A Perfect Summer Meal

Happy Friday!  Sorry for the short absence- life has been a little crazy.  I went up to my grandparents last weekend, and made these little guys.  Super quick and easy meal with a protein, side and dessert.  Lite for the harsh days of summer, yet filling and delicious.  A perfect meal for grownups and kids alike.

SummerMeal

Chicken Strips

Ingredients

  • 16 Chicken Tenders (or purchase breasts and trim down)
  • 3/4 C. Bisquick®
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 Eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. You will probably need two sheets, or just do two batches.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the two eggs (this is what you’ll dip the chicken in to get the breading to stick).
  4. In a larger bowl, combine the Bisquick, cheese, paprika and salt. Dip each strip into the egg and then coat with the Bisquick mixture generously- placing them on the sheet.  *I dropped a few strips into the egg at a time to eliminate me bringing lots of crumbs back into the egg mixture after I coated them.
  5. Spray the chicken with the cooking spray and bake for 6-7 minutes, then flip the chicken to cook for another 6-7 minutes.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Fresh Strawberries
  • Whipped Cream
  • 4 Dessert Shells
  • 1 Tbl. Sugar

Directions

  • Chop up the strawberries and place in a bowl  (remove the stems/leaves). Sprinkle in sugar and mix all together.
  • Scoop the mixture evenly into the four shells.
  • Spray on Whipped Cream to taste

Recommended Side Dish
I went with Velveeta Shells & Cheese®. :)

Serving Size
4 Hungry Adults

Drink Pairing
Fresh Lemonade (spiked or regular)

When you’re feeling lazy, try these sides…

Nearing the end of work yesterday, I was exhausted and not feeling like making a huge dinner.  We had steaks marinating and opted to broil them being that we were too lazy and hungry to start the grill.  Right before I left, I got an email from my husband inquiring as to what the sides would be for his steak.  I’m tired of the same old 90-second rice and pasta options, so I decided on going with some fresh vegetables.  Outside of work, there is a cute little produce stand, that while has delicious and fresh fruits/veggies, is a major pain in my ass when it comes to parking.  I grabbed one red pepper, 1 small-medium white onion and 4 small gold yukon potatoes.

We made a bed of the peppers and onions to place the steak on, and put the potatoes on the side.  My husband liked mixing some of the onions with the potatoes.  They ended up being a perfect accompaniment to the steaks.  There are tons of variations, but these are my favorite ways to prepare them.

Enjoy!

sides

Sauteed Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Red Pepper
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 1 Tbl. Oil Olive
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a small skillet to get hot.  While the oil is heating, slice up the pepper and onion.  Use your best judgement, but I used long 1/2 inch cuts to make it easy to grab with a fork with the meat.  Remember: the onions get soft and shrink a little, so don’t cut them to thin.
  2. Once you are finished slicing, the oil should be hot enough.  Place the vegetables in there and stir to coat in the olive oil.  Once the onions start to get soft and translucent, shake two splashes of the worcestershire sauce into the mixture and stir to coat well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Leave on for another minute or two to soak in the flavor.  When you place it on the plate, pile it to make a bed for your chicken or steak*.  That way, when you cut into the meat, you get onions and peppers too.

*Helpful tip: If you are cooking steak, ALWAYS let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before you cut into it. Seriously.  By allowing the steak to rest, you give all that liquid that was forced out of the edges and into the center time to migrate back out to the edges.  it is much more juicy and flavorful.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 Small-Medium Gold Yukon Potatoes
  • 2 Tbl. Olive Oil
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Italian Seasoning (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a larger skillet to get hot.  While oil is heating up, cut up the 4 potatoes.  I usually just cube them into bite-size chunks.  Nothing fancy here.  Once oil is hot and you are finished cutting up the potatoes, put them in the skillet.
  2. I usually do a few flips to get the pieces covered and let them brown.  I sprinkled seasoning salt* over them and stirred them in order to brown evenly and distribute the seasoning evenly.  Once they are a fine golden brown, I remove from heat and serve

*Optional: When sprinkling the seasoning salt, you can sprinkle in some Italian seasoning.

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Serving Size

 2

Pairs Well With

Any type of meat.  The potatoes might be a little much if wanting to pair with fish.

Drink Recommendation

I went with grape juice. :)

Curried Chicken

This is not one of my usual “easy” recipes.  This bitch takes some work to complete, but it is worth it if you are a fan of Indian food.  I try to give you some shortcuts that will help expedite the process.  It really is truly delicious and probably my husband’s favorite new dinner dish experiment that I’ve tried recently.  If you have any questions or need clarification, please feel free to ask!

Curried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Tbl. Butter
  • 1-2 Large Onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Head of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbl. Curry Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 Tbl. Tomato Paste
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 Tbl. Water

Directions
Normally I don’t prep all of my ingredients at the begining, however, this recipe moves along pretty fast and I learned to go ahead and prepare/measure all of your ingredients ahead of time.

  1. Before you start preparing your ingredients, put a large frying pan on a nice and high heat to get it really hot.  While that’s heating, cut each chicken breast into 4 large chunks.
  2. Chop up your onions, I had a 1/2 of an onion from a recipe earlier in the week, so I actually chopped up 1.5 onions and that worked perfectly for us. Set aside.
  3. Mix garlic and curry powder together in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix together your tomato paste and ginger.
  4. Now your frying pan should be sizzling. Throw in the butter to melt and then add the chicken in to brown on all sides.  While you’re keeping an eye on that, put a smaller pan on one of the back burners on a low simmer.  I would flip the pieces every couple minutes to get a nice golden brown on each side.  Once all sides are browned to your approval, put them piece by piece in the smaller skillet to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
  5. To the left over butter in the pan, add the onion pieces.  Cook and stir them until they are soft and start to brown.
  6. Mix in the garlic/curry powder, stirring for one minute.  Quickly, add in the ginger and tomato paste while stirring.
  7. Pour in 1 cup of the broth and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, then mix in the rest of the broth (1 cup).
  8. Return the chicken pieces back to the pan, while making sure to coat the pieces with the sauce.  Cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer the chicken for 20-25 minutes.
  9. While the chicken is simmering, in a small bowl, mix the water and cornstarch.  This is also the time when I cleaned all of the dishes so that I could relax after the meal.
  10. After the chicken has finished cooking, pile them on one side of the pan and then stir the cornstarch/water mixture into the cleared spot and cook until thickened (5 minutes or so).
  11. Salt to taste, then mix the thickened/ rich/succulent sauce with the rest of the sauce and chicken.
  12. Pour the curried chicken and sauce mixture onto a bed of rice.

Recommended Side Dish
Serve it over either white or brown rice.  I did Uncle Ben’s quick brown rice- choose your serving size and follow the instructions on the box.  It’s that easy. Pour the chicken and sauce over the rice to complete a very rich, filling and complete meal.

Serving Size
2 Hungry Adults

Drink Pairing
Your favorite alcoholic beverage of choice- you deserve it

PDF Version

Gorgonzola & Honey Bruschetta

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I won some money at the family Sunday Funday casino outing, so I can’t complain.

We are making salads this evening being that we are a little bloated from the weekend.  Something that always pairs nicely with a fresh summer salad is my gorgonzola & honey bruschetta.  It’s a nice and light appetizer that is perfect for summertime.  We’ll probably make our salads with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, fresh strawberries, feta cheese and grilled chicken.  Depending on the amount of leftover walnuts, we’ll probably throw those in the salad as well.  Make these for a dinner party and surprise your guests with this unexpected appetizer.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Baguette Bread Loaf
  • ¼ Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8-Oz. Gorgonzola, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. Honey
  • ½ Cup Chopped Walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the baguette into 36 (1/2” thick) slices.  Arrange the slices on a backing sheet and brush them with olive oil.  Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp (about 10 minutes).
  3. Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted (about 3 minutes).
  4. Drizzle the toasts with honey and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.

Serving Size
6

Drink Pairing
Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

PDF Version

Aunt Barb’s Easy Meatballs

Poor Kevin.  Last Friday, everyone in the office was supposed to bring in food to celebrate his upcoming nuptials- and everyone forgot.  We (the women on my side of the office) decided that we would make up for it and bring tons of goodies today (Monday).  Usually, when we have these types of office events, everyone brings sweets. And it leaves everyone in the office happy, but full of stomach aches.  One of the gals suggested that I bring more of an appetizer this time.  Being that I tend to wait until the last minute for these sorts of things, I decided to do one of the most tastey and easiest appetizers that I know. These meatballs consist of 3 ingredients and I was able to grab them at the grocery store on the way into work this morning- with my crock pot in tow.

I can’t take the credit though, my Aunt Barb is the genius behind this recipe.  She makes these when we go on vacation together and I have made them many times since- for barbecues, Super Bowl parties, bridal showers, holiday get-together’s, etc- always receiving the same response, “What in the hell is in these things?  They are delicious.”  I threw them frozen in the crock pot this morning around 8:45 at the office, and it is now noon with most of them gone.  I would consider this app a success- and men in particular go crazy for them.

Enjoy!

meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 package of frozen all-beef meatballs (cooked)
  • 1 15.5-oz. Jar of Salsa (I usually recommend medium spicy level to please the largest amount of people.  If you hang out with awesome people, feel free to go spicy- it compliments the sweetness of the jelly very well)
  • 1 18 -oz Jar of Grape Jelly
  • King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the meatballs in a crock pot
  2. Pour salsa and jelly over top.
  3. Mix 3 ingredients together and cook on high for 2.5-3 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes or so, to thoroughly coat the meat.
  4. After the meatballs are nice and hot, I turn the crock pot to low to keep them warm.  Still stirring occasionally, to not brown the meatballs on the bottom.
  5. Put two meatballs on a Hawaiian roll for an easy appetizer. (optional)

Serving Size
My general rule of thumb is about 4 meatballs per person.

Drink Pairing
An ice-cold Coca Cola is doing the trick currently.

PDF Version

Parmesan Chicken Bake

It’s Friday- that means that the last thing that I want to do is cook, but we’ve already eaten out twice this week.  Luckily, I have this SUPER easy and tastey recipe up my sleeve. We’re going to the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival in Forest Park later this evening, so after I throw this in the oven when I get home, I’ll have time to get ready for our evening out and unwind with a cold STL brewski.  I will then be rewarded with a DELICIOUS dinner.

Almost everyone should already have most of these ingredients. If you are a cooking novice, please make sure to use seasoning salt and not regular salt (very different taste).  I may not be super healthy, but I have seen similar recipes that use mayo, not yogurt.  I don’t work that way.  Yogurt is a much healthier alternative and does the same job.  This recipe makes 6 servings, so if there is just two of you in the house- this makes great leftovers.  I usually tend to bring my cooking conquest leftovers to my neighbor and she has learned to always oblige. If you really don’t want to waste, I’ve made this with 3 large breasts before.  If anything, it can make the dish more succulent with the meat to spread ratio.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4-6 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 C Greek Yogurt
  • ½ C Shredded Fresh Parmesan Cheese (+ extra for top)
  • 1 ½ Tsp. Seasoning Salt
  • ½ Tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray the inside of a 9×13 glass pan.
  2. Lay the chicken inside the pan.
  3. Mix together the remaining ingredients and spread evenly over each piece of chicken, being sure to cover all the exposed raw meat (so it doesn’t dry out.)
  4. Sprinkle on a bit more fresh parmesan over all the chicken.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Serving Size
4-6

Recommended Side Dish
Pasta with Red Sauce or a Salad

Drink Pairing
Tonight we are going to a beer tasting event, so we’ll stick to that with dinner.
Normally, I would recommend offsetting the creaminess and cheese with a lean-tasting Pinot Grigio.

PDF Version

Pistachio and Cayenne Pepper Encrusted Mahi Mahi

Personally, I hate Mondays.  You sit at work wishing that it was still the weekend, all while having way too much time to think about the debauchery that has taken place over the last few days.  No matter how delicious the greasy-calorie-filled foods and countless smooth beers tasted over the weekend, you sit there with your stomach judging you and your subconscious shaking her disappointed head at you.  Because of that, Mondays I try to cook a fairly healthy meal.  I will eat healthy foods- but they have to be worth it- life it too short for that.

This is a meal that takes a little bit of prep time, but the end result is completely worth it.  The longest part of the process is peeling the damn pistachios.  It’s a perfect balance of flavors with the nuts and pepper complimenting the fish perfectly.  An old friend of mine, and avid fisher, had given me a variation of this recipe and it’s one of my favorite at-home seafood dishes.  We usually pair it with a vegetable, with sauteed asparagus being my favorite.

While I’m sitting here at work wishing I wasn’t, at least I know that I have an amazing dinner waiting ahead of me this evening. The lengthy cardio session at the gym will also be easier due to the lightness of the dish while also keeping me full and nourished.

encrustedmahimahi

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Large or 3 Medium Mahi Mahi filets*
  • 2/3 Cup of Pistachios (deshelled)
  • ¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper (depending on your love for heat, feel free to add more- we do)
  • Fresh Cilantro (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel pistachios and put into the food processor.  Add in cayenne pepper and grind up.
  3. Lightly cover the filets in olive oil and fully coat in pistachio/cayenne mixture.
  4. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with cilantro. (optional)

*Any type of fish may be used.  I prefer a thicker/flakier filet like a Mahi Mahi.

Serving Size
2

Recomended Side Dish
Sauteed Asparagus

Drink Pairing
If you are making this for a few guests or even just having a nice night in for 1 or 2, a Kir Royale is a perfect complimentary drink for this dish.  You can make them fancy, but for me, I just use (.25 oz) Chambord and fill the rest of the flute with Champagne. It’s crisp, flavorful and doesn’t compromise your pallet for dinner.

PDF Version

Scalloped Potato Gratin

I’m going to a family BBQ tomorrow and need to bring a side dish which I used to be terrified of.  I would panic and just pick up something at the store on my way.  Now- I like to experiment and try new recipes on my friends and family (guinea pigs).  This time though, my grandparents told me to bring “that cheesy potato dish” that they really like. I’m not going to complain, I love potatoes… and cheese.  Bonus: this is a SUPER easy recipe.  Being that it is grandma and grandpa approved, I figured that I’d toss it up on the blog. This is a universal dish that kids, teenagers and adults all love.  If you don’t eat potatoes- get off my blog, you are not welcome here.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 Sprig of Thyme
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped (2 tsp. if you are using pre-chopped garlic)
  • ½ Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • Butter (for coating the pan)
  • 2 Lbs. Russet Potatoes (usually 3 or 4 large ones)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/8” slices.
  3. In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.
  4. While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish.  Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper.  Remove cream from heat, and then pour a little over the potatoes.  Top with some grated parmesan.  Make two more layers.  Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle some more Parmesan over the top layer and broil until cheese browns (about 5 minutes).

Serving Size
4-6ish

Drink Pairing
A good craft beer always pairs well with potatoes and BBQs. In St. Louis, I prefer a Schlafly Kolsch or Urban Chestnut STLIPA.

PDF Version

Lasagna Stuffed Shells

This is one of my husbands favorite recipes that I make, so what better recipe to start my first blog off with.  I live on “The Hill” in St. Louis which is known for it’s rich Italian heritage and delicious Italian restaurants.  So of course, any time that I have company over for dinner, they are expecting an out-of-the-world Italian dish. This NEVER disappoints.

Enjoy!

Lasagna Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. Ground Beef (I get the 90% lean)
  • 1 Box Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 16-Oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • 1 Jar of Prego (24-Oz) Feel free to use more depending on your sauciness preference
  • ½ Lb. Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (store bought works just fine, but if you are feeling fancy, grate your own)
  • 1 Tbsp. Parsley

Directions

  1. In a large pan, brown the ground beef over medium high heat.  Drain and remove from heat.  If you use extra lean meat, you shouldn’t have much to drain.
  2. Cook pasta shells according to box.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan, parsley, the egg and a pinch of salt.*
  5. Mix in the cooled meat mixture and then mix in 1 cup of the sauce.
  6. Cover the bottom of two baking dishes with the remaining tomato sauce.  Fill the pasta shells with the cheesy meat mixture and place in the baking dishes.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over top.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn brown.

Side Dish Recommendation
Garlic Cheese Bread & A Salad

Serving Size
4 Very Hungry Adults

Wine Suggestion
Any Italian red works splendidly- chianti, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, etc.

*In a time crunch?
You can make the the stuffing the night before and refrigerate it.  That way, after you get home from work, you just have to cook the shells, stuff them and then bake.

PDF Version