Thursday, December 13, 2012

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

At last, I finally found my perfect chili recipe. I always thought cooking chili was an art that only those who perfected over time were able to gloat about. But alas, I made it once, and I am gloating. This was the best chili I have ever had.

At first glance, the list of ingredients looks daunting, but it is really just a “pinch of this,” “a can of that.” Combined with the fact that it is healthy, hearty, and delicious, it is the perfect winter meal. Next go around, I plan to triple to recipe, share some with my family and store the rest away in the freezer for that cold winter night when I really don’t feel like cooking (like tonight!).

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Serves 6

1 pound lean ground turkey breast, approximately 93% lean
1 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon dry, rubbed sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, no salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Kosher or sea salt to taste
2 cups water
Shredded cheese

**Depending on your taste, add more of less of the paprika, chili powder and red pepper flakes.**

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cook turkey mixture in a large skillet on medium heat, breaking up turkey into small pieces, cook until no longer pink.
  3. Drain off any fat, add turkey to slow cooker along with all remaining ingredients.
  4. Add cooked meat and all other above ingredients to slow cooker,
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. Sprinkle with shredded cheese before serving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings

Apparently chicken and dumplings is a classic comfort food dish… or so says my boyfriend. Neither I nor anyone else I know has ever tried it, but I must say I've been missing out. It was probably the messiest dish I have ever made (it didn't help that I had scoured my kitchen just that morning), but the end result made for some delicious, stick to your ribs, goodness.

We had some friends over for a post-Hurricane Sandy dinner and movie night. I asked my boyfriend a few days prior what he wanted for dinner and he immediately blurted out chicken and dumplings. I was puzzled that that is the first thing he came up with and that I had never really heard of that. But since he was so adamant on that being served, I had no choice. How hard could it be, right?

I immediately Googled the recipe and found Paula Dean’s version … obvious choice for a comfort food dish. The recipe looked pretty simple, so I gave it a shot. My one friend and I decided to tag-team dinner while the men sat on the couch and watched the Notre Dame game. It started out easy, cooking a whole chicken for 40 minutes and adding the standard veggies. But then came the dumplings… they were huge and took forever to cook through. Then the gravy wasn't getting thick.  Then I realized I put one too many packets of bouillon in the mix so it was really salty. Then there was the endless banter from my boyfriend asking how it was going in there as I am covered in flour. But finally the hard work paid off. The crowd of hungry guests enjoyed it and I felt good for accomplishing one of my hardest recipes to-date.

This is a great meal to store for those cold winter nights when you don’t feel like cooking. There were about 2 servings left over that I was able to store away in the freezer. I would definitely recommend making this when you have a lot of time on your hands and don’t have to worry about hungry men breathing down your neck!

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Chicken and Dumplings
Serves 8

4 lb chicken
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tsp. salt, black pepper, garlic powder combined
2 cans condensed cream of celery or cream of chicken soup

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Ice water
  1. Place the chicken, celery, onion, bay leaves, bouillon and House Seasoning in a large pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover the chicken fully.
  3. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot. Keep warm over low heat.
  5. To prepare the dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt and mound together in a mixing bowl.
  6. Beginning at the center of the mound, drizzle a small amount of ice water over the flour. Using your fingers, and moving from the center to the sides of the bowl, gradually incorporate about 3/4 cup of ice water. 
  7. Knead the dough and form it into ball.
  8. Dust a good amount of flour onto a clean work surface. Roll out the dough (it will be firm), working from center to 1/8-inch thick.
  9. Let the dough relax for several minutes.
  10. Add the cream of celery soup to the pot with the chicken and simmer gently over medium-low heat.
  11. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Pull a piece in half, roll into balls and drop into the simmering soup. Repeat.
  12. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly.
  13. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes. I recommend testing one to make sure they are cooked thoroughly.
  14. To serve, ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls.

Note: If the chicken stew is too thin it can be thickened before the dumplings are added. Simply mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water then whisk the mixture into the stew.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Panko Crusted Salmon

I'll be honest...I'm not a huge salmon fan, but it is so easy (and cheap) to cook that it makes me want to be! This recipe may have changed my feeling about America's favorite fish. Even though it was so simple and made with ingredients from my pantry, it felt very gourmet because of the cooking technique.

My sister, mom and I are obsessed with Ina Garten a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa. Whenever there is that slight chance I am home early on a weekday, I always make sure to catch her show on the Food Network. If I am not lucky enough to, my mother will surely send me a recipe that she thinks I would like. This recipe came from her episode "How Easy Is That" and I couldn't think of a more fitting name!

I never would have imagined putting dijon mustard on salmon before. Call me crazy, but I don't picture the two together. I was shocked on first bite when the two absolutely went together perfectly. And the skin, oh the skin! Normally fish skin creeps me out and I end up pushing it to the side. Yet by pan searing it for a few minutes, it becomes this delicious crust that I know can't imagine living without.

My sister sent this recipe to me and called it the "perfect weeknight meal" and indeed it was. I made it on one  of those nights I really had no desire to cook (shocking, I know) and was trying to find something easy yet delicious. Turned out the boyfriend loved it so much, he told me I was no longer allowed to make salmon any other way. I'd consider that a successful weeknight dinner.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook Time: around 20 minutes

Panko Crusted Salmon
Serves 4

  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
  3. Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large heavy, ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin.
  5. Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mangia! Mangia! An Italian Culinary Adventure

This past month has been a whirlwind for me. Between changing jobs (and careers); moving to Princeton, NJ with my boyfriend; and traveling to France and Italy for 17 days, I am exhausted. Lucky for me, all of this chaos was positive and enjoyable.

Me overwhelmed by a Florentine steak for 2!
Grapes on the vine near Greve, Chianti
Antipasti mixto plate (prosciutto and salami)
I could go on and on about how wonderful the food was in France, especially since it is one of my favorite types of cuisine, but the focus on this post will be Italian cuisine. I will be honest and say before planning this trip, Italy was never at the top of my vacation destination list. Now, no pasta, "gravy," olive oil, or cured meats will ever compare.

I can't get the delicious food off of my mind, and because of that I am challenging myself to replicate some of my favorites. This Irish girl is going to learn how to make authentic Italian pasta sauce, dry-age meat to be as flavorful as a Florentine steak, and make pasta by hand then cook it to be perfectly al dente.

Lunch at La Mescita Fiaschetteria in Florence

I will keep you updated as I test out my faux-Italian cooking skills and see if I will ever be able to recreate some of the best meals of my entire life.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Panko Crusted Fish Tacos

I have been dying for fish tacos practically the entire summer. I ordered them at a few restaurants, but they never lived up to my expectations. So I decided with only a few days left of summer, I had to make fish tacos the way that I envisioned them. Needless to say, they were perfect.

I am a diehard advocate of panko breadcrumbs. The crunch is incomparable to any other breadcrumbs I've ever tried. Besides for the great crunch you get from the panko breadcrumbs, the fresh red cabbage slaw is the perfect balance between the kick of the chipotle and the mildness of the fish.

For this recipe, I used talapia. Normally I am not a huge fan of this fish, but it seemed to work the best (and happened to be the cheapest). This could easily be replicated using any other kind of mild, white fish. It is best to use a mild fish as you don't want the salty, fish taste overwhelming the chipotle sauce.

I honestly think this may be my favorite meal I've cooked all year. Sure, my need for good fish tacos probably played in to this; but the flavors all came together so perfectly that even today as I write this I still can't get that dinner out of my head.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 6-7 minutes

Panko Crusted Fish Tacos
Serves 4

4 fillets of talapia (1/2 fillet per taco)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Chili paste (amount depends on taste)
2 eggs
Chipotle powder
1/2 cup of flour
Olive oil
Soft tortillas
1 lime

Red Cabbage Slaw
1/2 head of red cabbage
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of honey (or sugar)
Pinch of celery seed

Chipotle Cream Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chili paste
Juice of 1 lime
Chipotle powder (to taste)

  1. Chop up red cabbage into thin strips then mix all ingredients together. Put aside for serving later.
  2. Mix together ingredients for chipotle cream sauce and refrigerate until serving.
  3. Heat up oil in a skillet until it is at medium high heat.
  4. In three separate dishes combine panko breadcrumbs with some chipotle powder; 2 eggs with chili paste (1 tsp works); and flour with some salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the fillets into two strips lengthwise, then cut in half horizontally.
  6. Dip the talapia fillets in each of the dishes and get a nice thick coating on the pieces.
  7. Add the talapia pieces to the skillet making sure not to overcrowd. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side.
  8. Set your talapia into the middle of the taco and top with chipotle cream sauce and red cabbage slaw. Squeeze a slice of lime onto each taco for a little extra zest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soy Marinated Pork Tenderloin

I must admit, I'm not a big pork eater, so I don't cook it often. But there comes a time when you just can't eat chicken anymore for fear of turning into one! Like most things I cook, this was relatively easy to make, but didn't lack on flavor one bit. I probably could have cooked it one or two minutes longer and it would have been even more juicy and tender than it already was, but I don't like to mess around when it comes to pork or chicken!

This was a great weeknight meal because it needs to be marinated ahead of time, so you can either prepare it the night before, or when you get home from work and continue on taking care of other things. I served it with a simple side of garlic parmesan risotto and fresh sauteed green beans from the local farmer's market.

Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Soy Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Serves 3-4 (depending on who's eating it!)

1⁄2 cups olive oil
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp srichacha
1⁄4 cup red wine or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp fresh parsley or Italian seasoning
2 tsp dry mustard
Black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lb pork tenderloin

Pan Drippings
Pan scrapings from pork tenderloin
1/2 cup of chicken broth
3 tbsp of marinade
2 tsp butter
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place marinade and pork tenderloin in gallon size Ziploc bag and marinade overnight or for 3-4 hours. Remove pork tenderloin from marinade and reserve 3 tbsp of the marinade
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, sear each side of the tenderloin for 2-3 minutes to give it a nice crust
  4. Transfer to a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the meat reaches a temperature of 160 degrees
  5. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing
  6. Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the chicken broth, pan scrapings and marinade. Let it boil down for 2-3 minutes then add the butter
  7. Remove from the stove and mix thoroughly until the butter is melted
  8. Pour over the pork and serve along with the green beans and risotto

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs

Amateur Chef confession - I have never made deviled eggs before. I've always been a huge fan of deviled eggs (and devoured them whenever someone brought them to a party), but I always thought they were really difficult to make. Alas, I attempted them this weekend for a family pool party and was surprised that something so delicious was so easy to make!
It's funny how you add bacon to something and it is instantly 10 times better. This is definitely the case with this take on deviled eggs. Eventhough the traditional form is delicious in its own right, adding bacon and cheese to the yolk and mustard mix kicked this recipe up a notch. The great thing about this was I didn't even have to take a trip to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. I always have shredded cheese and bacon on hand and just happened to have a surplus of eggs lying around.

I also should add here that my boyfriend (king of hard boiled eggs) shared with me his secret recipe for making the perfect hard boiled egg and yes, they were perfect. I thought about sharing it with you, my readers, but figured it's best to keep a few tricks to myself!

Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs
Makes 24

12 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 strips of bacon, cooked, and crumbled
2 tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Parsley or chives for garnish

  1. Cook hard boiled eggs and peel. Let cool.
  2. Cook bacon until very crispy. Let cool, then crumble.
  3. Halve eggs lengthwise. Spoon out yolks into bowl. Reserve whites.
  4. Mash yolks with fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Fold in bacon and cheese.
  5. Fill each half egg white with yolk mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Top with garnish.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cheesy Jalapeño Stuffed Chicken

Holy cheesy goodness was this meal amazing! I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Skinnytaste. I really could not believe that something this cheesy and delicious could be considered healthy, but alas it was only 371 calories for 2 breasts. Nothing more I like than eating healthy and delicious at the same time.

To top it all off, it was super easy! The prep work is the most time consuming part, but after that you just pop it in the oven and work on your side dish. For this I chose to do some white rice with black beans, corn and lime juice. It turned out to be a very good compliment for the powerful chicken.

I only added 2 jalapeños as opposed to the 3 that the recipe called for because I was worried it would be too spicy, but looking back I would definitely add 1 more (or possibly 2) to cut through the creaminess of the cheese.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Cheesy Jalapeño Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4

2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 jalapeños, chopped (seeds removed for milder)
3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 oz reduced fat colby jacks shredded cheese (Sargento is best)
2 tbsp chopped scallions
8 thin sliced skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
olive oil non-stick spray

  1. Wash and dry chicken cutlets. Beat with mallet down to 1 in thick.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.
  5. Combine cream cheese,  shredded cheese, jalapeños, scallions, and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.
  6. Place breadcrumbs in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper.
  7. Lay chicken breasts on a flat surface and spread 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture on each chicken cutlet.
  8. Roll the chicken cutlet and secure at ends with toothpicks.
  9. Dip chicken in olive oil mixture then roll in breadcrumbs. Then place in baking dish seam side down. Repeat with each chicken breast.
  10. When finished, lightly spray the tops of the chicken breasts with the non-stick spray.
  11. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
  12. Serve immediately with a side of rice and vegetables.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

White Peach Sangria

Sangria on the left, Infused water on the right
For 4th of July, my boyfriend and I hosted a small family barbeque before fireworks. It was a last minute thing, so unfortunately, I didn't do much cooking. But to make up for the lack of homemade barbeque favorites, we did make this awesome Sangria.
The boyfriend is usually the bartender, so for this I served as sous chef/official taste tester, which was a role I gladly accepted. We saw this on Food Network early one Sunday morning, and since then we were dying for a chance to make it. Our recipe is a little less complex than his, but equally just as delicious.

I would highly recommend it for any summer party as it is refreshing and just the right amount of sweet that one looks for in a summer cocktail.

Note: this recipe is for a 1 gallon beverage dispenser. If you want to make only a pitcher, cut the recipe in half.

White Peach Sangria

2 large bottles of white wine (pinot grigio, riesling, sauvignon blanc)
1/2 bottle of Peach Schnapps
1/3 bottle of light rum
1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
2 cups orange juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1 bottle club soda
zest of one lemon
2 sliced peaches
2 sliced apples
1 orange

  1. Pour wine, Schnapps, rum and juices in the pitcher.
  2. Add sliced peaches, apples, orange and lemon zest.
  3. Add club soda.
  4. Add sugar and stir gently.
  5. Chill mixture for 4-6 hours before serving.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Healthy Shrimp Scampi

I have been craving shrimp recently... and by recently I mean in the last few months. Oddly enough I've never been a shrimp lover until that recent craving began and now I can't get enough of it. So when I was looking through the fridge for dinner the other night and saw I had some frozen shrimp, I knew that was going to be the star of the show in my next big dinner.
Like most of my recipes, this one was super easy and healthy! I used quinoa as opposed to angel hair pasta (quinoa is now my boyfriend's favorite word), and left out the butter and heavy salt. To give it a little extra kick and avoid being bland, I added some cayenne pepper to the shrimp. The cayenne pepper mixed with the lemon zest added a little zing to every bite, which I always appreciate.

I really can't even say enough good things about this recipe. It came together nicely, was filling without needing seconds and just tasted so darn good. Only thing missing was more shrimp... but that can easily be fixed next time around.

Wine recommendation: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (my personal favorite)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Healthy Shrimp Scampi
Serves 4

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound frozen shrimp
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
Cayenne pepper for taste
Italian seasoning for taste
1 cup quinoa

  1. Prepare the quinoa following the directions on the package.
  2. Prepare your red bell pepper, asparagus and lemon zest.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook vegetables, lemon zest, and salt/pepper in skillet for about 6 minutes until softened. Remove from heat and place in a bowl and cover.
  5. While vegetables are cooking, mince the cloves of garlic.
  6. Mix the cornstarch and chicken broth in a bowl until smooth.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and garlic to the pan, cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the shrimp to the mix and cook for 2 minutes covered.
  8. Add the cayenne pepper and remaining salt, stir and cover again for a minute. Add broth mixture to the pan, bring to a boil and stir until sauce thickens.
  9. When sauce is at desired thickness and shrimp is cooked all the way through, remove from pan and add to bowl of vegetables.
  10. Mix thoroughly and add italian seasoning and lemon juice.
  11. Serve the vegetables, shrimp, and sauce over quinoa.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

This recipe and blog post comes from my sister, Shannon. She made this for her first dinner party at the home she just bought with her fiance.

I was one of the lucky ones in attendance so I can attest that this was a great meal. I can't eat peppers, so I just had the stuffing on taco shells, but everyone else seemed please with them and I can see why! Stuffed peppers always seem to be a crowd pleaser, but the stuffing in this version is so much tastier than the traditional version (at least in my opinion).

Shannon said it was very easy to make, but she had difficulty choosing what sides to go with it. Instead of stuffing the peppers with rice, she used that as a side and made some steamed broccoli. Next go around she wants go add a clove or two of garlic and see what kind of flavor that will add to the dish. She would also recommend browning the peppers in the saute pan with the onions for a few minutes. The peppers would have been better if they were crispier.

The great thing about this meal is how well they heat up for leftovers. She had one for lunch the next day and said it was like eating it the first time around.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Serves 3-4

1/2 lb lean ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onions
1 heaping tbsp of homemade taco seasoning (or you can use the packaged type if you like)
2 cups of cooked rice (any type you like – I like brown)
3-4 bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
½ cup of frozen corn
1 small jar of salsa
olive oil 
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (for topping)
sliced avocado (for topping)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish about 20-25 minutes just until cooked through.
  3. Prepare the rice.
  4. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.
  5. Cook turkey until it is slightly browned (also can do this ahead of time to cut down on time).
  6. Saute onions until they are cooked through and translucent.
  7. In a bowl add the taco seasoning, cooked ground turkey, chopped onions, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.
  8. Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish.
  9. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way through.
  10. Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese.
  11. Place back into the oven just until the cheese has melted.
  12. Remove from the oven and top with avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sunday Funday Surf & Turf

The weather this weekend in New Jersey was unbearable (unless you were at the shore, where I hear it was lovely)! It was so hot and humid outside that you instantly felt like a sweaty mess upon walking out the front door.

But the sun was shining, a trip to the grocery store (and random stop at a winery) was made, and my boyfriend was hungry... so it was time to grill.

Earlier in the week we saw Paula Dean make a surprisingly healthy meal on her Food Network show for grilled tuna steaks. It made our mouth water so on our weekly trip to the grocery store, we decided to splurge and buy a tuna steak and filet mignon and go to town on the grill.

My boyfriend is the grill master. I am not even allowed near it to flip a burger, let alone man it, so this meal was pretty much made by him. I did all the prep work -- made the aioli, sliced and set up the potatoes for grilling. Everything else just had to be thrown on the grill.

This meal was the perfect ending to a fun weekend spent with friends and the Phillies (even though they suck right now). It gives you a great reason to sit outside with a glass/bottle of wine, set up the speakers to blast some country music and just spend some quality time with the one you love before starting a hectic week at work.

Grilled Tuna Steaks/Filet Mignon
  1. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Lightly season the filet with your favorite rub.
  2. Grill filet to medium rare about 4-5 minutes each side.
  3. Grill the tuna steaks about 2 minutes each side so that it turns white, but still has a line of pink throughout the center.
  4. Sprinkle some sugar onto lemon halves and grill them face down so they caramelize.
  5. Lemon can be juiced over the tuna steak.
Grilled Potatoes
  1. Slice potatoes (Russet, Idaho) to be about 1 inch thick.
  2. Lay them in a tin foil bed and sprinkle with fresh minced garlic or garlic powder, Italian seasoning and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cover up with tin foil and grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover for the last 5-7 minutes so they brown.
  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with minced garlic (2 cloves), half a juiced lemon, chives, salt and pepper.
  2. Refrigerate for a half hour before serving.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Zesty Lime Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Lemon Aioli

Picture via Bobby Flay's recipe on Food Network
This blog post is all about side dishes and sauces – two of my favorite things. Last night I was on my fish kick again, but really didn’t feel like cooking up a big meal because it’s been a very long week. So I picked up some tilapia stuffed with crab and lobster meat as the entrée and figured I would go homemade with my sides and sauce. I will always find an excuse to grill when it is nice outside, so I started thinking about what I could make that was healthy and delicious. That led me to grilled sweet potatoes and my favorite garlic lemon aioli.

Needless to say.. it was a crowd pleaser. As with most of my recipes, it was the perfect Thursday night meal because it took only 40 minutes to make, was healthy, and tasted amazing! My boyfriend was a little upset when he found out I hadn’t slaved over the hot stove all night making the stuffed tilapia by hand, but I think I made up for it with the rest of the meal.
I loved the acidity from the lime zest and the kick from the cayenne pepper. You could also add some cilantro, but I happen to hate cilantro so I decided against it.  The aioli is one of my favorite recipes in my arsenal. It is SUPER easy to whip up and can be used as a sauce, sandwich spread or as a dip for veggies (see brussel sprouts recipe).
If you live in the Northeast, it is supposed to be a beautiful weekend, so fire up the grill and try these sweet potatoes.
Zesty Lime Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Serves 3

3 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher Salt
Zest of 3 limes
Pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
Freshly ground pepper
Juice from 2 limes
  1. Parcook the potatoes: Place in a pot of water and boil until fork-tender. Let cool. Slice each potato lengthwise into eighths.
  2. Preheat your grill to medium/medium high.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon salt, lime zest and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  4. Brush the potato wedges with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on all sides (including the skin) about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer to a platter, brush lightly with oil again and sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potatoes. Juice the lime over the potatoes and serve.
Garlic Lemon Aioli

¾ cup of greek yogurt (or mayonnaise)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of half a lemon
Zosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.
  3. Serve in a side dish or on top of your meat or fish.
** Yes, it really is that easy!**

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Grilled Pacific Cod with Bacon Vinaigrette, Red Mashed Potatoes & Sautéed Butter-Thyme Mushrooms

I am trying to incorporate fish into my diet more often as it is so healthy, but I just haven’t been able to find many recipes that intrigued me … until now. This recipe (adapted from I Can Cook That) achieved my ultimate goal of eating healthy while having a satisfying and filling meal. The bacon vinaigrette had the perfect kick to it that went well with the fish as well as the potatoes and mushrooms. Being Irish, I can find a way to incorporate mashed potatoes into any meal, so that was added goodness to the meal. The mushrooms added meatiness to the meal that the fish lacked and absorbed the flavors of the shallots and thyme perfectly to give an earthy balance.
The original recipe called for Striped Bass, but they didn’t have it at my local Wegman’s (which is surprising considering it is native to New Jersey waters). Instead I used a Pacific Cod since it has a mild flavor and I thought this would be better for my carnivorous family’s introduction to fish.
I must say this was a complicated recipe – not because it was particularly hard or time consuming – but because it required serious multitasking. If you have a night where you can pour yourself a glass of white wine, put on good music and get down to cooking a great meal then this is the recipe for you!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves 4

1.5 lbs of pacific cod (or 4 individual fillets)
salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 package center-cut bacon
3 large shallots, finely chopped and divided
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 large red potatoes
2 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 (8-ounce) packages pre-sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  1. Begin preparing your mashed potatoes. Peel the majority of the skin off each potato and slice into quarters. Boil the water. Place peeled potatoes into the boiling water, turn the temperature down to low and cover the potatoes for 30 minutes until they are fork tender.
  2. Chop the shallots and fresh thyme. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2/3 of the chopped shallots to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add your mushrooms and a ½ teaspoon of salt to the sauté pan stirring occasionally. Cook the mushrooms for about 13 minutes or until they are lightly browned and the majority of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. While waiting for your mushrooms to brown, start heating up another sauté pan and cook the bacon until it is crispy. Set aside in a paper towel for a few minutes and then crumble the bacon into small pieces for your vinaigrette. Make sure to save some of the bacon grease drippings for your vinaigrette (about 2 tablespoons).
  5. Return your crumbled bacon and the remaining 1/3 shallots back to your bacon sauté pan. Add the bacon grease and cook together for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove bacon sauté pan from the heat and start adding your vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and black pepper. Stir frequently so the ingredients blend very well together. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the vinaigrette and let it emulsify. Taste the mixture to see if there is any ingredient you should add more to for the desired taste.
  7. Return to the mushrooms and add the ½ cup of dry white wine to the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the wine has mostly evaporated. Stir in the thyme.
  8. At this point your potatoes should be fork tender. Dump out the water and return the potatoes back to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the milk to the potatoes. Mash until they have a smooth texture adding more butter or milk if needed.
  9. Last but not least, the fish. Salt and pepper the fillets and add cooking spray to a grilling pan. Lay the fillets skin side up onto the grilling pan, and flip after 4 minutes. The fish should take a total of 8 minutes (4 minutes each side) to cook perfectly.
  10. Finally, it is time to eat! Add the fish, mushrooms and potatoes to your plate. Drizzle the fish and the mashed potatoes with the bacon vinaigrette.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto w/ Lemon Caper Sauce

April has been a whirlwind of a month! Between chaos at work, vacation, and plans every weekend I haven’t found much time to cook. Now that spring is upon us (although it’s been freezing this week), I have a ton of recipes I want to try.
This weekend I decided to try out a gourmet meal on my boyfriend and his cousin. I guess this month long hiatus has made me rusty because it was a disaster! I attempted to make Spring Asparagus Soup, and it ended up leaking through the container in my food processor and spilled out all onto the countertops, floor and possibly short circuited my Cuisinart food processor (thank God for a one year warranty). Luckily, this was a two part recipe and I still had Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto and Baked Mac n’ Cheese to save the meal.
Besides for the messy kitchen and my hurt ego, the meal turned out very well. The chicken breasts were juicy and Amanda’s mac n’ cheese was heavenly.
Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto
Serves 4
4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
6-10 slices of prosciutto
Shredded Italian Cheese (4 cheese is best)
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Lemon Caper Sauce
3 cups cold water
1 container Knorr Homestyle Chicken Stock
1 lemon (juiced)
2 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup capers
  1. Wash chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, then roll in flour.
  2. Place one or two pieces of Prosciutto around each piece of chicken, if your chicken breasts are too thick, filet them so they cook evenly.
  3. In a hot skillet place thin sliced chicken breasts wrapped in Prosciutto with a tablespoon olive oil, turn over to cook evenly on both sides, then place a lid on it for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Add shredded cheese to the top and let melt for a minute.
  4. Start preparing the sauce. Combine 1/2 cup cold water with corn starch.
  5. Add the remaining 2 ½ cups of water with the container of Knorr Homestyle Stock and lemon juice. Heat and stir until thickened and add capers.
I’ve added a link to the Spring Asparagus Soup recipe because it looks delicious and maybe someone else will have better luck preparing it than I did!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ranjo's Beef Stew

Last night I was treated to a home-cooked meal by my boyfriend (this is a big deal considering he normally works very late, so I'm usually the chef). He worked from home for the day, so dinner was up to him... and it was delicious! He made one of his favorite childhood meals, his Dad's specialty, a beef stew with red sauce. Being Irish, I always grew up with a brown beef stew, so I was anxious to see how this differed.
This is a great no-fuss crockpot recipe that is perfect for a busy weekday when you are on the go. All you need to pair it with is a side of biscuits and you have a well-balanced, hearty meal and ample leftovers.

Ranjo's Beef Stew
Serves 4

1.5 lb stew beef
4 Idaho potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 handfuls of fresh green beans (how's that for measuring?)
1 package sliced white mushrooms
1/2 package of baby carrots
2 jars of spaghetti sauce

  1. Pour some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the crockpot. Start layering ingredients. Potatoes on the bottom follow by carrots, beef, green beans, mushrooms, top with remaining spaghetti sauce and salt and pepper.
  2. Cook in crockpot for approximately 8 hours on medium. Stop cooking for about a half hour before serving so sauce can thicken up.
  3. Serve with a side of biscuits for dipping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest Party Favorites

This weekend I hosted a jewelry party for a bunch of the neighborhood women and figured this was the perfect time to try out some recipes I "pinned" on Pinterest. I seem to have this recurring problem where I can't take a picture of my creation fast enough because as soon as I set it down on the table (the party hadn't even started yet) my creation was mutilated by hungry guests.

But I take it as a compliment. The snacks were delicious if I do say so myself. The menu consisted of: caprese salad bites, crispy brussel sprouts with garlic aioli dipping sauce, mini chocolate chip cheesecakes, stuffed bread (my Mom's signature recipe that I will include at a later date) and the standard fruit and cheese platters. I also must not forget the abundance of Portugese wine provided by my sister.

I would highly recommend any of these treats for your next girl's night out or cocktail party. They were all a big hit, easy to prepare, and just as easy to clean up!
Crispy Brussel Sprouts w/ Garlic Aioli

For Brussel Sprouts:
20 brussel sprouts
canola oil
salt & pepper

For Aioli:
6 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp minced garlic
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp flat leaf chopped parsley
  1. Place brussel sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil.
  2. Crack some fresh salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Mix around brussel sprouts on pan to ensure they all get nicely coated in the oil.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown on at least one side.
  5. Mix together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and lemon juice.
  6. Serve in a ramekin.

Caprese Salad Bites

1 pt cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cubed
fresh basil leaves
balsamic vinegar to drizzle
salt & pepper

  1. Thread 1 basil leaf, tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto toothpicks.
  2. Place toothpicks in a shallow serving dish.
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over each.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup of sugar
1 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
24 mini vanilla wafers

**Note: I used a miniature muffin pan as opposed to the standard size.**
  1. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, yogurt and sugar until smooth. 
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Place one mini vanilla wafer in the bottom of each muffin cup.
  4. Evenly divide cheesecake batter between the muffin cups. 
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes are set.
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan.
  7. Top cheesecakes with chocolate chips.
  8. Let cheesecakes set in refrigerator until serving.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Man-Pleasing Chicken

Photo credits: Witty in the City
I came across this recipe on Pinterest (every woman's new obsession), and with a name like "Man-Pleasing Chicken," I couldn't resist. This recipe was adapted from law school food blogger Witty in the City, so I decided it would be best to try on my lawyer boyfriend. Needless to say, it was man pleasing.

I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever tasted something like this before. This chicken really was the most savory thing I have ever eaten. Even though the sauce calls for maple syrup and rice wine vinegar, it didn't even have the slightest taste of sweetness or acidity. The only way to describe it is savory, and it is something you just need to taste for yourself.

So now for the recipe you've all been waiting for...

Man-Pleasing Chicken
Serves 3

1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
fresh rosemary

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix together mustard, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar and mix thoroughly
  3. Put chicken thighs into an oven-safe baking dish
  4. Salt and pepper the thighs
  5. Pour mixture over the chicken thighs
  6. Turn the thighs over again so they are fully coated
  7. Bake the chicken thighs for 40 minutes, basting the tops of the chicken halfway through
  8. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve
The meal is that easy and that good!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Super Easy Beef Stir Fry

Stir fry has been my go-to meal since college. It is easy, uses barely any dishes, and is the perfect mix of vegetables and protein. Probably my favorite thing about it is how it is super filling without making you feel bloated or sick afterwards. For my fellow IBS sufferers out there, you know what I am talking about!

I have used a variety of marinades over the years. My favorite pre-made being Trader Joe's Island Soyaki sauce. But I have also done a good job at replicating the recipe myself, which is what I include below for the recipe.

This time around, I made it with beef strips, but it also tastes just as good with chicken, shrimp or tofu.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Super Easy Beef Stir Fry
Serves 4

**I don't measure when making a marinade. I am a firm believer of starting off with less and tasting as you go.**

For marinade and sauce
Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic
Minced Ginger
Onion Powder
Red Pepper Flakes

For stir fry
1.25 pounds of stir-fry beef (found pre-cut at the grocery store)
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
2 yellow peppers
1 zucchini
1 red onion
head of broccoli
package of white mushrooms

  1. Marinade beef for a half hour
  2. Julienne peppers, zucchini and onion; slice mushrooms; and cut broccoli pieces
  3. Heat up wok/large sautee pan
  4. Cook beef 2 minutes per side on medium high heat
  5. Add vegetables to the wok and mix with beef
  6. Add remainder of sauce stirring every so often making sure vegetables and beef are saturated
  7. Stir fry is ready when beef is cooked and mushrooms are browned
  8. Serve with a side of white rice

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Whiskey-Bacon Gravy

This was one of the most interesting combinations I have cooked to-date. The cocoa rub on the steak added that crunch from the grill with a sweet aftertaste, then the whiskey-bacon gravy added that savory kick you expect from a steak. It is a relatively easy recipe, and I had mostly everything already laying around the house, so this shouldn't be an expensive meal to make for your family. Next time around I will probably try adding some cayenne pepper or chili powder to the rub to cut down some of the sweetness, and I also plan on adding some more flour to the gravy to thicken it up. This recipe is great because it works well for all kinds of steak (I used a london broil because that's what I had) and you can pair it with your favorite whiskey -- I used Maker's Mark because that's what the boyfriend drinks.

So if you are looking for a recipe that will make your kitchen smell like a man's heaven for the next few days, this one is definitely for you!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Whiskey-Bacon Gravy
Serves 4-6


For the steak:

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1.5 lb London Broil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


For the gravy:

4 strips bacon, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whiskey
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the steak: Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the steak and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes.

Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Grill the steak for about 8 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere

Picture taken from ICanCookThat because I put mine into tupperware
 containers for lunches rather than serving it.
There aren't many words needed to describe how great this dish is. It is comfort food minus the carbs, and I can't think of anything better than that. I found this recipe on a food blog I recently started following by a neighboring foodie in Philadelphia, I Can Cook That, and I am pretty impressed with how in tune we are in our cooking styles. I highly recommend checking out her blog for some great recipes!

What I liked so much about this recipe was how customizable it was. I bought mushrooms that I planned on adding (but forgot), and added more lemon juice because I wanted that extra citrusy kick since it is a cream sauce. The recipe below is from the original on I Can Cook That, but I would love to hear what changes you add to make it your own.

Chicken & Asparagus with Melted Gruyere
Serves 2

4 ounces asparagus
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (you will have to shred it yourself)

Cook the asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes (or use a steamer if you have one). Remove asparagus and set aside.
Whisk broth and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour, shaking off excess flour.

  1. Heat oil in a sautee pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. The chicken should have a nice brown sear on it, but the heat may need to be adjusted to prevent burning.
  3. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  4. Add shallot, wine and the reserved broth mixture to the pan.
  5. Cook over medium heat, until thickened (about 2 minutes) stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  7. Stir in sour cream, tarragon, lemon juice and the reserved asparagus until combined.
  8. Return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
  9. Add cheese on top of each piece of chicken, cover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted (about 2 minutes).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stuffed Flank Steak

Picture via Google Images. We were too excited to eat and forgot
to take a picture!
I decided to step up my cooking game for Valentine's Day this year and try doing something different. I have been making steak (or watching someone prepare it) since I could stand eye level to the countertops, but I have never "stuffed" anything besides a Thanksgiving turkey. So I knew this was going to be one for the books.

The recipe that I based my version off of seemed bland, so I took the liberty of adding some of my own extra ingredients. Needless to say, this meal was outstanding. It was relatively easy to prepare and with the hour long roasting time, it left just the right amount of time to clean up a little bit and enjoy a glass of champagne with my Valentine.

I highly recommend this for anyone who is trying to make a meal to impress. As easy as it was, it's presentation makes it look like you spent days preparing it.

Stuffed Flank Steak
Serves 4

1.5-2 pound flank steak
1 (5 oz) can of sliced mushrooms
1 (10 oz) package of chopped spinach, cooked and drained
1/3 medium onion, thinly chopped
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
minced garlic (to taste)
red pepper flakes (to taste)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup of water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pound flank steak to be 1 inch thick
  3. Cook spinach per package instructions and drain canned mushrooms (save the liquid)
  4. Combine mushrooms, spinach, onions, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes and breadcrumbs
  5. Spread mixture on flank steak and roll as a jelly roll
  6. Tie steaks with string and brown in oil
  7. Combine mushroom soup, mushroom liquid and water
  8. Pour over steaks
  9. Cover with foil and cook slowly for 1 hour or until tender
  10. Remove string, slice and serve
I also made beef flavored rice, grilled asparagus, and biscuits to accompany the steak.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Florentine Casserole

There really isn't much to say about this recipe except that it is ridiculously good and the perfect make-ahead meal for a week's worth of lunches. I made this about a week ago as I started dedicating a few hours every Sunday to making lunches for my boyfriend to bring to work for the week. I made it a little healthy by choosing some of the reduced fat options for the packaged ingredients and sticking to fresh vegetables and organic chicken for the remainder.

This recipe makes enough for 5 meals and can be separated into tupperware containers for each day of the week.

Cheesy Chicken Florentine Casserole
makes 5 servings

5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter
3 teaspoons minced garlic
juice from 1 lemon
1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 container of baby spinach
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup real bacon bits
2 cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese (or enough to cover chicken)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breast halves on a baking sheet; bake 20 to 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees .
  4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, mix in the garlic, lemon juice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian seasoning, half-and-half and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Arrange the spinach over the bottom of a 9x9 inch baking dish. Cover the spinach with the mushrooms. Pour half the mixture from the saucepan over the mushrooms.
  6. Arrange chicken breasts in the dish, and cover with the remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle with bacon bits and top with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in the 400 degrees oven, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Home-Made Pizza Rolls

I couldn't take my own picture because by the time I went to
get a spoon for the dipping sauce, all of the rolls were gone!
This is probably the easiest, most well-received appetizer I've ever made. It took about 5 minutes to put together and only 6 items. Being a die-hard Giants fan, I knew I would have to find a recipe that was easy to make because there was no way I was going to miss a second of the Giants/49ers playoff game.

I found this recipe on one of my stumbles. I've gone to TidyMom a few times before to find easy appetizers, cocktail party recipes and highly recommend you check her blog out.

So here comes the extremely complicated ingredients and cooking directions.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Home-Made Pizza Rolls
Makes about 16-18 rolls

2 cans refrigerated pizza crusts
Garlic salt
Italian seasoning
1 cup sliced pepperoni
1 bag of shredded cheese (I like the 4 cheese variety)
Sweet tomato basil pasta sauce for dipping

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Dust a large cutting board or piece of wax paper with flour and roll out each pizza crust.
  3. Season each crust with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.
  4. Top with cheese and meat
  5. Starting with a short end, roll crust into a tight log
  6. Slice into 1 inch sections
  7. Place on lightly greased pan and bake for 10-12 mins.
  8. Serve with warmed pasta sauce
Since some members of my football party were vegetarians I made this recipe with cheese only and added some extra seasoning for taste. This recipe will be good with any of your favorite toppings.