Baked Sesame Chicken

My New Year’s Resolution was to publish a blog post at least 3 days a week. FAIL. But hey, I’m here today & I have a pretty easy dinner to share. If you know me through the blog or in real life, you know that I have three kids that keep me running constantly from one end of the county to the other with all their extracurriculars. Who has time to plan & execute elaborate meals? Not me. However, I still want to cook decent meals for my family, so quick & easy is where it’s at. Who’s with me?

Baked Sesame Chicken

I love Asian inspired food, as does my oldest daughter. I like making it at home because I can make it so much healthier than take-out. Plus, we have one local Chinese place…and it wasn’t very good the one time I’ve been. This Baked Sesame Chicken is fairly simple to make, just takes a few ingredients, and is baked instead of fried – which makes this a healthier (and less messy…I hate frying) option.

Baked Sesame Chicken

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:15]

Recipe adapted from Friday is Cake Night

Even though I would have liked a nice thick sauce to add at the end, I didn’t want to use the sauce that the chicken cooked in because it contains so much chicken fat (thighs are fatty), but it is certainly an option (just thicken with cornstarch). I think next time I may reserve some of the sauce, thicken it, and baste it on, under the broiler at the very end. That would give it a sticky sauce, kind of like my Slow Cooked Sticky Chicken. The chicken has a good flavor & is good with rice or sesame noodles. We also had egg rolls, which I normally make from scratch, but these were super convenient!

What’s your favorite Chinese food? I want to try some other dishes at home. This Bourbon Chicken is one of my favorites!

 

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Little Miss DexterousThe Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife, Life with Lorelai (Sunday) My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies

Loose Meat Sandwiches

So, if you’re all like ‘loose…whaaat?’ Then I’m with ya. That was my first response when I saw it a while back on Pinterest. Being the Southern gal I am, loose meat is not something I’ve heard of or eaten before, and honestly, it doesn’t sound all that appetizing. But neither does Dump Cake or White Trash Mix and those are the bomb. Apparently loose meat is a mid-western thing. I was curious and decided to give it a try.

loose meat prep

Basically, it’s ground beef, simmered in water, broth and seasonings until the water cooks out and the meat is left very flavorful.  It kind of looks like a Sloppy Joe, but does not taste like one. It is somewhat reminiscent of Cincinnati Chili in the seasonings used and cooking technique, but without the tomato base. In other words…it’s unique and you just need to try it!

loose meat sandwiches

The best thing of all is that my kids liked it. ALL THREE of them. That in itself is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

little man loves loose meat

Even more incredible is that my 7 year old, who eats very little meat, LOVED it. He ate two the first night, and ate leftovers on two other occasions. I was thrilled to get some meat in that kid. Don’t be jealous over my ‘fine china’. And please ignore my son’s lack of clothing. Dressing for dinner is optional around here. Dressing at all is optional in his opinion. Ahhh, to be 7. And have no body fat.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:10]

Recipe Source: Southern Plate

A sturdy roll/bun is recommended otherwise it’s going to get soggy & fall apart. I’m not a fan of soggy bread, so I made sure to cook my beef until almost all of the water was gone. You can leave some “juice” and strain the beef out if you would rather. The bun will soak up some of that broth and I’m sure is pretty good that way too. I used the new King’s Hawaiian Hamburger Buns. Traditionally, loose meat is served with pickles and mustard, which I liked. My son opted for ketchup….which he puts on pretty much everything.

So what about you? Familiar with loose meat? I love discovering & learning about popular regional foods.

 

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife

Copycat Sausage McGriddle Casserole & Krusteaz GIVEAWAY {#ad}

I received a gift pack from Krusteaz to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own.

This post is full of good things: breakfast food; an easy, kid-approved recipe; and a giveaway! My love for breakfast food is pretty well documented here on the blog. As is my love for casseroles, and breakfast for dinner…which makes an appearance pretty regularly around here. That’s why I am happy to partner with Krusteaz to celebrate National Breakfast Month, and give you some ideas to incorporate Breakfast Night at your house. How about tonight?!

My kids love pancakes. I love sausage and eggs. Since my oldest daughter’s favorite fast food breakfast item is the Sausage McGriddle (from Mickey D’s), this recipe was born. It could be called Breakfast Lasagna because of the layers, or Pancake Casserole, but whatever you call it, give it a try. It’s easy, it’s yummy, it’s filling and it’s just…fun. A little twist on dinner that brings everyone together at the table. Or, you know, you could serve it for breakfast too!

I made my pancakes with Krusteaz pancake mix ahead of time and stuck them in the fridge to make the prep for this even easier.

I was surprised how tasty it was when all layered and baked together.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Pancake Casserole

12-15 pancakes (depends on size)
8 eggs
1 lb sausage (maple sausage, turkey sausage, or favorite)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
maple syrup (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  • In a large skillet, cook sausage on medium high heat until done, crumbling/breaking into pieces as it cooks. Reduce heat to medium.
  • In a bowl, scramble eggs, season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet with sausage. Stir eggs in with sausage and cook until eggs are set.
  • Add pancakes in a single layer to bottom of baking dish. Make sure pancakes are touching or slightly overlapping. I used 5 pancakes for this.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over pancakes.
  • Add 1/2 the sausage/egg mixture to the pan.
  • Top with additional 1/4 cup cheese.
  • Drizzle with syrup, if desired. (Using the maple sausage and/or using maple syrup gives this a more authentic McGriddle flavor. Could also add syrup to pancake mix when preparing.)
  • Repeat layers, starting with pancakes.
  • Top with final layer of pancakes.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is melted.
Slice and serve!
So many Krusteaz products to help make breakfast easy!

Giveaway details:

One prize pack (not pictured) will be awarded to a Makin’ it Mo’Betta reader. It will include:
  • One box of Buttermilk Pancake Mix
  • One box of Belgian Waffle Mix
  • One box of Blueberry Pancake Mix 
  • One Wild Blueberry Muffin Mix 
  • A pancake pen (for pancake art!)
  • A spatula and 
  • A coupon for FREE product
Enter via the Rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Copycat Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark

If you have not visited a Trader Joe’s grocery store, then you may not be familiar with their ‘Cowboy Bark’.

I have no idea why it’s named that, but I can tell you that it’s pretty darn awesome. It has that sweet and salty combo that I loooovveee. Luv. Lurve. Just imagine (or read on the above package) – dark chocolate, loaded with toffee, pretzels, chocolate sandwich cookies, peanuts, almonds and a little salt. Holla. (Anyone else watching Big Brother?!)
This is SO easy to make at home, and as you can see, the girls and I loaded our chocolate down with toppings. That’s the great thing about making this at home, you can be as generous with the toppings as you like. You can also substitute ingredients to whatever you like best or have on hand.
The only difference is that I used Oreo’s instead of Joe’s O’s and I used Heath Bar pieces instead of just plain toffee pieces, because, seriously…can you have too much chocolate?

Copycat Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark

1 lb. dark chocolate (I used Chocoley Extra Dark Chocolate, it’s not bitter at all!)
10 chocolate sandwich cookies, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pretzel pieces
1/2 cup Heath toffee bits
1/2 cup chopped peanuts and almonds
sea salt, for sprinkling – too taste
*measurements are approximates – you may want more or less, and there was an awful lot of ‘sampling’ going on while my girls helped me make this!
  • Have your cookies, pretzels, toffee, and nuts chopped and ready for placement on the bark
  • Line a baking dish, plastic container or cookie sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap

*I used a plastic container that was a little too small and my bark came out a bit thicker than I wanted. I would recommend a cookie sheet, then you can spread it out to your desired thickness

  • Melt chocolate per instructions on bag/bar/etc.
  • Pour melted chocolate on parchment paper and spread to desired thickness.
  • While chocolate is hot, quickly add cookie and pretzel pieces. Then sprinkle on toffee, peanuts and a little sea salt.
  • Allow chocolate to set. (I placed mine in the fridge for a few minutes)
  • Break into pieces and enjoy your copycat creation!
Chocoley sent me a sampling of their products to try. No compensation was received for posting. 
 
 I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles,Tasty Tuesdays (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the Curtain,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Easy Homemade Toaster Strudels and a prayer request

If you follow me or other food bloggers on Facebook, you may have heard about the terrible accident another blogger’s daughter was in yesterday. The little girl was apparently walking to school and was hit by a car. She is in ICU in a medically induced coma due to her injuries. I don’t know details, and really, it’s none of my business since I don’t know the family personally, but as a parent my heart goes out to them. When you follow someone’s blog for a period of time, you start to feel like you know them! So, please take a minute and say a prayer for this little girl and her family. Thanks!

These homemade toaster strudels were very easy, very quick, and VERY awesome!

Homemade Toaster Strudels
I have them posted today over at Eat at Home (where I am a contributing writer for those of you who may not know.) I’d love for you to pop over and check them out!

Copycat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs {Recipe Repeat}

Even though Easter is coming later this year, it is still coming too fast for me! I think the weather is partly to blame for my lack of Easter prep…it hasn’t felt like Spring! But with the Easter Bunny arriving this weekend, I better get myself in gear. One thing that is a ‘must have’ around here, as far as Easter candy goes, are peanut butter eggs. Chocolate covered, peanut butter filled, shaped like eggs….yes, please.

Lucky for us, (lucky being a relative term here), I discovered how to easily whip these up at home with just a few ingredients, and no BUTTER. Don’t get me wrong, butter is awesome. However, I don’t want to eat it when it’s not necessary…you know, the whole ‘moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips’ thing. I’m not saying these peanut butter eggs are healthy, but there are no weird ingredients, no added butter, and they taste awesome.
 
The filling is only 3 ingredients and then it’s dipped in chocolate. In my experience, regular peanut butter works better than natural peanut butter, but natural peanut butter can be used if you chill the dough well (the filling get’s soft and hard to dip otherwise.) I also recommend doubling the posted recipe, because they are that good! HERE is the link to the original post. Enjoy!

Healthier Sausage “McMuffin” Casserole

I know I just posted a breakfast dish yesterday, but what can I say, I really like breakfast food. As a matter of fact, we had breakfast for dinner just last night. This is a variation of the Egg ‘McMuffin’ Casserole I have on the blog. I have to say, I like the sausage version even more!
Sausage McMuffin Casserole EAH
I made an 8 x 8 dish, but you could double it to make a 9 x 13. Head over to Eat at Home where I have the recipe posted today!

Also, don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post, where I have a giveaway going on for Chinet Bakeware!

Super Skinny Chocolate Muffins {copycat Vitatops}

If ya don’t like chocolate, you’re at the wrong place today (and uhhh, how are we friends? Just kidding.) I know there are some people who just don’t care for chocolate. Some of these people even share my same genetic pool. I truly don’t understand it. Anyway…these are for the chocolate fans out there. Especially the chocolate fans who loooove chocolate, but don’t necessarily care to wear their fat pants on a daily basis. These be some skinny muffins. Pinky swear.
and yes, I ate both of these as soon as I took the picture.
Super Skinny Chocolate Muffins {copycat Vita Tops}
Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Dark)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used cinnamon, b/c it’s all we had!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot water (I think coffee could be used here too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute (I used half Splenda and half xylitol) Update: I prefer to use half stevia or xylitol and half real sugar. 
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or use cupcake liners).
  • Using a food processor (or a blender), blend all of the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth. (Note: grinding oats first, before adding other ingredients may make it easier to get a smooth consistency. I still had a few pieces of oats, but I was fine with that.)
  • Pour mixture into prepared muffin pans. These aren’t going to rise a lot, so you can fill them pretty full for larger muffins, or about half to 2/3rds for the traditional VitaTop look. Add a few chocolate chips to each muffin cup (about half of them) to ensure each muffin has chips in it. (If you add them to the batter bowl, they all just sink to the bottom.) The other half of the chips will be added to the tops in the next step. If you don’t want any on top, add them all now.
  • Place muffin tins in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from oven and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin. This just makes them look all pretty and like VitaTops.
  • Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes (mine took 5-7), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Source: Lady’s Little Loves

 We got 12 decent sized muffins for 3 points plus each. I think next time I will make them smaller. I haven’t had Vita Top muffins in a while, but from what I remember, these are pretty darn close. I thought they were good, and my kids thought they were okay, but not great…but they don’t have to worry about fat pants and 41 year old metabolisms. ugh. This recipe also does not contain flour, so I’m assuming could easily be made gluten free.



Thanks to DIY Vintage Chic for featuring this recipe!

DIY Vintage Chic


I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!Huckleberry LoveThe Newlyweds PilgrimageSowdering About in SeattleCraft and Repeat (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe BoxLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeSarah Lynn’s SweetsBeBetsy and VMG206Twinkling Trees , Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) Fluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeThe Real Thing with The Coake FamilyTessa the Domestic Diva  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorMiz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,   Lamberts LatelyThe Girl Creative (Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on Sunshine, Vintage Chic (Saturday)  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ StuffIt’s OverflowingMade from Pinterest (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet ConfessionsWho Needs a Cape?Sweet 2 Eat Baking;

Copycat Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

I’ll admit, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with copycat recipes of late. I’m not sure if it is because I live so far from restaurants now, or because I just want to see if I can replicate restaurant food at home. I imagine it’s a little of both! This particular salad is my husband’s favorite thing from Applebee’s Restaurant, so I wanted to give it a try. There are several versions of the recipe on line, but I based mine off of one from Mandy’s Recipe Box.Looks good, right?!  What’s even better…it is very easy to put together with some pre-packaged items from the grocery store.

Copycat Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

Dressing – 
3 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (*I use Hellman’s with Olive Oil)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
 
Salad – 
6 crispy chicken strips, cooked
Pre-packaged salad mix (w/romaine lettuce, carrots, and cabbage)
Pre-packaged coleslaw mix
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (I used toasted sesame seeds instead)
1 cup Chow Mein noodles
 
  • For the Dressing 
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Refrigerate while preparing salad.
 
  • For the Salad 
Cut chicken strips into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Mix together about half the bag of each of the pre-packaged salad and coleslaw mixes.
Top with cut up chicken, almonds & Chow Mein noodles. 
Drizzle the dressing on top, to taste.
Makes approx. 3 large salads
You can make as much or as little as you want by altering the amounts of salad used.  The amount of dressing used per salad is such an individual preference, so you may need more or less.  The amount listed was enough for 3 salads (a dinner sized salad entree) for us, but my husband said he would have liked more dressing (he likes a lot, where I like just a little!)
I added mandarin oranges to my salad, and I used toasted sesame seeds in the place of almonds, just because I love them! This was a convenient, filling and delicious salad, and I can’t wait to tackle my next copycat recipe!  So far, I’ve tried Copycat Chick-fil-a ChickenOlive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana, and Chili’s Monterey Chicken.
Have you got a restaurant favorite that you make at home? I’d love to hear about it!
I’m linking up this recipe over at – (Wednesday) Fluster BusterSemi Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My TimeBloom DesignsCherished Handmade Treasures  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorTaste and Tell,  Miz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home, A Peek Into My Paradise (Saturday) Sassy Little Lady Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ Stuff (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet Confessions 
Yay! This recipe was featured at The Better Baker and The Best Blog Recipes!

The Best Blog Recipes

Monterey Chicken {Chili’s Copycat recipe}

Cheese. Chicken. Bacon. Barbecue Sauce. You know it’s gonna be good.  Unfortunately, I took the pics when I was in a huge rush to get the kids out the door to volleyball practice, and the lighting was terrible, soooo….don’t judge the recipe by the picture! This blob of cheesiness was pretty darn tasty (and see The Recipe Critic for a much better picture). Monterey Chicken used to be a popular sandwich at Chili’s Restaurant, (and may still be, haven’t been in a while!) and contains some of my favorite things. I served mine on a plate with sides, but plan on trying it on a nice toasty bun one day soon.  Either way, it’s delish.

Monterey Chicken
source – The Recipe Critic  my changes in italics

Marinade:
3 T. Honey
3 T. reduced sodium Soy Sauce
3 T. Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/4 t. sea salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Topping:
8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese
8 slices bacon (I used pre-cooked)
8 T. barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s)

* Marinate the chicken in a mixture of honey, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and salt for at least an hour (but can be marinated overnight.)
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour a little of the marinade in the bottom of a large baking pan and place chicken on top. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the center is no longer pink and juices run clear. (Cook time will depend on the size of your chicken breasts).
* While chicken is cooking, fry up the bacon and set aside – or use pre-cooked bacon as I did.
* After chicken is cooked through, spread with barbecue sauce, top with bacon and cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly.

Now, I have a little cheat for you – I had pre-cooked chicken breasts from the freezer (thawed), so I placed the cooked chicken in the marinade for a couple of hours (or could be done in the morning before work), then placed my chicken on a baking sheet, covered with barbecue sauce and baked until it was warmed throughout. Then I topped with my pre-cooked bacon and cheese stuck it under the broiler until the cheese was nice and melt-y. It took 15-20 mins at the most (start to finish).  The pre-cooked chicken absorbed the marinade well, and it was a time saver since we had to be out the door pretty quickly for the kids’ practices.  We had baked potatoes (cooked in the microwave in steamer bags) and a salad as quick and easy sides.

This recipe is a keeper!

I am linking this recipe up at (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaHolly’s Stamping AddictionThe Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a DimeSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorThis Gal CooksWatch Out, Martha!My Favorite Finds, Beyer Beware (Tuesday) Naptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box33 Shades of GreenBlessed with GraceLove in the Kitchen, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew Life (Wednesday) Fluster BusterSemi Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the CurtainGinger Snap CraftsHungry Little GirlNaptime is My TimeBloom DesignsCherished Handmade Treasures  (Thursday) Project Inspire ,Joyful HomemakingDesigned DecorTaste and Tell,  Miz Helen’s Country CottageThe Mandatory Mooch,  The Busy Bee’s(Friday) Not Your Ordinary Recipes,  Simple Living and EatingJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,CraftionaryMummy DealsOne Artsy MamaThe Best Blog RecipesOne Creative Mommy, Michelle’s Tasty CreationsClose to Home (Saturday) Sassy Little Lady Lemons for Lulu,  Or So She Says…Six Sisters’ Stuff (Sunday) Mommy’s Sweet Confessions