Sweet and Sour Chicken

So, there are nights when I PANIC because I have no idea what to make for dinner. That is when I'm thankful for canned CHICKEN. Yes, you heard me right. Canned chicken, folks! But, not just any canned chicken. It has to be the Costco Kirkland brand. It is moist, TENDER, and does not taste like tuna fish! Anyway, this SUPER easy dinner features that chicken. And you would NEVER know it unless I told you!

Sweet and Sour Chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
Broccoli florets
1 cup or so thinly sliced carrots
1 can Kirkland brand chicken, drained
1/3 cup slivered almonds
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup sweet and sour sauce (I use about 1/2 jar of the Kikkoman brand)
Warm cooked rice

In a large frying pan, saute the vegetables in a little bit of olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. If the veggies are still too crisp, put a lid on the pan for a few minutes and steam. Stir in the chicken, almonds, and sweet and sour sauce. It will be a pretty thick mixture, so I typically thin it out with some water to reach my desired sauce consistency. Add a little black pepper and let bubble for a few minutes over the heat. Serve over warm rice. Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

TIP: Use your favorite veggies! And, I was going to add some chopped pineapple but totally forgot!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Chocolate and peanut butter go so well TOGETHER, don't they? We made this yummy cake for a big family DESSERT night at our house not too long ago. It serves a lot of PEOPLE! And, needless to say, it was luscious and LOVED by all! Hope you like it too.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Chocolate Cake
1 box devil's food cake mix
Ingredients on box
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1/3 to 1/2 cup sour cream

Peanut Butter Topping
1 large box instant vanilla or cheesecake pudding
Milk (on box, probably 3 cups)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
Semisweet chocolate chips

Make the cake batter according to package directions. Stir in the instant pudding mix powder and the sour cream. Spread onto a cookie sheet with sides that has been generously sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the topping, prepare the instant pudding with the milk as directed and let set in the fridge. With a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold half of the Cool Whip into the prepared pudding (you can do it all, but you may want to use 1 cup peanut butter if you do), and then fold half of the pudding mixture into the peanut butter mixture until smooth. Fold in remaining pudding mixture. Spread over cooled cake and sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 20 to 24 servings.

TIP: Increase the amount of peanut butter to 1 cup for a stronger peanut butter flavor. Any chopped or shaved chocolate over top would be good, and maybe even some chopped peanuts for more crunch. You could try crunchy pb instead of creamy!


Sweet Lemon Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so MOIST and refreshing, and perfect for SPRING. Unfortunately, it's really hard to eat just one. I often WONDER what could possibly make them better. The BEST part, as usual, is that they are very EASY to make! I posted this recipes years ago, but decided it needed to make another showing because they are just. so. mmmmmmmm!

Sweet Lemon Cupcakes
1 box lemon cake mix
Ingredients called for on box
1 small box lemon or vanilla instant pudding
1/3 cup sour cream
4 cups powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon zest, optional

Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Stir in the dry pudding mix and sour cream. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners or spray each cup with a generous amount of nonstick spray. Bake according to package directions and then let cool completely.

In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and zest until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes and serve. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.

TIP: To make your cupcakes look like they came from the bakery, put your frosting in a plastic baggie, snip off one corner, and then pipe the frosting around the top outside edge of the cupcake, swirling in one continuous motion while working your way to the center. This way the cupcakes look cute and you get to eat more yummy frosting because it lays it on pretty thick!


Crunchy Veggie Rolls

This little APPETIZER is so yummy and seriously easy. Like seriously. It's almost embarrassing to post it, but it really is pretty TASTY. So, a necessary evil. The best part—kids seem to like them too, so it's a great way to get some VEGGIES into their diets. Yay!

Crunchy Veggie Rolls
Whole wheat tortillas
1 container garden vegetable cream cheese (or the chive version works too)
Matchstick carrots
1 cucumber, julienned (or cut matchstick style)

Lay tortillas on a flat work surface and spread the cream cheese over top to the edges, leaving about 1/2 inch on one side. Lightly press the carrot and cucumber sticks into the cream cheese and roll up tightly, ending with the side where you left that 1/2 inch edge. Wrap tightly in saran wrap and then refrigerate for an hour or two. Slice into bite size pieces when ready to serve.

TIP: Try different combinations of veggies. I think red and green bell peppers would be yummy, and nice and crunchy too!


Orange Cream Fruit Dip

This yummy CITRUS fruit dip reminds my family of those orange dreamsicles from the good ol' days. It's the perfect reminder that SUMMER is on its way and it tastes AMAZING on just about any fruit. Or sugar cookie. Whatev! (Sorry for the terrible pic—my iPhone doesn't always do so great!)

Orange Cream Fruit Dip
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temp (I use the lite kind)
1/2 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate at least an hour or two before serving with your favorite fruits.

TIP: I think a lemon or lime version of this dip would be equally delish!


Simple Chef Salad

It's that time of year when SALADS are starting to sound really good. Like, I want them for DINNER all of the time. This is one that I grew up on. I LOVED chef salad night! So it has carried over and shows up on my family's TABLE every so often. It's delicious and it's easy, and that's BASICALLY all you can ever ask for, right?

Simple Chef Salad
Chopped or torn romaine lettuce
Sliced good-quality lunchmeat turkey (and ham if you prefer)
Sliced and cubed cheddar cheese (I sometimes add monterey jack as well)
Diced red bell peppers
Shredded or thinly sliced carrots
Sliced green onion
Cucumber, quartered and sliced
Frozen peas, thawed
Sunflower seeds

Layer each of the ingredients on individual plates and serve topped with your favorite salad dressing. Easy!

TIP: You can obviously use whatever veggies you have in your fridge (probably what your family likes!), I just try to use different colors for variety. Our favorite dressing is ranch, or maybe blue cheese, but any would be good!