Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches bring back the memory of staying home from school, sick on the couch with a potentially fatal math-class-hating fever, watching my grandma’s favorite soap opera, and eating white bread and yellow cheesefood-slice filled grilled cheeses dipped in Campbell’s tomato soup. All these years later, now with my own kids stuck on the couch, there’s still something super comforting about the crusty concoction. As time has gone by though my grilled cheese obsession has managed to mature a bit since my elementary, middle, and high school days.

Here’s out latest version of what the sons call a ‘grown-up’ grilled cheese. All the familiar ooey,gooey cheesy bits you love, but filled with real ingredients and flavors fit for any sophisticated adult palate. I’m lucky the sons love them too, even with the addition of veggies. Yes sons, your Mom can and will attempt to try and ruin one of your favorite ‘classics’ by making it a tad bit healthier.

Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

1 cup shredded or finely chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup steamed broccoli, finely chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
¼ t garlic powder
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt & pepper, to taste
8-10 slices of your favorite bread
2 tbsp butter, plus extra if needed

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, cheddar, Parmesan, garlic powder, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and salt & pepper.
2. Divide the mixture evenly between four of the bread slices, and top with another slice of bread.
3. Melt butter in a pan over medium-low heat.
4. Cook the sandwiches for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Covering the pan with a lid during cooking will help the inside get all warm and gooey before the bread gets too browned.

Sous Chef Sunday: Lazy Cake Cookies

If Grandma’s cookies and your favorite brownie got together, this would be their love-child. And they’re glorious.

Moist and chewy, with the perfect amount of cookie taste. The sons love them because A.) they’re awesome and B.) because they almost always get a ‘yes’ if they ask to make them. I love them because A.) they’re freakin’ awesome and B.) because they’re so easy the kids don’t make a huge mess and I can finally eat a dessert I didn’t have to make myself. Everybody’s happy. Although, that could also be the after effects of the sugar high…Nah!

Never ones to be afraid of a little ‘flair’, the sons opted for pink/yellow Easter mini chips instead of the more traditional plain, ol’ chocolate. But, seriously, who doesn’t love a good cookie? Especially one with a little pizzazz.

Lazy Cake Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Lazy Cake Cookies

Oh my. Pass the plate, please! *drool*

1 box yellow or white cake mix (you don’t have to stop there. Experiment!)
2 eggs, beaten
5 tbsp melted butter
2 cups chocolate chips or M&M’s

Directions

1. Mix together, put in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 min! That’s it. Let them cool. Cut & serve!

When spreading the batter into your baking dish it’s OK if it doesn’t want to stretch out to fill the entire pan. Just make sure it’s as good as it will get and it will rise and fill as it bakes. To prevent the very sticky batter from sticking to your spatula and to make it easier, lightly grease the spatula before spreading.

Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles

A quick & easy pasta dinner, don’t shy away at this seemingly odd combination of pasta & peanut butter. These loosely Asian Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles are a fun food you can serve for lunch or supper, that’ll have the approval of both the kids and the adults.

Peanut Butter 'Lo Mein' Noodles

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Sous Chef Sunday: Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups

These little grilled cheese ‘sticks’ are easy, delicious, and dippable. For all of you fellow double-dip offenders, you know exactly what I mean when I say, it’s ten times better if it’s dippable. Son # 3 dubbed these his favorite ‘eggrolls’. All the sons thoroughly enjoyed dunking them in their bowls of creamy tomato soup.These were so much more convenient than our old grilled cheese sandwich.   Son made, son tested, and son approved.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups

6 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, any kind will do
6 slices of American or Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
tomato soup

Directions

1. Lay out pieces of sandwich bread on a flat surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten. Then, if you’re anti-crusts, use a knife to cut the crusts off of each piece of flattened bread.
2. Place a slice of cheese on top of each slice of bread, then roll up tightly to form a grilled cheese
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted. Place the grilled cheese rolls (about 3 at a time) seam-side down in the skillet, and cook on all sides until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. You can press the rolls down with a spatula to be sure that they do not unfold while cooking.
4. Remove and repeat with the remaining sandwiches, adding more melted butter if necessary. Serve immediately while the cheese is still warm and gooey with extra delicious dipping sauce tomato soup.

Cherry Pie Bars

I’ve been holding out on you. I made these bad boys a little over a month a go. . . I’m sorry! I don’t know why but I’ve been ‘saving’ them. For what I’m not sure. I just kept thinking oh, I need a special occasion to share these. And a month has come and gone and I still have not shared them! So I decided I would create a special occasion. Happy Cherry Pie Bar Tuesday!

I love me some cherry pie. It’s always my first choice. A good pie isn’t something you can just throw together. It requires planning and time invested. I had plans to make cherry pie the other day. Life had other plans. Did I let that discourage me? Of course not. Instead, I opted for these simple, yet oh so special cherry pie bars. These sweet, flaky fruit bars are warm & cozy.

Short on time? Get your fix in a jiff using this easy recipe.

(Oh, and P.S., you’re not a fan of cherry pie? Not a problem, sub in the fruity-flavored pie filling of your choice.)

Cherry Pie Bars

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cherry Pie Bars

recipe originally from Six Sisters’ Stuff

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, ream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat well. Add flour and salt to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.
3. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and spread about 3/4 of the batter in the bottom (mine was a little sticky, so I sprayed my hands with non-stick cooking spray and used my hands to spread the dough to the edges of the pan). Spread with pie filling over the batter. Drop remaining batter on top of pie filling in teaspoonful amounts (I did about 35 small spoonfuls of batter over the cherry filling to make the top crust).
4. Bake for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes clean. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over the bars.

Smoky Bacon & Cheddar Chowder

“Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.”

Seriously, Stark!

Though most of the snow has melted here, the cold weather is far from over. The wind is still whipping with biting wind chill temps, and more snow is forecast-ed to arrive tonight/tomorrow. We walked out the door this morning dressed like Eskimos ready to face the frozen tundra and it still felt like we had no clothes on. Even all bundled up, the freeze still found a way in. Days like this always call for something extra hearty AND warm to help us ‘thaw’ in the evening. This thick, creamy chowder is the perfect way to mentally and physically decompress on a cold, winter night. Smoky, bacon, cheddar? Music to my frozen earstastebuds.

Smoky Bacon & Cheddar Chowder

4 Sons 'R' Us: Smoky Bacon & Cheddar Chowder

recipe originally from Creme de la Crumb

½ pound red potatoes, chopped into ½ to 1 inch pieces
1 large russet potato, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 cup water
1 cup flour
½ cup red or white onion, diced
2 teaspoons chicken buillon
5 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon onion salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1-2 cups corn, canned or frozen
½ cup shard cheddar cheese, shredded
8-10 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

1. Add potatoes to a large pot with enough water to just cover the potatoes. Boil about 10-15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat, strain out water and put potatoes in a bowl, set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add flour starting with ½ cup and adding up to ½ cup more *depending on how thick you like it. Stir until mixture thickens. Add water, chicken buillon, and garlic. Stir 1-2 minutes, then add potatoes. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes tip potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
3. Stir in diced onion, onion salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Cook about 5 minutes, then stir in corn, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency. Top with additional bacon and cheddar cheese if desired.

I’m drooling just thinking about dinner now…

4 Sons 'R' Us: Smoky Bacon & Cheddar Chowder 2

Sous Chef Sunday: Cheesy Garlic Sticks

We’re a family who loves good food and I want my sons to not only know their way around a kitchen and a recipe when they are grown, but to be at home in the kitchen. The sons are my biggest fans & biggest supporters with everything I do so, naturally, I’m really excited to be including them in this adventure. So, without further adieu…

This week we’re introducing Sous Chef Sundays! 2-3 Sundays a month we will be bringing you kid friendly recipes that one or more of my own 4 sous chefs have helped me create & prepare. Tried and true dishes that we’ve made sure are appropriate for getting your own kids in the kitchen and involved.

This week we’re introducing you to Cheesy Garlic Sticks. The sons love these! They know it’s going to be a great day if they see pizza dough thawing before they leave for school and ‘pizza’ isn’t on the dinner menu. That’s guaranteed to mean these oh-so-yummy breadsticks will be waiting for them when they walk in the door after school. These come out piping hot with that perfect amount of stretchy, melted mozzarella. Son # 4 (4) enjoyed using a rolling pix to stretch the dough out (by himself) into the pan and sprinkling cheese everywhere. And I do mean everywhere, but it was kind of freeing to just go with it and see his little face lit up with joy. I also reminded myself I could fix it to my satisfaction before we actually put it in the oven.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cheesy Garlic Sticks

Son # 4 insisted I ‘hold on’ when it was time to start on this recipe. I patiently waited as he climbed up on his step stool and grabbed a white paper lunch bag. He then ran into his room. This is how he came back into the kitchen. Ready to rock!

4 Sons 'R' Us4 Sons 'R' Us

The little ‘chef’ had even found his own photo prop! All cuteness aside, let’s dig into this Sunday’s recipe.

Cheesy Garlic Sticks

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cheesy Garlic Sticks

recipe adapted from Jam Hands

1 can of refrigerated pizza dough, or one loaf of homemade pizza dough
olive oil for brushing the dough
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded provolone, optional
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp Italian Seasoning

Directions

1. Roll out pizza dough on a baking pan.  Brush dough lightly all over with olive oil.
2. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and provolone, if using, all over the dough.  Use your fingers and sprinkle minced garlic all over the dough.  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the top, as desired.
3. Bake at 425 for 12-18 minutes.
4. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Use a pizza cutter to cut into breadstick-sized strips. Serve with marinara sauce, if desired.

Dill Pickle Chips

There are standard appetizers at every restaurant and we all have ones we look forward too- fried dill pickles are one of my personal favorites. Not just any pickles though, thinly sliced dill pickles. Marinated to infuse them with flavor, these are encased in a golden brown crispy crackling coating. Served with a bit of creamy ranch on the side, these dill pickle chips are the ultimate snack & appetizer!

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