Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

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Pesto sauce is one of my favorites – between eating it with pasta, using it as a pizza sauce, and spreading it on sandwiches, I can’t get enough! This dish is a favorite simple go-to meal in our house that even Clare enjoys.

Just cook some jumbo pasta shells, stuff them with a combination of shredded chicken, mozzarella, and pesto, and bake them for about 10 minutes. If you have some extra garlic on hand, feel free to add that too. (it’s hard to have too much garlic, in my opinion)

You can eat them as they are or drizzle with some extra pesto sauce. Serve with a salad or vegetable and enjoy this delicious meal!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:
12 jumbo pasta shells
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (about 3 chicken breasts)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
5-6 Tbsp pesto sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan and basil for garnish (optional)

Yield: 4-6 servings (12 shells)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the jumbo shells in boiling water for 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, mozzarella, pesto sauce, salt, pepper, and additional garlic if wanted. Mix until well combined.

Stuff a spoonful of the mixture into each shell. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and line up the shells. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with grated parmesan, fresh basil, or extra pesto sauce if wanted. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Source: A Becky Original

Watermelon Lemonade Boozy Popsicles

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For a refreshing grown up treat this summer, make some simple alcoholic popsicles! The fresh watermelon and lemon are the perfect combination of sweet and tart and the tequila gives it a nice punch. We had extra watermelon and couldn’t eat it fast enough so these were the perfect solution. Just make sure to hide them in the back of the freezer, because if spotted by a toddler, they’ll want one for sure. Just trust me on that one. 😉

If you want the refreshing fruit flavor without the booze, simply substitute 1/4 cup water or lemon lime soda for the tequila and triple sec. You could also make these with lime zest/juice instead of lemon. Enjoy and hope you’re staying cool this summer!

Watermelon Lemonade Boozy Popsicles

Ingredients:
3 cups cubed watermelon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tequila
2 Tbsp triple sec

Yield: 6-8 popsicles

Directions:
In a blender, blend together the watermelon, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, tequila, and triple sec until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding any solids and seeds left behind.

Pour watermelon mixture into popsicle mold or paper cups then insert wooden sticks. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.

Source: Chocolate Moosey

Baked Oatmeal with Berries

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Gotta love when you make a recipe, just knowing that your kiddo will love it. And then, rejection. Wouldn’t even give it a try.

My Clare is a huge fruit fan so I was so confident that she’d love this baked oatmeal with berries and we’d enjoy it together for breakfast all week. Easy, mostly healthy, colorful – just what a mom wants to make for her kid. But then you end up eating the whole dish yourself because they refuse to even taste and see. Ah well, the best laid breakfast plans…

This recipe is super simple to toss together and pop in the oven. Even though Clare isn’t a fan, I’ve continued to make a pan for my own breakfast since it’s quick and easy to reheat some in a bowl each morning. I like to add a splash of milk to make it extra moist and creamy. So delicious, especially right now when berries are plentiful and cheap.

This version is layered with fresh strawberries and blueberries but you can totally mix it up with other fruit and berries that are in season or that you prefer. Or you can even make it plain and jazz it up separately if wanted. I like to throw in some extra healthy additions sometimes like a handful of chia seeds or almonds. So go ahead and get creative!

Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal with Berries

Ingredients: 
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh berries (strawberries sliced)

Yield: 6-8 servings

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter/grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Place half of the oat mixture in the baking dish, top it with half of the berries, then top with the remaining oat mixture.

Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and melted butter. Pour over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish back and forth from side to side to allow the wet mixture to get down into the oats. Top the oats with the remaining berries.

Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, until oats are tender, and the mixture is set. Serve immediately with a splash of milk, or let it cool, then cover and refrigerate to reheat later.

Source:  So Fab Food

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

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I love a good scone and have made all sorts of flavors. This is one of my absolute favorite recipes and is perfect if you happen to have some leftover coconut milk to use up. The chocolate/coconut combo makes it taste like a Mounds bar and the texture is perfect – nice and soft on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

Now, these are mighty delicious without the glaze, but I definitely recommend adding it for some extra sweetness and indulgence. I love using my favorite scone pan to make them into cute triangles but you can totally just use an ice cream scoop and make little round scones instead.

Hope that you enjoy – these would be SO perfect for an upcoming Mother’s Day brunch!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup or more chocolate chips (I used mini ones)

For the glaze:
2 Tbsp coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Yield: 1 dozen scones

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet OR prepare your scone pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and shredded coconut in a bowl. Beat in the butter with a mixer on low speed, then raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is in coarse crumbles.

Whisk the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract in another bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips; do not overmix!

Scoop 2-3 inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (a large ice cream scoop works well for this) OR divide the dough into the scone pan. Warning, the dough is a bit sticky so to make it easier to work with, I recommend spraying your hands/utensils with non-stick cooking spray. Bake the scones until golden brown, 15-17 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk the coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts, and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network

Garlic Basil Pizza Dough

garlic basil pizza dough

One of our family food traditions is Friday night homemade pizza night. Growing up, we had pizza for dinner on Fridays too so I love carrying on this tradition in my own family. When I was first married and didn’t really know how to cook yet, I totally went the frozen pizza route. But then when I learned more about the art of homemade bread and pizza dough, I was hooked. (dough hook pun intended)

I used a different dough recipe for the longest time then tried this Garlic Bread Pizza Crust recipe once and loved it. I tweaked and simplified it a bit along the way and now it’s my go-to pizza dough recipe every week. If you’re new to homemade dough and using yeast, please don’t be intimidated! If you just make sure to keep the warm water at the right temperature, there’s not much that can go wrong with this recipe. (knock on wood) It’s pretty resilient!

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One major plus for this recipe is that it makes enough dough for two pizzas. Score!! Right now, I just use half of it for a full round pizza that Jason and I share and then I use a little portion to make a tiny pizza for Clare on a mini cast iron skillet. This is a huge advantage because then I just have to make the dough every other week and simply freeze the other half. Then as our family grows or if we have company over, I don’t have to double the recipe. At least not yet!

To freeze the dough for later use, simply put it in a Ziplock bag that’s been sprayed with a little non-stick spray on the inside to keep it from sticking. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, set out the bag at room temperature for about 4-5 hours or keep it overnight in the refrigerator to defrost. Since I’m home during the day, I always just take it out of the freezer during Clare’s nap time, set it on the counter, and it’s back to life in time for dinner!

Also, I love the added garlic and basil flavor in the dough but if that’s not your thing, you can totally keep it simple and leave them out. Or add other herbs/flavors if you want to mix it up!

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Another tip is that you can use the same dough recipe to make homemade stromboli. Again, just use half of the dough and spread it out into a rectangle on a prepared baking sheet. Top it with any sort of meat/cheese/veggies you like. My usual is turkey deli meat and/or pepperoni, sliced mozzarella or provolone, then a sprinkle of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Roll it up and keep it seam down on the pan. Pinch the ends with a fork or your fingers, sprinkle a little more Italian seasoning on top, and prick a few holes on the top with a fork to let the air out while it cooks. Bake it at 375 degrees F for the same 22-25 minutes until it’s crisp and brown on the outside. Let it sit and cool for a few minutes then slice it with a knife or pizza cutter and serve with some pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.

I hope that yall enjoy this recipe and maybe make Friday night homemade pizzas a thing in your home too!

Garlic Basil Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
1 1/8 cups warm water (100-105 degrees F)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
Whatever pizza sauce and toppings you want!

Yield: 2 pizzas

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil. Mix it with a spoon, then let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt, garlic powder, and dried basil. Mix it with a dough hook (preferred), stir with a spoon, or mix with your hands until the dough comes together. It should be smooth, not sticky. Spray the same bowl with non-stick spray then place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with a light towel and place it in a warm place to rise for at least 1 1/2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. After the dough has risen, using a rolling pin or your hands, form it into your desired shape on a greased pizza/baking pan. Place the towel back over the dough and let it sit in the warm place for 10 more minutes before topping.

Continue to make the pizza with your desired sauce and toppings. Bake the pizza for 22-25 minutes or until the crust and cheese are both golden. Let the pizza set for a minute, then slice and serve! (see above for stromboli directions)

Source: Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Homemade Orange Chicken

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Orange chicken is my absolute favorite Chinese take out meals. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t enjoy it. (And if that rare person is you, please comment and let me know!) Until recently, I’d never thought to try making it myself. While it does take some time to prep and cook, it’s completely worth the effort to make it every once in a while as a special treat. The sauce is especially delish and could even be used to coat and jazz up any sort of pre-made chicken bites you might buy.

I served the chicken with some simple white rice and steamed broccoli but you can use any sort of sides you prefer like brown rice, fried rice, chow mien noodles, various vegetables, etc. Maybe even throw in some fortune cookies for a genuine take out vibe!

Homemade Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
Zest of 2 oranges
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (any kind – I used dark brown)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (plus more minced, if wanted)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups oil (I used vegetable oil, but can use canola, peanut, etc.)

Yield: 4 servings

Directions:
To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag or a dish. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Or if using a dish, evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place the saucepan with the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second plate or bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a colander or large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice and add some vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Super Simple Black Bean Soup

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With only three ingredients, this soup is quick and simple to make without sacrificing flavor. It can be served as a main course on a cold day or in addition to a full on fiesta.

You can blend the soup till it’s totally pureed and smooth or if you like a chunkier soup that still has whole beans, that’s ok too! An immersion blender is definitely the easiest and preferred way to go when blending hot soups, but a regular blender can work as well. Just please be extra careful and make sure to hold the lid down very tightly, otherwise it’ll pop off and you’ll be stuck with a mess and possible burns. Or if you have the time, let it cool first then blend and reheat when needed.

This soup can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. And while the soup is delicious by itself, adding some toppings really sets it off. Top a bowl with some sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, jalapeños, green chiles, or whatever you like best. Use some crusty bread or tortilla chips to dip or add a side of my personal favorite, avocado on toast!

Super Simple Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:
2 cans black beans (15.5 oz cans)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (10 oz can)
1 cup chicken broth

Yield: 4-6 servings

Directions:
Combine all three ingredients in a medium pot and mix together. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and blend the soup until it’s smooth using an immersion blender (preferred) or in a regular blender. Serve while hot and top with your favorite garnishes.

Source: Slightly adapted from Honey and Birch