An Old Fashioned Favorite: Easy Chicken Paprikash

So, I’ve been a bad blogger. I have good reason though — a new job and a new apartment have kept me pretty busy over the last month and a half.

But, I’m back now and have lots of ideas for blog posts in the near future. For this post, though, I took advantage of what was for Sunday dinner this past weekend: an old fashioned favorite that is no where as complicated to make as you might think!

IMG_0149edit

Easy Chicken Paprikash

If you have no idea what Chicken Paprikash is, here’s a little history: Chicken Paprikash is a Hungarian dish whose name is derived from the traditional use of Paprika in the recipe. It can be made lots of different ways and is usually paired with noodles, dumplings, mashed potatoes, or rice.

The photo above shows the dish paired with dumplings. I did not include a dumpling recipe in this post, but if you’re interested in making them, dumplings are simply a combination of flour, eggs, and water. Drop bits of the dough in boiling water and cook until they float.

Note: The photos in this post show a double recipe. The actual recipe listed below is for 4 pieces of chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 14oz. can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Corn starch or flour

Tools:

  • Large skillet
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Small whisk
  • Large ladle
  • Fork

Instructions:

1. Chop 1/2 onion into small pieces. Heat olive oil in skillet, add onions and sear for 2-3 minutes.

IMG_0096edit

2. Add chicken to pan, season with salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp. of the paprika.

IMG_0098edit

IMG_0101edit3. Brown chicken on both sides, approximately 5 minutes on each side.

IMG_0103edit4. Add chicken broth and water, bring to a simmer.

IMG_0125edit5. After liquid has come to a simmer, use a ladle to remove approximately 1 cup of the liquid from the pan. Place is in the measuring cup. Add half of the sour cream to the liquid in the measuring cup, whisk until mixed. Return the broth/sour cream mixture to the pan.

6. Repeat this step for the other half of the sour cream. (You do this to smoothly incorporate the sour cream. It also keeps the sour cream from curdling in the hot broth).

IMG_0130edit7. Add the remaining paprika and more salt and pepper to the pan. Cook until the liquid begins to thicken.

8. You may need to thicken the liquid with corn starch or flour before serving. (In order to do this, add approximately 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1/4 cup of cold water. Whisk with fork until smooth. Add this to the pan and stir. Cook for a few additional minutes until sauce thickens).

IMG_0132editVoila! Your Chicken Paprikash is done and ready to serve with your choice of side dish.

 

 

 

Cookie Table Project, Part Deux: Spritz Cookies

You’d think that since summer was over that would also mean that wedding season was over too — but not for me! In fact, my wedding season is just getting started for 2013. And, just like last year, that means cookies. If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, check out my series of posts from 2012 talking about the Cookie Table tradition that we have here in Northeast Ohio.

My cousin gets married in two weeks and my mom and I have been making a variety of cookies for the event. Last year, I blogged about how Pinterest helped me find new cookie recipes. This time around though, I decided to focus on tried and true recipes that I or my family have been making for awhile.

First up: Spritz Cookies.

Spritz cookies are great because they’re versatile. You can make them using a cookie press (like in this recipe) or you can simply make the dough, roll it into balls, and drop them on the cookie sheet. They really don’t need frosting or a lot of ornamentation — a little decorative sugar is a perfect complement. They’re also a great Christmas cookie to make.

photo (3)Makes 6-7 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Decorative sugar

Equipment Needed:

  • Stand or hand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Electric or manual cookie press (optional)*
  • Cooking spray
  • Cookie sheets
  • Cookie cooling racks

*If using a cookie press, I highly recommend purchasing an electric one.

Instructions:

1. With the mixer, combine the margarine and shortening. Beat thoroughly approximately 2 minutes.

2. Once the margarine and shortening are thoroughly beaten, add the sugar gradually. Continue to beat the mixture for approximately 5 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Continue to beat the mixture.

4. Add baking powder. Gradually add flour, mixing the dough slowly until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Mix well for approximately 1 minute, making sure you stop to scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate any lingering ingredients.

5. Once fully mixed, the cookie dough will be stiff.

6. If you are using a cookie press, now is the time to assemble and fill it. Please follow the directions included with your cookie press as they differ from one brand to another. For this recipe, I used a Cuisinart Cookie Press (available for less than $30). If you are not using a cookie press, simply make drop cookies.

Using a cookie press takes practice. Do not expect to make "prefect" cookies the first time you use a cookie press.

Using a cookie press takes practice. Do not expect to make “perfect” cookies the first time you use a cookie press.

7. Once you have assembled and filled your cookie press with dough, press the cookies onto a greased cookie sheet. Leave approximately 1-2 inches between each cookie.

I used the Flower design.

I used the Flower design.

8. Decorating the cookies with sugar is optional, but since the color scheme for this wedding is purple, I went with purple decorative sugar.

photo_2

9. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown. Reduce temperature to 325 if needed. Be careful not to overbake.

10. Remove cookies from cookie sheet immediately and place on cooling rack.

11. Serve and enjoy!

photo_2 (3)

 

Amazing Ranch and Dill Oyster Crackers

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately and have neglected writing posts. But, I’m back!

Below is a super-easy and extremely good recipe for an oyster cracker snack that is perfect for just keeping around the house or for parties and/or other events. It’s been popular all over the web for awhile and it used to frequently be on the back of oyster cracker packages — but even something that’s been done deserves repeating, especially when it’s so good!

title photo

Amazing Ranch and Dill Oyster Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 box/package of plain oyster crackers
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix (for example: Hidden Valley)
  • 1 teaspoon Dill Weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Equipment:

  • 1 large bowl
  • Spoon
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Baking pan
  • Small whisk

 

Instructions:

1. Pour the package of oyster crackers in the large bowl.

oystercrackersphoto-2

 

2. In a liquid measuring cup, pour one cup of vegetable oil. To the oil, add the Ranch Dressing mix, garlic, and dill. Whisk thoroughly.

photo-1photo-3

 

3. Pour the oil mixture over the oyster crackers, mixing the crackers with a large spoon to make sure all the crackers are evenly coated.

4. Place the coated oyster crackers on a baking sheet and bake them for approximately 10 minutes at 280 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Remove the oyster crackers from the oven, let cool, serve or store, and enjoy!

photo-4

Let me know what you think! This is definitely one of my favorites.

Also, if you don’t like oyster crackers, substitute them for pretzels!

 

 

A Few (More) of My Favorite Things

favorite things

I’m sitting here, windows open, on this lovely day in late August, listening to the dulcet tones of construction equipment and heavy machinery. There is no way that the high school football stadium behind my apartment will be anywhere near ready for the beginning, or let’s be honest, the end of the season this year. Wonder how that’s going to work out for them. Hmm. Anyway

Things are coming together for the wedding, which is pretty exciting. Once we find our DJ, I’ll probably feel like I can kind of relax for a while. I’m looking forward to looking at dresses for my BridesDames and my co-MOHs, and we have our engagement photo session at the end of next month. There is still much to be done, but just not right now. Since I announced that I was engaged on a previous favorite things post, I thought it could do another one with other things I’m loving right now, like…

1. Beauty: CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain

I currently have two different shades in my purse to go with whatever attitude of outfit I wear to work. I bought my first tube of it prior to my cousin’s summer 2010 wedding in Houston. I knew I was going to need something that would last all day and wouldn’t sweat or shmear off in the heat. CoverGirl had just come out with this line, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Besides staying on all day, it has more of a matte finish than a glossy finish, so that gives it more brownie points. I also like how light-weight it is, and the fact that its basically a Sharpie for your lips. My personal favorites are Teasing Blush (415) for everyday looks and Wild Berry Wink (440) for something a little more dramatic.

2. Food & Drink: Chobani Flips Almond Coco Loco

The first time I tried Greek yogurt, I wasn’t too impressed, and actually thought it was somewhat bitter. Of course, I love frozen Greek yogurt, especially Ben & Jerry’s Banana & Peanut Butter flavor, so when I saw this the last time I was out grocery shopping with Brian, I thought I’d give it another go. When I was younger, I loved the Yoplait Yo’Crunches where you’d mix in the M&Ms or Oreo cookie crumbles in the little tub on top of the yogurt cup, but they weren’t that healthy and slightly expensive. The Chobani Flips were on sale for 10/$10, so I couldn’t pass that up. I’m a fan of dark chocolate anything, so this was pretty tasty, in my opinion.  Now I just need to go pick up a few more… maybe the Key Lime flavor?

3. Music: Lorde – “Royals”

I heard this song on The Summit while heading home from work, and thought it was super catchy. (I discover so much good music on The Summit. I don’t care to hear One Direction or Miley on my drive to work.)  Ella Yelich-O’Connor (better known by her stage name Lorde) is a 16 year old New Zealand singer-songwriter. According to Huffington Post, Lorde is the first woman to be on top of the Alternative Music chart in 17 years… so.. since before she was born.

4. Internet: Disney Ladies From Last Night — Not entirely SFW

Somewhere near NYC, Wendy needs some assistance.

I think I came across this website via Imgur, another photo-sharing site that Brian and I like to look at together for the LOLs. The format is simple: take a random Text From Last Night and then superimpose it on a corresponding screen cap featuring a female character from a Disney (or Pixar, some people are so picky…) movie. Many of these are not suitable for work, considering the state most people are in when they send a text worthy of making it on TFLN, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Someone in Philadelphia is missing a kitten.

Can’t be Pittsburgh Dad. Jeffy stole all his books.

5. End of Summer Sales, Whaaaat??!?!

Clothes. (Treat yo’self.) Fragrances. (Treat yo’self.) Massages. (Treat yo’self.) Mimosas. (Treat yo’self.) Fine leather goods. (Treat yo’self.)

There’s not much I love more than a sale, online or otherwise, and this summer, I think I’ve done pretty well with my sweet, sweet deals. I’m signed up for email alerts and online coupons for pretty much all of my favorite stores. Some of my best scores include:

  • $120 of stuff from Bath & Body Works for $45, including gifts for all of my bridesmaids and a few treats for my mom and sister.
  • $111 of clothing from Old Navy for $37, all on clearance + 30% off, and then free shipping.
  • $60 in shoes from Target for $25 — 2 pairs of flats for work and a pair of strappy sandals.
  • $57 worth of stuff from Kohls for $1.25. Yes, the period is in the proper place. Two candles and a set of makeup bags for less than a vending machine soda.

Always wait for the end of the season, when stores start to put out things for the next one. My Old Navy and Target finds can all easily transition from summer to fall. My B&BW haul happened during their Big Semi-Annual Sale. Look for ways to stack coupons on top of in-store percentages off, which Kohl’s is awesome for. This past spring, I was able to get a Vera Wang purse for 27% of the original price through a combination of in-store sales + mobile coupons + a store grand opening gift card we got at the apartment.

What are your favorite things right now? Introduce me to something I might never have seen before. 🙂

Fantastic Frosted Zucchini Brownies

When I was a kid, my Grandma and my Aunt Susie always made (and still make) these amazing frosted brownies. But I was never allowed to help make them. Why? They wouldn’t say. Eventually, I discovered/figured out that the brownies had a “secret ingredient.” They were afraid that, as a child, if I knew what that ingredient was I would never eat the brownies again. They were probably right to keep the truth from me. If I’d known that there was Zucchini in my brownies I don’t know if I’d have been able to eat them.

But I love Zucchini now, so the fact that there is a vegetable in my brownies doesn’t bother me at all.

Even if you’re not a big fan of Zucchini, you’ll never know that it is in the brownies.

This recipe really produces a fantastic and a pleasantly different kind of brownie that the fudgy variety you get in the store or out of a box.

These Zucchini Brownies are very moist and very cake like. They are also frosted and rich, so small servings are suggested.

photo(98)

Fantastic Frosted Zucchini Brownies

Makes: One 13 x 9 pan of thick, cake size brownies or one jellyroll pan or thin brownies

Ingredients for Brownies:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (You will need 2 large zucchini or 3-4 small ones — use your best judgement.)

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 3 to 3 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (you made need more, you may need less)
  • 1 stick margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Hot water

Equipment:

  • Stand mixer or handheld mixer
  • Grater
  • Potato/vegetable peeler or paring knife
  • Spatula
  • 13 x 9 pan or jellyroll pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Flour to dust the pan

Instructions for Brownies:

1. Rinse and dry the zucchini.

photo(94)

2. Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel the skin off the zucchini.

photo(100)

3. Grate the zucchini until you have 3 cups. Grate the zucchini from the side — You DO NOT want any seeds to end up in your brownies! Set the zucchini aside.

photo(95)

It took almost both of the large zucchini’s I had to get three cups.

4. In a mixer, combine the oil, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Beat until smooth.

5. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until fully combined.

6. Add cocoa powder. Mix with other ingredients.

7. Now it’s time to add the zucchini. Before doing so, drain most of the extra liquid from the zucchini. Add zucchini a little at a time, mixing as you go, until all has been added and completely combined with all the rest of the ingredients.

8. Grease and flour your baking dish. Pour the batter in and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes. Beginning at 30 minutes, check the brownies with a toothpick every few minutes until the toothpick no longer has batter on it.

photo(96)

Frosting Instructions:

NOTE: Frosting is a must for these brownies.

1. In a mixer, combine the softened margarine, vanilla, and cocoa.

2. Slowly, a little bit of a time, add the powdered sugar until the frosting takes on a thick consistency.

3. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of hot water at a time until the frosting takes on a spreading consistency. Simply alternate the powdered sugar and the hot water until the frosting is how you want it.

4. The best way to judge is to taste the frosting as you go — you’ll know if it tastes and feels right.

5. After the brownies are cool, frost them! Don’t frost before the brownies are cool — the frosting will melt!

photo(99)

Suggestion: While refrigerating these brownies is not necessary, I highly recommend it.

Slice up a piece, pour yourself a cold glass of milk, and ENJOY!

photo(97)