Spicy Chicken and Spinach

Boy do I owe this recipe an apology. 

This dish is tweaked and based on a recipe I've had sitting in a very well used 3-ring-binder for ten years.  Yes....  10. Years.  And I've flipped past it, never made it because the list of ingredients seemed so boring, so common and so blah, that I didn't give it the time of day.  Today that changed.

It started simply enough.  I grabbed two Ziploc packages of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the freezer, popped them into my electric skillet on 300 degrees and let them cook while I did other things.  When they were cooked I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, so I flipped open one of my kazillion 3-ring binders where I have old recipes hand written, printed, ripped out of old magazines, etc.  And my eyes fell on a very boring looking chicken and spinach casserole recipe.  It only caught my attention because it called for 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken (which I had in front of me) and spinach... which is currently my 18 year old daughter's favorite vegetable that she can't get enough of.

I added a bunch of jalapenos, some salsa (because I made homemade fresh salsa a few days ago and wanted to use it up), some red and orange peppers and viola!  I taste tested it before it was even heated through, loved it so much, I immediately (yes, immediately)  made a second batch to put in the freezer for a future dinner.  I am also going to copy it right now to send the link to my oldest daughter to add to her 'whip this up for dinner' and it's "soooo good" file.

Spicy Chicken and Spinach

3 cups cooked, diced chicken
10 oz. pk. frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 T butter
1/2 c jalapeno slices (canned) or 2 small jalapeno's fresh (increase, decrease)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c sour cream
1 1/2 c salsa or 14 oz. can diced tomatoes w/ peppers, onions, garlic, salt and lime juice mixed in to taste
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 c cheddar cheese

Mix the chicken and spinach in a casserole dish.  Saute' the onion and pepper in butter until tender.  Add the jalapenos, mix and add to the chicken/spinach.  Heat the salsa (or the tomato/onion/pepper/garlic/lime/salt) in a pan.  Add the cream cheese and heat through.  Pour over the chicken mixture.  Add the sour cream, spices and cheese.  Mix and bake at 350 until heated through and bubbly or microwave if you are in a hurry or don't want to heat up the kitchen.

I tasted it at this stage;  pre-cream cheese and sour cream and salsa and it was amazing already!
I would even venture to make this and serve as it is;  without the cheeses as a lighter alternative.


Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies! (And an option for grain free, sugarfree versions too!)

If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies, I can't imagine you haven't made the oh-so-simple three ingredient version that not only has every Great Grandmother (in the US at least), but pretty much, almost every 8 year old has made as well.  (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 egg... make into balls, flatten and bake at 350 for about 9 minutes.)  I'm not a fan of peanut butter, but my family is so I made them... but like every other recipe I ever make, I always tweak, embellish, change it a bit.  Whenever I made that simplistic version I always added some vanilla at the very least, and usually used half white, half brown sugar.

This recipe is similar - very basic, but with a few more additions than just the 3.   The thing is, this is a regular peanut butter cookie recipe without flour or grains... but I went a step further and used natural sweeteners that make it sugar free as well.  The only sugar in this cookie (if you make it with natural sweeteners) is whatever sugar grams are in your favorite peanut butter. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute sweetener)
1/2 c granulated sugar  (or granulated sugar substitute)
5-10 drops liquid sweetener IF you are using Xyliol or other natural sweetener in place of sugar & like them sweet
1 egg
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Mix in a bowl until smooth.  Chill dough for easier handling and less spreading.  Form balls of your favorite size cookie and bake on parchment at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets at least 3 minutes before moving to racks to cool complete. These can be more crumbly in texture than the sort with flour (especially in the summer when the humidity is high), but after they are cool I put 3 cookies each in individual baggies and keep them in the refrigerator or freezing for easy "grab and go".   

*I've made these with Splenda back in the early 2000's before other natural sweeteners were available and since then have made them with various natural sugar substitutes.  I like to use Ideal brand for the best flavor.  If you taste test the dough, you can add more or less sweetener to your own preference.  I've also made these into balls and dipped the tops in granulated sugar substitute before baking. 
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