I ripped this recipe for cheese straws out of a Southern Living magazine way back in 1994!

vintage aluminum cups

No, I am not going on a KonMari kick and throwing away recipes! (at least not this one) The reason I saved this recipe to begin with was it brought me joy!! I was probably initially attracted to the vintage aluminum cups!

Cheese straws are a classic Southern snack. They can be fancy and served with wine or casual and served with football! You can buy them at the store, but they are so easy to make! I made cheese straws to give away as gifts this past Christmas.

snowflake package

I was in a hurry and didn’t even fancy up the cellophane baggies! How sad! At least they were cute baggies.

cheese straws

The cheese straws were very fragile. I had to be careful putting them in the bags. They made a great non-sweet snack to give as a gift! Everyone loved them!

Parmesan Cheese Straws

2/3 cup refrigerated pre-shredded Parmesan cheese or use fresh cheese plus 1/4 cup of flour

1/2 butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup milk

*Put the cheese and butter in a food processor fitted with the knife blade. Whir it around until blended.

*Add the flour, salt and red pepper. Process about 30 seconds or until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape down the sides from time to time.

*Divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2″ x 1/2″ strips. (You can also shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls; flatten to about 1/8 inch; brush with milk and top with a pecan half.) Place on a baking sheet; (I used parchment for easy cleanup!) brush with milk.

*Bake at 350˚ for 7 minutes for strips (10 minutes for rounds) or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

**Makes about 5 dozen cheese straws! I put about 25-30 in each baggie.

**When cutting out the straws, you can use a regular knife, pizza wheel, pastry cutter…whatever you want to make it fancy! You can also use a cookie press if you have one.

So, we had a few cheese straws leftover. After Christmas we were all tired of eating Christmas food! I decided experiment with (and disguise) the leftover straws. I crushed up the cheese straws (This was very easy since they were fragile to begin with!) and made Chicken Parmesan!

Chicken Parm

I dipped the chicken in a little melted butter, then the crushed up cheese straws, then into the oven. (again, parchment paper makes clean up a breeze!) Sorry, I don’t remember how long I baked it. I’m thinking 425˚ for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Once baked, add a little marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese! Back in the oven for another 5 minutes-until the cheese melts. YUM! The red pepper that is in the cheese straws was really yummy in the Chicken Parm! It was yummy in the cheese straws, too!

In my great attempt to become more organized and actually try some of those recipes I have ripped out of magazines, I found this recipe…

It looked so good to me that I found FIVE of these magazine ads in my stash! UGH!

I don’t know why I found it so appealing. I am not a particular fan of mayo. I like it okay if it is mixed in something, like potato salad. I don’t ever slather it on my sandwich or dip my french fries in it.

This time it is used to hold on breading, so I think that is acceptable.

Since I was up to my elbows in mayonnaise while making this, I didn’t dare touch the camera! Sorry, no “in progress” pictures.

Hellmann’s Parmesan Crusted Chicken

1/2 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 tsp Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

Combine mayonnaise and cheese.

Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake at 425˚ for 20 minutes.

Ok, now let me tell you how I did it.

First of all, I hate it when recipes call for Parmesan cheese and don’t specify dried or fresh. When in doubt, go fresh! I hardly ever use “shaky cheese”.

These are the breadcrumbs I used.

Panko breadcrumbs give a nice crispy coating. I like to get plain breadcrumbs. Then I can have them seasoned or plain.

I did add a little Italian seasoning. How much? Ummmm, until it looked right.

I found it easiest to get my hands dirty when adding the mayo. I just rubbed it all over the chicken. A half cup was actually a little more than I needed.

I made sure that the chicken was covered really well with the breadcrumbs so it would be good and crunchy!

Bake as directed.

Oooo! Ahhhh! So savory! So yummy!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: 10/10 would eat again

Megan: I absolutely loved it!!!!!!!!

Katie: Loved it! LOVE OF MY LIFE! I enjoyed every single bite!

So, I’ve been happily pinning new recipes and craft idea on Pinterest. Still trying really hard to not go crazy and get overwhelmed.

One of my newer pins is a recipe from Rachael Ray for Mexican Chicken Lime Soup.

Doesn’t that look yummy?! Doesn’t something spicy and warm sound delicious?!

Well, it did to me.

Here is the recipe. Be sure to read on for “the rest of the story”.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
  • Crushed tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Increase the heat to high, push the vegetables to the side of the pan, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chipotles and adobo sauce, then stir in the chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place 2 avocado slices in each of 6 soup bowls and pour in the soup. Top with the tortilla chips.

Seems simple enough, huh?

I knew I didn’t have an avocado, but I figured we’d be okay without one.

Cilantro I HATE and wouldn’t have put it in there anyway.

Chicken-I had a couple of frozen chicken breasts-that would work. I decided to make half the recipe.

Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce I actually had! Seems like an “off” ingredient to have. I don’t remember when or why I used them. It’s been a while. Whenever it was, I had leftovers and put them in the freezer. I knew they were in there because they keep getting in my way. I was excited to get rid of that pesky bag.

The rest of the stuff I had on hand, even the limes!

I’m getting to the story part. I know, I know, lots of word-few pictures! Sorry, my visual friends. Please don’t surf away!!!

The house smelled so good. The kids were even asking, “What’s for supper, it smells so good!”

I made some cornbread. Okay, it was Jiffy, mmmmm. Look I found a picture for you!!!

It’s funny what inspires a person come dinner time.

A friend of mine recently gave me a bag of cashews.

No, she did not give me an empty bag of cashews. I just forgot to take the picture until it was too late! I get focused on the cooking and forget to take the pictures.

I remembered that I had a couple of chicken breasts in the fridge-viola! Cashew Chicken! Now, how do I make cashew chicken?

Rather than paw through my cookbook library, I headed straight to the internet. I found a recipe that only called for things I had. I quickly scribbled down the recipe. Why didn’t I print it out? duh. Oh, I remember now, that was when I was out of ink. You’ll be happy to know the ink cartridge has since been replaced. Well, shame on me. I failed to jot down the website. Bad Blogger! Shame! I tried to search for it again, to no avail.  So, I am sorry, person who posted this recipe. If I find you again I will include you here.

Cashew Chicken

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

3 Tablespoons oil

red bell pepper-I think I used about a 1/4 cup

onion-maybe a half of a medium onion

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup cashews

2/3 cup chicken broth

2 chicken breasts

Combine chicken broth and cornstarch. Set aside.

Cut up the chicken and toss it in a bowl with the soy sauce.

Saute the cashews in 2 Tablespoons of oil.

Remove cashews from pan. Cook the chicken until done. Remove from pan. But put it in a little bowl or something. You don’t want to wipe off all the soy sauce yummy.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan with onion, peppers and ginger.

I think the recipe called for green peppers. Use what you like or, in my case, what you have.

Luckily, I had these babies in the freezer-woo hoo!

I thawed them a little. I don’t think they were completely thawed when they went in the pan.

After the veggies have cooked a little, throw the chicken back in the pan. You don’t want to cook the veggies so too long. They are going to cook some more in a minute.

Pour the broth over the chicken/veggie mixture. Stir to thicken. Stir in nuts.

I cooked up a pot of linguine and added the noodles to the thickening sauce.  Some frozen peas and a quick trip to the local Panda House for egg rolls and dinner is ready!  A fancy plate always makes a new dinner menu more appealing.

No Asian feast is complete without fortune cookies!

Critics’ Corner

Chip:  I loved this. You can eat until you just can’t eat any more and an hour later you can have more-how cool is that?

Megan: I like the Cashew Chicken better than any Chinese food I’ve ever had (save for fortune cookies & eggrolls).

Katie:  I liked the Cashew Chicken, but I like it without the cashews.

I stumbled across this recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s website. She has lovely pictures and beautifully describes the technique here.

As I was chatting with my hubby on the phone telling him about the recipe, I was drooling because these tacos sounded so good. Chip said, “We are having those for supper!” We waited for the weekend to try these, not really knowing how hard they would be to make.

PW’s Brother’s Chicken Tacos

  • 16 whole Corn Tortillas (small Size)
  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Pieces
  • Salt, Cumin, Chili Powder To Taste (or Use Taco Seasoning)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
  • 1-½ cup Finely Grated Cheese (cheddar Or Cheddar/jack Mix)
  • Sour Cream
  • Hot Sauce (Chulula Or Other Brand)
  • 2 cups Thinly Sliced Romaine Lettuce (or Any Lettuce)
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • Canola Oil, For Frying Tacos

Preparation Instructions

*Be careful frying with hot oil!*

First get a big mound of chicken ready.

Season diced chicken liberally.

Since I don’t have a “to taste” measuring spoon, and my kids aren’t really big on spicy food, I used 1/2 of a taco seasoning package. Nothing fancy, good ol’ Great Value Taco Seasoning-it’s what I had.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes. Dump in the diced green chilies.

The recipe calls for 2-4 ounce cans. Someone, who remains nameless, begged me not to use the chilies. We went to Santa Fe and Glorietta,  New Mexico on vacation a couple of years ago. We went fun places to eat, like Bobcat Bite and Tomasitas. Let’s just say…there was an incident and leave it at that. I compromised and only put in one can.

Stir and cook until chicken is totally done inside. Turn off heat and set aside.

I wish you could smell how great this smells!

Have all other ingredients—grated cheese, sliced lettuce, diced tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce—ready.

Also have a plate ready, as well as a stack of five or six paper towels to hold in your hand.

TO FRY

To fry the tacos, heat a couple of inches of canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. Place some chicken in the middle of a tortilla, then fold tortilla in half. Clamp the tortilla shut with a pair of heat-proof metal tongs, then carefully lay the taco—one side down—in the oil. As you lay it in the oil, use the tongs to hold the top side down for a few seconds to form it in place. Once it stays put, repeat with two other tacos. Turn tacos after 30 to 45 seconds, or when each side gets light golden brown (not too brown.)

Not sure if you can see from this picture or not…I had a little trouble at this point. The corn tortillas are more tender than I realized. I kept poking a hole in them. Then the chicken would fall out and splatter oil everywhere! It didn’t affect the taste-mmmm.

You might want to consider having an extra pair of adult hands near by. I kinda’ spazzed out with all the grease flyin’ and spatterin’!

One at a time, remove tacos from the pan with tongs, holding sideways as you remove them to allow oil to drip out of the sides. Place the taco in the stack of paper towels. Fold the sides and corners around the taco to tightly hold it, then give it three or four shakes to remove excess oil. Remove it from the paper towels and place on a plate. Repeat with other tacos in the pan.

As you continue frying the other tacos, have someone carefully place some grated cheese inside the tops of the tacos (gently pry them open just enough to place the cheese in). Then just let them sit until ready to serve—the cheese will melt as it sits in the warm taco.

Megan helped a little with the cheese. She wasn’t excited about helping, and I was freaking out over the oil. Chip came and cleaned up some of the splatters (before there was a fire!) while I kept splattering. He stayed on to help with the cheese.

To serve, garnish in this order: a smear of sour cream, dashes of hot sauce, shredded lettuce, diced tomato. You’ll need to slightly open up the tops of the tacos to get all the garnishes in there.

Tacos will be hot for a minute or two after frying, so don’t rush into eating! They’ll stay nice and warm for a little while after frying.

Yum!

Everyone likes theirs differently!

Next time I think I might use a little more of that taco seasoning or maybe the other can of chilies. However, the kids say don’t change a thing!

Critics Corner

Chip: At first I thought “Fried Chicken Tacos”meant tacos stuffed with fried chicken (Kentucky Fried Chicken style) These were not quite what I thought they were going to be–but I didn’t care.  These little gems are delicious and unlike anything I’ve eaten before.  I highly recommend them.
Megan: I have redefined my definition of the perfect taco.
Katie: I loved the tacos, but don’t eat too many!

I was delighted to get to have my friend, Joanna,  from Dowlearns Daily, for lunch yesterday. I was so excited and busy that I forgot to take any pictures of the yummy lunch. So, yes, I went back and staged a lovely plate for you to see. I’m a dork that way. What can I say?

We had a great time visiting. I was so nice outside that we ate out on the porch. Bonus-I cleaned off the table, and we didn’t even mess it up!

This recipe comes from a Pampered Chef cookbook.

Next time you go to a Pampered Chef party and need to buy something, this is a good thing to get. There are several good recipes and pictures to go with each one. The last recipe, however, is a trout recipe. There is a picture of a whole fish laying on a plate. Not being a big fish eater, it looks a little gross to me. I probably won’t be making that one. Maybe that is why it is the LAST recipe. It’s at the end. You can avoid it! Anyway, get the book.

You can click on the recipe picture if you want to see it up close. I’ll type it out, too.

Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces)

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup pitted kalamata or ripe olives, chopped

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

4 cups romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

3/4 cup seasoned croutons

1/2 cup fat-free Caesar salad dressing

6 (8-inch) fat-free tortillas

1. Lightly grease your skillet. Firmly press garlic into the chicken. Cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes or until no longer pink in the center, turning once. Remove chicken from pan; cool. Slice into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Place in mixing bowl.

2. Chop onion, olives, and red pepper. Grate the cheese. Slice the lettuce.  Put these in the bowl with the chicken. Add croutons and dressing. Toss to coat evenly.

3. Place about 3/4 cup of the chicken mixture on a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla tightly. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. To serve, cut each roll in half diagonally with a bread knife.

Just a couple of notes:

I cut my romaine in a chiffonade. Check out this Alton Brown video showing this technique. It is at about the 2:30 mark.

If you want to assemble the veggies and meat ahead of time that is cool. You can even add the dressing. I wait until the last minute to add the croutons and lettuce. They tend to get a little soggy if the dressing is on there too long.

I used the tortillas I had on hand. Can you believe I had exactly six? Yes, they were store-bought. (hands of shame) They were actually the wrong size. If they had been larger I wouldn’t have had to hold them together with toothpicks, and I would have been able to cut them all fancy like in the book. I should have just made them myself-huh?

I left out the olives-not a fan.

I don’t think my dressing was fat-free. Oh, well, all the yummier!

We had two wraps each. That meant two left over for me to plate up for a picture. Hubby sure was happy with his snack of leftovers when he came home from work.

I think Joanna liked them, too!

I hope you try this recipe. It is a great recipe for Springtime get-togethers. Leave me a comment it you try them!

Hooray! I’m a blogger now! So, now I have to take pictures of everything! Little did I know that taking pictures by myself while trying to cook dinner in a hurry in order to head out the door was hard-hmmmm.

This is not a new recipe for me. I know, I know, that was kinda the whole purpose of this whole blog thing. I have made this recipe a gazillion times, and it always turns out yummy.

Just a couple of disclaimers…

  • I used to be a Pampered Chef lady. You will see lots of Pampered Chef items in this blog. There, you have been warned.
  • I am no longer a Pampered Chef lady. I’m not trying to sell you anything. You will see Pampered Chef items in bold. This is how it is in the cookbook.
  • Keep in mind that I was trying to get dinner on the table, people! Pictures may not be the best. Hubby wasn’t home from work yet to help in that department.
  • I had been to the grocery store the day I made this recipe. However, I only went for a few things. You know, the stuff on sale! I had not given supper a thought at all. The ingredients used, or not used, on this particular occasion were what I had on hand, or not. We’ll get to that later.

I guess that is all of the disclaimers I have for now.  Enjoy!

Chicken & Broccoli Braid

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 cup broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons All-Purpose Dill mix

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls

1 egg white, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Chop chicken and broccoli using Food Chopper, place in Classic 2-Qt. Batter Bowl. Yes, I have these items. Any bowl of your choosing will do, I am sure. I do really like my Batter Bowl. I also have a 1-Qt., which I didn’t think I would use that much. But, I do. The Food Chopper is great, too.

I was using what I had on hand. Typically, I would use fresh broccoli, raw. Well, I didn’t have any fresh broccoli. I did have a HUGE bag of frozen mixed veggies-broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and squash. So, I pirated some of the broccoli from the mixed veggies. I have never made this recipe with frozen broccoli. I was a little concerned. I nuked it for a little while, just long enough to knock the chill off of it. Then I tried to squeeze as much liquid out as I could. I wasn’t too worried about making it look ugly since I was about to chop it to death. Worked just fine.

Chop bell pepper and add it to the Batter Bowl.

Thank goodness I had these. Peppers are expensive. I had these leftover in the freezer. I let them thaw a bit on a paper towel, so I could squeeze some of the moisture off later. Worked just great. Sorry there wasn’t a picture of a beautiful red pepper. Some other time, perhaps.

(yes, that is a small Pampered Chef cutting board)

 

Press garlic over vegetables using Garlic Press.

I realize there a many folks who buy the garlic in a jar that is pre-chopped. Sorry, I don’t know how much would be equivalent to a clove. Maybe a spoonful. I’m guessing if you buy garlic in a jar it is because you like it and use it a lot. If that is the case, your estimate may be a little different from a spoonful.

 

 

I do like kitchen gadgets!

2. Shred cheese using Deluxe Cheese Grater and add to vegetable mixture; mix gently. Add mayonnaise, Dill Mix and salt; mix well using Mix N’ Scraper.

Yet another handy-dandy Pampered Chef item. No, not the mayo. That thing next to the mayonnaise is a “Measure All Cup”. It is really cool. Notice the blue arrow pointing down? There are measurements on the other side in blue and for when you want to measure liquid in the cup part. The red side is for sticky stuff-peanut butter, honey, shortening, mayonnaise. You pull down the cup part to the measurement you need. Fill ‘er up, then plunge it out! Very cool!

This is the dill mix. It is a little sample packet I had. I linked it for you in the ingredients. I don’t know, because I’ve never looked for it, but maybe you could find something similar at your local grocery store.

Oh, I forgot to mention…I skipped the salt in my recipe. It is plenty flavorful without it.

 

 

3. Unroll 1 package of crescent dough, do not separate. Arrange longest sides of dough across with of  12″x15″ Rectangle Baking Stone. Repeat with remaining package of dough. Roll or pinch dough to seal perforations.

I used these. I was curious and I had a coupon. They worked GREAT! No need to pinch seams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On longest sides of Baking Stone, cut dough into strips 1 1/2 inches apart, 3 inches deep. (There will be 6 inches in the center for the filling.)

4. Spread filling evenly over middle of dough.

To braid, lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip one turn. Continue alternating strips to form a braid. Tuck ends up to seal at end of braid.

It does take a little patience and practice. But it really isn’t that hard.

5. Brush egg white over dough using Pastry Brush. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 25-28 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cut and serve using Slice N’ Serve.

I know, I let you down. We didn’t have any slivered almonds. Plus, I was running out of time. Sorry, I didn’t bother to put the egg wash on top. You will have to use your imagination. But wait, here is a picture of a professionally baked braid….

Here is the yummy inside…

Yes, that is dear hubby patiently waiting to eat so we could get out the door!

A delicious recipe. Nice for brunches or other get-togethers. We had it for dinner. Could be an appetizer. Eat it whenever you want!!!

 

Critics’ Corner

Chip: “Yeah, not a big fan of broccoli. But, if you focus on the chicken and try to pretend the broccoli isn’t there… then this dish works. It’s very, very good. I’d give it two thumbs up but “broccoli” is right there in the name, so I’ll always know it’s there.”

Megan: “I love the chicken/broccoli braid (especially b/c I get to eat it w/my fingers!)”

Katie: “The Chicken Broccoli Braid was superb. I enjoyed it with every bite. I think that everyone would think so, too.–Katie, The Critic”