred. So we limped over the mountains into Laramie — at least we were heading the right direction — where there was yet another Subaru dealer, though they’d be closed Sunday.

So we were stuck in Laramie. What was there to do in a small college town over winter break on a Saturday night?

Eat at Winger’s. On the very last night before that particular location would be closed forever.

Winger’s is a casual dining restaurant out west — predominantly in Utah — famous for its Sticky Fingers: chicken fingers soaked in a spicy-sweet sauce & dipped in Ranch dressing. They also have a killer Asphalt Pie. I found the recipe for the sauce here many months ago, but only now had gotten around to buying the special hot sauce it requires. If you’re a fan of Sticky Fingers & don’t live near a Winger’s, this recipe is for you!

Winger’s Sticky Fingers (will make enough sauce for 4+ people)

  • breaded chicken fingers
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. FRANK’S Buffalo sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  1. Prepare desired number of chicken fingers according to conventional oven directions on package.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan & heat, stirring frequently, until brown sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish, pour sauce over the top, & toss.
  4. Serve with Ranch dressing.

The car story does have a happy ending, by the way: with the help of my in-laws, we drove on I-80 all the way across Wyoming at a whopping 55 miles an hour — way scarier than driving fast, I’ll tell you what — & traded our faithful Ella in for our current Subaru: a reliable Forester that has also been driven across the country several times & is still doing great! We miss Ella, but we’re grateful we don’t have to spend any more road trips in mechanics’ shops. & besides, we’ll always have Laramie…

Do you have memories — fond or otherwise — associated with certain dishes or restaurants?

Oopsey Daisy


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Curry, cravings, & a cure for the weekly dinner rut.

What’s the weirdest food you craved when you were preggo? With both of my pregnancies, I’ve had an incessant, nigh-incurable craving for curry. The first time, that wasn’t a problem because we lived in a college town with a seemingly endless array of international restaurants in close proximity — read: walking distance — to one another, including what is still hands-down my favorite Thai place. (They also had an amazing Turkish place where we got to sit on cushions to eat at low tables & everything… but that’s another story.) This time around, however, I haven’t been so lucky. Living in suburban sprawl has its downsides, for sure, & restaurant choice is one of them, especially if I don’t want to drive 30 minutes each way. (Bakeries too… but again, another story.)

But then my friend Patty introduced me to Weelicious. In less than 15 minutes of perusal, my weekly dinner rut had disappeared completely. I was pinning & bookmarking dinner ideas faster than I ever have before! Catherine (what a nice name!) has everything from baby & toddler foods to family dinners, snacks, incredible lunchbox ideas, ways to get your picky eater to be less picky… Why was I just now finding out about this?!

Then I saw it. The cure for my curry craving (for the moment, anyway). It’s actually not one of Catherine’s, but a contest submission from a lady named Deb. & it rocks. Before I go back for thirds, let me share my version with you. The original recipe is here.

  •  2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • dash ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored, skin on, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (UPDATE: we now use a diced sweet potato and like it even better!)
  • 1 cup carrots (about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large Russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken (about 4 breasts), cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed braiser or pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion; saute 3-4 minutes or until soft & translucent.
  3. Add spice mixture & saute 30 seconds more.
  4. Add apple or sweet potato, carrots, potatoes, & chicken; toss until evenly coated with spice mixture & onions.
  5. Add broth & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through & veggies are tender, stirring occasionally to keep curry from sticking to the bottom & to help the veggies cook evenly.
  6. Serve over basmati rice for the delicious authentic flavor, or brown rice for a clean option.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free | Clean-eating option

Like the other Catherine, my family devoured this. Munchkin included. (Her affinity for curry may have something to do with the amount of it that I ate when I was pregnant & nursing with her…) It was flavorful without being spicy. I wondered about the apples, but decided to try it anyway & loved the touch of sweetness they added. If you look at the original recipe, you’ll see that I substituted potatoes for celery, simply because they were what was in my favorite curry at that one Thai place in Bloomington. I’m sure you could do both if you wanted to, but the whole family agreed that it was exactly perfect just like this.

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Pasta with broccoli & chicken in creamy tomato sauce.

My family just came to visit, & after a week of dining out, I was having serious grocery list writer’s block. What to make this week? Especially with Christmas falling in there too? Fortunately, I recalled one of our old favorites that I haven’t made in forever. We call it “Pink Sauce Chicken.”

(Admittedly, this is one of the least flattering photos imaginable. I’m beyond excited about the light scoop My Husband The Generous is “surprising” me with on Christmas!)

So you’re asking, “If it’s one of your favorites, why haven’t you made it in a long time?” The answer is that I got it from the Kraft Food&Family magazine, & they had the nerve to stop making one of the key ingredients. That’s the trouble with semi-homemade: you’re limited by the available ingredients.

But after like 15 minutes of standing in the salad dressing aisle with The Munchkin contentedly munching on a cookie in her green racecar cart (thank you Publix!), I found the substitute. & Pink Sauce Chicken never tasted better!

  • 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Lawry’s 30-minute Marinade in Tuscan Sundried Tomato*
  • 8+ oz. uncooked short pasta (the recipe calls for bowtie)
  • up to 4 cups broccoli florets (we do more pasta & less broccoli)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 4 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • parmesan, to taste

* The recipe originally called for Kraft’s Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing. The 30-minute Marinade does a great job, but has a little less liquid in it, so you need to watch that your chicken doesn’t scorch. If you can’t find the 30-minute Marinade, look for an Italian dressing with roasted red peppers relatively high on the ingredient list.

  1. Marinate chicken in some of the 30-minute marinade for — you guessed it — 30 minutes.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 3 minutes (for frozen, last 4 or 5 minutes) of cooking time.
  3. Meanhile, heat 3 Tbsp. of the marinade in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic & heat until fragrant.
  4. Add chicken; cook, covered, 5 min. to a side or until done in the middle. You may need to add more marinade/dressing to keep it from burning.
  5. Drain pasta mixture; return to pot & set aside. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Add pasta sauce & Neufchatel to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted & mixture is well blended.
  7. Coat chicken in sauce, remove from skillet, & keep warm.
  8. Add sauce mixture to pasta mixture in pot; mix well. Transfer to 6 pasta bowls.
  9. Cut chicken across the grain into thick slices. Fan one breast half over the pasta in each of the bowls.
  10. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.

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Thanksgiving leftover makeover: Giada’s Curried Chicken (or Turkey) Sandwiches

These sandwiches are amazing.

Versatile. With chicken: great for summer picnics. With turkey: the most delicious day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich you’ve ever had.

A hit with everyone who’s tried them. Even professed curry haters have come back for more!

Still not convinced? They have bacon in them.

Now that I have your attention, I sincerely hope you give these a try this November 25th. Your family won’t give those cold-turkey-&-cranberry sandwiches a second thought.

They come from Giada de Laurentiis’ cookbook Giada’s Kitchen. My version makes a few of the ingredients a little more pantry-friendly (like subbing bacon for pancetta & ground ginger for fresh), because we have to buy enough crazy ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner!

  • 8 oz. thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • about 4 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
  • up to 8 ciabatta rolls (or, if you keep forgetting you’re not in New York anymore & they don’t sell ciabatta on every corner in Florida, these delightful French hamburber buns!)
  1. Cook bacon until crispy & set aside. I nuke mine between double layers of paper towels for a minute a slice.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the mayo, curry powder, lime juice, honey, & ginger.
  3. Add chicken; stir to coat.
  4. Just before serving, crumble bacon into the mixture & stir just until incorporated.
  5. Slice rolls in half & spoon chicken mixture onto rolls.
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