A 14-year-old birthday girl's favorite foods

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Our daughter is celebrating her birthday, and we are excited to have a 14-year-old in the house. Lexie is adventurous in the culinary world. She enjoys trying new ingredients and new recipes and does not snack like most teenagers. For snacks she likes what she calls "real food," just in small quantities. Therefore, I need to have cooked items on hand that she can warm up for after-school snacks or a second meal of the evening.

Ranch-Style Chicken

This chicken recipe is one she likes to have ready to warm over and dip in ranch dressing.

1 cup corn flake crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon or to taste from an envelope of Good Seasoned Italian Salad Dressing mix

1/4 cup prepared bottled ranch salad dressing

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Cut chicken breasts into long strips, about 4 per breast. Place in a plastic zip-top bag along with the bottled salad dressing. Move chicken and dressing around to coat well. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, combine all dry ingredients and place in an empty pie plate. Remove chicken from dressing, dredge in dry mixture and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until all chicken strips are coated. If any dry mixture remains, sprinkle over chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with additional bottled ranch dressing for dipping.

You may also do chunks or nuggets, and bake those 12 to 15 minutes.

Lexie's Favorite Salad

Lexie loves salad, and this is her favorite combination. She takes it in her lunch for school quite often and has gotten some of her friends to start eating salad.

Butter head lettuce, torn into small pieces

Romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces

1 package dry Parmesan cheese-filled tortellini, cooked, rinsed and chilled

Crisp cooked bacon pieces, crumbled

Green onion tops, sliced

Dried cranberries

Toasted pecans

Shredded Parmesan cheese

Grape tomatoes

Poppy seed dressing (select a good quality dressing)

Toss all together. Use more or less of what you like. Be careful not to overdress the salad just before serving.

People Chow

Lexie makes a double batch of People Chow cereal snack mix every week, and she takes it in her lunch for dessert and to have as a quick on-the-go snack while we travel to all of her brother's basketball games.

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 (12-ounce) box Crispix cereal

1 pound powdered sugar

Melt chocolate chips in a large bowl in the microwave, stirring until all are smooth and melted. Add peanut butter and stir well. Add cereal and turn and fold carefully until all are coated. (We use a large rubber spatula and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as we turn the cereal). Add powdered sugar and continue this same folding and turning method. Bag and refrigerate for cool snack.

Oriental Chicken Wings

Lexie loves chicken wings of any flavor. When we were in New York all she wanted to do was go to Buffalo and eat chicken wings at the Anchor Bar and Grill, home of the original buffalo chicken wings. We did, which fueled her passion for chicken wings. I have many wing recipes now, but she really likes any of the Oriental/Asian-style ones. I bake a double batch of wings, and she will heat up 4 or 5 of them as a snack after school.

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken drumettes (first joint of wing)

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Put drumettes in large zip-top bag. Combine remaining ingredients except sesame seeds. Pour over wings; seal and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to several hours, turning bag to coat wings occasionally. Spray a shallow baking pan with non-stick spray, or line entire cooking surface of pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Put wings, including marinade, in prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning wings occasionally. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake 15 minutes longer.

Easy Italian Coconut Cream Cupcakes

One of Lexie's favorite desserts is Italian Coconut Cream cake. It is easy to make them into cupcakes and store them for her to have individual servings, and not a whole big cake sitting around.

1 (18 1/4-ounce) white cake mix

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding

1 1/2 cups water

4 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups flaked coconut

Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 pounds powdered sugar

1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixer bowl add the cake mix, vanilla pudding, water, eggs and oil. With electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Fold in the chopped nuts and coconut. Divide batter evenly among cupcake pans lined with paper cups, sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Bake approximately 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Tops should be golden brown. Cool in pans about 10 minutes then cool completely on wire racks.

Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. Gradually add in powdered sugar, mix on low speed until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Pipe onto cupcakes and garnish with coconut flakes and pecans.

I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse of some of the birthday girl's favorite recipes.

Have a great week and, until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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