Dinners

Recipe—Italian Chicken Dinner

Italian Chicken Dinner

I first tried this recipe about two months ago and have since made it at least 6 times tweaking it a little bit each time. IT HAS BECOME ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVES! We are actually having it again this week. It is perfect for this summer fully utilizing all those fresh tomatoes and basil. Most of my recipes are for a main dish or a side dish but this one is actually an entire meal. All of the components of this dish are just amazing! You have a flavorful juicy roasted chicken breast, sweet caramelized tomatoes that are literally bursting with flavor, and then the salty creamy fresh mozzarella with a nice little kick of heat from crushed red peppers, and then of course to balance it out you have some hearty brown rice simmered in chicken broth. Is your mouth watering now? Mine is! All these flavors are just so amazing together! Depending on the brown rice you get, this dinner takes about 45 minutes from start to finish and it is worth every minute of it!

Italian Chicken Dinner

Note: You can use fresh mozzarella in any form. I have used both the sliced mozzarella log as well as the little mozzarella balls. This makes a dinner that will serve 3–4 people. 

INGREDIENTS
1 c uncooked brown rice
2–2 1/2 c chicken broth (amount depends on the brown rice you purchase)Basil
3 c cherry tomatoes
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
Italian seasoning
salt & pepper
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, chopped

STEPS

  • Cook the brown rice per the package instructions but substitute chicken broth for water.
  • While the rice is cooking preheat the oven to 400º.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and place on the baking sheet
  • Bake the tomatoes and chicken for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes have just started to burst and the chicken is done.
  • While the rice, chicken, and tomatoes are cooking prepare the mozzarella.
  • Place the mozzarella in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt.
  • Once all the components of the dish are ready, plate the rice, chicken, blistered tomatoes, mozzarella, and top with chopped basil.

 

Recipe adapted from Delish. 

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Appetizers

Recipe—Steak & Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Last weekend I hosted a wine tasting party, which is so much fun by the way! Each person brought an appetizer and a bottle of wine so it was minimal preparation required on my part and didn’t break the bank. Thanks to all my amazing friends that came if you are reading this! It was such a blast! We had a total of 13 bottles of wine and an amazing spread of food.

Since I was holding the party around dinner time I knew I needed an appetizer that was hearty and filling. Steak came to mind since it would pair so nicely with a good hearty red blend. These appetizers may look very simple but the flavors were so amazing. The goat cheese is whipped together with cream cheese, olive oil, and red pepper so it is creamy and smooth with a mild kick. I was able to prepare everything earlier in the day and then assemble right before anyone arrived. And let me tell you, they were pretty darn popular among the ladies.

Steak and Goat Cheese Crostini with Pesto

Note: These can be served hot or cold. I served them cold for the sake of convenience. I was able to do all the prep in the morning, stored the cooked steak and goat cheese spread in the fridge, and put the toasted crostini in an unsealed Ziploc bag. I then assembled them right before the party.

INGREDIENTS
1 baguette, cut into 1/4 slices
10–12 ounce New York strip steak
4 oz goat cheese, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt & pepper
chili powder
garlic powder
1/2 c pesto

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 425º.
  • Place the baguette slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  • Brush each slice with olive oil and season with a light sprinkle of salt. Flip each slice over and repeat.
  • Toast the baguette slices for 12–15 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
  • While the baguette slices are toasting, season both sides of the steak with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of chili powder, and garlic powder.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the steak.
  • Cook the steak for 4–6 minutes, flip, and continue to cook for an additional 4–6 minutes.
  • Remove the steak from the pan and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • While the steak is resting, use a hand mixer to whip together the goat cheese, cream cheese, red pepper flakes, and two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Thinly slice the steak and set aside.
  • To assemble, spread about one teaspoon of the whipped goat cheese on a slice of toasted bread, top with a slice of steak, and a dollop of pesto.
  • Enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Domesticate Me.

Beverages

Recipe—Creamy Hot Cocoa in a Crock-Pot

Over the weekend we had a holiday cookie decorating party for my son and his little buddies from school. It was wonderful! All the kiddos huddled around the table eating the cookie toppings quicker than they were putting them on the actual frosted cookies getting all hopped up on sugar. I love this time of year!

I wanted to have a little hot cocoa bar where all the kids (and grown ups) could make themselves a fancy cup of cocoa. I’m not talking little envelopes of dry god knows what. I’m talking thick and creamy REAL hot cocoa. The kind that fills you up and warms your belly, the kind that leaves a thick creamy mustache on your upper lip with every sip. I made this a couple of hours before the party and it was perfect! Along with a big crock pot full of pure joy I had bowls of marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, chocolate sprinkles, whip cream, and then of course some grown up mixers (Kahlua, Disaronno, Baily’s, Frangelico, and peppermint schnapps). Hey if you know me, you know I don’t half ass anything. 😉

This hot cocoa was by far the best I ever had! If you are having a few people and want to make something very special this holiday season then I recommend you make this hot cocoa. It will take every grown up back to their childhood days and will be memorable for all the kiddos.

Note: Makes 8–12 servings.

INGREDIENTS
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz bag chocolate chips (dark, milk, or white chocolate will all work)
2 c heavy whipping cream
6 c milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large crock-pot.
  • Turn on low.
  • Cook for 2 hours stirring occasionally using a whisk.
  • Ladle into a mug, add in your mixer (optional), and top with your favorite treats or leave as is.
Dinners

Recipe—Chicken Breasts with Mushroom and Onion Dijon Sauce

Something about cooler weather makes me crave comfort food. I just love a good hearty meal on a cool night. My chicken breasts with mushroom and onion Dijon sauce is one of those delicious and soul warming meals. This is a sophisticated recipe that is just absolutely wonderful. The sauce is rich and creamy and really allows the flavors of the fresh herbs to come out and complement the zestiness of the mustard. With the holiday season approaching and people getting together this is the perfect dish to prepare for a small group. This recipe comes together relatively easy and you are sure to impress your guests with your culinary abilities.

Note: If you are feeding more than four people consider butterflying the breasts or even getting thin breast cutlets at the store. If you use a thinner breast you will need to adjust the cooking times for the chicken slightly to avoid overcooking. 

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 c white mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 c white wine
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

 

STEPS

  • In a large Ziploc bag mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the chicken to the bag and toss to coat.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and shake off excess flour before placing in the pan.
  • Cook the chicken for 4–6 minutes per side and transfer to a platter.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes making sure to stir a few times.
  • Add the sliced red onions and rosemary to the pan and continue to cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Mix in the mustards and wine and gently scrape the bottom of the pan making sure to get everything well incorporated.
  • Add in the parsley, broth, cream, and butter and mix to combine.
    Place the chicken back into the pan and spoon the sauce over the top.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer the chicken breast to a plate and spoon sauce over the top.
  • Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley garnish for some added color.

 

Recipe adapted from A Family Feast.

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Chocolate Crackle Cookies

A long time ago in a land far far away, I posted a recipe for Lemon Crackle Cookies. (Okay, it wasn’t that long ago nor that far away.) They were awesome! Perhaps the name Chocolate Crack Cookies would be more appropriate for this recipe since you will not be able to stop eating them! Since the base for my crackle cookies is a box of cake mix they are perfectly fluffy, super moist, ultra fudgy, and easier to make than any cookie should be. This recipe is very straightforward and easy. Anyone can make them. Really. I promise! While they may look complicated all you are doing is rolling the dough into balls, coating them generously with powdered sugar, and then baking them. They do all the fancy crackling while baking. Give them a try. Everyone you share with will be very pleased you did.

INGREDIENTS

2 (18.25 oz) boxes Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • In a large bowl mix together dry cake mix, eggs, and oil.
  • Put the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.
  • Form small balls with the dough and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Be sure the cookies have a really thick coating of the sugar if you want them to have that crackle look.
  • Place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7–9 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.
Dinners, Sandwiches

Recipe—Black and Blue Sammy

Is your mouth watering just looking at this picture. Okay good. That means you are still alive. I am a sucker for beef with any kind of blue cheese. A filet with a blue cheese crust, I’m all over it. A burger with blue cheese crumbles, yes please. Just something about those flavors together is so perfect. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. This sandwich is beyond decadent. The little bit or horseradish mixed in with mayo gives it a nice little bite and all the cheese melted over the tender beef. OMG! So good! And guess what? It is easy to boot! You cook the meat in a crock-pot allowing all those flavors to soak in and then all you have to do when you are ready to get your grub on is assemble them. Perfect lunch or dinner for these Sunday football games.

Note: I made these as meal sized sandwiches but they were super rich. If you are someone who really just wants rich food in a smaller quantity or want to feed more than four people, then consider making these as sliders. This recipe will make about a dozen sliders if you use small dinner rolls.

INGREDIENTS
2 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 c soy sauce
4 large sandwich rolls
1 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz blue cheese crumbles
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c butter
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp dehydrated onion

STEPS

  • Place your roast in a crock-pot that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. (This helps with cleanup.)
  • Sprinkle with the sugar, thyme, celery seed, and garlic.
  • Add the bay leaf and soy sauce to the crock-pot.
  • Cook for 4–5 hours on high of 7–8 hours on low.
  • Remove the meat from the crock-pot and shred using 2 forks making sure to pull out any fatty bits.
  • Add the prepared meat back to the crock-pot and keep on low heat.
  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Cut your dinner rolls in half and lay the bottoms on a baking sheet.
  • Using tongs grab a heap of the shredded meat and squeeze out all the excess juices and place on each bun bottom.
  • Sprinkle each meat pile with a bit of the shredded mozzarella and blue cheese crumbles.
  • Combine the mayonnaise with the horseradish and spread on the underside of each bun top.
  • Place the lids on the sandwiches.
  • Melt the butter in a small bowl and mix in the Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and onion.
  • Brush the butter mixture evenly over the tops of the sandwiches.
  • Cover the baking sheet with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Chow down!

 

Recipe adapted from Heather Likes Food.

Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Jalapeño Shrimp Over Linguine

Ever since my friend prepared me jalapeño mac n’ cheese (which was absolutely phenomenal by the way, and I hope to have that recipe very soon, *wink wink* Nicole. 😉 I have been craving jalapeños and pasta with some sort of creamy sauce. Then low and behold I stumbled upon a recipe on another blog for shrimp in jalapeño cream sauce. That blogger made her recipe and served it over rice but I knew I wanted to put my own twist on it and go with a pasta. All I have to say is AWE-SOME! Think of this as a decadent jalapeño popper but as a main course. It wasn’t over the top spicy but it just had the perfect little bite to it. And you know what else I loved about this recipe? It took barely 20 minutes from start to finish! It was exactly what I needed after my insanely busy day. Even if you are sitting there all sketpical about this recipe, open your mind and give it a try. It may sound weird but oh heavens, it is delicious!

INGREDIENTS
1 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 c heavy whipping cream
6 canned jalapeño slices, chopped
1 tbsp pickling juice from jar of jalapeños
1/4 c sour cream
linguine, cooked per package instructions

STEPS

  • Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the butter a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Melt the butter until it turns a light brown making sure not to burn it.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until the shrimp are firm and pink.
  • Transfer the cooked shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and melt.
  • Place the sliced onions in the skillet and cook over medium high heat until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  • Cook down the wine for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the cream and chopped jalapeños and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
  • Stir in the pickling juice and sour cream until well combined.
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add the shrimp back to the pan.
  • Allow shrimp to heat through, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Serve over cooked linguine.