To Die for Thankgiving Dinner ~ Easy Prep!

I first, posted this 2 years ago, and I’m asked about our Thanksgiving line up all the time.  It’s not the healthiest meal, but it sure is tasty!! My rationalization is that if I get a workout in sometime in the morning (Running around the house like a chicken with her head cut off definitely counts!), then eating this meal is A-OK!  Seriously, this is your meal line up!!

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Thanksgiving. Wow. That day is just a gift. A great big gift of Yummy, yummy, yummy food.

Oh and the family, laughter, and football games are pretty cool too!!  This year Thanksgiving fell the Thursday after the site relaunch. So the site went live again Monday, the girls all came down with massive colds that night, and 12 people + kids were coming to our house on Thursday. Hmmmm…mission impossible??

Thankfully I had thought about it a bit.

First, I like to host things at our house. It’s selfish, but I know our house and I know the boundries for my Littles and the visiting Littles when they are here.  So subsequently, I’m more relaxed because I’m not chasing them out of trouble at someone else’s house.

Second, with almost every major holiday, EVERYONE is happy to help in someway, especially if the party doesn’t have to be at their house. So delegate! My parents were assigned the Turkey/Gravy/Cranberry Sauce, my Mother-in-Law the pies, my Sister-in-Law the wine, my Brother-in-Law the appetizer. So that just left Side Dishes for me.

Third, with a little bit of prep work, you can actually enjoy the day too, rather than work yourself to the bone.

Now to be honest, I very often prep ahead for meals, meaning chopping, dicing, etc. But I have never made all the side dishes (especially for Thanksgiving) the day before. So I was going on a wing and a prayer. (But after this the result of this year, I will be doing this for the REST OF MY LIFE! I truly enjoyed Thursday and the food all turned out better than I could have imagined!)

Monday night ~ I printed all the recipes I was making, clipped them with a binder clip to keep them all together, and wrote out the shopping lists.

Tuesday ~ I did all the grocery shopping. The super fresh-I-could-have-eaten-the-entire-bag-dinner-rolls went straight into the freezer. That night I baked a super easy pan of Jiffy cornbread for the stuffing.  While it was baking I chopped, diced, & prepped anything I would need to assemble the dishes the next day, and popped everything into ziplocks. Then left both breads for the stuffing out to start drying.

Wednesday ~ I made arrangements for Addie to go an extra day to Daycare, so I would only have 2 Littles while I assembled everything.  When Piper went down for her nap at 9:00AM, Hayden played with her puzzle and Mama got busy.

Cheese mama!! (Sorry, she see’s a camera and can’t help herself…)

The tastiest Broccoli Casserole, Hay approved too.

The puzzle wasn’t exciting anymore, so I let her wash the dishes.

You’re freaking out right now aren’t you?? (Hee, hee.) Polycarbonate (Plastic) Wine Glasses folks. Plastic. And I love em. A gift from my Genius Sister-in-Law. Perfect around the pool…or just to have when you have crazy Littles running around your house…

Anyway, with this going on behind Hay, I was happy to have her busy at the sink. She in fact washed dishes for about 45  minutes. Does it really matter what they are doing as long as they are safe and occupied??

Love the look of the stuffing coming together. I kid you not, it was THE BEST Sourdough Cornbread Sausage stuffing I have ever eaten in my life. And everyone at the table will tell you the same thing. Make this and make it soon! Thank you Picky Palate for coming into my life!

About this time the Sweet Potatoes were ready to mash. Hay thought she should be prepared…

And that she should say “Cheeeeeeese!” again. What? You would think she was the daughter of a blogger or something, sheesh.

Sweet Potatoes done. Have you seen these pewter dishes from Match? I have the Toscana Pewter Pyrex Casserole Dishes. They were wedding gifts (and I mean GIFTS!) and are AWESOME.  You can cook whatever you want in the glass Pyrex dishes, then drop them in the Pewter when you’re ready to serve. (A SERIOUS wish list splurge item, but I love em! So I gotta share em with ya!)

In the hour Piper slept, I made the Broccoli Casserole & the Sweet Potatoe Casserole, Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing, and the Mashed Potatoes. The Tupperware was for my sister to take to her in-laws, simply the extra from doubling all the recipes.

Then with Piper on the floor at my feet and Hayden entertaing her, I finished the last of the deliciousness. Again a Picky Palate treat, Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie ~ sooo scrumptious! While the kids ate lunch, I cleaned up the kitchen.

Later that night, my sister brought containers to transport and bake the extra sides at her in laws. I wrote instructions on the tops of each and added accompaning toppings to labled Ziplocks (love me a Ziplock bag & and Sharpie!)

I was certainly tired when I went to bed that night, but knowing the bulk of the work was done, was HEAVEN to my brain!

Now, you’re probably wondering about the main star of the day. Well, as luck would have it, I have a dad that is skilled with the Grill. I found a fabulous sounding Turkey recipe  on Twitter and Dad took over that responsibility (LORD LOVE HIM!). Let me tell you, thay Turkey did not disappoint! WOW! It was a Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey. I will forever be a fan!

This was a late addition. I thought I should have one healthy alternative and my Genuis Sister-in-Law raved about this Green Bean Salad from the Flat Belly Family Cookbook. I did prep the veggies on Tuesday night as well, then threw it together in about 15 minutes the day of. Nice little refreshing salad. I’ll post the recipe later this weekend.

While the Turkey was on the grill, I pulled all the side dishes out of the fridge, (about 3 hours before I planned to bake them). I also pulled the Puff Pastry from the freezer to defrost for the Green Bean Casserole, and the dinner rolls to defrost. All the side dishes baked at 350 degrees for roughly the same time. I topped them with their respective toppings and 30 minutes later we were enjoying a meal to die for! Don’t forget to pop the rolls in the oven for about 10 minutes to get toasty too. Have them waiting to go on a cookie sheet.

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Yum Mashed Potatoes! Can you say butter?

Oh Man.

I will be seeing this Turkey in my dreams for years to come.

The side of my kitchen counter served as a buffet for everyone to help themselves.

Then head to the table.

Seriously yummy.

See these glasses? Remember them. You’re about to hear a whole lotta a goodness about them…

And if you eat all that I’ve told you above, you will most likely have a Thanksgiving Food Hangover that apparently requires sunglasses…

Or at least that’s what 2 of my Littles told me.

Our Thanksgiving Feast that would be AMAZING for Christmas too:

Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean & Pumpkin Seed Salad

Fresh Bakery Dinner Rolls

Cranberry Sauce

Gravy


{good eats} a few fave chicken dinners

That looks pretty good doesn’t it? And no I didn’t take the photograph (one day I hope I’ll be that skilled with a camera!). But I’m about to let you in on little secret….

Ever heard of the site How Sweet it Is? You need to know about it. Read it. Follow it. Laugh your booty off from it, but most of all, cook from it!

I don’t know Jessica. But I HAVE tried a number of her recipes, OH MY GOODNESS YUM! And the kids love ’em too.

That one in the photograph up there? THAT one is now firmly on our Favorites list. We made it last night. Easy peasy. Super flavorful! Without a doubt it was approved by the little punks, Hubs, and moi. Click here for the recipe ~ Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders. Make it this weekend. I dare you to have leftovers!

Next up, General Tso’s Chicken. This one isn’t actually Jessica’s recipe, but she does share a step by step photo tutorial over on Tasty Kitchen. OH.MY.WOW!

In our house, we make Chinese food at least once a week, if not more.  It always seems to be a winner with all 5 peeps in the family.  My go to for recipes 99.9% of the time is The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. Simple, fast, and packed with flavor…EVERY recipe! (Jaden has an awesome site too!) But when I saw this post for General Tso’s Chicken, I knew we needed to try it. SOLD a million times over. Make this tonight, this weekend, next week. I don’t care when, but make it SOON. You will not be sorry.

I have never made these. Never tried them. Never saw the recipe before yesterday. But I will be making them soon. Maybe this weekend???  I mean really folks, can there actually be ANYTHING wrong with cheese + beer + tacos + a crockpot???  I think not. Cheddar Beer Tacos, you are now on my list!

Be sure to check out How Sweet it Is!!

Happy weekend!

{Photo Credits: Jessica ~ How Sweet it Is}

{good eats} general tso’s chicken (yum!!)

Let’s just be clear that I’m not a full time food blogger, nor even a part time food blogger,  nor even an occasional food blogger, BUT, I do love food and I do like to find new fabulous  simple recipes!

However, this is not a place you will ever see perfect food styling or amazing step by step photos, because frankly, my kids wont let me. And I’m lazy (as well as lucky just to get dinner on the table at night – and not in the middle of the day when the light is better…)

But share an AWESOME.AMAZING.YOU-WILL-LOVE-IT-FOREVER recipe? That I can do!

I found this recipe for General Tso’s Chicken on The Tasty Kitchen blog. One of my favorite food bloggers, How Sweet It Is shared the recipe from contributor Rebecca and OH MY GOODNESS, what a FIND!

It was super simple to make. I used chicken breast (because I had it) and served it with fried rice and edamame because that’s what our Littles love, but really any way you want to serve this, as long as it’s on your plate, you are golden! Most certainly a FAVORITE!

Make this this week! Here’s a link to the recipe.

Enjoy!

{Good Eats} Bacon & Burgers! FAVORITES!

Earlier this week, The Pioneer Woman published this post about wrapping hamburger sliders in bacon. (This is the printable recipe on Tasty Kitchen).

Can I say that first part again??

Literally, WRAPPING BACON AROUND A BURGER, and then cooking them.  I’m just going to go right out and say it, GENIUS!

So here’s the thing. I had defrosted some ground turkey and planned to make our favorite Turkey Burger Sliders this week, but then when I read that post, I KNEW I needed to kick things up a notch.  I basically did my exact recipe, then wrapped my sliders in bacon as Ree suggests, and baked them in the oven.

2 simple little changes that quite simply, rocked my world!

I strongly urge you to do the same this weekend. SUPER EASY, NO STRESS, CROWD PLEASER!! I didn’t even have all our usual fixings, and honestly they were amazing as is!!

What I also liked about Ree’s recipe is that she bakes her sliders in the oven on a broiler pan.  GENIUS again!  I always use a grill pan on the stove top for our turkey burger sliders. But one of the ingredients that makes them so yummy is the grated cheese IN the burgers. Since there is A LOT of cheese, I find that they dont work well on the grill and the oozing cheese can sometimes burn a bit in the pan.  WHY OH WHY have I never thought to make these in the oven?  So easy and less complicated!

I ended up doing some with the wrapped bacon, and some without to see how the oven method would work.

At 400 degrees, the unwrapped were perfectly cooked at 25 minutes.  The bacon wrapped were perfect at 30 minutes.

I will forever and ever, from last night forward, make my sliders this way. Amen.

A few things I didn’t do:

  1. I did not return the bacon wrapped patties to the fridge. (But I had prepared my ground turkey mixture earlier in the day and just pulled it from the fridge).
  2. I did not try the jalapenos, because I didn’t have any, but I know Hubs would have loved this.
  3. I did not try the BBQ sauce, well, because I forgot about it.

I few things I did do:

  1. I did use Sweet Hawaiian Rolls as we always do for sliders…the best!
  2. I did eat 3 sliders all by myself.
  3. I did serve them with watermelon and Trader Joe’s Sweet Onion Rings
  4. And my kids and Hubs did gobble them all up.

And one more thing.  You know the old story about being able to cancel out calories…you know, diet coke & chocolate cake??  How they don’t count when eaten together??  I think the same is true for ground turkey and bacon.

At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself!!

Enjoy!

{Good Eats} Super Easy Tri Tip in the Oven

I first published this recipe in February last year (2010). It really is so ridiculously easy and impressive!  I think we make a Tri-Tip once a week and I get 2 0r 3 dinners from it.  I’ve been told by out of state friends that a “Tri-Tip” is a trendy California cut, and not commonly found. So definitely ask your butcher if you don’t see it.  We love that is fairly inexpensive, full of flavor, and very versatile. I get ours at Costco.

The other thing I ALWAYS use is Lindberg Snider Porterhouse & Roast Seasoning. There is nothing in the world like that seasoning!  We use it on everything from our bloody mary rims, to this steak.  Locally I buy a big bottle from Bristal Farms. It is WORTH IT to add this to your pantry, I promise! For this recipe alone…

Ingredients:

1 tri tip
Lindberg Snider Porterhouse & Roast Seasoning
olive oil

Directions:

  1. Season both sides of a tri tip with Porterhouse Seasoning, liberally!!
  2. Heat olive oil in an oven proof pan.  (Any All Clad type pan will work, I use a grill pan).
  3. When pan is hot, brown both sides of tri tip for 3-4 minutes each.  You are not cooking it, only sealing the sides. Feel free to stand it on its sides too if you want all 4 sides browned.
  4. When all sides are brown, place entire pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. (I usually take mine out at exactly 22 minutes).
  5. Remove from oven and let rest, tented with foil for about 5 minutes, slice and serve!

I know all that sounds really complicated…OR it sounded far easier than it possibly could be, so here’s a few pictures from our dinner Tuesday night.

Always bring meat to room temperature before cooking. I usually take it out about 20 – 30 minutes before I plan to make dinner. The world wont end if you forget to do this though.

Season both sides liberally Lindberg Snider Porterhouse & Roast Seasoning. I mean you probably shouldn’t if you don’t want to change your life, but if you do want to taste the best seasoning on this earth, then go ahead and pour it on.

Heat a little olive oil in a grill pan (that you will be able to transfer to the oven. You can use a regular old frying pan. Not to worry).  Then season the second side of the Tri-Tip.

Now here is the important part. If you’re going to cook this while also entertaining your Littles, make sure it’s a REALLY good game of “Peek!”.  And do your best not to throw your hip out while you carry your 14 month old, all the while trying not to kill your camera (do you all remember that post? I can’t find it, oh well!)…

Lay that bad boy in the pan and brown each side for 3-4 minutes.  I’m usually flipping it just shy of 4 minutes.

“Peek!!!”

“Really?!!?  You’re bored already?  I’m only 2 minutes into the first side??? Work with me!!

Check on the other Littles….

OK! 4 minutes!!  Nice and brown, flip it to the second side.

“Peek!” Seriously Piper, you could at least TRY to look like you’re having fun….

While you’re waiting on that second 4 minutes. Pull this handy dandy deal out of your drawer. If you don’t have one, get one now. You will not want to make this recipe without one. TRUST me and everyone else that ever thought they didn’t need it, and ended up branding their hand with a frying pan handle….I bought mine at Sur La Table. You slide it over the handle when you take the pan out of the oven. TRUST me, that handle is HOT!!

OK, second side is done, so throw the whole pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. (Mine is EXACTLY 22 minutes).

Now go do a little art project with your kids while you smell the Heaven in the oven…

20-25 minutes later, slide that little pot holder over the handle…

And take the steak out of the oven.  Looks goooood huh!!???!

Loosely tent while you throw together a salad. I like to tent for about 5 minutes.  I prefer my steak closer to medium and Hubs likes his medium rare. Because of the triangle shape of a Tri-Tip you can definitely keep everyone happy!

Photos never really do meat justice, but this is perfectly cooked!

You can place it back in the pan to keep warm and soak up the juices.

I threw this one over a quick salad ~ Fresh garden lettuce, cucumber, apples, feta, yellow peppers, Marcona almonds, Girrards Light Champagne Vinaigrette.  Doesn’t hurt to serve a little Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan on the side either.

Leftovers can be used for dinners the rest of the week. I might use it in fried rice, or steak bowls, quesadillas, paninis, so many, many ways to use it up!

Seriously, this is so easy and yummy, you must make it this week! Enjoy!

BLT Pizza ~ Pure, mad, goodness!

This could quite possibly be one of the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever made. Hubs and I were devouring it last weekend!  Sunday we were able to move back into our house.  I say this loosely as it really meant we were able to walk on the floors, not move furniture back in….but baby steps are good!

Not only did we miss our house, but our garden missed us.  We had a TON of tomatoes waiting for us when we got here.  We still have our summer beef steak planted.  It wasn’t feeling it this summer, but it’s feeling it now, so far this Fall we’ve had some very flavorful tomatoes!  On Sunday, I was trying to be creative…

Me: “Hon you want a Margarita pizza for lunch or a BLT?”

Hubs: “BLT!”

Hubs: “Wait. No, the pizza”.

Hubs: “Wait. No, the BLT”.

Hubs: “OK, whichever is easier…”

I knew there was a little inner battle going on for him.  He really doesn’t care what we eat, but he LOOOVVVVES fresh tomatoes.

So I got creative and made a BLT pizza. HOLY MAN (as my mother-in-law would say) I could eat one everyday!!! It was that good and oh so very easy.

  1. I like to use Bridgeford bread loaves for pizza dough.  It tastes like homemade, I can keep it in my freezer until I need it, I just need to leave it on the counter to defrost and rise, and if I’m in a pinch I can defrost in the microwave.  Really, you can’t go wrong. Not to say that I don’t make dough from scratch sometimes too, but with the 3 babes running around, easier is better sometimes.
  2. I left a frozen loaf on the counter in a bowl while I went off with 1 of the babes to run errands.  Got back around noon and it was defrosted.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Cut the loaf in half and roll each half out on a floured surface.
  5. Once it’s rolled out, place it on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal (makes it tons easier to get the pizza back off when it’s done!)
  6. I brushed a little olive oil over the top then popped it in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. While that’s baking, cook up some bacon bits, dice a tomato (or 3 in our case), chop some Romain, and get your ranch dressing ready.
  8. When the crust is done baking, smear a few tablespoons of ranch over the surface, throw on the cooked bacon bits, lettuce, and tomatoes.  Salt & Pepper to taste.
  9. NOW GO FORTH, EAT AND BE MERRY! This will make your whole day!!

Enjoy!

A whole new take on fried chicken

I love fried chicken.  When I lived in Dallas, my sophamore year at SMU, I lived across the street from Bubba’s.  If you live in Dallas, you KNOW what I’m talking about.  To this day when I visit Dallas I have a certain food circuit that must occur, and one of the stops is at Bubba’s for fried chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a biscuit with honey.  HELLO, roll me over and stick a fork in my heart, I’m done!

All that is to say, I have a weakness for fried chicken.

Well, I’ve been making my way through Rocco Dispirito’s, “Now Eat This!!” cookbook, and I was excited to see a recipe for “Flash Fried Finger Lickin’ Chicken“.

Ohhhhhh

This could be a winner.

Now stick with me.  It may seem complicated, but it really is not. I think this whole process took me 35 minutes TOTAL.  And mind you, my favorite guy was not home from work yet, and I was running back and forth from the kitchen to the front room trying to keep the kids from entering the hole in the wall contstruction zone.  All that to say, I probably could have done it in under 35 minutes.

While the kids took their nap I mixed up the flour mixture in a Ziplock – flour, paprika, celery salt, black pepper, salt and cayenne.  Then when I was ready to make this in the evening, I dumped it into a shallow dish.

As with any recipe, when you’re ready to make everything, in order to make the process go smoothly and quickly, definitely get EVERY POSSIBLY ingredient, untensil, pot, bowl, dish, etc out and in one place in the kitchen.  You will be AMAZED how much faster the whole process goes!

Once it’s all out and waiting for ya, then you can get started…

I cut the chicken breast into little nuggets (more kid friendly than the thighs the recipe calls for).  Added the chicken to a pot with broth and brought it to a simmer to poach (if you said poach for anything else, my face would turn green and I would have to turn my head. But I went with it, and am so glad that I did!).  While the chicken was simmering, I poured the oil into a pot to start heating up.  Once the chicken was cooked, about 15-20 minutes for nuggets, I dumped em all into a bowl with the buttermilk.

Addie was a little intrigued by this step….

Addie: “How come mama, how come?”

Mom: “You’re guess is as good as mine Punkin!” (I say this as it’s totally reverse from most fried chicken recipes.  You would normally marinate in buttermilk, often overnight, then bread, THEN fry/cook, but not in this case.).

Grab each chicken piece, dunk it in the bread mixture (the one I made during nap time and had now poured into a shallow bowl). Dunk it back in the buttermilk, and then back in the bread mixture, and then onto a cookie sheet.

Once all the chicken has been breaded, the oil should be plenty hot.  I set a plate with a paper towel next to the stove top.  I’m showing you the photo below so you can see the pot I chose to fry in.  The recipe called for a pot with tall sides, but this worked fine for me, I think I had 2″ of oil that I had heated on med-high.

Now here is the awesome part of this recipe.  It will take you about 2 minutes to fry up all the chicken. You literally drop the chicken in and in about 5 seconds you take it out and place it on the paper towel.  Remember the chicken is already cooked, all you’re doing now is getting that outer super yummy crunchy layer.  So you place it in the pot and the minute it’s golden, you take it out. (This also cuts the fat WAAAAY down!) My Fave guy came home at about this point and was popping them into his mouth like candy.  We both agreed that the chicken was super juicy and VERY tasty!  This will become a regular one for us.  I want to try it next time using other bread coatings too.  This one was great and we all loved it (kids had it with a side of ranch), but the recipe seems easy enough to be able to adapt with different flavors and breading options.

The photo below is only to show you the pot.  We did make the Faux mashed potatoe recipe (which uses Cauliflower) but it didn’t go over well with either us (I’ve had a better one, from the South Beach Diet I think).  In the end we decided we would rather cut the calories in the chicken, but eat real mashed potatoes!

Seriously, do not be afraid of this recipe or the steps.  It’s easy and tasty, AND good for you! (and if I WAS making mashed potatoes for this, I would have put them on to boil in the beginning when poaching the chicken, and then drained them and set aside just before I started frying the chicken.  When the chicken flash frying was done (2 minutes later) I would have prepared the potatoes which would give the chicken a chance to cool for the kids mouths.  Then everything would be ready, with no time wasted!

In the words of Yo Gabba Gabba, “Try it!  You might like it!”

Flash Fried Finger Lickin’ Chicken
Adapted from ~ “Now Eat This!
” Rocco Dispirito

*** TIP: If you want to print this recipe (or any other on this site), click the “Share It” link at the bottom of the post, then scroll to “printer friendly”, then print!  This is something I’m hoping to make easier in the updates, but that should help you for now!

Ingredients:

3 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
Salt
4 skinless, bone in chicken thighs (I used 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts)
2 quarts grapeseed oil (I used 1 quart canola oil)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium sauce-pot over high heat, seasoning it generously with salt.  Add the chicken to the pan and bring the broth to a simmer.  cover and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer gently until the chicken is tender, about 40 minutes (for thighs, I used breasts cut as nuggets and it was about 20 minutes).
  2. While the chicken is cooking, pour the oil into a large pot and bring it to 400 degrees over high heat.  Set a plate with a paper towel (or a wire rack) for draining chicken next to pot. In a shallow dish combine, the flour, with the paprika, celery salt, black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne.  Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and pat dry (I bypassed this step and lifted the nuggets straight from the pot and dropped them in the buttermilk bowl). Cover with buttermilk, then dredge in the seasoned flour mixture.  Dip them back in the buttermilk, then back in the flour mixture.
  4. Fry the chicken, I did about 5 nuggets at a time, in the hot oil until golden brown.  Drain and serve immediately.

Happy Frying my Friends!!

now eat this ~ grilled chicken parmigiano

Last week we tried a few recipes out of Rocco Dispirito’s, “Now Eat This!“.  I’m still making my way through the book, but wanted to share a couple that we had that were REALLY simple to put together, and packed full of flavor.

I opted not to make Rocco’s marinara sauce.  Pretty sure it would have been easy to throw together…but it was even easier to use my FAVORITE Trader Joe’s “Three Cheese” sauce, ready made.

I know I’ve shared this tip before.  Whenever a recipe calls for chicken breasts to be “pounded thin”, to save yourself a headache (as well as the possibility of pounded chicken ending up on your ceiling) throw it in a large Ziplock bag. Be sure you squeeze the air out, then start hitting the heck out of it.  Pretend its that 10th load of laundry you REALLY don’t want to do…it helps a bit.  When you’re done, just throw the bag away.

Easy.

Now IF  you have a husband that needs a little more than a chicken breast and salad for dinner, right about now would be a good time to throw on a pot of water for pasta.  My Genius Sister in Law, left this pasta at our house while they were staying with us and I have to say, it will be making a return visit!  Good for you AND yummy!

Forgot to grab a pic of this next step, toss each chicken breast onto the grill or a grill pan (which is what I did) for 3 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through.  While that was cooking, I grated the cheese, chopped the basil and used ready cut canned tomatoes.  Pour a little sauce in your baking dish and transfer your now ready chicken (remember 3 minutes, love a quick dinner!).  Layer the remaining sauce, tomatoes, basil and cheese.

It will look like this.

Throw it in the oven (it will bake for a whopping 10-12 minutes).

(Your pasta water will be boiling now, pretty sure you know what to do with the pasta…..but let me know if not!)

Just before it is done, sprinkle the panko to finish it off.

This is what will come out of your oven.

Oh, HELLO!  Are you MY dinner???

(and for the record, this is a 9 x 13 baking dish and that is only 2 chicken breasts pounded thin.  This amply fed hubs, me and the 2 littles.  And between you and me, I forgot that the recipe called for “4” chicken breasts, which now explains why there was loads of extra goodness left in the dish!!  Would have made for good leftovers!! Oops!)

I served ours over the pasta with a small side salad of spinach, feta, slivered almonds and Girrard’s Champagne Vinergerette.

Adapted from Roco Dispirito’s, “Now Eat This!

Grilled Chicken Parmigiano:

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and pounded thin
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups Rocco’s Marinara Sauce (I used Trader Joes “Three Cheese”)
1 cup drained canned ready cut tomatoes
1 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
1 cup shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
1/2 cups whole wheat panko crumbs (I just used regular Panko)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Season chicken with salt & pepper to taste (but for sure don’t actually TASTE it – you knew that though!!)
  3. When the grill is hot, spray the chicken lightly with cooking spray, and grill just until cooked through about 3 minutes total.  Remember to flip them 1/2 way through.
  4. Spread a little less than half of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Lay the grilled chicken breasts on top of the sauce. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the chicken, scatter the chopped tomatoes over the top.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the chopped basil, the mozzarella, and the Parm.
  5. Bake the chicken until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown, 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle the panko and the remaining basil and serve!

Enjoy this super quick, super easy, super flavorful dish!!

1 dinner, 2 meals ~ bowls & burritos

I absolutely LOVE when I can make 1 dinner count for 2 meals!  Such a time saver, not to mention budget friendly…

Crock Pot Chicken Bowls are one of my favorite meal staples.  If I don’t make this once a week, then at least every other week. (Sad I know, but like I said, EASY).

This past week I threw everything into the crock pot, and by “everything” I mean, all that I’ve listed as an ingredient, plus any leftover chicken or beef that I found in the fridge. (We had grilled chicken and Oven Tri-Tip both ready and waiting for me…)

But then I got a wild hair and decided to make kid friendly burritos.

I wrapped a couple of damp paper towels around a stack of flour tortilla and nuked them for about a minute.

Then scooped some of the meat & bean mixture into the middle of a tortilla and rolled them up, kid friendly, and little hand style (sorry I didn’t photograph the “how to”. You just fold over opposite ends of the tortilla towards the mixture, then take the 3rd side and pull it over the mixture and the folds you just created, tuck it in and ROLL – Hope that makes sense….I’ll take a pic next time.)

Be sure to add the toppings you like – avocado, cheese, jalapenos, etc…

Served ’em on a plate with fruit.  Dinner was fun and the kiddos LOVED holding it all in their hands.

Then a few nights later, I reheated the leftover mixture and we had the chicken bowls…

Simple, easy, affordable, and FUN!

this girls got a steamy kitchen, and it’s good

I am seriously in-love with Jaden Hair from The Steamy Kitchen. (Not in a stalker kinda way, cuz that’d be weird.  But in a “this-lady-can-cook-and-I’m-not-quite-sure-I-WAS-really-cooking-before-I-read-her-book” kinda way)

WHAT!?!?  You haven’t heard of her???  OHHH, you HAVE and I’m the last person on this earth that didn’t know about her before a few months ago..

oh.

Well, now that we have that cleared up, if you don’t already follow her BEAUTIFUL site with LOADS of amazing recipes and photos that will make you want to eat your computer screen…

I encourage you to do so.

And if you don’t already own her cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, go buy it now.  You wont be sorry.

Here’s the tag line, “101 Asian recipes simple enough for tonight’s dinner.” And she’s not kidding. I did go out and purchase a few pantry items to make my life easier (Oyster Sauce, Hoison Sauce, Coconut Milk, Sake, Rice Vinegar).  But once I had that taken care of, almost any dish could be ready in minutes (honestly, MINUTES).  As usual, I tend to prep things in the morning while the kids play, but you certainly don’t have to to have her dinners on the table super quick.

I’ve been reading through the book since last month (I’m kinda weird that way, I like to take it all in before I start to tackle things).  Anyway, we’ve tried the Lettuce Wraps, Coconut Rice (OMG, best ever!!!!), & Perfect Shrimp Fried Rice.  And the Grilled Lamb Chops with Asian Pesto are up for this weekend. (But not the same day as the Foodie Fest because that would be food overload…).

Kids loved it, I loved it, hubs loved it, the floor loved it

(which wasn’t love for me, but the rice was so good it was worth it!)

Make this this week!

(As I’m writing this post, I’m eating leftover lettuce wraps….hmmmmm GOOD!)