Sunday, January 29, 2012

My New Favorite




A few weeks ago, I discovered Pinterest.

After browsing the site for all of about 5 minutes, I thought to myself "where have you been all my life?" and "how do I get on, so I can pin all of these completely necessary links on beautifully organized boards of my own?"

I quickly discovered an invitation to join was needed - either from someone already on Pinterest or from Pinterest itself. So I eagerly requested my invitation (from Pinterest because I didn't know anyone already on) and I waited.

One agonizing week later, my invitation to join came! I think I broke speed records getting signed up!

My life has been forever changed.

I cannot tell you how much I love Pinterest and I'm too embarassed to admit to how much time I spend there. All I'm going to say is, if you haven't been to Pinterest yet, check it out. You'll love it - I promise. I've even included the very handy "Pin It" button (look to your right and up just a little), so you can add any of the recipes you might want to try from this site to your own beautifully organized boards, as well as a button to follow me on Pinterest, if you like!


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I found the recipes for Taco Cupcakes and Bourbon Street Chicken on Pinterest and tried both of them this week. Both were extremely easy (and fast) to make. My son and I loved both, although each of us preferred a different one to the other. Needless to say, Taco Cupcakes and Bourbon Street Chicken will be making repeat visits to our dinner table.


Taco Cupcakes


This recipe originally comes from the Just Us & the many "Miles" traveled blog. Of the two recipes I found (and tried) this week from Pinterest, this was my son's favorite. I made a couple of changes to the original recipe:  I used a pound of ground beef, skipped the oil, browned the beef first, added the black beans, and then added the taco seasoning with the amount of water called for on the seasoning packet. The other change was how the taco cupcakes were served:  I put them on a a little bed of lettuce, cheese, and tomato (and added sour cream for me). Otherwise, I followed Gabrielle's instructions to the letter. If you and your family like tacos, you'll really enjoy the taco cupcakes! (They re-heat well in the microwave the next day, too.)



1 lb. ground beef (you can also use chicken or turkey if you like, but brown in 1 1/2 tbsp. chili or olive oil)

1 pkg. taco seasoning + water

3/4 cup black beans (cooked, drained & rinsed, if using canned beans)

wonton wrappers (usually found in the produce section of your grocery store)

queso or salsa con queso dip (usually by the chips and snacks)

salsa

Mexican-blend shredded cheese (I used colby-jack)

other toppings:  guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, black olives, sour cream, etc.


Preheat the oven to 375° F . Lightly spray a regular muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (at least 8 of the cups). Set aside.

Brown the beef. If you're using really lean (95%) beef, you might want to heat 1 1/2 tbsp. oil (chili or olive) in the skillet before adding the beef. If you're using beef with a higher fat content, you can probably skip the oil and may want (or need) to drain the fat once the beef is browned. Next, add the beans, taco seasoning, and the amount of water called for in the taco seasoning instructions. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until almost all of the liquid has been reduced.




Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the muffin cups. Add about 1 tsp. queso or salsa con queso dip to the bottom of each wonton wrapper. These measurements may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind, you don't want to "over-fill" the cup. Next, spoon about 2 tsp. of the meat/beans mixture on top of the dip, followed by about 1 tsp. salsa and a pinch of shredded cheese (distribute evenly over the sala).

Place another wonton wrapper over the first layer and press down gently around the edges to form a bit of a seal. Repeat as with the first layer:  queso or salsa con queso dip, meat/beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. You should be at the top of the muffin cup or slightly over.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool - in the pan - for about 5 minutes before removing them. I used an offset spatula to remove them from the pan.






Enjoy with your favorite toppings!

If you'd like to see the original recipe or Gabrielle's blog, just go to:  http://bricelife-gabrielle.blogspot.com/2012/01/taco-cupcakes.html.




Bourbon Street Chicken


Another keeper from Pinterest! Bourbon Street Chicken was my favorite. I followed the recipe pretty closely and the only change I made to the original BigOven recipe was not removing the browned chicken from the pan before adding the sauce to the pan. I was just too lazy to to do it. That, and the chicken gets added back in almost immediately after, so I figured it probably wouldn't hurt to just leave it in the pan. I cut this recipe in half - just for the first try - so my measurements weren't as accurate as they should've been. The chicken wasn't quite as "sticky" as  I would've liked it to be, but I think that's due to the adjustments I made to the measurements. Next time, I'm making 4 servings instead of just 2! I was in too big a hurry to eat this, so I didn't simmer it as long as I should have. Please learn from my mistake and follow the directions! I also mashed the garlic and ginger (see General Tso's Chicken) before adding it to the sauce mixture.



2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed (mashed)

1/4 tsp. ginger (I used fresh ginger)

3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (the recipe calls for crushed, but I used whole flakes)

1/4 cup apple juice

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp. cornstarach


* Note:  I served this over rice and started the rice before I started the chicken. Like General Tso's Chicken, this also comes together very quickly so mise en place is a must!





Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken pieces with a paper towel to be sure they are as dry as possible. This helps them to brown better. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil until all sides are lightly browned.

While the chicken browns, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the sauce mixture to the chicken and bring to a hard boil.





Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.






 Serve over rice. Enjoy!



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Heathly and a money-saver: water!

Did you know, water helps you to look younger and healthier? It's true! You look younger and healthier when your skin is properly hydrated. Water helps to replenish skin tissues, moisturize skin, and increase skin elasticity.

Encourage your kids (and you, too!) to drink a full serving of milk at each meal, but then drink water whenever they're thirsty throughout the day instead of drinking juice or pop. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so it's always nice and cold!






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2 comments:

  1. Yumm! Tacos are always a hit at our house. These are so fun. :) Thanks for sharing at my Pinteresting Party this week.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lauren! Thank you for stopping by. These were wonderful and super simple to make. I usually make these now whenever we're in the mood for tacos. I hope you and your family likes them. Have a great week!

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