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.

Dinners

Recipe—Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Summer is coming… but the warm weather is already here! Time to fire up the grill!

I love when I can find recipes that are almost all done on the grill so I can keep the kitchen cool during hot months. I may also love recipes like this because it means I do the easy prep work and then the hubby does all the hard work out in the heat at the grill while I stay cool inside with a margarita. It’s all about team work, right? 😉

Okay, onto the dish. Each of these components is delicious on it’s own but when brought together you get some amazing tacos! You have the grilled chili lime chicken which is so tender and has so much flavor, a little zest from the lime paired up with all those delicious seasonings and a tad of heat. Then you have this delicious chunky salsa made up of a sweet caramelized pineapple with a nice smoky flavor from the grilled red pepper and jalapeño. And is if that isn’t enough, (yes, it gets better!) then you add this refreshing avocado crema. Just give me a bag of tortilla chips and I will go to town on that sauce!

Another thing I love about this recipe is how pretty it is! Look at all those amazing colors! I truly love everything about this recipe! I hope you will too.

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Chunky Pineapple Salsa

Note: If you want to cut down on the amount of preparation at dinner time, you can marinade the chicken for as long as 24 hours in advance and the crema can be made up to four hours in advance. Having a chunk of the leg work done in advance makes this a perfect recipe to make for dinner guests. All you have to do is grill the chicken, pineapple, and peppers, and warm up some tortillas.

CHILI LIME CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice

PINEAPPLE SALSA INGREDIENTS
20 oz can pineapple slices
1/2 red onion, sliced
red bell pepper, deseeded and quartered
jalapeno, deseeded and halved
olive oil
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

AVOCADO CREMA INGREDIENTS
1 avocado
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder

OTHER INGREDIENTS
tortillas
pepperjack cheese, shredded
lime, cut into wedges

STEPS

  • Place the chicken breasts in a large Pyrex dish.
  • Whisk together all the additional chili lime chicken ingredients in a small bowl and slather all over both sides of the chicken breasts.
  • Cover the Pyrex with plastic wrap and set aside to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, begin preparing items for the salsa. Skewer the red onions and then drizzle them, the bell pepper, and jalapeño with olive oil and set aside with the pineapple.
  • Preheat your grill to 375–425º.
  • Grill the chicken for 8–10 minutes on one side and then flip.
  • Add the pineapple and peppers to the grill and cook for 4­–5 minutes before flipping and then continue to grill them for another 4–5 minutes.
  • Continue to cook the chicken until a thermometer reads 160º when inserted into the thickest part of the meat, the pineapple until it is nicely caramelized, and the veggies until they have some nice grill marks.
  • Transfer everything from the grill to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • While all the grilled items are resting get started on the avocado cream. Add all the crema ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth and well blended, set aside.
  • Chop up the pineapple, onion, and peppers and place them in a bowl.
  • Add the cilantro, lime juice, ginger, cumin, salt, and pepper to the bowl and stir.
  • Chop up the chicken and set aside.
  • Everything is finally ready! Time to assemble the tacos!
  • Heat up your tortillas and top each one with meat, cheese, pineapple salsa, and avocado crema.
  • Devour!

 

Recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings.

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—Low Cal Cincinnati Chili

 

It’s the dreaded time of year where I make an effort to eat healthier with the hopes I can fit into the same shorts I was wearing last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer, it is just such a disappointment when you go to put on your super cute shorts and they just don’t quite fit like they did the last summer. Blah.

This year I am determined to get better at cooking healthier meals that I, as well as my family, want to eat. I find that I frequently get into salad ruts. I am trying to get it out of my head that you can eat more than salads and still eat healthy and satisfying meals. So one thing I have been doing is substituting lean ground turkey and chicken for beef in more recipes. I made this Cincinnati chili with ground turkey and it turned out amazing. My husband and son didn’t even know it wasn’t beef. Point for mom!

The meat is cooked in so many spices that no one would know it wasn’t beef unless you told them. I love that this recipe is super flavorful and also satisfying and that it makes the whole kitchen smell amazing! Plus the leftovers for the next two days made awesome lunches at less than 450 calories a pop. #winning

Note: I am not from Cincinnati, nor have I ever had authentic Cincinnati chili. I know there are individuals who are very particular about their Cincinnati chili and how it is prepared. I am not claiming this as “authentic” Cincinnati chili, I am just claiming this to be a damn good recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped (divided)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c water
spaghetti noodles
cheddar cheese, shredded

STEPS

  • In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place the ground turkey in the pot and cook for about 8–10 minutes making sure to break up the chunks with a spatula.
  • Add in most of the chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. (Note: Save a couple tablespoons of the onion for garnish.)
  • Once the onion has had a chance to cook add in the tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and water.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add water as needed to keep the mixture “saucy.”
  • Serve the sauce over cooked noodles and garnish with shredded cheddar and some chopped onions.
Dinners

Recipe—Tangy Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Cream

I am a sucker for tacos! I love tacos. Doesn’t matter what you fill them with, it is all good in my book. If there is meat and some sort of fresh produce in the tortilla you really can’t go wrong.

These are some of my favorite tacos during the summer because they are relatively easy to make and they are so light and refreshing! The tangy citrus slaw goes great with the spicy chipotle cream. I have made these when having company over for dinner and served them with my cilantro lime rice and some black beans for an awesome dinner. Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so be sure to mark this recipe and give them a try. And for the ultimate meal, don’t forget the mango margaritas!

Note: The shrimp can be cooked in a skillet or over the grille. It is personal preference. If you decide to grille just skewer the shrimp on a kabob and cook for 3–5 minutes at 400º.

SHRIMP INGREDIENTS
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c tequila (I prefer white)
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 lb shrimps, peeled and deveined

COLESLAW INGREDIENTS
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
4 c red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper

CHIPOTLE CREAM INGREDIENTS
1 c sour cream
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

ADDITIONAL ITEMS
10–12 corn tortillas (I am a huge fan of white corn)
Avocado
Cilantro

STEPS

  • Place the shrimp in a large bowl whisk together the kosher salt, honey, lime juice, tequila, garlic, cumin, chili and powder.
  • Once the marinade is well mixed add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  • Place the bowl of shrimp in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.
  • While the shrimp is marinating prepare the coleslaw by whisking together the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, and mustard.
  • Add the red cabbage to the dressing and mix until well coasted.
  • Season the coleslaw with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place the coleslaw in the fridge.
  • While you are waiting on the shrimp to finish marinating prepare the chipotle cream sauce by placing the sour cream and chipotle peppers into a blender and blend until you have a nice creamy sauce with no chunks. (If you like your food more on the spicy side taste the sauce and add more peppers accordingly.)
  • After the shrimp is done marinating, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shrimp and all the marinade from the bowl to the hot skillet and cook for 3–5 minutes stirring occasionally until all the shrimp are opaque all the way through and are pink/orange in color.
  • Warm the corn tortillas either one by one in hot skillet or all at once in the microwave.
  • To assemble the tacos place a scoop of the coleslaw and 3–5 shrimp (depends on size) in each tortilla.
  • Top each taco with some of the diced avocado.
  • Finish off each taco by drizzling some of the chipotle cream over the top and topping of with a little of the fresh chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with a lime wedge and enjoy! Tacos up!

Looking for more recipes like this? Maybe you will love these!

Shrimp Tacos

Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos

Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cream Sauce

Sandwiches

Recipe—Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken Jalapeño Popper Sammy

I swear, I take one look at this photo and I instantly start to salivate. Jalapenos, cheddar, and cream cheese coming together in the perfect combination. Add in some flavor packed shredded chicken on big warm bun and you will have a super tasty sandwich. Not only do I love this recipe because it tastes amazing but I also love it because it takes no more than 3 minutes to prepare and maybe 5 minutes to finish. Just throw together some greens for a salad or some fries in the oven and you have a meal ready to go. Perfect for us working folks who never seem to have enough time at the end of the day.

INGREDIENTS
2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans original Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 c heavy cream
2 oz cream cheese
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c canned jalapeños, chopped
extra canned jalapeños for topping

STEPS

  • Place the chicken, onion, garlic, and Rotel in the crock-pot.
  • In a small bowl mix together the chili powder, cumin, and salt and sprinkle over all the items in the crock-pot.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  • Remove the cooked breasts from the pot and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Using two forks shred the chicken and place back into the crock-pot.
  • Cover the crock-pot and keep on low.
  • While the chicken is soaking up all those tasty flavors start the cheese sauce by heating the heavy cream over medium-high heat.
  • Allow the cream to come to a boil stirring constantly.
  • Whisk in the cream cheese until melted.
  • Add in the cheddar and chopped jalapeños and stir until smooth.
  • Assemble the sandwiches by placing a scoop of the shredded chicken onto the bottom of the bun (I use tongs to try and squeeze out the excess juice), then add a spoonful of the cheese sauce, add additional sliced jalapeños if desired, and top with the other half of the bun.
  • Chow down!

Recipe adapted from Food Fanatic.