I think I’ve told you guys this story before but the first time my parents ever trusted me to start dinner before they got home from work, I was making chicken and rice and it was one of those recipes that all cooks in the same dish in the oven. Fail proof, right?

No, I didn’t put water in the rice!

I’m really sensitive when it comes to anything I perceive as a failure so I was absolutely mortified when my dad got home and we realized that I’d messed up.

But you know what, it’s so important for kids to have that experience in the kitchen and to learn from any mistakes made. Research shows that kids who are taught how to cook early on have better eating habits as adults!

Uncle Ben’s has a fun contest happening right now called The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest and if you have a child from kindergarten to 8th grade, make sure you check it out! It’s all about encouraging kids to cook and teaching them healthy eating habits through cooking!

I made this kid-friendly dish in remembrance of that rice that I didn’t put water in 16 or 17 years ago. It’s just like that dish I was trying to make but with broccoli cheese soup mix and bacon wrapped around the chicken! Not only is this the kind of meal my kids love (they’re weirdly obsessed with broccoli), but my 7 year old is the perfect age to help with it! He was able to mix up the rice AND wrap the bacon around the chicken. I just had to help him put it in and get it out of the oven.

He was so proud of himself for basically making an entire meal for the family!

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken and Broccoli Rice

Ingredients

1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed broccoli cheese soup
1 cup water
black pepper
3/4 cup Uncle Ben's white rice
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 - 4 slices of bacon (depending on how many chicken breasts you use)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk together the broccoli cheese soup, water, and black pepper until almost smooth. Stir in rice. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan that has been sprayed with oil.
  3. Wrap each chicken breast in a piece of bacon and nestle into the rice, making sure the bacon ends are tucked under the chicken.
  4. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. Serve hot.
http://fakeginger.com/2014/08/11/bacon-wrapped-chicken-broccoli-rice/

Cooking with your children makes for a great beginning! Visit

www.unclebens.com and click on The Ben’s Beginners™ Cooking Contest page to learn more!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Uncle Ben’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

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This recipe was inspired by my partnership with the new DreamWorks film “The Hundred Foot Journey”. 

I think if you forced me to name my favorite cuisine, it would probably be Indian.  

Growing up, my best friend was from Pakistan and her house always smelled so spicy and delicious. I can remember walking in and telling her mom how good it smelled and she said, “Oh, I’m just making lasagna!” But it was like no other lasagna I’ve ever had in my life because she’d taken all these spices I wasn’t familiar with and turned into her own creation. Anytime I walk into a Middle Eastern market nowadays, I feel like I’m 10 years old again, hanging out at my BFF’s house after school.

But anyway, Indian food is very similar to the Pakistani food my best friend’s mom cooked for us and it’s a lot easier to find an Indian restaurant than it is to find a Pakistani one so Indian food has become my favorite. 

Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my favorites Indian dishes – even my kids love it! It is basically chunks of chicken that’s marinated in spicy yogurt and then grilled. Then you mix up a spicy, creamy, delicious sauce and serve it all over rice or with fresh naan bread. It’s so good! 

As I mentioned, this recipe was inspired by the new DreamWorks film “The Hundred Foot Journey” which comes out August 8! If you haven’t seen the previews, it’s about a French restaurant and an Indian restaurant and the people that work in the two restaurants. Some of my favorite movies are food-centric so you know I am pretty excited to see The Hundred Foot Journey. I’m pretty excited about it. 

Click for the full recipe

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I call this “The Stove Saga”.

If you were around last deployment, you may remember “The A/C Saga” which is oddly similar to this one.

Okay, so I have one working burner on my stove. Is it called a burner when it’s a gas stove? I have no idea. But only one of them works.

And this happened because way back in March, my stove started ticking.

(Let it be known that at this time, I had 3 working burners.)

A really nice guy came to fix it and I was grateful that he didn’t judge me based on the amount of dust and dog hair that was behind the oven.

Buuut, by the time he was done “fixing it”, the one burner that hadn’t previously worked was the only one working.

So I’ve had one burner since then. Which isn’t TOO bad but it gets annoying. Like, I can’t boil noodles and cook sauce at the same time. What was once a 20 minute meal now takes an hour. So yeah, it’s annoying.

But I stuck it out because I always feel like the maintenance guys have better things to do. There’s probably someone on post experiencing a leak in their roof or something equally horrible and I don’t want to take the maintenance guys away from stuff like that.

I realize this is most likely some deep-rooted self-esteem issue that I should probably be discussing with a therapist and not my food blog. But whatever.

Every few weeks, I get really fed up and I call the office and tell them the story and they say they’ll call me back. And they never do.

Actually, one time they did and the women told me to call her back but the number she left wasn’t in service which just made me angrier than if she hadn’t called at all.

Well, I’m officially at my end with it. And this is pretty typical of me. I wait and wait and put up with stuff and deal with it. And then I’m done all at once. And I’m fighting back tears in a housing office filled with soldiers while my kids quack loudly because they’re amused by the echo.

Uggghhhh, Army housing.

So I’m waiting for a phonecall. Again. I’ll keep you updated.

Until it’s fixed, I’ll be using my slow cooker a lot. I made this earlier in the week and my kids gobbled it up. They said it tasted like the sweet & sour chicken they always get from our favorite Chinese place.

Click for the full recipe

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My number 1 goal for the summer was to go to the aquarium. I’ve been putting it off because it’s in Denver and Denver feels so far away. When in reality, it’s only 40 minutes. And after surviving the Epic Summer Roadtrip of 2014, I decided that a 40 minute drive was doable.

So we did the aquarium yesterday and it was awesome.

While we were standing in line to buy tickets, I noticed that the lady in front of me had a Trader Joe’s tote bag and I did the loudest internal scream. TRADER JOE’S! I’ve never even seen one!

Obviously we went there after the aquarium.

You guys, I was so underwhelmed when we got there. It’s like the size of a Walgreens.

But I quickly learned that they jam so much goodness into that little Walgreens-sized building. I bought so much meat and so many coconut products. And that pretty much sums up my diet.

That really has nothing to do with these chicken thighs but I wanted to share because I’m super excited that A) I went to Trader Joe’s! And B) I now realize that it’s only 40 minutes away and it’s totally worth it to make the drive once a month or so.

These chicken thighs are my current favorite protein. I’ve gotten into a ground turkey rut the past few months – that’s pretty much all I’ve been putting on my salads – and I was desperate to switch things up. So I started cooking these thighs once a week and then using the meat on my salads or just as a quick snack or meal. I use the Newman’s Own Lite Honey Mustard every day of my life and these are SO GOOD with it. And they’re super simple: just a quick brown on the stove and then baked for 20 minutes!

Seriously easy and seriously good.

Click for the full recipe

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Delicious homemade enchiladas made with the best canned tomatoes!

I am going through withdrawals from my favorite Mexican restaurant right now. My husband and I go ALL THE TIME but since he’s deployed, it feels kind of wrong to go by myself. So I’m toughing it out and dealing with my taco cravings and my neon margarita cravings and it’s all been pretty awful.

I was really desperate recently and had to have an enchilada. Like, I wasn’t going to make it through the day without an enchilada.

I used to always buy enchilada sauce in a can but I’ve found recently that it’s just as easy to make your own! I went to Walmart and bought some Hunt’s tomato sauce which was the base of my sauce. You just add in the spices and bam, enchilada sauce!

Hunt’s is my favorite canned tomato brand. I counted the Hunt’s diced tomatoes in my pantry just so I could share with you guys aaaaaand…. 13. Yeah, I think I have a Hunt’s diced tomatoes problem.

Hunt’s uses a really unique flashsteam peeling method that you can read about here if you’re interested.

So for my enchiladas I wanted chicken and beans. I don’t typically got for beans in my enchiladas but I just really wanted some pinto beans!

The filling is just the chicken and the beans and the sauce. That’s all wrapped in corn tortillas and rolled up. And then they are topped with more sauce and lots of cheese! I topped mine with some sour cream, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro but I really wished I’d had some avocado on hand, too.

These totally satisfied my enchilada craving and for the first time in a long time, I was actually excited about eating leftovers!

You can find more great recipes featuring Hunt’s canned tomatoes at www.hunts.com and www.readyseteat.com.

Be sure to follow Hunt’s on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, too!

Chicken and Bean Enchiladas (Summer Recipes)

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can Hunt's Tomato Sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese
sour cream, cilantro, tomatoes, olives, etc for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and salt.
  3. Pour in Hunt's Tomato Sauce and chicken broth. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and allow to cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and set aside.
  4. Stir the shredded chicken and pinto beans into the remaining sauce.
  5. To assemble, place your corn tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for about 20 seconds or until soft and pliable.
  6. Working on one tortilla at a time, spoon about 1/3 of the chicken mixture into the tortilla. Wrap up and place seam side down in the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  7. Pour the reserved sauce over top and sprinkle with the cheese.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with garnishes if desired.
http://fakeginger.com/2014/06/11/chicken-bean-enchiladas/

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