Friday, September 30, 2011

A Great Place For Fun Kid Ideas

After my lovely sister requested a kid’s week, I started doing some research and I knew that I wanted to do one post on ‘cute’ food. You know food in the shape of monkeys, faces, etc. As I was looking around for some inspiration I stumbled upon an idea from Family Fun Magazine. So as I flipped through this magazine and checked out the FF website I saw that they not only had tons of parenting tips, kids crafts, holiday fun, and more; they also had TONS (and I mean an all CAPS tons) of fun, cute, easy, and tasty looking recipes! 

I then had the brilliant idea to use Family Fun magazine as my magazine of the month for October. The only thing was that I knew I wanted to do a pumpkin, apple, and 2nd annual Ghoulish Grub week, during the month of October. I did not want to have to interrupt these fun filled themed weeks to do a whole week’s worth of MOM recipes like I have done in the past, so my brilliant plan is to incorporate one recipe each themed week from Family Fun.


Today is the first of those recipes. No it is not a cute, decorative piece of food, because, well, as much as I love playing with my food, it is not my specialty. Just like I make rockin’ cakes, when it comes to decorating them my talents fall short (or maybe it is patience I am lacking). Same with this whole make an apple look like a frog or pancake look like a face. I can make flavorful pancakes but don’t ask me to decorate them!

So just a simple smoothie recipe today. But who am I kidding? What kid (or grown up for that matter) doesn’t love a rich, fruity, smoothie?


Pineapple Crush Smoothie
Printable Version
Prep Time: 8 minutes Serves 2

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 frozen very ripe banana
Blend all ingredients together and serve immediately.

adapted from Family Fun Magazine

A 'Green' Party

Today I have my last post as part of the Glad One Bag event: focusing on eco-friendly cooking, cleaning, party planning, etc. In case you missed parts 1-3 check them out now: FYI: Composting; Let's Go Green: Tips for cooking and cleaning eco-friendly; Tips and Ticks to eco-friendly party planing.

Below is a video of my lovely self recapping my own eco-friendly party and this four week project. (Please ignore my excessive 'ums' as well as 'and what not'. I obviously still need practice from my last on air performance.) Oh and sorry the video is not centered. I am not that great at this technology stuff and it took for-ev-er just to get what you see.


And here is the food we ate:

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sald Sandwiches (recipe coming soon)
Crock-Pot Baked Beans (recipe below)
And last this No-Bake Cheesecake (recipe coming soon)
Crock-Pot Baked Beans
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours on low Serves 6

2 (28 ounce) can baked beans
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup mustard
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in crock-pot and stir to combine. Cook on low for 4 hours.

 
Disclaimer: This post is one in a four part blog series about environmentally friendly party/event planning/cooking sponsored by Foodbuzz and GLAD, through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, as part of the GLAD “One Bag” event. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen

Today as part of kid's week I am sharing an article and recipe that I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table. These are some tips on ways to get your little one excited about dinner and how they can help in the kitchen! And what is more popular with kids than taco or pizza night so why not combine them for Taco Pizza!

Cooking with children and allowing them to help in the kitchen, not only provides special family time but also develops important life skills in a fun learning environment.

Here are some easy tips for cooking with your kids and an easy kid-friendly recipe to try.
  • Let them help plan the menu and choose the recipe. This can be a fun activity that you do with your child. Pick out several cookbooks and sit down with your child and decide on what recipe you will make. If your child is old enough, allow them to read the title of the recipe and the list of ingredients. If they are too young to read on their own, read the ingredients to them, re-enforcing the ingredients/foods that they like.
  • Give them their own tools. A lot of kitchen utensils can now be found in a variety of colors and can be bought inexpensively. Having their on tools/equipment makes children feel special and will get them excited about cooking. Children as young as three can help by pouring, mixing and stirring and will take pride in knowing they helped prepare that night’s dinner.
  • Make grocery shopping fun. As much as I love food and cooking, I dread grocery shopping and having kids in tow doesn’t help the process. However, the grocery store can be a great learning environment for children. The produce department is a wonderful place to teach young children about colors and counting. Older children can also have fun by going on a ‘scavenger hunt’ to help find the items on the shopping list.
  • Make the dinner time special. Cooking and baking can be fun and enjoyable activities. Schedule one night a week that is “Kids Cooking Night” and allow them make the recipe they choose. You can even ask your kids if they would like to invite a special dinner guest (a friend or family member) to come eat the meal they prepare. Allow them to name their dish (Tommy’s Terrific Tacos) and choose any special plates, tablecloths or napkins to use to set the table on that special night!

Pizza is the perfect kid-friendly recipe! It is much cheaper to make at home than order out and is something that is easy for kids to make. They will have fun rolling out the pizza dough, spreading the sauce, and carefully choosing and placing the toppings. The pizza recipe below takes another kid favorite, tacos, and transforms it into a fabulous pizza!

Taco Pizza
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Printable Version

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Makes 2 pizzas (8 slices each)

1 pound ground beef
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
2/3 cup water
½ cup enchilada sauce
½ cup marinara sauce
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 packages pizza dough
Iceberg lettuce, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown meat in a large skillet. Drain grease from pan. Add taco seasoning and water. Let beef cook in taco seasoning and water for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
Mix enchilada sauce and marinara sauce in a bowl. Roll out both packages of pizza dough and spread the enchilada/marinara sauce mixture over each pizza.

Top each pizza with the prepared ground beef, tomatoes, corn, and black beans. Cover the toppings with the cheese.

Bake the pizza in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove pizza from oven and let cool slightly. Top cooked pizza with shredded lettuce and serve immediately.

This recipe linked to Life as a Mom, Beef Recipe Swap

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kids Week: Back to School Breakfast

Today as part of kid’s week I am focusing on kid friendly breakfast ideas. I know we’ve all heard it before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But do you know why? Kids who don't eat breakfast are less able to concentrate at school, get less vitamins and nutrients in their diets, and are more likely to gain weight because skipping breakfast means more calories are eaten throughout the day.


But we all know that school mornings (or workday mornings, if you don’t have kiddos) can be extremely hectic and honestly sometimes breakfast is the last thing on your mind. Below are some useful tips and tricks on how to make sure you and the kids get a healthy, energy boosting breakfast and not break a sweat.

• Prep the night before. Most people prepare their lunches the night before, but why not breakfast? There are many breakfast options that can be made at night. Throw some fruit and yogurt in a Tupperware and store in the fridge. Place a muffin and extra piece of fruit in the lunchbox for breakfast on the go. Hard boiled eggs keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days and are great to grab with a piece of fruit. For a hot breakfast I love these Make-Ahead Muffin Melts that are just heated in the toaster oven or under the broiler in minutes. Or how about breakfast made in the crock-pot?

• Bake, freeze, and re-heat. Store bought frozen waffles or pancakes are extremely convenient and there are actually some pretty healthy and good quality options now available. Unfortunately these things can add up on the weekly grocery bill, but can be made at home for pennies. Simply prepare pancakes/waffles according to directions. Cool completely. Place cooled pancakes/waffles on baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for 6-8 hours. Once frozen stack and place in freezer safe packaging. To re-heat, place in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or heat in toaster, or microwave for 1-2 minutes. Muffins or quick breads can also be prepared in advanced and frozen. To thaw the muffins, remove from freezer the night before or microwave for 1-2 minutes wrapped in a paper towel. Looking for some great make ahead and freeze pancake or muffin recipes check out these: Oatmeal Pancakes; Pumpkin Pancakes; Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Streusel Topping; Cranberry Pumpkin Bread; Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

• Teach the kids. Children love helping and hands on activities, so why not let them make their own breakfast in the morning? Younger children can spread peanut butter or cream cheese on pre-sliced bagels, bread or tortillas. String cheese, fruit, yogurt and granola bars are all easy to grab choices for children. Older kids can fix cereal, toast, microwave cooking, and even making smoothies.


And for those days when you are ahead of your game try these tasty and filling breakfast options:

S'mores Oatmeal
Heather's Huevos
Bananas Foster French Toast
Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
Monkey Bread

Today’s recipe is a fun one! Being from Texas I know a thing or two about breakfast tacos, but I just couldn’t get over this fun twist on that ole’ breakfast taco. Kids will have fun rolling out the waffles and dipping this Waffle Taco in a side of syrup, and the sweet/savory combo is perfect.


Waffle Tacos
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves 1 adult or 2 children

2 frozen multi-grain waffles, thawed
2 slices turkey bacon
1 egg
Maple syrup, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the waffle flat on a clean, dry surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten the waffle as much as possible.
Very carefully hang the waffle over one grate of an oven rack, so it resembles the shape of an upside-down taco.

Bake it until crispy and firm, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the waffle taco shell.

While, waffle is heat sauté pan over medium-high heat cook bacon until crisp, for approximately 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Whisk egg and add to skillet. Cook until scrambled, for approximately 1 minute.

Serve scrambled eggs and bacon in waffle with maple syrup on the side.

adapted from Hungry Girl

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kid's Week: After-school Snacks

Yesterday I featured some tips on preparing fun, healthy school lunches. Today I have some tips on preparing fun, healthy, kid friendly after-school snacks.


After-school snacks are essential for most kids (and most adults I know need an afternoon snack too) to help them get through until dinner. Here are a few tips to making snack time a success.

• Do your homework and save some dough. Not only can the expense of snacks add up but so can the unwanted calories and processed ingredients in prepackaged snacks. Do some research and see what popular snacks can be made at home. For the snacks that can’t be made from scratch, try buying them in bulk and dividing out into age appropriate portions.

• Keep out of reach of children. As much as we want children to be self-sufficient, leaving snacks within children’s reach is not a good idea. This can allow to over eating and filling up on snacks before dinner. If you do choose to have snacks within arms reach choose healthy snack options such as fruits and veggies.

• Keep them full. Fiber and lean proteins help prevent highs and lows in children’s (and adults) blood sugar levels. They also help make you feel fuller for longer lengths of time.

• Size matters. Remember proper portion amounts, these are snacks not meals. Also, avoid snacking 1-1.5 hours before the next full meal.

• Here are some great ideas for healthy, easy to prepare, and tasty snack options: Fruit with dip, peanut butter, or yogurt; veggies with peanut butter, dip, dressing or hummus; lunchmeat rolled up in a tortilla; granola bars; cheese sticks; trail mix; dried fruit; nuts; cereal; crackers; popcorn; chips and salsa; etc.


Need more ideas? Below are a few links to some of my favorite Kitchen Concoctions snacks:

S’mores Snack Mix
Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa
Lemonade Fruit Dip
Crunchy Chickpeas
Black Bean Hummus
Tortilla Crisps
Pear Spiked Applesauce
Veggies and Ranch Dressing
Red Bell Pepper Hummus
Chocolate Chex Mix
Chewy Granola Bars

And these Ranch Crackers are addictively tasty and are easy enough that an older child could make on their own or a smaller child could make with some help!


Ranch Crackers
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serves: 6-8

3 sleeves saltine crackers
1 envelope ranch seasoning
2/3 cup canola oil

Place crackers in a large zip-top bag.

In a small bowl whisk together oil and seasoning.

Pour oil mixture over crackers. Seal bag and toss to coat.

adapted from Eric’s Aunt Grace

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beating the Back to School Lunchtime Blues

Hey guys I am uber excited for this week!!! You know how much I love themed weeks (and aparently so do you guys)! This themed week is extra fun and special. Extra fun because it is Kids Week here on Kitchen Concoctions. All week I will share kid friendly recipes, cooking tips, and ideas, it should be fun times had by all. And this themed week is extra special because it was an idea/request that came from my sister! So I am so happy she had the idea and I hope that she (and the rest of you) find this information useful!

First up is an article I wrote a few weeks ago for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table with tips for giving those school lunchs a bit more piazaz. And my recipe for Pepporoni Pita Pockets are simple enough for kids to make and filling enough to be dinner on the run!


Backpacks are packed with school supplies and new outfits are carefully folded; August is here and school is back in session. But even with all that preparation, have you given those school day lunches any thought?

Many parents get stuck a lunch rut, packing the same thing every day for their child. However, here are some ideas for packing fun into their lunchboxes and ensuring your little one eats right.


• Start with pretty packaging. At the beginning of the school year allow your child to pick out a lunchbox that represents them. Store food in colorful plastic containers or decorated zip-top baggies. Make sure your child’s lunchbox is well insulated to keep things cool or add freezer packs if needed. Reusable ice cubes are another fun touch to keep your child’s lunch cool or to save precious lunchbox space, use frozen grapes.

• Get creative. Use large cookie cutters to cut those sandwiches into fun shapes. Smaller cookie cutters are great to cut sandwiches into bite sized pieces that can then be threaded onto a plastic skewer. Placing meat and cheese cubes on the end of a pretzel stick is another fun twist on serving food on a skewer.

• Think outside the box. Stop serving your child’s favorite sandwich on bread, and next time use a tortilla, pita bread, crepe, bagel, crackers, or even hot dog bun. For a special treat, replace that regular sandwich with a peanut butter, marshmallow fluff and banana sandwich; chicken, tuna, or egg salad sandwich, or even cream cheese with jam and sliced fruit. Or skip the sandwich all together and go with pasta salad, hummus with veggie sticks, or a muffin/bagel with fruit and yogurt.

• Make it hot. Packing soup, stew, or chili in a thermos with a side of cornbread or crackers is a great way to serve your child a ‘hot lunch’ from home.

These Pepperoni Pita Pockets, paired with a side of fruit, make a perfect kid friendly lunch option or a quick dinner on a busy school night!


Pepperoni Pita Pockets
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Printable Version
Prep Time 5 minutes

Salad greens
Mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1-inch cubes
Mini pepperoni
Grape tomatoes, halved
Italian salad dressing
Pita bread

Place desired amounts of salad greens, cheese, pepperoni, tomatoes, and salad dressing in a large bowl. Toss to evenly coat.

Place salad mixture in pitas and serve.

Note: If packing this in a sack lunch, dressing can be served on the side.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Taste of South

Ok more housekeeping before I get into today's post. First I have a new giveaway happening for a $40 Sam's Club (or Walmart) gift card! Second the Yoplait giveaway is now closed and the winner (chosen by random.org) is commenter number 8, Nelly Rodriguez! Congrats Nelly, and thank you to all who entered. Nelly please contact me at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com within 72 hours with your mailing information.


If you were paying attention on the blog this week there was a common 'southern' theme, that was because I was featuring Taste of South as the magazine of the month. I was super excited to feature this magazine since I am a Southern girl at heart (and location) and love southern food and traditions.

Taste of the South celebrates southern charm and heritage, through more than 60 recipes in each edition, as well as featuring southern restaurants, chefs, and heritage.

Pictures: Yes!

Every single recipe in this magazine has a color photo to accompany it!


Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes! Yes! Yes!

Taste of the South lists ALL of this information.


Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: medium

Some of these recipe are super easy, while others are more involved due to the fact that they follow traditional southern cooking preparation styles.


Variety of recipes: yes, ok somewhat

Taste of the South features a wide variety of recipes, from breakfast to appetizers, lush desserts, however, the variety of these recipes are of course limited to traditional southern.


Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: medium

While all of the ingredients are readily available (especially if you live in the south) a lot of the recipes in this magazine have long lists of ingredients which can add up.

Special feature:

I love how this magazine not only features southern recipes but highlights southern traditions, restaurants, festivals, etc.

Cost: $4.99 per issue or $18.00 for one year subscription (6 issues)

So in case you missed them, here are the recipes I featured.


These Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches were not my favorite. The pork was super tender and flavorful but the BBQ sauce was just not my type.


Boiled peanuts are a favorite in our house (and all across the south) and these had tons of flavor.


Chicken salad sandwiches are one of my favs and these were very unique and will totally be made again.


And of course we couldn't celebrate the south without some good ole sweet tea, but with a twist!


If you are stuck in a dinner rut make this Honey Crunch Peanut Chicken, it is sure to be a hit!

Giveaway: $40 Sam's Club Gift Card

This giveaway is now closed. The winner of the Sam's Club gift card is commenter number 64, NeverEnoughRice. Please contact me within 72 hours with you contact information at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim your prize.

I have another giveaway for you today!!! This giveaway is brought to you by Sam's Club and Yoplait. Read below for more information and see how you can enter to win a $40 Sam's Club gift card (also good at Walmart).
Whether you start your day with a yogurt or enjoy it as an afternoon snack, Sam´s Club can help you stock up on your family´s favorite Yoplait® yogurts at great, everyday low prices. With their extended yogurt selections, featuring new Yoplait Light® with Granola and Trix yogurt, finding the flavors, and prices, you love just became even easier.

•The delicious Yoplait Light yogurt that you know and love is now paired with 100% natural granola and real fruit, perfect for a convenient breakfast or snack.
•While kids love the great taste, you´ll love the wholesome goodness of Trix yogurt, which has two colors in every cup and fruity "kids-only" flavors like Raspberry Rainbow and Strawberry Banana Bash.

Today Sam's Club and Yoplait are offering one lucky Kitchen Concoctions reader a chance to win a $40 Sam's Club gift card to purchase as much Yoplait yogurt as their heart desires.
You have FIVE separate ways to enter the Sam's Club $40 Gift Card Giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

1. Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What is your favorite Yoplait yogurt flavor (view all flavors and products here)?

2. Become a follower of Kitchen Concoctions through Google Friend Connect.

3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

4. For a fourth entry to this giveaway, head over to Kitchen Concoction’s Facebook page and click ”Like”. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.
5. And for a fifth and final entry follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter.

This give-away closes Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 11:00 PM CST. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Giveaway for US residents only. NOTE: Please check back shortly after giveaway closing to see if you are a winner. As much as I would like to run all over the Internet world looking for you, I do not have the time. So you as the winner MUST contact me with your information.

Disclosure: The Sam´s Club gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided by Sam´s Club and Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tips and Tricks to Eco-Friendly Party Planning


Today as part three of my four part mini-series about environmentally friendly cooking, cleaning, and party planning/entertaining, I am featuring tips on 'green' party planning. And in case you missed part one (composting) and two ('green' cooking and cleaning tips) you can read up on them.
All of these posts are leading up to help me throw an eco-friendly party (party post coming next week), and while a 'save the Earth' or Earth Day party theme is always fun, the tips below are important things to keep in mind no matter what type of party or event (bridal shower, baby shower, birthday party, graduation, etc.) you are throwing.

Invitations- With modern technology, paper invitations are almost becoming obsolete, which for the environment's sake is a good thing! E-vites, emails, Facebook 'events', text messages, and a good 'ole fashion phone call, are all great ways to get the word out about your event. Not to mention all of these things are absolutely free!

Decorations- Re-purpose things/decorations you already have. Pine cones, fresh colorful fruit (lemons, limes, apples, oranges, pears), or fresh flowers will make beautiful centerpieces that can be displayed in bowls, vases, old wine bottles, jars, cans, etc. For a child's themed party, use toys, posters, and so forth that the child already owns as part of the decor.


Supplies- Ditch the plastic wear and paper goods and use your everyday dinnerware. So many people have 'nice' sets of dishes that they never use, but why not? By making a small investment in an extra plate set, not only will you keep the landfills free of unnecessary waste, you'll save money in the long run. And if storing an extra set of plates and glasses is an issue, why not rent dishes (which is actually a lot cheaper than most people think and most rental companies don't even require you to wash the dishes) or borrow. The same thing can be said about tablecloths and cloth napkins; make an initial small investment and reuse time and time again. For a themed party or child's party purchase decorated fabric or even a twin sheet set to use as tablecloth that can then be re-purposed.

Food and Drink- Choose a party menu featuring as much locally grown/prepared food as possible. Opt for no-cook or slow cooked foods such as sandwiches, fruit/veggie trays, soup or chili 'bars' etc. that won't need long oven cooking times or to be kept heated. And if serving beverages in a can, have a recycling bin set up for immediate proper disposal. (For more food tips click here).

Party Gifts- Send guests away with 'green' and reusable favors such as potted plants or herbs; reusable bags, coffee mugs or water bottles; mason jars filled with a cookie/cake/brownie mix with baking instructions attached; flowers from the party's centerpieces; or even dinner leftovers packaged in reusable storage containers like these.

So, do you already practice 'green' party tips like these? What other eco-friendly party (or general living tips) can you share?

Disclaimer: This post is one in a four part blog series about environmentally friendly party/event planning/cooking sponsored by Foodbuzz and GLAD, through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, as part of the GLAD “One Bag” event. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stuck in a dinner rut

Before I dive into today’s recipe, first a little blog-keeping; time to announce the winner of the Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour Giveaway. Chosen by random.org the winner is comment number 7 AMBER! Amber please contact me at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com (within 72 hours) with your contact information to claim your prize. Thanks to all who entered the giveaway! And just a reminder the Yoplait Giveaway is still going on until Sunday night so go enter! Pssst, here is a little inside info, check back Sunday for another giveaway!


Ok now that all that business is outta the way how bout a delicious dinner recipe? Every now and then I get into that dinner time rut. And that time is now. Nothing sounds good and I am totally board with everything. Tilapia, yup, pork, done it, broccoli, sick of it, and don’t even get me started on rice. Meat, starch, veggie. Repeat. I need something new ASAP!

Thank goodness cooler weather is on its way (or I should say that it is supposed to be on it’s way according to the calendar, but we all know how weather in Texas goes); and thus a whole new plethora of dinner (and food in general) choices available. Soups, (hip) chili, (hip), hearty pot roasts and casseroles (hooray)!

But until we are officially there, here is a kicked up chicken recipe that totally helped me out of my stinkin’ rut. Crunchy peanuts, slightly sweet, and full of flavor, this chicken had me lovin’ dinner again!


Honey-Crunch Peanut Chicken
Printable Version
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Serves 4

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/3 cup prepared mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 ½ cups finely chopped dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pie pan or shallow bowl, combine flour and seasonings ; mix well.

In a second pie pan, stir together mustard and honey.

Place chopped peanuts in a third pie pan.

Dip each chicken breast in flour mixture, then honey-mustard mixture, and finally in peanuts to coat.

Place prepared chicken in a 9x13 inch pan. Cook chicken in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

adapted from Taste of the South, Fall 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Can't Have a Tea Party without Tea

Yesterday I shared a recipe for some lovely ‘tea time sandwiches’ that I plan to serve at my ‘tea party’. But what’s a great southern tea party, without well, tea.

I am not a big hot tea drinker (all those different types and flavors just baffle me) but Eric does like his ice tea (sweet of course). And his favorite ice tea drink? An Arnold Palmer (half sweet tea half lemonade).


So why not add some other juices as well? Cranberry and orange pair beautifully making this tea concoction perfect ice tea for a fall/winter celebration (especially since we won’t have ‘hot tea’ weather for many more months to come). So sip up!

Note: This recipe makes a lot but could be doubled to make more and served in a punch bowl at a party.


Cranberry Orange Tea
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Wait Time: 10 minutes Makes 2 gallons

6 quarts water
1 2/3 cups sugar
6 family-size tea bags
3 cups cranberry juice
3 cups orange juice
3 cups lemonade

In a large saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat on stovetop, stirring often. Remove from heat; add tea bags. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing gently. Cool tea.

Pour tea into a large container. Add juices; stir and chill.

Serve chilled over ice.

adapted from Taste of the South, Winter 05

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's Do Tea

Another thing that I think of when I think of the south is tea parties. Not that I have ever been to one but they sound so elegant, so girly, so southern, so Gone with the Wind! Ladies in pretty dress, eating light food, sippin’ on tea, and talkin’ about the latest happenings.


These chicken-salad sandwiches seem like the perfect thing to serve with afternoon tea, that is if I had afternoon tea. The crunch of the nuts, the pop of the dried cranberries, the tender chicken, and the sweet sauce, this a rockin’ dainty sandwich. My only regret when I made these was that I did not have a big, beautiful, buttery, flaky croissant to eat this yummy concoction on.

P.S. Even if you aren’t a tea party kinda gal make these sandwiches to serve at your next bridal shower, baby shower, or luncheon, or just because!


Chicken-Salad Tea Sandwiches
Printable Version
Prep Time: 15 minutes Serves 6-8

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup honey mustard
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
12 slices bread or croissants, for serving
Lettuce leaves
In a bowl, combine almonds, pecans, pineapple, cranberries, and orange segments, tossing to blend. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, and apricot preserves, stirring to blend. Add mixture to fruit-nut mixture, along with chicken, stirring well.

Spread chicken salad on 6 bread slices. Top with lettuce and remaining bread slices.

adapted from Taste of the South, June/July 2009

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Speaking of the South

We have a huge debate in our house. What is the definition of ‘the true south’? Eric is from Georgia and therefor claims that he is an expert on all things ‘southern’. Me, I’m from Texas with all of my family from Louisiana and thus a southern girl. Eric says that Texas is not part of the true south and I beg to differ!
I grew up eating grits, Texas BBQ, pecan pie, gumbo, smoked turkey, biscuits and gravy, homemade mac and cheese, black eyed-peas. Eric? Sweet tea, fried chicken and waffles, Waffle House, Publix subs, boiled peanuts.
Clearly my comfort foods SCREAM southern way more than Eric’s. Also Eric has never rode horses, gone to a rodeo, crawfish boil, chili or BBQ cook off, or even a college football game. And really, Texas’s obsession with football is unnatural at times.
But I have also never lived where there is a huge mountain monument dedicated to confederate soldiers or where there are also 28 other monuments dedicated to the civil war. (Plus I am sure there are a million other things that Eric tells me that are not a true southern tradition but I feel otherwise. Honestly I think I am intently blocking them out because I am always right.)

You may be wondering what this has to do with today’s recipe. Well, on our first road trip together to visit Georgia (many, many years ago) we stopped at a gas station somewhere in Mississippi or Alabama and they had a crock-pot on the counter. Eric got all giddy and exclaimed “BOILED PEANUTS!” “What the heck are boiled peanuts?” I asked. Eric then looked at me like I was from planet X and after 5 minutes finally said, “YOU don’t know what boiled peanuts are and I thought you were from the south, but I guess not!” Well to make a long story short I ate my first boiled peanut that day. And I was transformed! I really was in a complete state of shock that I was southern gal and had never eaten this southern staple.
Where have I been? Any who, our great southern debate still continues today but I guess you can say we are now both a little but more country southern because of learning about each other’s upbringings and traditions!

Slow-Cooker Chili Boiled Peanuts
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 8-10 hours on low Yield: 12 servings

2 pounds raw peanuts, in shells
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon season salt
Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Place peanuts in a 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Add enough water to cover peanuts; cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or overnight.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So not motivated.

Don't forget to enter in the latest giveaways! (PS There are two, here and here)

I am seriously feeling unmotivated these last few days. The most recent food pictures I have taken (today's and others you have not seen yet) are just food slopped on a plate and thrown on a cloth napkin. Then a click and a click and I am done. I mean bad.

I wish I had the skills and tools to take better quality pictures, but since those things are lacking I feel my creativity and desire to put forth effort non-existent right now.


To top it off this recipe was just ehh too. Nothing to write home to you about. The pork cooked in the spice rub was good but the BBQ sauce killed it for me. Super runny and way to vinegary. Maybe that's how they do barbecue sauce up in Kansas but here in the true south (Texas) we do our barbecue differently and that's what I am used to and how I like it!

In fact, I hated the sauce so much that I tossed it and I ate this leftover pork with bottled BBQ sauce the next day and then the day after that tossed it in salsa to make tacos (which were freakin' awesome) at least the pork didn't go to waste.


Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Sandwiches
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 8 hour on low or 5 hours on high Serves 8

1 tablespoon season salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5-pound) pork loin roast
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 cups chicken broth
Hamburger buns
1 recipe Classic Barbecue Sauce (see below, but I would recommend your favorite bottled variety)

In a medium bowl, combine salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and black pepper. Rub pork with oil. Rub spice mixture evenly on pork, coating all sides. Place pork in a slow cooker.

Add chicken broth, until water is three-quarters way up side of pork.

Cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove pork from liquid, reserving about 1 cup cooking liquid to moisten meat, if desired. Remove fat. Shred meat. Serve on hamburger buns with Classic Barbecue Sauce.

adapted from Taste of the South, Apr/May 2011

Classic Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Yield: 1 1/2 cups (approximately)

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a medium bowl, whisk together tomato sauce, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, red pepper, and paprika. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

adapted from Taste of the South, Apr/May 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Giveaway: Yoplait Light

This giveaway is now closed and the winner (chosen by random.org) is commenter number 8, Nelly Rodriguez! Congrats Nelly, and thank you to all who entered. Nelly please contact me at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com within 72 hours with your mailing information.

With October just a few weeks away, we are reminded of the importance of breast cancer awareness, education, and self exams. Since October is breast cancer awareness month it is important to know that one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer within her lifetime - our friends, wives, mothers, sisters, neighbors.

Breast cancer is something that WE are all effected by. In my own life I have had friends and family members struggle with the painful battle against this horrible disease. We all must do our part to contribute to breast cancer education and awareness.
Yoplait is a strong believer that the fight against breast cancer starts right at home. Through 'Save Lids to Save Lives,' Yoplait will donate ten cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® for each pink lid redeemed both online at Yoplait.com and via mail by December 31, 2011, up to $2 million. Plus, Yoplait is tracking pink lids redeemed by zip code to make sure funds generated from your lid collection go back to local breast cancer programs in your community. Here´s how you can support your local community´s fight:


•Look for special pink lids on pink Yoplait yogurt cups, in grocery stores in September and October.

•Save your pink lids and redeem them via mail, or - for the first time - redeem them online at Yoplait.com. Make sure you enter your zip code when redeeming lids online!

•In addition, click here to download a printable coupon for $0.30 off any one variety Yoplait Yogurt cup!

On Yoplait.com you can dedicate your lid to a woman who means something to you, read inspirational stories about those making a difference in the fight against breast cancer and find out how to support your local Susan G. Komen Affiliate. During the past 13 years, Yoplait has donated more than $30 million to the breast cancer cause through all of its breast cancer initiatives.


To get you inspired to make a difference and show your support, Yoplait is offering one lucky Kitchen Concoctions reader a 'Save lids to save lives' prize pack, which includes:

  • Two VIP coupons, each valid for one free Yoplait yogurt core cup product

  • A Yoplait pink lid collection kit

  • Tote bag

  • Heart-shaped key holder

  • Hope Journal

  • Pen


  • You have FIVE separate ways to enter the Yoplait 'Save lids to save lives' Giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

    1. Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: How are you working to help with the fight to end breast cancer? Are you participating in a breast cancer walk? Driving a family member to their annual doctor's appointment? Making a donation? Collecting Yoplait lids?

    2. Become a follower of Kitchen Concoctions through Google Friend Connect.

    3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

    4. For a fourth entry to this giveaway, head over to Kitchen Concoction’s Facebook page and click ”Like”. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

    5. And for a fifth and final entry follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter.

    This give-away closes Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM CST. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Giveaway for US residents only. NOTE: Please check back shortly after giveaway closing to see if you are a winner. As much as I would like to run all over the Internet world looking for you, I do not have the time. So you as the winner MUST contact me with your information.
    Disclosure: The Yoplait prize pack, information and coupon have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Let's Go Green! Tips and tricks for cooking and cleaning eco friendly.

    Today I have part two of my four week mini-series about environmentally friendly cooking, cleaning, and party planning/entertaining. Last week I talked about composting and today I am focusing on tips and tricks on how to make your kitchen a more 'green' environment.


    Shopping Tips:

    • Buy local. Buying locally produced foods at famer’s markets, co-ops, and even your local grocery store, means that you are getting fresher products and help support your local community. Local produce helps reduce fuel waste and packaging, which is often used in long-distance shipping.

    • Buy in bulk. Buying goods in bulk help reduce packaging material that comes when you repeatedly buy single items. Better yet buy ingredients from the bulk bins at your local store. If you ask your store’s manager for permission, many stores will allow you to scoop your bulk bin items directly into your own plastic storage containers (like these from Glad). Thus reducing any excess packaging.

    • Examine the packaging. Fun size or individual sized bags of chips, cookies, etc. maybe fun and convenient but cause more trash. Look for foods packaged is single layers of packaging and ones that use recyclable packaging materials.

    • Invest in a water purifier. Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, with the majority of them being thrown away. An at home water purifier and a reusable bottle will not only reduce waste but save money.

    • BYOB. Bring your own bags. Many stores now days even reward their customers by ‘paying’ them for using reusable bags. And in some areas (soon my own city), actually CHARGE a fee for using the store’s paper and plastic bags.

    Cooking Tips:

    • Put a lid on it. Covering your pans while you cook can reduce cooking time and therefore reduce your energy bill by about 75%.

    • Cook in batches and make extras. If using the oven to cook lasagna throw in a batch of cookies at the same time. Since ovens use a lot of energy this will cut down on extra wasted energy. Also when cooking think about making extra meat, rice, sauce, soups, etc. Reheating food saves time and uses less energy than cooking from scratch.

    • Use energy efficient appliances. Bread machines, crock-pots, toaster ovens, and microwaves all use incredibly less amounts of energy compared to gas or electric stoves and ovens.


    Cleaning Tips:

    • The dishwasher SAVES water. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes, a good quality dishwasher and dish detergent will thoroughly clean your dishes without this process. Running a fully loaded dishwasher without pre-rinsing will save approximately 35% of water as compared to hand washing.

    • Avoid hazardous cleaning products. Not only are these products harmful to the environment they are harmful to your health. Avoid any products with the words, caution, warning, danger, or poison.

    • Use the old. Old t-shirts and bath or kitchen towels make great cleaning rags that can be washed and reused in place of paper towels. Recycle day old newspaper by using it to clean glass and mirrors.

    • Go natural. Baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, liquid dish soap, and Borax are all great non-toxic cleaning products (for homemade cleaning recipes click here).

    Disclaimer: This post is one in a four part blog series about environmentally friendly party/event planning/cooking sponsored by Foodbuzz and GLAD, through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, as part of the GLAD “One Bag” event. All opinions are my own.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Giveaway: Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour Giveaway

    This contest is closed winner was chosen and announced here (which was commenter 7, Amber).

    I have been trying my hardest to eat healthier and make more conscience decisions about the things I eat. Recently I have been using whole wheat flour or ground oatmeal for half the flour called for in recipes with great results. But even with such wonderful results the whole wheat flour does have a distinct flavor and texture that is undesirable in certain dishes. That is why I was so happy when I found out about the new Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour.


    Here is some information on this new product:

    •Unlike most whole wheat flours that are made from hard red spring wheat, Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour is made with hard white spring wheat. So, it´s whole grain, but with a similar taste and texture to all-purpose white flour.

    •Perfect for family favorite recipes like breads, pizza dough, cookies, muffins and brownies, Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour bakes up golden and has a milder flavor than baked goods made with regular whole wheat flour.

    •Start by simply substituting whole wheat white flour for 25 to 50 percent of the recipe´s flour content.

    •You may wish to add an extra tablespoon or two of the liquid used in the recipe when substituting Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour or decrease the amount of flour by one to two tablespoon for recipes that call for all-purpose flour.

    From breakfast to dessert and everything in between, find classic recipes that use Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour at www.bettycrocker.com and make adding whole grain to your daily routine even easier, without sacrificing on flavor.


    Want to give this new white whole wheat flour a try? Well today I have a chance for you to win some!
    Included in this Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour Giveaway is the following:
    • A VIP coupon for a sample of Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour
    • Recipe Cards with uses and instructions for conversion for the new Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour
    • Cookie Jar
    You have FIVE separate ways to enter the Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour Giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

    1. Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What is your favorite baked good? Cake, cookies, pie, muffins? Let's hear it!!

    2. Become a follower of Kitchen Concoctions through Google Friend Connect.

    3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

    4. For a fourth entry to this giveaway, head over to Kitchen Concoction’s Facebook page and click ”Like”. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

    5. And for a fifth and final entry follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter.

    This give-away closes Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM CST. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Giveaway for US residents only. NOTE: Please check back shortly after giveaway closing to see if you are a winner. As much as I would like to run all over the Internet world looking for you, I do not have the time. So you as the winner MUST contact me with your information.
    Disclosure: The Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour product, information, and giveaway have been provided by Gold Medal through MyBlogSpark.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Real Simple

    In case you hadn’t noticed I have been featuring recipes from Real Simple magazine the last few days. Well you guessed it, Real Simple Magazine was the MOM of the month, for the month of August. I know we are already half way through September but if you remember at the end of August I was having some computer issues and so none of these recipes got shared then.

    None the less, here is the overview for that magazine. This was another magazine that I debated about doing a review for. Since it is not strictly a food magazine I, at first, did not think that it warranted a review on a food blog. However, compared to other magazines that have recipes but are not strictly food magazines, Real Simple has great recipes and a ton of specialty food/cooking/recipe features.
    Plus not to mention that these recipes are easy to prepare, have easy to find ingredients, and so forth making them, well simple!


    Pictures: Yes!

    Almost every single recipe in this magazine has a color photo to accompany it!

    Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes!

    Real Simple lists Hands on Time, Total Time, and servings.

    Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: yes
    Like I said these are easy recipes with easy to follow directions.

    Variety of recipes: not as much

    While Real Simple has recipes for everything from snacks, appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner; it does not have a TON of each of these recipes because it is not strictly and food magazine.

    Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: yes, for the most part

    There are recipes with more expensive ingredients (like fish and certain cuts of beef), but because the recipes are ‘simple’ the ingredient lists are relatively short. In fact there is even a section of budget friendly recipes in each edition.

    Special feature:

    All recipes have extensive nutritional information listed. This is a very hard feature to find! Plus they are all labeled with icons representing ‘one pot meals;’ ’30 minutes or less;’ ‘heart healthy;’ etc. Also in each edition there is a quick and fast section where there is one ingredient and then 10 different ‘quick and simple’ recipes to use that one ingredient.

    Cost: $3.99 per issue or $23.88 for one year subscription (12 issues)

    So in case you missed them, here are the recipes I featured.


    I am a huge fan of risotto and I love that this version uses pureed corn to help thicken it.


    Simple yet flavorful this Apricot Glazed Pork Loin is so comforting.


    This Pasta Ratatouille was one of my favorites of the week. Easy. Peasy. And so inexpensive to make. (Be sure and check out my tips and tricks about this recipe.)


    Chicken curry, this is a great recipe if you want to add some international food to your dinner plans.


    And if you need a healthier cookie that tastes wonderful and will be gobbled up by all, defiantly make sure and make these oatmeal cookies.
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