Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Re-Make Recap

I told myself I wouldn't start this post off with the usual "how can it be the end of xxx month already" schpiel, but today is Halloween, folks. Hard to believe, right? The heat's on in the house, I'm trying to maintain healthy eating habits when all I want are cream and cheese-laden dishes and I've been forced to wear a coat. Yup, winter is on its way. I'm not happy about it, but time marches on.

We had another delicious month in October. I'm loving this whole recap thing because it gives me an excuse to remake old favorites.

This Texas Roadhouse knockoff salad has become our go-to side salad. Baby Girl can even recite all the ingredients that go into it as she's helping me prep it. Her job is to spin the lettuce in the salad spinner. She also eats basically an entire kid portion of salad by sneaking bites off the cutting board.

chicken nuggets3

Now that I've found an amazing recipe for chicken nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce I can't imagine buying frozen nuggets again. These are insanely good, with a nice crispy coating and a great tang from the buttermilk and pickle juice. We all eat way too many of these whenever I make them.

I'm still kicking myself for not making this cheesy zucchini rice more often this summer. It's the perfect side dish for the chicken nuggets. My fried Kylee actually made it into a main dish by doubling the recipe and adding chicken. I need to try that ASAP.

I dug way back into the archives when I made these fish tacos. I wanted something a little different for Mexican night one week and remembered how much we loved these.

You know I can't make a Mexican dish without serving these refried beans on the side. I think they've been in every recipe recap I've done since I started doing this back in the spring. Too funny.

SP and I love a good cheesesteak but I hadn't made them at home in over a year. I think I did a great job cutting up the meat this time and even Baby Girl enjoyed it (the kid likes steak, I'm so proud).

We've been bringing dinner to my parents every Sunday for the last few weeks and I try to keep the meals on the healthier side. I love the presentation of these black bean patties with corn relish and avocado cream sauce. We all loved this. My stepdad ate two full plates. That's a real winner, folks.


I brought another container of meat sauce bolognese out of the freezer this month to serve over pasta. Such an easy weeknight meal.


I love sandwiches and since we had some leftover blue cheese in the fridge I decided to make blue cheese chicken salad sandwiches. Baby Girl and I both love lots of add-ins in our chicken salad, while SP is a mayo, salt and pepper kind of guy.

Some of my friends on Facebook were talking about macaroni and cheese and I knew I had to put it on the menu ASAP. This best potluck mac and cheese is my gold-standard.

Every week when I'm meal planning I ask SP what he wants for dinner the following week. One week he chose skillet beef stroganoff, a recipe we haven't had in quite a long time. It really hit the spot.

fish sandwich2

We loved this crispy fish with tangy dill pickle sauce so much the first time I had to remake it almost immediately, this time as sandwiches.

citrus chicken burrito2

I combined citrus chicken fajitas and the cilantro lime rice from these Chipotle chicken burritos to make citrus chicken burritos. I think this is now my go-to burrito recipe. So amazing.

I have a bunch of ground beef in the freezer so I looked through my beef tag for inspiration and stumbled upon this recipe for soutzoukakia. The perfect weeknight comfort food.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Citrus Chicken Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice

I've mentioned before that I love Mexican food and try to make sure each weekly menu has at least one Mexican dish on it. Recently I had trouble deciding between these knockoff Chipotle chicken burritos and these citrus chicken fajitas so I decided to combine them into one dish.

citrus chicken burrito

These were delicious, if time-consuming to make. I didn't realize how many different things I needed to prep - the pico de gallo, the marinade for the chicken, the caramelized onions, the cilantro lime rice and the refried beans I served on the side. Once all of that was done, assembling these was easy and dinner was on the table in no time flat. Just be sure you have time to prepare everything in advance.

citrus chicken burrito2

I think these will be my go-to burritos from now on. I loved everything about them.

Citrus Chicken Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice
From So Tasty, So Yummy and Very Culinary

Juice of half a lemon
Juice of one lime
Juice of one orange
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced

4 roma tomatoes, cored and diced small
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

2 cups cooked basmati rice, warm (from 1 cup dry)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 burrito-size tortillas
sour cream

Put lemon, lime and orange juices in a plastic food storage bag with the oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Add the chicken to the bag, seal and toss to coat. Marinate the chicken for 2 to 4 hours.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the sliced onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are brown and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Combine the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño (if using), and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle the lime juice and oil over the top of warm rice, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and salt; fluff with a fork.

When ready to eat, grill the chicken breasts in a grill pan for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Flip and cook another 4 minutes. Allow to rest before slicing into strips.

Warm tortillas over a gas burner or in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds. Place on a flat surface, evenly distribute the rice and chicken, top with the pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Fold the flap nearest you over the filling, then fold in the sides. Roll the burrito away from you, keeping it tight to form a log.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice

My friend Melissa has been raving about these Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice since the first time she made them. I was hemming and hawing about making them (it's been a long time since I last cooked pork chops) but I finally bit the bullet and I'm so glad I did.

Pork chops pineapple rice

Sadly, I couldn't find bone-in pork chops in my supermarket. They didn't even have them in the meat case. I'm not sure why - they had bone-in chicken breasts - but no bone-in pork chops. I ended up pounding the boneless chops out to an even thickness and just cooked them for less time. The key to fried rice is to cook the rice the night before. Every other time I've tried to make the rice the same day it clumps together and is totally unappealing. This was perfect - each grain stayed separate. Don't skip that step. It takes some planning ahead but it's well worth it.

Pork chops pineapple rice

This was a great dish and the leftovers were even better the next day.

Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice
Very slightly modified from Alosha's Kitchen, who adapted it from Pioneer Woman

1 large can pineapple chunks, drained
4 cups white rice, cooked the previous day and chilled overnight (from 1 1/3 cups dry)
4 boneless pork chops, about 1 1/2" thick
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, sliced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1 1/3 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons soy sauce (additional)

Saute the pineapple chunks over high heat in a non-stick or cast iron skillet until they start to brown. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a large deep skillet. Add the pork chops to the pan. Sear on both sides until they're golden brown. Add the sliced onions and work them into the spaces between the chops. Let them cook for about 5 minutes.

When the onions are soft, add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, and chili garlic sauce. Stir the sauce around, and let it cook for another 5 minutes, until the pork chops are completely cooked and the sauce is thicker. Remove the pork chops to a bowl, then let the sauce simmer for another 30 to 45 seconds. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, then cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Add the other 1/2 tablespoon oil to the same pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and sauté for 2 minutes, until just soft. Add the garlic and stir it around, then add the eggs and immediately stir them to scramble. Add the peas and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add the cooked rice then gently stir in the cooked pineapple chunks. Mix everything together.

To serve, pile some of the rice on a plate, then top with a pork chop and onions. Drizzle a little bit of sauce over the top.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Black Bean, Avocado and Onion Quesadillas

I like to have one Mexican dish on the menu every week. Lately I've felt like we're eating too much meat so I was on the hunt for a vegetarian dish. My friend Jaida recommended these Black Bean and Avocado Quesadillas and I couldn't wait to try them.

black bean quesadillas

One nice thing about cooking without meat is the prep time is substantially less. I was able to toast the tortillas while I mashed the beans and avocado and then it was simply a matter of assembling and baking to melt the cheese. I love easy dinners like that.

black bean quesadillas2

We all loved these. SP said he thought the beans were unnecessary but I liked the contrasting flavors. Plus the protein - beans are so good for you. I opted to add caramelized onions for flavor and to break up the monotony of mashed beans and avocado and it was the perfect addition. Delicious!

Black Bean & Avocado Quesadilla
Adapted from Sweet Beginnings, originally from Sing For Your Supper

1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
cooking spray
4 burrito-size flour tortillas
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
1 avocado, mashed
shredded cheese (mix of cheddar, monterey jack, etc)
lime wedges
sour cream for dipping

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the onion slices, season with salt and allow to cook slowly until they caramelize. This will take about 30 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. The onions can be made ahead of time, allowed to cool and then refrigerated until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Place 1 tortilla at a time in the skillet, turning often to brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Place two of the tortillas side by side on a baking sheet lined with foil. Top each with half the mashed beans followed by half the mashed avocado. Add half the onions to each tortilla, then top with cheese. Place the other two tortillas on top.

Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted, then cut into triangles. Serve with lime wedges and sour cream for dipping.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Coffee "Cake"

This time of year everyone is cooking and baking with pumpkin. I was looking in a pumpkin thread on my cooking board and came across this Pumpkin Coffee Cake. I wanted something easy to bring to my parent's house for dessert one Sunday and this looked like just the thing.

pumpkin coffee cake 3

I put cake in quotes in the title of this post because I wouldn't necessarily call this cake. I failed to read the directions, just the ingredient list, before making this recipe and since it called for a boxed cake mix I (wrongly) assumed it would have more of a cake consistency. In actuality, you make a wet mixture and top it with the cake mix, resulting in more of a pudding-like consistency on the bottom with a strudel-like top.

pumpkin coffee cake2

It was still really good, though. It makes a great dessert and everyone enjoyed it. And it couldn't have been easier to put together, something I truly appreciate when baking.

pumpkin coffee cake

It was even better the next day with a little whipped cream. I microwaved a piece to take the chill off and it was perfection. It may not be cake-like, but it's definitely delicious.

Pumpkin Coffee "Cake"
As seen on Peace, Love and French Fries

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
15 oz can pumpkin puree
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9x13 dish with cooking spray.

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the pumpkin puree and sugar mixture. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk. Pour into the bottom of the prepared 9x13 dish.

Melt the butter, then add to the cake mix in a large bowl. Stir until combined. It should form a strudel-like mixture. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the cake has set and the top starts to brown. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into pieces. Serve warm with whipped cream.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Recipe Swap: Turkey Avocado BLT Sandwich

It's recipe swap time again. This month's theme was lunch and I was assigned a Turkey Avocado BLT Sandwich from Nichole over at Cookaholic Wife.

Turkey Avocado BLT

Like Nichole said in her write up, these are a super simple sandwich to make. There's nothing out of the ordinary here, just a good, basic sandwich.

I don't know about you but sometimes you need a reminder that there are other lunch options besides leftovers. It was great to make myself a nice, thick, hearty sandwich for lunch the day I made these. I could also see pairing half a sandwich with a nice bowl of soup.

Turkey Avocado BLT Sandwich
As seen on Cookaholic Wife

2 slices bread
3-3 slices deli turkey
3 slices avocado
1 large lettuce leaf
2 thin slices tomato
2 strips bacon, cooked
salt and pepper

Toast the bread. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread. Layer on the turkey, avocado, lettuce, tomato and bacon. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Put the sandwich together and cut in half to serve.

To see what other lunch recipes were made click on the links below.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Crispy Baked Tilapia with Tangy Dill and Pickle Sauce

I don't know why but I've rarely cooked fish in the last few years. It wasn't until I was looking for a Mexican-themed recipe to remake that I stumbled upon fish tacos. SP bought me a 2-lb bag of tilapia so after making the tacos I still had four filets left to use. Then Ali posted this recipe for Crispy Baked Cod with Tangy Dill and Pickle Sauce and I couldn't wait to try it.

crispy fish

Since I had tilapia I subbed that for the cod. I also opted to pan fry the fish. Our new stove has an in-oven broiler but I haven't used it yet. I've always had ovens with broilers underneath, which means I've never broiled anything that doesn't fit into my toaster oven. I didn't want to experiment on this meal and who doesn't love fried food?

fish sandwich

The next day I took my leftover fish and sauce and made it into a delicious sandwich. When I told SP my plan he was a bit miffed not to have his own sandwich. I will definitely be making it this way next time. The sandwich was perfect.

fish sandwich2

I was holding my breath to see what Baby Girl would think of the fish but both times I made it she yummed it up. Score!

Crispy Baked Fish with Tangy Dill & Pickle Sauce
Modified from Sparks From the Kitchen

1 large egg, beaten with a splash of water
1 cup panko
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup flour
2 4oz skin-less fresh cod (or tilapia) filets
vegetable oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
splash of pickle juice
1 teaspoon yellow mustard

Place egg and water in a shallow dish. In a second dish combine panko, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix to combine.

Place the flour in a plastic food storage bag, then add the fish filets. Seal the bag and toss to coat the fish evenly in the flour. Remove from the bag and dip each fillet in the egg and then roll in panko.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with about 1/2-inch of canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the fish. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 4 minutes, then flip (very carefully, the fish is flaky and may fall apart), and brown the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off some of the oil.

While fish is cooking combine the mayo, pickle, pickle juice and mustard in a bowl. Stir and serve on the side with the fish.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken BLT Salad

I'm always on the lookout for new dinner salads, but they have to be hearty enough to satisfy us at the end of the day. As soon as Nicole posted this Chicken BLT Salad I knew it would be a winner in my house. How could it not when it contains two things SP loves - crispy chicken and BLT ingredients?

chicken BLT salad3

You know what the surprise star was of this meal? The dressing. Holy moly was it good. SP, not being a fan of dill, opted to use something else but Baby Girl and I practically licked our plates clean trying to get all the dressing into our bellies. So deliciously easy with a huge flavor punch. I opted to pan-fry the chicken rather than bake it in the oven to ensure a nice, crispy coating. It's not the healthier option, but everything in moderation, right?

chicken BLT salad2

And here's one more picture because I wanted to experiment with the new filters on iOS 7. Pretty neat.

chicken BLT salad

Chicken BLT Salad
As seen on Prevention RD

1 cup lowfat buttermilk, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
canola or another light-colored oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated
1 medium head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 4 slices
2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped
crumbled blue cheese (about 1/2 cup)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine 1/2 cup buttermilk and egg in a shallow dish. Place panko in a second shallow dish. Season the egg mixture with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture to coat, then dredge in the panko.

Heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, then flip and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Let chicken stand 5 minutes before slicing into strips.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, salt and pepper to taste, mayonnaise, dill, chives/parsley, vinegar and garlic in a bowl or dressing container. Stir or shake to combine.

Place cut lettuce on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1/4 of the chicken, tomato, and dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and crumbled bacon.
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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Chile Tortilla Eggbake

Sometimes I really like breakfast for dinner. I also like make-ahead meals that allow me to just pop a dish into the oven. I'm a big fan of stratas and this Chile Tortilla Eggbake sounded great.

chile tortilla egg bake

I had to modify the recipe slightly because my taco-size tortillas didn't cover the bottom of a 9x13 dish. I used a smaller dish and it was filled to the brim, which meant it took longer to cook, so I'd recommend sticking with the 9x13 and just using more tortillas. We all enjoyed this but I felt like it needed something. I think adding some breakfast sausage or cooked bacon to the egg mixture would be good.

Chile Tortilla Eggbake
As seen on Jenna’s Cooking Journey, originally from Spoonful

8-10 flour tortillas, soft-taco size
3-4 small cans of chopped green chiles, drained and rinsed in a sieve
1 pound grated Monterey Jack cheese
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)

Pico de gallo
Sour cream

Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Cover the bottom of the dish with tortillas, overlapping as little as possible. You can tear them in half, if needed. Top with 1/2 of the chiles and 1/3 of the cheese, then add another layer of tortillas and top it with the rest of the chiles and another 1/3 of the cheese. Add the final layer of tortillas, top with the remaining cheese. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt in a bowl, then pour over the casserole.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 and take the casserole out of the fridge. Let it come to room temperature (about 2 hours). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. It's done when it's browned around the edges and doesn't jiggle. Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting it so that it has time to set up. A little bit of clear liquid that separates as you slice it is normal.

Serve topped with pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole or any other toppings you prefer.
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Monday, October 07, 2013

Creamy Lemon One-Pot Pasta

You may have seen Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta floating around the Internet lately. It seems like many of my favorite bloggers have made this dish and raved about it. As good (and easy) as it sounds, I don't like loose tomato skin and the thought of trying to remove the skin after cooking turned me off from making the dish.

creamy one pot pasta2

Then Josie posted this spinoff, Creamy Lemon One-Pot Pasta, and I rejoiced. I could finally try the one-pot pasta without worrying about tomato skin.

creamy one pot pasta

This smelled divine while it was cooking and tasted even better. It's like a lighter and easier Alfredo sauce with hints of citrus. Baby Girl had three servings, proclaiming me the "best cook ever" as she was eating. Thanks for coming up with this one, Josie!

Creamy Lemon One-Pot Pasta
As seen on Pink Parsley, inspired by Martha Stewart

12 oz. dried pasta (I used spaghetti)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 sprigs of fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups water
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large straight-sided skillet, combine the pasta, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, olive oil, salt, black pepper, water, milk, wine, and lemon zest.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, using tongs to turn and stir the pasta often. Boil until the noodles are al dente and most of the liquid has evaporated/been absorbed, 8-12 minutes.

Remove from heat, remove the sprigs of basil, and stir in the cream, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, stir again, and divide among bowls.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and basil, if desired.
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