Chicken MacArthur (A Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives experiment)

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Chicken Dishes, January 2012, Main Course


I love Guy Fieri.

He may be a little overweight (I like my men husky!), have bad hair (bleach white blond looks good on no one) and at times can be slightly loud and obnoxious, but still I seriously LOVE that man. I get a little belly flutter when he is on my tv screen. I giggle like a school girl when he says “That’s bananas. And bananas is GOOD!” He IS my ugly, sexy, fantasy man.

So I have an 80 hour PVR in my livingroom. Approximately 30 hours of that is dedicated to protected episodes of DDD (for those of you NOT in the know….that stands for Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) Guy Fieri’s show on The Food Network.

Now I am presently having an issue. I am getting FibreOp installed in a week. Because if this, after the installation I will no longer have these shows at my fingertips so I have started going through my beloved DDD episodes and writing down the recipes I want to try. There are dozens…possibly tens of dozens.

One of the ones that stuck out most is called ‘Chicken MacArthur’. Mr Fieri, Guy…or the future Mr Erin Cooper if you will (once he divorces his current wife) came across this dish in Richmond, Virginia at a little restaurant called Dot’s Back Inn. Not a huge fancy establishment but a quaint place that in Guys own words is a “…small little non descript joint with TONS of custom built food.” Just my kind of place.

They named this pasta dish after the road the restaurant is on. Not overly ingenious…but it works and has a nice ring to it. And just WAIT until you taste it. Seriously has an amazing taste and is just popping with flavor. I did make a few modifications but I don’t think it was enough to seriously change the overall taste of the dish…it just enhanced or added a bit to it.

What you will need:

ingredients for Chicken MacArthur

Choice of pasta (this time I used fresh made spaghetti. I will NOT use this next time. Became a bit mushy. Next time I will use dried linguini. Still rather thin but would retain a little “bite” to it when cooked al dente.)

Chicken (recipe called for boneless skinless breast…I had boneless skinless thigh. Use whatcha got! Cut in strips.)

5 Tbsps Olive Oil

1/2 cup White wine

salt and pepper

white onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

tomato, chopped

canned artichoke heart, chopped

green onion, chopped

feta cheese

fresh parmesan cheese

I added:

8 button mushrooms, sliced

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (for a little spice)

1/2 cup chicken stock


Start by adding the olive oil to your pan and turn to medium heat. Once the oil is hot add your sliced onion and garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Cook for about a minute stirring constantly.

onions garlic olive oil

Add your chicken, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper.


Add the mushrooms, the wine and the chicken stock…

mushrooms white wine chicken stock

let it stew for a few minutes.

chicken MacArthur

Add the artichoke heart…

canned artichoke heart


chicken MacArthur with artichoke

and again let it stew for a bit, about 5 minutes or so. At this point I thought the sauce looked a little dry so I added a bit more olive oil and a bit more chicken stock.

simmering MacArthur sauce

Meanwhile in a pot, prepare your pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked add it to the pan with your “sauce” and add the crumbled feta cheese.

Place it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. This is to slightly melt the feta and to reheat the pasta if you prepared it in advance.

When you take the pan out of the oven, add the chopped tomatoes and toss together. Plate the pasta and top with chopped green onion and parmesan cheese.

finished dish Chicken MacArthur



This was fricken awesome. Just like a pasta dish you would get in a fancy schmancy restaurant. Most of the ingredients I have on hand all the time so its super easy to throw together and it only took about 25 minutes from start to finish. What could be better then that?

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and please let me know what you think!!

There will be approximately 87 more Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives recipes to come in the future…lets take the journey together.


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick











Cookies & Cream cupcakes

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Desserts, January 2012


I have to start by saying…..what have I gotten myself into and Oh Em Gee!!!! These were so incredibly delicious!!!

My favorite so far on my little cupcake adventure (even though my sister disagrees…she still liked the PB ones better).

I found a recipe I had for chocolate cake and I think it was my Nanny Coopers (but i’m not certain). It was a hot water chocolate cake which makes it super moist and I just adjusted the baking time for cupcakes.

I still want to make lemon curd filled cupcakes, a salted caramel cupcake, a peach bellini cupcake and some type of cupcake with wild blueberries….but I think my ass needs a break from all these wee cakey goodnesses. Me drawers are getting a bit tight.

Until I start creating again, I will post this recipe and I still have the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake one to post as well. Just because I need to rein in some restraint doesn’t mean YOU have to! 🙂


What you will need:

for the Cake:

  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsps white granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl sift together your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk in your sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together your eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon (not sure why the wooden spoon is required but that’s what the recipe says and Nanny can’t be wrong. If you are not in possession of a wooden spoon go borrow one or go outside…break off a branch from the nearest tree and quickly whittle one.)

Add the boiling water and stir JUST to combine. Do not over work the batter. Don’t worry if the batter looks thin…its supposed to.

Pour batter into cupcake tin lined with paper liners. I used a measuring cup to pour the batter in…it made the least amount of mess.Only fill the liner 3/4 full of batter….these babies puff up!

Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before attempting to frost.


For the Icing you will need:

1/4 cup softened butter

1 8 ounce container mascarpone, at room temperature

3 Tbsps Crisco shortening

1/4 cup of Oreo cookie crumbs (I get these at the Bulk Barn)

2 Tbsps of Fluff

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


With a hand blender mix together the butter, mascarpone, shortening, vanilla and fluff.


Add the icing sugar and mix until its the proper consistency for piping. If you need a little less sugar, so be it…if you need a little more, OK!

Fold in the cookie crumbs and do not over blend. If you do your icing will turn grey! Pipe onto your cooled cakes.

For aesthetics, I decided to take an Oreo cookie and cut it in 4 pieces and place 1 piece…cut side down…into the frosting.


Ok….it was PARTIALLY due to aesthetics and partially cause i’m cheap. I wanted to use a whole mini Oreo cookie but DAMN those things are expensive!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! And as much my family did! And as much as my co-workers did!


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick






Strawberry Shortcake cupcakes

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Desserts, January 2012


In town there is a quaint little cupcakery that sells divine cupcakes. I have 2 slight problems with this place.

A. Its too far away. Not close enough to home for me to get a sugar fix often. Its not even close to where I work!

B. Its soooo expensive. 1 little cupcake costs $3, 6 for $14 or a mere $25 for a dozen!


I understand that there is a market for these wee little yummy cakes however the last time I visited the shop I had a Cookies & Cream cupcake and thought to myself “I can make these”. So I have taken it upon myself to try and make some.Keep in mind I do NOT call myself a baker…I can cook…baking has always eluded me. Its hard! So precise.

In the past couple of weeks I have made Strawberry Shortcake cupcakes and Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes.

The first post will be on MY favorite…the Strawberry Shortcake. Oh. My. Goodness. These are seriously delicious. Not super difficult but have a few extra steps then just the typical cupcake. Believe me, its worth it! Stick with me.

I spent a good 4 hours googling recipes. I think the recipe I found was not only the most delicious sounding but had the prettiest pictures to go along with it and dammit, that is how I select my recipes. The best picture. It could taste like crap but if it has a great pic….i’m in!

So I found the recipe on this blog:

Its a GREAT blog for all things cupcake. 2 ladies driving around trying out different cupcakes at different shops (obviously in a larger city than I…we only have one…that I know of!) and then replicating them (or making them even BETTER) at home. Kudos to them!

Now I believe they ALSO snagged the recipe for the vanilla cake.

So here is what you need to make Magnolia Bakery’s cake:

cake ingredients

Vanilla Cake

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (I didn’t have unsalted…so I used salted BLASPHEMY!)

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with liners.

In a bowl mix together the flours and set aside.


In your mixmaster cream butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

butter sugar vanilla eggs

Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with milk and vanilla. Beat until ingredients are mixed but don’t overbeat or your cake will be tough.


Divide batter into cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Insert a toothpick into center of cake and if it comes out clean the cakes are done.

batter in cups

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool at LEAST 15 minutes before going to the next step.

cakes are done


For the filling you’ll need:

ingredients for the filling

Strawberry Filling

1 cup strawberry puree (thawed frozen strawberries in the food processor)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup diced, fresh strawberries


Heat the puree and the sugar in a saucepan on high until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice and remove from heat.

puree and sugar

Add the diced strawberries and chill until set.

add diced berries

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting

you’ll need:

ingredients for frosting

1/4 cup softened butter Add Image

1 8 ounce container mascarpone, at room temperature

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, pureed

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

2-3 cups powdered sugar( I ended up using around 4 1/2 cups in order to get it to the proper consistency)

2 Tbsps Crisco shortening


Cream the butter, shortening and mascarpone cheese in mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

butter mascarpone shortening

Add puree and jam, mix.

icing with puree and jam

Add powdered sugar until it reaches the right consistency for piping.

strawberry frosting


Now comes the fun part!

Take a small knife or apple corer and take a small piece out of the center of the cooled vanilla cake. Add filling and replace the button of cake that was removed.

filling the cupcakes


Add your frosting to the piping bag with your choice of tip (you can also use a heavy duty Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off). Add the frosting to your cake!

iced cupcakes

Now I found the icing to get a smidge runny (might have been the heat in the kitchen) so I put the cakes in the fridge. They are perfect! Delicious! Worth every moment of making them!

finished cake

I hope you enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

My Chocolate Christmas Balls (Peanut Butter)

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Desserts, January 2012


I have been told by a few people that I make the best Peanut Butter Balls they have ever had. One of my very best friends, Jenn, says she will never use another recipe for as long as she lives. I think that is a damn good compliment (Thanks Jenny-Penny!) so I thought I would share the recipe with all of you.

I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no idea where this recipe came from. I have been making these every single Christmas for as long as I can remember. At least since 1993. Before ’93 apparently is a blur. 🙂

Peanut Butter balls are a little labor intensive and a bit of a bother, like most balls can be (get your minds out of the gutter….although you are right on that count as well) but are totally worth it when you get the end result. Ok….you are right again.

After many years I have found freezing your balls (this is just getting comical now. I feel like Beavis or Butthead) makes dipping them easier. I’m going to quit now since I have reverted to a 12 year old, laughing and crying whilst typing. I’m just going to post the recipe and pictures. If you have any questions just ask. This immature, hysterical 12 year old will answer your questions once she gets back from chasing boys, reading her ‘Teen Beat’ and studying for the math exam.

What you will need:

1 cup of smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup of butter or margarine (softened)

1 cup of icing sugar

1 cup of Rice Krispies

Milk Chocolate




Mix together the peanut butter, butter and icing sugar.

Add the Rice Krispies.

Form into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper. Freeze for a few hours or overnight if possible.

One of my secrets is to keep a little bowl of icing sugar and to keep adding sugar to my hands while rolling the balls so the peanut butter mixture doesn’t gum up my hands too much. After every 20-30 balls I wash my hands and re-sugar them.

In a double boiler (so you don’t scorch or burn it) melt the chocolate and a just a bit of wax (if you have it….if you don’t no worries. I haven’t been able to find the little balls of Para-Wax for a few years now and I don’t find it make a whole lot of difference unless the balls are at room temperature for a long time. They melt faster without the wax)

Drop the balls one or two at a time in the chocolate and move around with a fork until coated.

Lift out

Place on wax paper and add desired decorations.


Return to freezer to harden.


These do not last long in my house. I make around 5-7 dozen balls every year and usually by New Years my stash is running low.


I hope your family likes my balls as much as I do! (Sorry….I just had to go there 1 more time)



love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Orange-Ginger, Knock-Off, Take-Out Chicken!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Chicken Dishes, January 2012, Main Course



First post of 2012….so happy to still be blogging, so happy to still LOVE trying out new recipes and TRULY happy to have readers….return visitors and new ones! Welcome all!


My wonderful Mama gets me a subscription to a wonderful magazine, ‘Taste of Home’, every year for Christmas and this year was no different. Thanks Mom!

I had received my holiday issue a few days before the holidays began and it took up residence in my big-a$$ purse. I forgot about it in there (that tells you how large my purse really is!) until one day at work it was quiet on the phones and I decided to clean out the monstrosity I call my “bag”. Needless to say I still need to clean out the purse and instead I slowly flipped through the glossy pages of glorious recipe after recipe after recipe. I always scan the pages to see what grabs my fancy first, then go back through to do the hidden item search (i LOVE games!), then go through again to dog ear the recipes I want to try and lastly I read the articles! There are only 4 issues per year so I need to make it last!

In this issue what jumped off the page at me first, was a recipe for Orange Ginger Chicken. The picture looked awesome and this is what makes me want to eat it! Hence the reason why I make sure to include lots of pictures for you guys along the way.

I realized that I had all the ingredients at home already except the chicken thighs. So I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to pick some up. The chicken thighs were ridiculously expensive so instead I bought boneless, skinless chicken tenders. Not sure if that is what they are ACTUALLY called but it is the skinny fillets of breast meat. They worked great as well so feel free to substitute.

What you will need:

ingredients for Orange Ginger chicken

Chicken (boneless…thighs or breast), the recipe calls for 6 boneless thighs cubed. I used about 8 tenders and wished I had more sauce.

salt and pepper, just to season the chicken…about a 1/8 tsp of each

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3-4 Tbsps vegetable oil (for frying)

1/2 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup of orange marmalade

2 Tbsps soy sauce

2 Tbsps honey

1/2 to 1 tsp ground ginger (I used 1-2 tsps FRESH grated ginger and wished I added more…I like ginger!)

Optional garnishes: thin sliced green onion and sesame seeds


Season the chicken with salt and pepper

raw chicken seasoned with salt and pepper

Add the chicken to the flour, in a bowl or Ziploc bag

Shake or toss to coat

chicken in flour

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium and add the chicken (a few pieces at a time) and cook until no longer pink. About 5 minutes.

floured chicken frying

Remove and keep warm in a low temperature oven

warming chicken

In the same skillet, combine juice, marmalade, soy sauce, honey and ginger

orange ginger sauce

Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (about another 5 minutes)

sauce boiling and thickening

Return the chicken to the pan

chicken in sauce

Toss to coat the chicken in sauce

fried chicken coated in orange ginger sauce

Serve over rice (basmati is my favorite!) and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds

Orange Ginger chicken finished dish

Looks JUST like the picture!!!

looks just like the picture

I absolutely LOVED this recipe. I will make it again…maybe next week! I have been eating it for lunch at work and have been RAVING about it. Now that i’ve blogged it the ladies I sit with can stop asking for the recipe! Here you go Wendy, Joy, Jen and Steph!!!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick