Crispy Baked Buttermilk Chicken Breasts

This is a super delicious (and healthy!) chicken recipe.  It's a cinch to make & definitely a crowd pleaser!  Marinating the chicken in buttermilk keeps it tender & juicy as well as giving it a mildly tangy flavor.  The panko coating is light & crispy.  Yum!  Another plus- this is cooked in the oven, so no mess on the stove top!
1 1/2-2 cups Buttermilk
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 cups of Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp dried Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place the chicken breasts in a bowl.
Pour the buttermilk over the chicken breasts, flipping to coat well.  Cover & place in the refrigerate to marinate for 1 hour (or up to over night).
To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a shallow bowl, combine the Panko bread crumbs with all the seasonings.  
The chicken breasts will plump up some from absorbing some of the buttermilk after marinating. 
Using tongs, take 1 piece of chicken out of the butter milk (letting the excess drip off) & place in the panko mixture.  Turn to coat well. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken.
Spray a casserole dish or sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. 
Place the panko coated chicken breasts into the baking dish.  Lightly spray the top of each breast with the nonstick spray.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Classic Potato Salad

Everyone has there favorite potato salad.  This is our favorite, classic version.  Perfect for any picnic or back yard cook out!  To me, the secret to really good potato salad is to get the potatoes fully cooked but not mushy.  I boil them in water just until they are fork tender then drain & let them steam to finish cooking .  A method I learned from Ina Garten, my favorite of course!
3 lbs (approx) of small- medium sized White Potatoes (I used 9), scrubbed clean
4 Hard Boiled Eggs, chopped (optional)
3/4-1 cup of Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tbsp Yellow Mustard
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 1/2-2 tbsp Sweet Pickle Relish
3-4 Green Onions, chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place cleaned potatoes (whole with skin on) in a large pot & cover with cold water.     
 With the lid on, bring the water to a boil over high heat.  When the water started to boil, remove the lid & lower the heat to a simmer (medium heat).  Cook the potatoes until just barely fork tender, about 15 minutes.
 Drain the potatoes in a metal colander & place the colander back over the warm pot with the burner turned off. 
Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel & let the potatoes steam for 15-20 minutes or until cool enough to touch.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard's. & relish.  Season with a little salt & pepper.
When the potatoes are cool enough half or quarter, depending on their size, & add to the dressing.
Fold in the green onions & chopped eggs (if using).
Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator. 
This recipe makes 6-8 side servings.

Cookies & Cream Mini Cheesecakes

I love these little cheesecakes!  They are deliciously cute & so easy to make.  The ease of using a whole cookie for the crust is a plus in itself.  But the richness of the cookie paired with cheesecake is truly a match made in heaven!  The perfectionist in me cringes every time I make cheesecake.  No matter what I do it always seems to crack on the top.  But not these little cuties.  They come out perfect every time!    The original recipe is from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Book (thanks Martha!).  The whole recipe makes 30 (or so) mini cheesecakes & can easily be halved. 
42 Oreo Cookies- 30 whole & 12 coarsely chopped
2 lbs Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup Sour Cream
pinch of Salt

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees & get out a package of Oreo cookies.
Line standard sized muffin tins with paper liners.
Place a whole Oreo cookie in the bottom of each liner.
In a zip lock bag, add 12 cookies & crush. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium- high speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Gradually add the sugar & beat until combined. Then beat in the vanilla.
Drizzle in the lightly beaten eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine & scraping down the bowl as needed.  Beat in the sour cream & salt.
Fold in the chopped cookies using a rubber spatula.
Evenly divide the batter into the lined tins, filling almost to the top.
Bake, rotating half way through, until the filling is set, about 22 minutes. 
Cool completely then refrigerate for 4 hours or over night. 

Mexican Rice

This is a good, basic Mexican Rice recipe.  It's simple & easy to prepare.  I make it for filling in burritos & to serve as a side with enchiladas, tacos, etc.  You can add in veggies- some times I switch it up by adding frozen corn & peas or sauteed peppers!  Add some fresh chopped cilantro if you like; this recipe is so versatile.  Make it to suit your favorite Mexican flavors!   
1 cup Long Grain White Rice
2 cups Water
1 envelope of Goya Sazon Seasoning (Use 2 for extra flavor!)
1 Chicken Flavor Bouillon cube
Olive Olive
1-2 Chopped Green Onions (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. 
 Heat the olive oil to medium heat, and add in the rice. 
 Cook the rice oven medium heat, stirring often until it is a golden brown color.
 This usually takes about 5 minutes.
This is the Goya Sazon seasoning that I use.  A wonderful friend of mine introduced me to it & we love it!  You can find it in the Hispanic section of nearly every grocery store. 
 When the rice is browned, add in the water, bouillon & Sazon seasoning. I like to add 2 Sazon packets for extra flavor, especially when I'm adding in frozen veggies!  
 Stir to combine, then cover & reduce the heat to low. 
 Cook on low, covered for about 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.
Using a fork, lightly fluff the rice.
 You want to make sure you don't stir it too much, just toss it around with the fork. 
 Add in the chopped green onions. 
 Toss again with the fork & serve! 
This makes about 3 cups of cooked rice.