Dinners

Recipe—Pesto Chicken Kabobs

Over the past year or so I have been using pesto more and more. Last summer we got a massive amount of basil from our garden, which yielded lots and lots of tasty homemade pesto. I was able to freeze tons and use it throughout the whole year. Awesome! I have found that pesto actually makes a really great marinade. Recently I am totally hooked on pesto chicken kabobs. Not only are they super fun to eat but they cook in a fraction of the time. Perfect meal for this coming summer.

Tip From the Diva: When using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 10 minutes before putting all your goodies on them. It keeps them from catching fire and are much easier to handle. Genius right?

INGREDIENTS
3–4 chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces/cubes
salt and pepper
1/2 c pesto
half of a red onion, cut into 1” squares
red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
yellow bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

STEPS

  • Season the cubed chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Place in a container and toss with the pesto.
  • Allow chicken to marinade for at least 30 minutes. (I like to let mine soak up all the flavors for 7–8 hours.)
  • Thread the meat and the veggies onto the skewers making sure to alternate and discard the leftover marinade.
  • Grill skewers for 10 minutes, turning as needed, or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
Dinners

Recipe—Stewed Italian Sausages with Peppers

Perhaps it’s the Italian in me but I absolutely LOVE a good Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Ta-sty! This is a recipe I tried awhile back when I was trying to trim down on my carb consumption. You can use any Italian sausages but I really like Aidells Italian Style Chicken Sausages. They are flavor packed and the chicken helps cut down on some of the calories from the traditional pork or beef. The whole family loved this recipe! For those not watching their carbs, I served it with some crusty French bread and it was a perfect meal! Quick, easy, and delicious. That’s my style!

Note: The sausage and veggies are absolutely awesome in a sandwich too. Just grab a pack of sandwich rolls, load ’em up, and chow down!

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds Italian sausage (I love Aidells Italian Style Smoked Chicken Sausage with Mozzarella)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
salt
1 c dry red wine
1 c fresh parmesan, grated

STEPS

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook turning frequently until they turn a nice golden color and are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to the sausages to a large plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet along with all the veggies.
  • Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 12–14 minutes.
  • Season the veggies with salt and add the sausages back into the skillet.
  • Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue to cook for about 4 minutes or until the wine has reduced by about half.
  • Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and serve.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.

 

Dinners, Salads

Recipe—Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

If you have been following me for a while now then you have probably caught onto the fact that I love anything with buffalo sauce. If you haven’t caught onto that yet then pay attention! I’ve shared recipes for buffalo cauliflower bites, buffalo baked chicken, buffalo chicken tacos… you catch my drift? Okay, I may even call myself a buffalo sauce fanatic. I don’t know what it is about the spicy sauce that I enjoy so much but anything doused in Frank’s is good in my book.

Well I recently saw a recipe for crock-pot buffalo chicken wraps and I knew I had to try them. So I went to the store, got all my ingredients, and then…I forgot the whole preparing the crock-pot aspect that went along with the recipe. Whoops! Welcome to my life. No worries, I improvised. I just boiled the chicken along with the veggies, shredded it, and was back on track!

These turned out absolutely awesome! They were fairly quick and easy to put together and best of all they were light and refreshing. You have the nice crisp lettuce wrapped around the spicy tender chicken and then top it off with the rich blue cheese and some crisp veggies. Mmm… mmmmm… perfectly balanced!

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 celery ribs, sliced
Small yellow onion, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c buffalo sauce (I love Franks’s)

FIXINGS
Large lettuce leaves (butter, romaine, green leaf, or iceburg)
Carrots, shredded
Celery, chopped
Blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese crumbles

STEPS

  • Place the chicken breasts, celery, and onions in a large pot.
  • Top off with water making sure everything is submerged.
  • Bring pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour the entire pot into a colander and remove the chicken breast.
  • Using two forks shred all of the chicken.
  • Using the pot you boiled the chicken in, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the buffalo sauce and stir to combine.
  • Toss in the shredded chicken and the cooked veggies from the colander and mix to combine.
  • Place a scoop of the chicken in a lettuce cup and top with fresh carrots, celery, blue cheese dressing, and blue cheese crumbles.
  • Grab a napkin and enjoy!
Soups

Recipe—Crock-Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Happy new year! How is 2014 treating you all so far? Hopefully absolutely fabulously!

First off I want to apologize for my absence over the past few months. Life has been super busy! I started a new job back in September managing one of the most awesome design studios and it has taken some time to find the right balance in life. My resolution for 2014 is to get back to some regular blogging so I have lots of great things coming for you. I have still been cookin’ up a storm while away so I have plenty of tasty new recipes to share. Now the question is, where to start!

Since it’s winter and we are all still recovering from the holiday madness how about one of my all time favorite soup recipes? It is a quick and easy crock-pot recipe that will be sure to warm you up.

When I was in high school I used to work in a little mom and pop owned coffee shop called Full O’ Beans. (People actually came in thinking it was a Mexican restaurant.) This coffee shop had the best soups and sandwiches! One of my all time favorite soups they served on occasion was the chicken and wild rice. It was delicious! I would have a big bowl at work and then fill up a big styrofoam cup to take home for later. It was one of those comfort soups that I just couldn’t get enough of. Well I finally put together this recipe that is out of this world good and reminds me of the coffee shop’s homemade chicken soup. This soup is easy, delicious, “souper” filling, and best of all it is made in the crock-pot. What more can a girl ask for? Now go make a big pot of this soup and snuggle up under a blanket on the couch while you wait for it to cook. Or do like I do, and just go to work. 😉

INGREDIENTS
4 c chicken broth
2 c water
1 box Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1/2 c butter
1/3 c flour
2 c half and half
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

STEPS

  • In your crock-pot mix together broth, water, and rice (including seasoning pack).
  • Add in the chicken breasts, carrots, and celery.
  • Cook on low for 6–8 hours or on high for 3–4 hours.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the crock-pot and break it up into pieces using a fork. Return the chicken to the crock-pot.
  • In a medium saucepan melt your butter over medium heat.
  • Gradually mix in the flour until well combined.
  • Whisk in the half and half and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the creamy base mixture to the crock-pot and stir until well combined.
  • Allow the soup to cook on low for another 15 minutes.
  • Try the soup and season to taste. If it is too thick you can add a little water to thin it out.
Dinners

Recipe—Smothered Chicken

I am not posting this recipe because it is super easy or quick. Not that it is challenging by any means, just lots of steps and dirty pans. But hey, sometimes meals are completely worth it. I am posting this recipe because it is rich, tasty, and a wonderful indulgence. This is the type of dinner for a romantic night, a special occasion, in or if you are entertaining a couple of guests. The name says it all, a simple chicken breast smothered in all sorts of wonderful, creamy, scrumptious, goodness. This is the perfect recipe for all the low carb lovers out there. When I’m focusing on eating low carb I typically go for lower fat items but sometimes you just need something rich to satisfy those cravings. This is it.  Even if you aren’t watching carbs, this will be a wonderful indulgent dinner.

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices, mozzarella cheese

CREAMED GREENS INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp red onion, minced
1 bunch of kale or chard, inner stalks stripped out and greens chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

SAUTEED MUSHROOM INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter
2 c mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper

CHICKEN STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a small bowl combine the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken.
  • Place the seasoned chicken in a greased baking dish and bake for 16 minutes.

CREAMED GREENS STEPS

  • While the chicken is baking, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the red onions and garlic to the pan and sauté for 2–3 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped greens and cook until they are completely wilted.
  • When the greens are done stir in the cream cheese and parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Continue cooking until the cream cheese is melted.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

 SAUTEED MUSHROOM STEPS

  •  Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned all over.
  • Add the wine, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Continue cooking until most of the wine is cooked out.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • When the chicken is done cooking, remove the dish from the oven and flip the chicken over.
  • Divide the creamed greens over the top of each breast.
  • Add the sautéed mushrooms to each breast.
  • Top each breast with the sliced mozzarella.
  • Continue baking the smothered chicken breasts for another 14–16 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Butter, Bacon, Cheese, and Garlic.

Dinners

Recipe—Caribbean Baked Chicken with Mango

While there is nothing quite like being on a tropical island getaway, there are ways you can bring the tropical flavors to your very own kitchen. This easy baked chicken recipe combines some great jerk flavors with the sweetness of mango, refreshing flavor of cilantro, and a little bite of jalapeno. Spicy and sweet are classic flavors in Caribbean dishes. This recipe is flavor packed and light, a dinner perfect for the warm summer months. Get lost in your own little island getaway with this fantastic recipe.

INGREDIENTS
2 jalapenos, deseeded and deveined
1 white onion
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 slice of ginger, 1/2″ thick
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/4 c red onion, diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 450º.
  • In a blender or food processor combine the pepper, white onion, garlic, ginger, olive oil, vinegar, thyme, allspice, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  • Process the ingredients until smooth, adding more olive oil if needed.
  • Spread the blended pepper mixture over both sides of the chicken.
  • Place the chicken in a large greased baking dish and top with any remaining pepper mixture.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer the chicken to plates and top each with some diced mango, red onion, and cilantro.
Appetizers

Recipe—Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Every couple of months I get together with a fabulous group of ladies for a book club meeting. I don’t know why we really call it a book club meeting because about 20% of the time is spent discussing the book we read and the other 80% is spent drinking fabulous wines, eating delicious foods, and catching up with some good old fashioned girl talk. Maybe wine and food club meeting would be more appropriate? Either way, we always end with an awesome variety of the most wonderful treats. Our last meeting was on a Friday night right around dinnertime so I wanted to bring something filling and yet low carb (I try and cut out carbs from the food when I know I will be consuming plenty in the wine.) These were absolutely wonderful! They were light yet completely filling. The meatballs were packed full of wonderful Mexican flavors and they really complemented the turkey nicely. The refreshing creamy cilantro lime sauce is actually from a recipe I shared a couple months back for shrimp taco cups. I LOVED that sauce and wanted to make it again. I could put that sauce on everything. So tasty!

CREAMY CILANTRO LIME SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/3 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp milk
2 oz. canned diced green chilies
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c panko or breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

SAUCE STEPS

  • To make the sauce combine all sauce ingredients except the cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Add in cilantro and pulse until combined.
  • Refrigerate sauce until ready to use.

MEATBALL STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients.
  • Using your hands mix well.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop a spoonful of the meat mixture and shape into 1”–1 1/4” round meatballs.
  • Place the formed meatballs into a greased baking dish making sure they don’t touch.
  • Bake for 16–20 minutes.
  • Serve hot with the cool cilantro lime dipping sauce.
  • Enjoy!
Dinners

Recipe—Chicken Tamale Pie

Chicken Tamale Pie

I’m all for one-pot dinners that are quick, easy, and save me from washing any extra dishes. This dinner is all of the above and it is absolutely delicious. If you love tamales then you will love this recipe. Think tamales, but on steroids. The cornbread has so many wonderful flavors and great texture. And then you get way more meat than you will ever find in some little hand rolled tamale, plus cheese. Glorious cheese! If you have a family that loves all the flavors of Mexican food and you are looking for something new that will save you some time in the kitchen give this recipe a try. You wont regret it!

Del Real Shredded Chicken

Note: I love Del Real products. I frequently use them as a way to save me time in the kitchen. For this recipe I used a package of the Del Real Shredded Chicken. It shaved off prep time and their products are super affordable. You can also purchase a rotisserie chicken, or if you have time just boil 2 chicken breasts for about 20 minutes and shred them yourself.

INGREDIENTS
1/3 c milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp chili powder
14.75 oz creamed corn
8.5 oz package of Jiffy corn muffin mix
4 oz can diced green chilies, drained
10 oz can red enchilada sauce (I love Las Palmas)
2 c chicken, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 c pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp Cotija cheese, crumbled

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Combine milk, egg, chili powder, creamed corn, Jiffy, and green chilies in a medium mixing bowl and stir just until combined.
  • Pour the cornbread mix into a greased pie dish.
  • Bake the cornbread for 23–28 minutes or until it is just cooked through and golden on top.
  • While the cornbread is baking toss the shredded chicken with the taco seasoning and 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce.
  • Using a fork, poke a liberal amount of holes into the cornbread.
  • Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the baked cornbread.
  • Add the seasoned shredded chicken to the top of the cornbread spreading it around evenly.
  • Sprinkle the shredded pepper jack cheese over the top of the chicken.
  • Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to set for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with the cilantro and Cotija cheese.
  • Cut and serve as you would a pie.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Do you like using Del Real Products? Then perhaps you will love this fabulous recipe!

Chile Verde Stuffed Poblano Chiles

Chile Verde Stuffed Poblano Chilies

Dinners

Recipe—Summertime Rosemary Lemon Chicken with Veggies

This is one of those fabulous recipes you will want to make all summer long. Here are the reasons why I think you will love this recipe:

  1. It’s an entire dinner done in one skillet (easy cleanup)
  2. It takes under 25 minutes to make
  3. It’s incredibly healthy (low cal and low carb)
  4. It utilizes fresh summer veggies
  5. It tastes and looks fabulous!

Do you really need more reasons than that to give this recipe a try?

INGREDIENTS
2 large or 4 small, boneless skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and black pepper
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped and divided
1 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 c green beans, cut in half
2 lemons
1/4 c white wine

STEPS

  • Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the rosemary.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the seasoning mix.
  • Drizzle the olive oil in the skillet and add the prepared chicken breasts.
  • Cook chicken on both sides until cooked through.
  • Add the squash, carrots, and green beans to the skillet.
  • Squeeze the juice of the two lemons into the skillet and add in the white wine.
  • Season the veggies with the remaining tablespoon of rosemary and some additional salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken breast on top of the vegetables and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are cooked to desired doneness.

Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

Dinners

Recipe—Herb Roasted Chicken

I would say 95% of the time when I am cooking chicken I am working solely with the breast. Boneless skinless breasts seem to be the quickest and easiest to work with, but you pay a little bit more for the convenience factor. However, there isn’t really anything special or fancy about a plain chicken breast. On occasion I really do enjoy cooking a whole chicken. It just seems much more impressive to roast the whole thing. While the ingredients are incredibly simple in this recipe, it is the most fabulous and flavorful chicken you will ever have. I’m not one to typically sit there and eat the skin off a chicken but when I am carving up this chicken I can’t stop eating it once I start. The skin has just the perfect amount of crispiness and more flavor than you can imagine. You are lucky if there is any skin left on your piece of chicken by the time it makes it to the table. It is that good! Once you make this recipe you will understand. I guarantee this will be the best roasted chicken you will ever have.

Note: The most complicated part of this recipe is brining the chicken, which really isn’t complicated at all, people just think it is. If you aren’t familiar with brining I will bring you up to speed. Brining a chicken is when you soak it in salt water for a good amount of time. Giving it this “salt bath” ensures your chicken will be moist and juicy and it also allows the salt to soak into the meat, which really enhances the chicken’s natural flavors. I personally feel it makes a huge difference in the taste. In my opinion, brining is the difference between a good chicken, and a great chicken.

INGREDIENTS
3–4 lb chicken
1/2 c kosher salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

STEPS

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken and place it in a large pot.
  • Pour the kosher salt over the chicken and fill the pot with water until it is submerged.
  • Cover the pot with the lid and place in the fridge for 4–8 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot, rinse with cold water, and pat dry.
  • Place the chicken on a rack in a shallow roasting pan breast side down. (If you do not have a rack just place it in a large baking dish.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375º.
  • Combine the melted butter and garlic in a small bowl.
  • Combine the basil, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper in a second small bowl.
  • Use a basting brush or your hands to lather the chicken in half of the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the chicken.
  • Flip the chicken over so that it is now breast side up.
  • Repeat with remaining butter and herb mixture.
  • Roast the chicken uncovered for 1.5–1.75 hours or until cooked through. (I like to baste mine every 20–30 minutes.)
  • Allow the chicken to sit for 5–10 minutes and then transfer to a cutting board to be carved.