Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole

In our house we get a  rotisserie chicken about every other week. We love them! And I love the convenience of making up a couple sides, and dinner's ready. Not to mention the leftovers and all the possibilities. Last week I cut up the last of the chicken and threw together this quick and tasty casserole.

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole

2 cups chicken, cooked & chopped 
2 broccoli crowns, cut up (about 3 - 4 cups)
2 - 3 tsp Original Mrs. Dash (or to taste)
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cups cooked rice (I used leftover.)
3 cups cheese, grated - Set aside 1 cup for topping.
  •  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking dish. 
  • Place the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl with a few tablespoons of water and cook on high for about 3 - 4 minutes. Just until barely tender. It will cook the rest of the way in the oven.
  • Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Remember to set aside 1 cup of the cheese for the top!!! 
  • Dump into baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
  • Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. 
Does it get much easier than that? I don't think so! The whole family loved this. I especially loved how quick it was to throw together. And it was a complete meal in a bowl. Bonus!

I know the pictures aren't the best. Sorry! It smelled soo good baking, by the time it came out of the oven we were starving.  ; )  The leftovers were great for lunch the next day. I just added a little bit of milk when I reheated it. That made it just as saucy as the night before. Mmm!

Do you have a favorite way to use up leftover chicken? Please share. 
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Sweet & Sour Chicken w/ Fried Rice

The post title says it all. I came across this recipe on Pinterest. It was pinned from Life as a Lofthouse. If you haven't visited Holly's blog you should! It is full of delicious looking recipes. I made this one a couple months ago. It was very good, but I thought I'd tweak it a bit to make it look and taste more like authentic Chinese take-out. Mission accomplished!

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
adapted from Life as a Lofthouse

The chicken coating:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

The extras:
1/2 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1 small onion, cut into large chunks
1 can pineapple chunks, drained

The sweet and sour sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
Juice from drained pineapple chunks. 

  • Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Yes, only 325!!  
  • Cut chicken into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip into the cornstarch to coat. Then dip into the eggs. (It will look kind of gross, but don't worry it'll taste great!)
  • Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken into a well greased  9x13 baking dish. 
  • Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes. While it's baking turn the chicken every 15 minutes. 
  • After 45 minutes mix in the "extras"; red pepper, onion and pineapple. Bake an additional 15 minutes. 

Fried Rice                                                                                             

3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs oil (I used canola.) 
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
4 - 5 green onions, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

  • On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. 
  • Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. 
  • Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated.
*You could add any of your favorites to the fried rice; shrimp, ham, etc.

I am still amazed at how authentic this tastes. Everyone in our house, with the exception of Miss A, loved it! Miss E took some in her thermos for lunch the next day. The leftover chicken reheats very well, and it isn't soggy or slimy-ish. Yes, that's a real word. haha  Give this a try. It is much easier to prepare than you'd think. 

Happy cooking!! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Story of Me & Mrs. Ex

With Mother's Day rapidly approaching I thought I'd share with you the story of me and Mrs. Ex. This post is in a way, a gift, a thank you to her. Mrs. Ex (or Miss J) is Miss E's mom, Mr. CC's ex and my friend. We haven't always been friends, that took some time. Years and years of time!

I shared the story of me and Mr. CC {here}. It you haven't read it, you should.  ; )  Brief recap, when we met is was horrible timing, we were both in failing marriages. I ended up moving from Las Vegas to Canada after knowing him for only 3 1/2 months. We've been together for 12 years now. 

So you're probably thinking, if I was the ex I'd hate me. I know I would! In some sense I was kind of  the other woman. Now whether or not Miss J hated me at the beginning I don't know. I do know she didn't blame me for their marriage ending. She's told me a couple times over the past years. You can bet that was a HUGE relief to hear!! (Thank you for that J!!) She did however have nothing to do with me. Over the first few years she wouldn't really speak to me. At first it wasn't at all. Eventually she'd talk to me only about things that concerned Miss E. It was never very friendly or personal. That's how our relationship was for the first 5 years or so.

You can imagine that when we found out I was pregnant I was kind of dreading telling her. We didn't know how she'd react. She hadn't wanted Miss E to be an only child, but she was in a relationship with an man who already had two daughter's that were older than Miss E. He didn't want to have more kids. So this is why I was nervous to tell her. Would she be angry or jealous that it was me making Miss E a big sister and not her? Was she going to stop talking to me? These are some of the thoughts that went through my head. I was only six weeks pregnant when we told her. And to my surprise she started talking to me more then ever. She'd actually talk to me about things other than Miss E.

After Miss A was born our relationship blossomed more and more. We would go to the mall together or over to her house to hang out. And in 2010 we went on a Spring Break trip together. Just me, her and the girls. 10 days together, and it was nice! We made a great team. I love to cook, so I'd do the cooking. She doesn't like cooking all that much, so she'd do the clean up. We joked how two moms in a house would be pretty cool. Sharing a guy, not soo much. haha ; )

I still don't know why having Miss A changed soo much between us. Honestly, I've never asked. My only guess is,  having Miss E's sister meant I would be a permanent person in her life. (Is that close J?) Whatever the reason, I'm soo happy with how things are now. We are friends. We get together for Sunday dinner a couple times a month at her place. We occasionally to go a movie together and she's in my Dinner Club. This summer we're planning on doing some camping in her RV with the girls. I've also sort of been a moderator between her and Mr. CC. I think I've made their relationship easier. We don't really all hang out, but communication is good. And the best part, Miss E knows we're all on the same page and all here for her.

I wanted to share our story to give encouragement to those of you out there going through something similar. Maybe you're the ex or maybe you're the new woman. Whatever the case is, there is hope. Things can get better over time. I doubt Miss J knows how I felt all those years she wouldn't talk to me. It's hard being the new woman too. You don't really know where you fit into the child's life. You're not a biological parent, but you're expected to treat them like your own. That was something I really loved, being a part of Miss E's life. I always treated her like my own and loved her from day one. It seems you always run the risk of overstepping some imaginary line though. It's a hard balance of parenting but not over parenting. Does that even make sense? If it's this hard for me to explain, imagine how hard it is to live. Being a step-parent is a tough job, but it's one I love! It's been an honor to watch Miss E grow from a toddler to a teenager. She has become an incredible young lady. I'm looking forward to watching her grow into an amazing woman.

So with that we come to the end of this post. A huge thank you to Miss J for allowing me into your life! You mean more to me than you'll ever know. Thank you for sharing your precious daughter with me. I think we've done a fantastic job raising her, Happy Mother's Day!!

Whether you're a bio-mom,  stepmom,  grandma,  aunt or 
an extra special someone to a child -
 Happy Mother's Day!!
image via

  **If you have any questions for Miss J or myself, please don't hesitate to ask. We'd love to hear from you! Please make sure your email address is on your Google profile or leave your email address with your comment. That way we can get back to you.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Happy Sunday! I'm happy because today there are blue skies and no snow! Yesterday I made this Cinnamon Roll Cake and it was the perfect day for baking - chilly, gray and snowing. Yep, snowing. I know it's May. Tell that to the weather over Calgary. And the worst part, we'll most likely get more snow before the end of the month. It almost always snows on the May-long weekend. Yup. Enough about the weather, lets get to this tasty cake!

I love all things cinnamon. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it. I mean really, a cinnamon roll in fluffy cake form. Yes please!! ; )

Cinnamon Roll Cake
recipe from - My Shiny Life

3 cups flour
¼  teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
  2. Mix all ingredients for the cake together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9×13 pan.
  3. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake for 28-32 minutes.
  4. While cake is still warm, drizzle the glaze over the top.

* I halved the recipe and made an 8x8 cake. This cake is very sweet and it was plenty!!
* Also, I didn't swirl the topping with a knife. I just left it, and let it do its thing while it baked. I like the way  it turned out, more gooey goodness.

Go ahead and pin this picture. You know you want to!  ; )

This cake was delicious! It was declared by Miss A and that girl knows her food. We had a piece right out of the oven, yum. Later I had another small piece and heated it for just a few seconds in the microwave, it was awesome. This cake would be great to serve at a brunch. (Maybe someone could make it for you, for Mother's Day.) I hope you will give it a try. It was quick and easy to make. I know I'll be making it again really soon. 

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