Monday, April 22, 2013

Dijon-Herb Chicken Breasts

I’m a mustard girl. I’ve always been that way. There’s no room for ketchup on a hot dog. And mustard on my fries? Oh yes. Eric Church was onto something there. So now that you know my love affair with mustard, it totally makes sense why I am obsessed with this chicken.

Dijon-Herb Chicken Breasts are so flavorful, delicious, and mustard-y. Yes, mustard-y is totally a word. At least it is today.

The ingredients come together effortlessly—I do not lie—to create a tangy, creamy sauce that pairs so wonderfully with chicken. Dijon mustard, cream cheese, chicken broth, canola oil, a garlic clove and fresh parsley are whisked together. The sauce is poured over chicken breasts, and it is baked.

Whoa. Talk about easy. You know that I’m all about easy meals. Things can get a liiiiiitle crazy around here, so the easier, the better. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.

I’m always on the hunt for easy and delicious recipes that are perfect for taking to a friend on the mend. Dijon-Herb Chicken Breasts is one of those recipes. Serve this chicken with some hot, buttery vegetables and dinner rolls, and it’s a fantastic meal.


Dijon-Herb Chicken Breasts
Adapted from: French’s

1 to 1-1/2 lbs. chicken breasts
4 oz. cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
6 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, roughly sliced
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. canola oil

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Butter or spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Lay chicken breasts in the dish.

In a medium bowl, warm the cream cheese in the microwave until it can be stirred smooth. Add mustard, garlic and parsley and whisk until well incorporated. Add chicken broth and oil and continue whisking until the ingredients are blended. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180F degrees. Using a spoon, gently stir the sauce and spoon over the chicken. Serves 4-6.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Banana Crumble Muffins

I’m going to talk about the weather again. I think I’m turning into my grandma. Bear with me.

So, yeah. We’re buried in snow. My husband took several measurements in various spots in our yard. You’re not surprised at me telling you he’s a scientist, are you? He lives for data collecting. The verdict: 13 inches. Over a foot of snow. Ewwww.

But when life gives you snow, you play in it. And that’s what we did.

Or you stay inside, watch Dinosaur Train and snack with Mom.

And boy did we do a lot of snacking. Let me tell you about these amazing Banana Crumble Muffins. They’re the perfect snack, breakfast, anything.

I’m pretty particular when it comes to the ripeness of bananas. I like them best when they are brightly yellow, slightly green at the top, and free of brown spots. There’s a small window I can eat them like this. As soon as the green is gone, I wish I could just snap my fingers and make them super-duper ripe. Waiting out banana ripening requires patience, and well, that’s not one of my strong suits.

Nathan, my husband, doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and he’s very particular about dessert-type foods. Who is this guy? To his credit, he does love brownies and muffins. I’m always looking for ways to turn ordinary brownies and muffins into extraordinary brownies and muffins. It’s fun for me, and I have to say, I think he likes my experiments.

I really like sour cream in muffins. I think it provides great flavor, and the end result is always a moist muffin. These muffins are so moist you don’t even need to butter them. I’m totally serious. And oh goodness. The crumble topping on the muffins is amazing. I really feel that all muffins need a crumble topping. That would be a perfect world.

I can’t get enough of these muffins and neither can Nathan. We’re waiting (me, rather impatiently) for the bunch of bananas sitting on our counter to ripen, so I can make them again. I hope you love them as much as we do.


Banana Crumble Muffins
Adapted from: Chefdruck

For the muffins:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light (or dark) brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream

For the crumble topping:
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
3 Tbsp. light (or dark) brown sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. old fashioned oats
3 Tbsp. sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin.

To make the muffin batter, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar with a hand mixer in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt until well incorporated. Pour the flour mixture into the large bowl and mix with hand mixer until the flour mixture is well incorporated. Add the mashed bananas and sour cream to the batter and mix with a spatula until all the ingredients are mixed well.

Fill the muffin wells with the batter, evenly distributing the batter among the 12 cups. Set aside.

To make the crumble topping, cut the butter into small, pea-size pieces, using a knife, fork or pastry blender. Add the sugar, flour, and oats, and mash the mixture with a fork or pastry blender until the ingredients are incorporated yet crumbly. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly on top of each muffin. Sprinkle the almonds onto each muffin.

Bake for 28-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or cooled. Store in an airtight container. Storing may cause the crumble to lose its crumbly-ness, but it is still tasty. Makes one dozen muffins.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

BLT Pizza

Ok, I’m thinking warm thoughts here. And I’m thinking reeeeeally hard. Summer. Oh, summer.

Winter storm Walda has decided to rear her ugly head. When I went to bed last night, I could see my yard. Like, all of it. The grass was even beginning to green. We planted asparagus in our garden on Sunday. And then…

I woke up to sleet/snow pelting our windows and over an inch of the white stuff on the ground. The boys and I about got leveled this morning walking through the grocery store parking lot on our quest to get milk. And those thick, frosted sugar cookies. We definitely needed those. Garrison, my three-year-old, told me so. I’m sure you can agree with him that cookies are a necessity.

We’re expected to get 14 inches of snow. 14! It’s spring. It’s April. I’m over it.

Enter, BLT Pizza. It’s summer on a plate, and it’s delicious. And it’s perfect for telling a winter storm, who shall remain nameless from here on out, to take a hike.

You already know about my family’s love of pizza when I shared with you my Simple Pizza Dough recipe. Pizza is such a fun food, and I love that the end result is whatever you want it to be. My tastes and mood drive how much of each ingredient I put on the dough.

You can use whatever pizza dough you prefer. Slather the dough with your favorite ranch dressing. Then layer the bacon pieces and Colby jack cheese on top and bake it until bubbly and nicely browned. Pretty easy so far.

After the pizza is out of the oven, top it with chopped, leafy greens and diced tomatoes. Sprinkle on grated Parmesan cheese. Still easy, right?

Then close your eyes, take a bite, and imagine it’s 80 degrees outside. Yelling at the chaos out the window is completely optional. I might or might not be speaking from experience.

BLT Pizza
Ashley’s recipe box

Recipe for your favorite pizza dough (for a 12-14 inch pizza)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of your favorite ranch dressing
8-10 strips of bacon, cooked and in pieces
1 cup cup shredded Colby jack cheese
1 cup to 1-1/2 cups chopped lettuce
2 medium Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
Grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Top the pizza dough with ranch dressing. Layer bacon and cheese on top of the dressing. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned.

Remove from the oven and top with lettuce and tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes one 12-14 inch pizza.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Giant Symphony Cookies for Two

Here I am, posting another cookie recipe. But this isn’t just any cookie recipe. It’s a cookie recipe that makes two as-big-as-your-face cookies. Do I need to mention these cookies have chocolate? No? That’s just too obvious…after all, this is a cookie recipe shared by me. I should probably specify the type of chocolate: Symphony candy bar pieces. They are unbelievably amazing in these cookies.

Giant Symphony Cookies are fit for a celebration. But not just any celebration.

As you might know, I’m a new food blogger. I started this blog in January. You and I are still getting to know each other. Something I haven’t shared with you yet (and I can’t believe it!) is that I am a Chi Omega. That’s right. I’m Greek. And I’m proud of it. The X and the Horseshoe are my letters.

It’s because of Chi Omega that I have an obsession with owls; I think the colors Cardinal and Straw are totally meant for each other; and I believe the white carnation is one of the most beautiful flowers. Ever.

Bid Day 2003 (freshman year) with my pledge sisters Megan and Brianne.

Oh yeah. And it’s because of Chi Omega that I have made the very best friends I could ask for. Women of all ages and from all walks of life. Talented, driven women. Compassionate, selfless women. Leaders, volunteers…I could really go on and on. Really. My sisters are incredible.

Bid Day 2004 with Amberly and Stephanie. We lived on the same dorm floor freshman year.

Today, April 5, Chi Omega celebrates 118 years. 118 years! Since 1895, Chi Omega has been changing the lives of collegiate women for the better, providing them with leadership, service and learning opportunities, friendships that last a lifetime, and sweet memories.

My younger sister Courtney, who initiated in January 2006, at a country-themed date party.

My Executive Board in Fall 2005. I got the privilege to serve the chapter with these inspiring women.

One of my favorite memories was the first time I ever heard Chi Omega’s The Symphony. I was a soon-to-be college freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I remember sitting in the living room of the Chi Omega chapter house during a formal Recruitment event. A handful of Chi Omega sisters shared, in such touching ways, why they decided to choose Chi Omega. Then, before I knew it, the lines of a poem, I determined, were being shared, with a different sister reciting each line. It was so beautiful. And I was so captivated. And I had goose bumps. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood that believed the words they were saying. I could feel their love for Chi Omega. I could feel their pride in Chi Omega. Chi Omega was calling me, and I was listening.

The Symphony

To live constantly above snobbery of word or deed;
to place scholarship before social obligations and character before appearances;
to be, in the best sense, democratic rather than 'exclusive', 
and lovable rather than 'popular';
to work earnestly, to speak kindly, to act sincerely, to choose thoughtfully that course which occasion and conscience demand;
to be womanly always; to be discouraged never;
in a word, to be loyal under any and all circumstances to my Fraternity and her highest teachings and to have her welfare ever at heart that she may be a symphony of high purpose and helpfulness in which there is no discordant note.
Ethel Switzer Howard, Xi Chapter

Isn’t The Symphony beautiful? And so encouraging?

In case you were wondering, I got goose bumps just typing it.

I think it’s perfect to celebrate the 118th anniversary of Chi Omega’s Founder’s Day with a sweet treat that incorporates the Symphony candy bar. It’s only appropriate. And what’s better than a make-one-to-eat-and-a-make-one-to-share recipe? These Giant Symphony Cookies are buttery and chocolate-y. The edges are slightly crispy, but they mostly have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. So that makes them the all sorts of irresistible. 

I chose to use a Symphony bar with almonds and toffee chips. I can’t resist anything with toffee, so it was a must for me. You can use the creamy milk chocolate (plain) bar. Your call. Rather than chopping up the bar, I broke the chocolate rectangles into small pieces with my hands. I worked rather quickly so I wouldn’t create a melt-y mess. Chopping chocolate can be kind of a pain because of the tiny pieces that get everywhere. But, if you would rather chop, don’t let me stop you!

The dough comes together quickly and easily. Once the dough ingredients are incorporated well, the Symphony chocolate pieces are added in, and mixed gently with a spatula. It’s the same process you follow when making chocolate chip cookies. You know what I’m sayin’.

After the dough is shaped into two very round and tall balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, a few more Symphony pieces are strategically placed on top each. It’s like putting the bow on a present. Or the cherry on a sundae.

The cookies will spread during baking. Towards the end of baking time, you will want to watch the cookies to be sure they don’t get too crispy or brown (unless that’s how you like them). When I took these out of the oven, the edges were slightly brown, and the center was a tad soft. Perfection.

The best part about this recipe is that it makes two cookies. One of these cookies is meant to be shared. Enjoy it in the company of a good friend (over a cup of coffee, of course) or wrap it up and gift it to a sister. It’s the perfect way to celebrate a friendship!

Happy Founder’s Day, Chi Omega! 118 years strong. I’m so proud of and thankful for our sisterhood.

The ladies of my pledge class on our last Bid Day in 2006.

I am a Chi Omega.

I am the first in my family to “Go Greek.” I pledged Kappa Chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August 2003, and I initiated in January 2004. After graduation, I moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, to attend graduate school at Purdue University. It was there, at Chi Beta Chapter, that I began advising, and I served as New Member Educator Advisor. After I graduated, my husband and I moved to Manhattan, Kansas, so he could pursue his Ph.D. at Kansas State University. At Kappa Alpha Chapter, I served as Personnel and Scholarship Advisor. Last fall after my husband’s graduation, we moved to South Dakota. I have connected with the women of Xi Theta Chapter at South Dakota State University, and I look forward to transitioning onto their advisory board in the near future. I am so grateful that I have remained involved with Chi Omega beyond my college years. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and opportunities that I could never have imagined. I truly believe Chi Omega is for a lifetime.

If you are interested in learning more about Chi Omega, I encourage you to visit the Fraternity’s website

Giant Symphony Cookies
Adapted from: Sally’s Baking Addiction 

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4.75 oz. (XL-size) Symphony candy bar, in pieces and divided 
              (I found this in my grocer’s candy aisle)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the butter and sugars together with a spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Mix to combine. With a spatula, gently fold in 12-rectangles’ worth of Symphony bar pieces.

Place the dough on the baking sheet, making two tall balls about 9 inches from each other. Use as spoon to shape the dough. With the remaining 4-rectangles’ worth of Symphony bar pieces, top the cookies.

Bake for 15-16 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the rest of the cookie appears somewhat soft. Allow the cookie to cool completely before removing from the baking sheet. Makes two giant cookies.