Chicken and Spinach Tortilla Bake

This recipe is from my latest issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray and is definitely a new favorite for me! In the magazine they suggest trading out the chicken for your favorite type of beans if you want to make it meatless and I think some black or pinto beans would be just as yummy. I also think a good salsa verde makes the difference for this dish and I used a Goya one that was really good, although a little spicier than I would have preferred (hence all the avocados on my serving to help cool it down...but I'll take any reason to have extra avocados). LOVED it and LOVED it just as much for lunch today :-)!

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 chicken cutlets, about 1 pound (I used 1 can chicken)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups store-bought salsa verde
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
4 large flour tortillas, cut into wedges (I did half the dish with flour, used 3, and the other half with corn, used 9 and then used a little extra salsa on top to keep it moist)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups baby spinach, about 1/4 pound (I didn't measure, just put an even layer of leaves to cover dish each time)
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (I used plain Monterey jack)

Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then shred the meat.
Whisk together the salsa verde and ricotta; season with salt and pepper.
In a greased 9-inch square baking dish (I used 9x13), layer one-third of the salsa mixture, tortillas, chicken, onion, spinach and pepper jack; repeat twice.
Bake until golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Other magazine suggestions:
Swap in 3 cups crushed tortilla chips for the flour tortillas for added crunch.
Try monterey jack instead of pepper jack cheese for a mild, less spicy dish. (I was definitely glad I used plain monterey jack!)
Use a 15-ounce can of your favorite beans in place of the chicken for vegetarians.

Green Chili Curry

I had forgotten about seeing this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe until Jamie posted it on Jamie's Cookbook recently. We decided to give it a try and it came together easily and was pretty good. I did think it needed a little more flavor and we generously sprinkled our helpings with chili powder and pepper. Overall, really good though!

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into 1/2" strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup couscous, cooked according to package directions (we used jasmine rice)
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

Season both sides of chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes per side until golden brown. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, green chilies, curry powder, garam masala, and cumin. Add mixture to chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduces slightly. The sauce will be quite runny. To thicken it up a bit, I mixed one teaspoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and added it to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Serve chicken and green curry sauce over couscous and garnish with cilantro.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This yummy recipe comes from Joy The Baker, which I heard about through Sarah. I doubled the recipe, using 1 c mini-chocolate chips and 1 c regular ones. They are DELISH! We shared these and the pumpkin bars with our librarians and they both got rave reviews :-)!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn't have this and they still were great!)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips, or any chip you like

Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.

Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if you don’t have a scoop. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the rounds.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool cimpletely.

Dust the cooled cookies lightly with powdered sugar. (I ran out of powdered sugar making the frosting for the bars, but I want to try them again with the sugar on top!)

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this yummy Paula Dean recipe on The Sisters' Cafe and decided to give it a try for my church recipe swap this week (which had a "pumpkin recipe" theme - check out the other recipes here). I have always loved the combination of pumpkin and cheesecake and these bars were delicious...and you know they were easy to make if I didn't mess them up :-)!
(I followed Mindy's suggestion to split the batter between 2 9x13 pans and thought they turned out perfectly)

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan (I used 9x13). Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing:
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

This was really easy, super flavorful and used ingredients that I usually have on hand already! My one complaint would be that the BBQ flavor overpowered the bacon and apple a bit more than I would have liked. My whole family loved it though! (I saw it the recipe in the latest issue of All You)

1/2 c barbecue sauce (I used original)
2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and grated
juice of 1 lemon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 slices bacon
salt and pepper

-In a small bowl, combine bbq sauce, grated apple and lemon juice.
-Wrap 2 pieces of bacon around each chicken breast half. Place wrapped chicken in slow cooker and top with bbq-sauce mixture.
-Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

When I was hunting for a beef recipe for our weekly menu I found this one on My Kitchen Cafe and Melanie sold me on it. She does a great job of describing her recipes, something I definitely could use improvement on. It didn't take long to make and it's always nice when you don't have to pre-cook the noodles for a dish (one less pot to clean later). Ella was especially in love with this and even asked for seconds!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, minced
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces elbow macaroni (I used gluten free penne)
1 cup frozen corn (I only put 1/4 c in)
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese

Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat or grease (the amount will depend on how lean your beef is). Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12-12 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Crispy Ranch Chicken

This chicken was easy and my kids loved it! The ranch mix gives it a great flavor while the cereal makes it super crunchy. The recipe says you can also substitute corn flakes if desired and drizzle with melted butter too. I followed it exactly this time around. (recipe from a mailer I received from Great American Recipes awhile back)

-2 c crispy rice cereal
-1/2 c grated Parmesan Cheese
-1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix (1 oz)
-2 egg whites
-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 3 breasts)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cereal, cheese and salad dressing mix in a large bowl.
-Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in the eggs and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.
-Arrange the coated chicken on the baking sheet. Bake until golden and juices run clear, 20-25 minutes.

Jumpin' Jack Chili

This was SOOO good! I am a fan of white chili in general but this one was especially simple to make and still so flavorful. I wish I had more to eat for lunch today! (the recipe was in a little mailer I got from Wisconsin Cheese)

-1 c onion, diced
-1 t olive oil
-1 (4 oz) can green chiles, undrained
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 t cumin
-2 (15 oz) cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
-3 1/2 c chicken broth
-2 c cooked chicken, chopped, rotisserie chicken can be used (I used 1 can chicken)
-1 c Monterey Jack Cheese, grated and divided (I used all Monterey Jack)
-1 c Colby Cheese, grated and divided
-Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped green onions, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro, olives, bacon crackers
(some my suggestions and some theirs)

-Cook onion in hot oil in heavy stock pan over med-high heat, stirring until tender.
-Add green chiles, garlic and cumin; cook 2 min.
-Add beans and chicken broth, stirring well. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
-Add chicken, 1/2 c. MJ cheese and 1/2 Colby cheese; simmer over low heat 10 min.
-Serve in bowls topped with remaining cheese and toppings of choice.