Dinners

Recipe—Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Ooey, gooey, cheesy white sauce goodness. What more do I need to say about this lasagna. It is layer upon layer of creamy mozzarella sauce, noodles, ricotta, chicken, spinach, and cheese. My mouth is literally watering.

This dinner is the ultimate comfort food. So rich, creamy, and filling. A perfect family dinner as the weather starts to cool down. Seriously though, what is better on a cold night then a big filling serving of pasta? Nothing, the answer is nothing.

This is one of those recipes that is great to make ahead on the weekend when you have some extra time and then during the week all you have to is pop it in the oven and bake. Boom! Dinner is done!

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

INGREDIENTS
16 oz lasagna noodles
salt
1/2 c butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c milk
5 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 c ricotta
2 c cooked chicken breast, chopped
10 oz package frozen cooked spinach, thawed and drained
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • Cook the noodles per the package instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until cooked through.
  • Stir in the flour until it begins to brown.
  • Gradually add the broth and milk to the saucepan and whisk together.
  • Allow the sauce to come to a boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes.
  • Mix in 2 cups of the mozzarella, 3/4 cup of the parmesan, basil, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir until all the cheese is melted and well integrated.
  • Remove the sauce from the stove and set aside.
  • Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Ladle a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Layer a quarter of the cooked noodles in the bottom of the baking dish and top with half of the ricotta, half of the chicken, and half of the spinach. Sprinkle with some of the mozzarella and parmesan and ladle another quarter of the sauce over the top.
  • Repeat the previous step. Noodles, ricotta, chicken, spinach, cheese sauce.
  • Add the final layer of noodles and top with all the remaining sauce and cheeses.
  • Bake for 40–45 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and just starts to brown on top.
  • Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow it to rest for 5–10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the parsley over the top.
  • Cut and serve.
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Dinners

Recipe—Quick and Easy Korean Beef

I recently got my first ever taste of Korean beef when it came served over a heaping pile of fries with sweet and creamy coleslaw. Sounds amazing, right?!?! It was, I promise.

I absolutely loved the sweet flavors of brown sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame, and just a little bit of heat simmered through the meat. I instantly went to Pinterest looking for some more Korean beef recipes and found this one. It. Was. Ah-MAZING! It checked all the boxes. Yummy? Check. Quick? (Uh yeah! It took 15 minutes.) Check. Budget friendly? Check. It’s a recipe every busy parent dreams about!

I have made it a few times now and it has never disappointed.

Note: If you are looking to add some veggies, it pairs great with some steamed broccoli.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
2 green onions, chopped
cooked rice

STEPS

  • Cook the ground beef over medium high heat breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is cooked through, drain off most of the fat.
  • Add in the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red peppers, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer over medium heat for a 4–5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over a bed of rice and top with chopped green onions.

 

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff. 

Appetizers

Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES
cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.
Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillos are one of those things that I am just figuring out what to do with. I remember as a kid peeling the husks off them all summer long since my mom grew them in her garden but all I remember her really making was her tomatillo salsa.

Every once in awhile I end up with a small bag of them from a friend or our produce delivery. Never enough to actually make a whole batch of salsa with. But now I can say I have two recipes that use tomatillos. One is my green chicken chili, which I promise to post soon, and the other is this incredible Creamy Tomatillo Chicken recipe.

If you can prepare the sauce the night before it is perfect for a busy workday. Just come home, take the marinated chicken out of the bag, and bake. After marinating for that long you are sure to get a super juicy and flavorful chicken breast. The ranch gives it a nice refreshing quality while the cilantro and lime give it a little zip! While I served this with rice which was awesome, I really want to try the chicken chopped up over some greens with corn, black beans, and some red bell pepper. The sauce would make for an amazing dressing over a little southwest salad!

INGREDIENTS
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 tsp garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
4 tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 tsp lime juice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

GARNISHES (Optional)
Lime wedges
Extra cilantro leaves

STEPS

  • Add into a blender the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch dressing mix, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and lime juice.
    Blend until well combined and transfer about half of the mix to a one-gallon Ziploc Bag.
  • Add the chicken to the bag and seal tightly.
  • Store the chicken in the fridge and marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
  • Transfer the remaining marinade in a small bowl, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • When ready to begin cooking preheat the oven to 375º and transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish.
  • Dispose of the leftover marinade.
  • Bake the chicken for 20–25 minutes or until cooked completely through.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken to the plate and poor the additional sauce over the top.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and some fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Enjoy! 

Recipe adapted from Creme de la Crumb.

Side Dishes

Recipe—Italian Cheese Rolls

Sometimes you just need to spruce up the ordinary with a little pizzazz. While there is nothing wrong with plain garlic bread or even simple dinner rolls but sometimes it is fun to take those sides dishes to the next level. I have seen these cheese filled Pillsbury rolls popping up all over Pinterest and decided to come up with some yummy rolls of my own. I went with an Italian version to go with all the pasta dishes I make, a great substitute for the traditional garlic bread.

INGREDIENTS
1 container of Pillsbury Grands Flaky Biscuits
block of mozzarella, cut into eight 1.5” x 1.5” cubes
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Open the tube of rolls and flatten each one using the palms of your hands.
  • Position a cheese cube in the center of each flattened roll and wrap the edges of the roll up around the cheese cube making sure they are sealed up tight.
  • Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the rolls have been assembled.
  • Mix together the melted butter and garlic.
  • Brush each roll with the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle all the rolls with the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and a little salt.
  • Bake the rolls for 16–18 minutes or until they are golden on top.
  • Let the rolls cool for about 3 minutes before serving. That cheesy filling can be nuclear.
Dinners

Recipe—The Perfect Turkey

To brine or not to brine? That is the ongoing question I have people ask me about cooking a turkey. Well here is your answer, I am a briner. I have prepared turkeys both brined and not. While I am no professional chef I would consider my self very versed in eating. I personally think brined turkeys come out with more flavor and are more moist than that of a turkey that is not brined. Some of you may be asking, “what the heck is brining?”

Brining is the process of soaking your turkey in a salt (and sometimes herb) infused bath for several hours prior to cooking. I find that your bird will be more evenly flavored and it will also be the moistest bird you ever have.

I make an awesome citrus herb rub (see recipe below) for my turkey. It is flavor packed and will make all your dinner guests ohhhh and ahhhh. The orange zest is not overpowering at all. It actually is a really nice complement to all the other flavors of a thanksgiving dinner. Trust me. I know how to make a delicious turkey.

Notes: Do not brine your turkey if it is self basting, pre seasoned, or kosher. If you do not have a pan that is large enough you may use an oversized bowl, ice chest, or even a baking bag tied off. The key is that the bird is completely submerged.

BRINING INGREDIENTS
1 c kosher salt
2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp pepper
thawed turkey

STEPS FOR BRINING

  • Find a large pot that will hold your turkey making sure you have at least an inch or two of room at the top.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in your pot.
  • Add the salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Remove the pan from heat and add in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper.
  • Place the pot in your sink (this will help in case any liquid overflows).
  • Remove all of the giblets and neck from your turkey and gently lower it into the pot.
  • Cover the pot with a lid or saran wrap.
  • Place the pot in the fridge and marinade for 12–16 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat dry.

TURKEY INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 oranges, zested and quartered
1 c butter, softened
1 brined turkey

STEPS FOR TURKEY

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a small bowl combine the garlic, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, orange zest, and butter and mix until well combined.
  • Starting from the neck of the turkey, carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers.
  • Push about half of the herbed butter mixture under the skin and spread it out evenly. (Don’t be afraid really get it all over in there! The butter will melt and all those yummy flavors will just seep into the meat.)
  • Use the other half of the mixture to evenly cover the top and sides of the turkey.
  • Place the orange quarters inside the turkey’s cavity.
  • Place the seasoned turkey in a roasting pan and loosely cover with foil.
  • Roast the turkey for 20–23 minutes per pound and baste every 45 minutes. (Note: If you are running out of juices in the pan just add some chicken broth or cubes of butter.)
  • Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
  • When the temperature in the meatiest part of the turkey reaches 165º remove it from oven and allow it to rest for 25–30 minutes.
  • Carve and gobble up.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

Dinners, Soups

Recipe—Tuscan Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe a couple of months back for a ravioli soup and knew I had to try it. Well I am never one to really “follow” a recipe so I mixed things up and created a tortellini soup. Tortellini are far less doughy so you have these fabulously light cheese filled pillows floating around in a rich creamy tomato soup and then of course some big hearty chunks of sausage in the mix as well. This soup was phenomenal! My four-year-old son gobbled it up and he is usually kind of weird about soups (I think it is a texture thing). This recipe made a massive pot, which allowed us to have a full dinner and then also freeze a bunch for future meals. Tuscan tortellini soup is perfect for a chilly winter day and is so quick and easy to prepare. I could go for a big bowl of it right now!

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground Italian sausage
4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
4 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 c half & half
1 c heavy cream
6 oz bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
18–20 oz fresh four cheese tortellini (I got two 9 oz packages.)
1 c parmesan cheese, shredded
croutons

STEPS

  • Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a VERY large soup pot.
  • Once the meat is about halfway cooked add the butter, onion, and garlic and cook until the union is soft and transparent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and chopped spinach.
  • Bring to a boil and add salt and garlic powder.
  • Boil for 10 minutes making sure to stir frequently.
  • While the soup is boiling cook your tortellini in a separate pot per package instructions and drain.
  • Add the half & half and heavy cream to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the parmesan and cooked tortellini until the cheese is melted.
  • Transfer the soup to a bowl using a ladle.
  • Top with croutons and additional parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co.