recipes

Cheesy Chicken & Rice

Cheesy Chicken & Rice | Jersey Up!

This was delish! And easy! And filled us up after a nice hike in the woods. (And that was too many grammatically incorrect sentences beginning with and.)

I don’t know about where you live, but it’s been raining for weeks here!  (Not exaggerating.)  We have had record rain and record river crests.  Which unfortunately means lots (and lots and lots) of flooded homes and businesses.  Our cute little town was completely sandbagged (is that a verb?) and all you can see for miles is carpets at the curb for trash pick up.  We were very lucky and had no water in our basement, but others were not so lucky.  But, as with all things, the sun has come out again.  It’s drying up a bit and feeling more like spring.  So much so that we went on a lovely hike in the woods last evening.

Hiking | Jersey Up!
You mean I can be off leash?

Cheesy Chicken & Rice
Adapted from Southern Plate

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped (I buy pre-chopped frozen onions – lifesaver, I tell ya)
1 red pepper, chopped
8oz frozen corn (or canned)
4 chicken breasts (I used frozen)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box Zatarain’s Yellow Rice, prepared as directed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*If you wanted to make this ahead for the freezer, just put everything into a ziploc except the rice and cheese.  You can cook the rice up ahead of time and freeze separate or make the day of.  I made the rice the day of because I tend to run out of freezer space!

Directions:
1. Add chicken, soup, onions, red pepper and corn to the crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  It might need a little longer if its frozen.
2. At this point you can either remove your chicken and shred (use your stand mixer!) or you can cut it up into chunks.
3. Add cheese and prepared rice.  Let the cheese melt and the flavors meld together – another half hour or so.

Did I tell you easy or what?  The cheesy goodness was too hard to pass up seconds.  Serve with a side salad.  And beer (of course).  You don’t think I did all that walking for nothing, did you?

recipes

I made bread again.

Homemade Artisan Bread | Jersey Up!

I seriously need to stop doing this.

This bread is good. So good. If you haven’t made bread before just do it.  For reals.  (Pretty sure no one else who makes their own bread says that.)  If I keep this up, it will become a regular expectation. I best be careful!

Here is the recipe again if you missed it.

No-Knead Artisan Bread
Adapted from Frugal Living NW

Ingredients
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (I used all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon instant or active-dry yeast (I used active dry)
2.5 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups cool water (I ended up needing less)

Directions
1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add in water slowly and mix together.  Dough should be wet and sticky.
2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit out on counter overnight (12-18 hours) to allow the dough to rise.
3. When the surface is dotted with bubbles, is a darker color and smells yeasty, you are ready to form the dough!  With well floured hands and work surface, shape the dough into a ball.  You want to tuck ends underneath the dough until its rounded on top and there is a seam on the bottom.
4. Wrap dough in parchment paper and let it rise on the counter for 2 more hours until it has doubled in size.
5. You will want to preheat your oven to 425 WITH the cast iron pot and lid inside for about a half hour.  A 5-8qt size will work fine.  If yours has a plastic handle like mine, remove it.  I covered it with foil, but it still popped off.  (Seriously!)
6. Carefully remove pot from oven and plop (yes, that’s technical) your dough inside, seam side up.  It will look ugly, but don’t worry!
7. Bake for 40 minutes covered.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the crust nice and crispy.
8. Remove from the pot and let bread cool on a rack COMPLETELY before cutting.  Your house will smell amazing right about now, but don’t let yourself cut the bread too soon or it will be gummy.

*The bread freezes well too!  You can also let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if you are not planning on baking right away.  I have also split this recipe in half and made smaller loaves.  Worked wonderfully.  

recipes

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Spring Break Edition)

BBQ Chicken Pizza | Jersey Up!
We had to make two. Don’t judge us.

My brother and his girlfriend came to visit for their spring break. Michigan is not exactly a springy destination when you want to escape the snow…ahem…but we were excited to host them nonetheless! Because it was their spring break, my husband made us do a different shot every night. Some of them were normal (ie tequila) and others were strange like mind erasers. I haven’t even HEARD the words mind eraser in probably 10 years. Maybe I shouldn’t admit I’m that uncool…

Anyway, their visit was a perfect excuse to try some new recipes. Particularly junk food/snacks. Before I give you the recipe for this pizza, I must admit to you that I’m a pizza purist. What does that mean? Plain. For you non-Jersey folks, that’s sauce and cheese and crust. The end. No crazy toppings. Ick. And pizza WITHOUT tomato sauce?! You’re kidding right? At least it has cheese.

Dare I admit that this pizza was GOOD. So good in fact we decide to make a second pizza….

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Adapted from Marshalls Abroad
Her pictures are so much better, so use those to entice you to make this recipe!

Ingredients:
1 lb pizza dough (if you aren’t making homemade I definitely recommend frozen)
2 chicken breasts, pre-cooked and shredded or diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (dare I say I use what’s on sale?)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Directions:
1. If you are using a pizza stone, preheat your oven or grill (don’t you grill pizza, too?) with the stone inside to 500˚.
2. Toss your chicken with BBQ sauce and set aside. (I recommend marinating it for awhile beforehand in the fridge but it’s not necessary.)
3. Roll out your dough on a well floured surface into the shape and thickness you prefer (or to what your skills allow).
4. Sprinkle some cornmeal on your heated pizza stone (good pizza secret!) and lay out your dough.
5. Drizzle dough with olive oil. Top with chicken, cheese, garlic, onions and extra BBQ sauce.
6. Bake in the oven or on your grill for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
7. Wait a few minutes (if you can!) for the pizza to cool before cutting it to avoid losing all your cheese and dose up some cilantro.

If you’re doing monthly meals, you can make the chicken ahead of time and have the rest of your ingredients chopped and ready to go to thaw in the freezer. A lot of times I will cook several pounds of chicken breasts at once, shred or dice, and freeze in batches to use in other recipes. Or if I have a plan for the chicken already, I can add it to a bag of veggies and sauce, or some lunch tacos, or whatever. Chicken, as I’m sure you know, is very versatile. We use it all the time.

recipes

Balsamic Chicken

I am basically testing out the app on my phone, and as a result you get a bonus post!!

I got this idea off Pinterest (I’m sure you’ve seen it) but I didn’t follow the recipe at all. I know this is supposed to be the golden rule of cooking…but I hardly ever follow recipes exactly.  And I’ve gotten better at cooking!  I don’t know about you, but this is surprising.  Maybe that’s the secret of all great cooks: winging it.  Aha!  I’ve figured it out!

So, I winged this recipe, and it came out great!  Smelled awesome…and is great by itself or paired with some pasta or garlic bread.  If you’re not interested in winging it quite yet, here’s an estimation of what I did so you can try to recreate it!

Balsamic Chicken | Jersey Up!
I’m working on my photography skills.

Balsamic Chicken
Adapted from Amazing Pinterest World

Ingredients:
6 chicken breasts (frozen ready to cook worked great)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (really any tomatoes you have would work fine)
1 pkg fresh basil (or if you only have dried I think it would work out okay too)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:
1. Prepare 13×9 glass baking pan and preheat oven to 350˚
2. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the pan.  Cover with chopped tomatoes and basil.
3. Sprinkle entire dish with balsamic vinegar.
4. Bake for about a half hour until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the flavors meld.  Cover dish in mozzarella and brown cheese for another 10-15 minutes.
5. Serve with garlic bread and/or pasta!  Yummy!

recipes

Homemade Bread

When my husband and I got married he had this expectation of homemade bread.  Like his Grandma makes.  My first reaction was: you crazy.  My second reaction was to put a bread machine on our registry.  His reaction: no, you crazy!  Bread doesn’t come from a machine!  It comes from the oven.  And that is where our bread debated ended.  There was no way in hell I was making real bread from the oven.

Fast forward two years.  I’m at home now with the baby and experimenting with new recipes every day.  I have <gasp> realized that cooking and baking are surprisingly easy if you follow the directions (key step, here).  I have made a lot of things I never thought I would with ease, and they actually taste good.

I decided to give bread a go.  I’ve been seeing this 5-minute no knead artisan bread on Pinterest.  Since I don’t know what kneading is, I thought, “This is perfect!”

The only thing I needed to buy was active dry yeast.  The other two (TWO!) ingredients were flour and salt.  (Oh, and water. Does that even count?)  How shocked was I when I caught myself thinking, “Maybe this will be easy?!”

The recipe said the dough needed to rise for 12-18 hours.  To me, this meant waiting until evening time-ish to make the dough for bread for dinner the next night.  I am so tired in the evening from caring for the baby and the house all day (and Insanity…have I mentioned I’m doing that??), that for two nights in a row I procrastinated the dough.  (So much for “5 minute” bread, right?).

Finally, I ran out of days in the week to rearrange my schedule…  It really did take a few minutes to mix the dough, salt, yeast and water.  Here is my dough ready to rise!

5 Minute Bread Dough | Jersey Up!

Aaaaaand 24 hours later….I was ready to complete the next steps.  Flour and shape.  Rise for a few more hours, then bake.  Not sure why it took longer to rise than the recipe indicated.  Needless to say, we ate dinner late that night.

BUT….how worth it was it?!  So.  So.  Worth it!  The bread smelled amazing and tasted delicious.  I never had warm bread out of the oven, and dare I say I’d do it again?

Homemade Artisan Bread | Jersey Up!

I was really happy with how it looked too – like store-bought!  (hah – who knew that was an aspiration?)  I think it would have come out more like the picture if I had a bigger dutch oven.

Went perfect with the winter squash soup I made!  I might even try to add herbs next time and get real fancy!

No-Knead Artisan Bread
Adapted from Frugal Living NW

Ingredients
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (I used all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon instant or active-dry yeast (I used active dry)
2.5 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups cool water (I ended up needing less)

Directions
1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add in water slowly and mix together.  Dough should be wet and sticky.
2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit out on counter overnight (12-18 hours) to allow the dough to rise.
3. When the surface is dotted with bubbles, is a darker color and smells yeasty, you are ready to form the dough!  With well floured hands and work surface, shape the dough into a ball.  You want to tuck ends underneath the dough until its rounded on top and there is a seam on the bottom.
4. Wrap dough in parchment paper and let it rise on the counter for 2 more hours until it has doubled in size.
5. You will want to preheat your oven to 425 WITH the cast iron pot and lid inside for about a half hour.  A 5-8qt size will work fine.  If yours has a plastic handle like mine, remove it.  I covered it with foil, but it still popped off.  (Seriously!)
6. Carefully remove pot from oven and plop (yes, that’s technical) your dough inside, seam side up.  It will look ugly, but don’t worry!
7. Bake for 40 minutes covered.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the crust nice and crispy.
8. Remove from the pot and let bread cool on a rack COMPLETELY before cutting.  Your house will smell amazing right about now, but don’t let yourself cut the bread too soon or it will be gummy.

*The bread freezes well too!  You can also let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if you are not planning on baking right away.  I have also split this recipe in half and made smaller loaves.  Worked wonderfully.  

There are so many variations and flavor options for this bread!  A quick pinterest search will give you ideas and I plan on doing some that I’ll be sharing soon!  Enjoy – I guarantee you will become addicted like me!

Winter Squash Soup with Homemade Artisan Bread | Jersey Up!

Winter Squash Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
1/2 stick butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5.5 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 1.5 pounds)
4 cups peeled and cubed acorn squash (about 1.5 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons sage
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:
1. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet and saute onion and garlic until soft – about 10 minutes.
2. Add broth, squash and spices and stir.  Cook until boiling.
3. Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until squash is soft – about 30 minutes.
4. Puree soup in blender (you probably will need to work in batches) until it’s at the desired consistency.  Return to the same pot and stir in cream.
5. Serve immediately or chill and serve the next day.  This soup also freezes well.

I was really surprised at how hearty but delicious this soup was!  It’s perfect for late fall and winter.  Just delicious.  Don’t you love what she comes up with over in Smitten Kitchen?  I always do – and I always love her anecdotes that accompany her recipes.

Tip: A lot of grocery stores sell peeled and diced squash for your convenience.  I’m not usually into paying for convenience, BUT my God is squash hard to work with.  I won’t tell you the amount of blood that was lost, but I can tell you that I will certainly be buying pre-peeled and diced squash from now on.  (Once I grow it in my garden, I think that will become a husband job.)

recipes

Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups

I’m assuming you’ve seen this on Pinterest?  They looked delicious in the picture (doesn’t everything?) and didn’t seem too hard.  Plus they included melty cheese and alfredo sauce.  How can you go wrong?  Still, they didn’t turn out as I imagined.

I followed the recipe but not the advice in the article to not use jar alfredo sauce.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to melt cheese (which I’m not good at, turns out).  Maybe it was the cheap store-brand alfredo sauce I got?  Or perhaps my lack of measuring ingredients.  (Read: lazy).  Either way it left something to be desired.  Was kind of flavorless.

I’m guessing I could have put more effort into the dish to make it better: season the chicken before cooking, make my own alfredo sauce, and probably actually FOLLOW the recipe.

I even skimped on the garlic bread.  Who am I?

Pictures can, in fact, be deceiving.

Probably will file under “do not make again” – there, now you don’t have to try it!