Monday, September 14, 2015

Healthy Ranch Chicken Nuggets



Ingredients:
·         2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts sliced vertically into ¼ strips (keep semi frozen)
·         4 oz. crackers (I used Wheat Thins, but the kids found it made the recipe too sweet – next time I’ll go with Ritz crackers)
·         2 eggs
·         1 T parsley (dried)
·         1 t onion powder
·         ½ t garlic powder
·         ½ t paprika (sweet)
·         ½ t dill weed
·         ½ t chili powder
·         Pinch of cayenne pepper
·         Salt and pepper to taste
  1.  Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined (should be a bread crumb like consistency).
  2. Whisk together eggs.
  3.  Using a metal cookie cutter, carefully cut semi frozen chicken into different shapes.  Do not discard the leftover pieces of chicken!
  4.  Dip the chicken shapes into the egg and dredge in the cracker/spice mixture.
  5.  Cut remaining chicken pieces into small cubes and dip in egg and cracker/spice mixture.
  6.   Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 
*goes perfect with a homemade Ranch dipping sauce – use 1 C Greek non-fat yogurt or non-fat sour cream, 2 T mayo, and the spice blend used for the chicken (sans the crackers).  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Espresso-tinis

Ingredients:

  • 1 double shot of espresso
  • 1-2 ounces of half and half
  • 2-3 ounces of vanilla or whipped cream flavored vodka
  • a drizzle of caramel sauce (optional)

  1. Brew one double shot of espresso.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Add vodka, half and half, and espresso.
  4. Shake well.
  5. Strain into a martini glass and drizzle caramel sauce on the top for a garnish.

Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
  • 2 C shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and add mix.
  4. Serve with homemade pita chips or crostini.
TIPS:  You can fine chop the artichokes, but I find a whole quartered artichoke creates the perfect texture. Also, in the rare event you have any left over (I think this happened twice in the ten years I've been making it), you can use the dip as a delicious stuffing for a chicken breast or a pork chop.

Ham and Asparagus Rolls

When I first tried these rolls, I was hesitant not only because of the concept, but the presentation as well. I put my own spin on the recipe, and it has become one of my all time favorites. I love to watch people pause when they see the rolls and then their eyes light up as they take their first bite! Experiment and see: its a riot.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 bar of softened Neufchatel or Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1 T horseradish (do not confuse with horseradish sauce)
  • 10 asparagus spears steamed and shocked (exactly 4 minutes in a double boiler, immediately placed in ice water.  Be sure to find the "snapping point" by bending the asparagus with your pointer fingers and thumbs.  It will snap at the spot where the woody part ends and the edible part begins)
  • 10 slices of medium sliced deli ham (Virginia Baked Ham is perfect for this)
  1. In a small bowl, combine Neufchatel cheese,mayonnaise, and horseradish.
  2. Spread a thin layer of the horseradish sauce in the center of one piece of ham.
  3. Top with 2-3 asparagus spears, salt and pepper and roll.
  4. Serve atop a bed of field greens for presentation.

TIP: you can adjust the 'heat' on this dish by adding to or subtracting from the horseradish. After many attempts, I found 1 T is the perfect amount, lending to the mild side of a medium heat index.

"Mrs. Cook At Home Dad's" Award Winning Chili


Ingredients:


  • 2 1/3 lb ground beef (85/15 for best results as it stays moist)
  • 6-8 whole garlic cloves
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 12 oz bottle of dark beer or stout
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 T fresh cilantro, fine chopped
  • 1 T brown sugar I would have increased the brown sugar by 1 t 
  • 1 T cumin I would have increased the cumin by 1 t 
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t red pepper flake
  • 1 t salt (or to taste)
  • 1 t black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 package maple bacon (frozen for easier cutting, then chopped into thin strips vertically) I would have used regular bacon instead
  • 1/2 C hot sauce
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
  • 1 10 oz can tomato/chili
  • 3 T ketchup I would have used tomato paste instead 
  1. In a large sauce pan, brown garlic cloves in olive oil over a medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Add a pinch of red pepper flake and remove garlic once it is a solid golden brown.
  3. Liberally salt and pepper ground beef and add to pan.
  4. Using tongs or a rubber spatula, separate meat to create small pieces whilst browning.
  5. Fine chop browned garlic and return to pan.
  6. Add tomatoes, chili/tomatoes, and beer. 
  7. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  8. Add remaining ingredients (except the onions and canola oil) and stir well to combine.
  9. Cover.
  10. Add canola oil to a medium saute pan over medium high heat.  Add onions to caramelize, stirring occasionally for about 8-10 minutes. (Note: do not add any salt, as this will cause the onions to sweat and steam instead of bringing out the natural sugars to properly caramelize)
  11. Add onions to chili and transfer the entire mix to a crock pot set to high.
  12. Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  13. Set to low for an additional hour. 
  14. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and chives, scallions, and/or cilantro to garnish.
My wife was allowed to have help in developing her flavor profile, but I could not taste or touch the chili itself.  It was truly off the hook as written!  Job well done, Mrs. CAHD xoxo!!! 

Buffalo Egg Rolls

BUFFALO EGG ROLLS

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3/4 C wing sauce
  • 1 skinless boneless chicken breast, shredded (or roasted and cubed)
  • 1 t celery flake
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flake
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 block of softened Neufchatel or Cream cheese
  • 1 package of wonton wraps (found in the produce section of any grocery store)
  • 1 whisked egg white
  1. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add hot sauce.
  2. Add shredded chicken breast, celery flake, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and red pepper flake.
  3. Simmer on low for 10 minutes until slightly reduced.
  4. Combine with Cream cheese.
  5. Place wonton wrap diagonally on your work surface.
  6. Add 1-2 T of chicken to center, allowing excess sauce to drain off.
  7. Brush egg whites along the surface and fold like an envelope.
  8. Fill a small sauce pan just under 1/2 way with canola oil.
  9. Heat over medium high heat until the oil reaches 375 degrees.
  10. Carefully add the egg rolls and cook 1-2 at a time (adding more will decrease the oil temperature and prevent the proper crisping). 
  11. Cook until the egg rolls turn a golden brown (about 4-5 minutes)
  12. Remove and drain on a paper towel or coffee filter
Click Vlog for tip:
BLEU CHEESE DRESSING:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 3/4 C bleu cheese crumbles
  • 3 T half and half
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  3. Mix well before serving.
TIP: You can also add actual diced celery and/or julienned carrots to the mix to give the full- on "buffalo wing" experience.  For a great presentation, serve the dressing in a martini glass, fan the eggrolls around it on a bed of greens.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why it is not 'shittacular' to be a Stay At Home Parent--A Post-Thanksgiving Toast



I have to be candid about something that may paint me in not the best light with my fellow parent-bloggers.  I was reading a blog post last week, and thought to myself: “this comes across as kind of whiny- (pardon my language) ‘shit.’”  When I thought about it, a lot of the parent blogs I read also discuss the different levels and examples of shit that we, as parents, must tolerate, and can sometimes lean whiny. As a stay at home dad, it is more about the shit we put up with when people learn what we do.  Yes, that gives me the right to complain about shit. But to reach whiny?  Hmmm...


I closed the page I was on at the time, and, yes, it was actually my own blog, and thought to myself:  “why would I still be a stay-at-home dad a decade plus later if all I focus on is the shit-end of the stick parents (especially stay-at-home parents) endure?” 

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I spent the holiday pondering all I have to be thankful for this year.  My family and I faced a great obstacle (my wife--the sole provisioner as of late, lost her job and we had to determine what was the best move for our family), and we ended up leaving behind everything we knew and all of our friends and family and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida from just outside of Hartford, CT.  My mother, who had been living in our in-law apartment in CT and who had become an incredibly important resource and fixture for our family, moved with us, to her own apartment about ten minutes away.  There was some resentment for mom making this move from both  my brother and sister in law who have no kids, and my sister and brother in law who have children who are adults/near adulthood.  It was a very difficult decision on her part (that almost did not happen), but she is here, and my siblings understand.  Mom has to be where the "babies are," and my family accepts it.  

I realized that I also have  a lot to be grateful for because I have the greatest job in the world.  I thought about my brief stint in the corporate world, and of my wife and my friends whose successes and stories “out there” in the world I often glance at longingly, from outside the “in.”  Every single person I know complains about shit they put up with at work.  I have seen friends who have lost their careers as they approached 40, simply because the system is shitty and that is what it does to some people.  I have watched others grow to great heights, but who discuss the day-to-day shit on how shitastic their jobs can be, how shitty dealing with co workers can be, and what shitastic people their bosses are.  It made me realize…My job is better than theirs…and I realized I MUST do a blogpost about why it is not shitacular to be a Stay At Home Dad!


  1. My boss is cuter than yours, and I’ll bet one million dollars on that fact, right here—right now.    I like to believe that I am my own boss, and determine the overall way the household and the day-to-day activities are run.  I realize I would be lying if I said I was 'the boss'.  I am not and I know it.  My three young children rule the roost here, and that is OK.  Three little spirits are at the center of our family's structure and that does make them 'the boss', even though my wife and I are "in charge." The best thing about my "boss" is that when they get really demanding on a specific project, it takes little more than logical discussion (or maybe a time out) for them to see my point and the correct perspective on things.  Can the same be said for Mr. or Mrs.“Where is the QED report?”  Here, I will grant that when actual shit lands on your hands, in your mouth, on your eye, on the floor, behind the changing table, it is shittastic!  
  2. I set my own hours.   Now, every mom and dad blogger out there is going to call bullshit on this one, and say we are all “slaves” to when our dear children need us.  Yes, that fact is true.  But when there is not that immediate need, I am in control of what I do with my time.  If something becomes especially daunting or overwhelming, I can find time to prioritize what needs to get done--whether it be to throw a hot towel over my eyes, or down a bloody Mary if I must, I can  (kidding, but you get my drift).  I hear horror stories about my peers dealing with a boss who slams employees for not being productive enough and making them go through 15 different files to get to the email that shows the boss, in fact,  dropped the ball.  Can you then say:  “I am taking a time out…go paint rainbows with your sisters, and we’ll reconvene shortly?” #winning
  3. I am paid significantly more than anyone I ever met, including some pop artists.   I have actually met and hung out with a pop artist, or two, and they are paid stupidly well.  I have enjoyed rides in cars that I can’t pronounce, eaten foods I don’t even know what to make of, and seen endless wads of cash flow freely.  It was fun.  I have also seen the flip side to their personal lives and experienced a “loneliness” that was markedly educational. You may call it “shit.”  I do, and it is food for thought.   I have seen markets crash, investments fail, and empires fall.  In my world, I am paid in hugs, “daddy I love you” pictures, and with the accomplishments these amazing human beings my children are becoming…each their own universe with endless possibilities and wealth opportunities in their own right. It is I WHO AM overseeing their upbringing, predominantly, on a day to day basis as they venture towards their tomorrows.  I even get bonuses that are priceless: found on my computer screen written by one of my six year old daughters:  I love you so much more then the sky you are the best daddy in the world you tAKE CARE OF ME AND DADDY i LOVE YOU AND NEVER LEAV ANY WERE WITH OUT ME COME EVERY WARE WITH ME PLEASE AND REMEMBER i LOVE SO MUCH
  4. My “water cooler” talk is more meaningful than yours.  Granted, those I’m with all day will not catch me up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” or the latest episode of “Once Upon A Time;” however, they will talk about ‘once upon a time’ and ask me if dinosaurs had feelings.  And we will spend a chunk of our afternoon not only drawing dinosaurs, sculpting them with clay, and googling everything we can on them, but exploring the concept: "do objects feel?”  I will be a better man at the end of the day because I gave thought to something I probably had not in 30 or so years, and it makes me remember that way of thinking so I can apply it my 40 year old life.
  5. When I “retire,” I will look back on what I created, nurtured, and guided.  I truly believe I will not look back with regret for what I did not do, but for what I experienced at the soul level, and for the seeds planted for the tomorrows that will come after me.   I do not think people look back and wish they did more “at work,” as I have seen plastered all over facebook recently.  I do wish I did more, at my work, in the "hazy years" with newborn twins and a four year old,  and had understood how incredibly lucky not only I AM, but that my children are, that we have this time together.  I would never criticize a working parent for choosing the path to put their babies in daycare and to be raised by others, but for my Self and for my family, I am asserting:  “I put my children first and foremost in my definition of ‘wealth,’ and in my life.  I will be damned before I would miss a single moment of this short snapshot that is their childhood for simple things, or easier financial paths, or any type of career down the road.  I know the way the world works, and understand what my career choices are when my children are grown…and with everything I get in return, I would do it again one thousand fold.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I am glad I chose the right path for me. So, yes, I will return to shit that leans whiny in my work, I'm sure.  I just needed to acknowledge that greater than that shit is a wealth and a brilliance I never dreamed I would acquire.