I totally need to go to the grocery store. Big time. I’ve been stalling for days. I don’t know why. Maybe because in the summer all I want to eat is fruit. Or maybe I just needed something to procrastinate about that would make me actually fold the 5 loads of clean laundry sitting on my bed. Mission accomplished! Whatever the reason, I needed a solution for dinner that did not involve any fancy ingredients. I scoured my freezer and found a bag of frozen dinner rolls and a tube of chicken sausage. I knew there was a dinner in those ingredients, it just needed a couple pantry basics to make it work. A nice jar of marinara sauce, mozzarella and some pasta did the trick. This braided spaghetti was absolutely delicious, mondo easy and will most certainly become a part of my regular rotation.
In the summer, there are lots of opportunities to bring salads and slaws to BBQs. I recently brought a sweet & sour apple slaw (light & delicious) and of course there’s always my standby Chinese chicken salad (perfection!) if I’m not sure what to bring. Last weekend I wanted to make something close to a traditional cole slaw, but with a little twist. I dunno why, it has been forever since I had just a cole slaw. I needed that kind of dressing. This is what I came up with. Crunchy apples with moist tender chicken and a killer slaw sauce with a kick from lemon juice and cider vinegar.
I’m not sure if this is really a secret or not. Let me pretend that I’m the first person to ever tell you this anyway. You can make breadsticks that taste just like your favorite unlimited basket at the Olive Garden. It’s true. And, it is not hard. Really, it is too easy. Cause, I love love love the Olive Garden’s breadsticks. And now I can make them at home. Which I’ve done three times in the past week. Bad. Very bad.
Do you ever come back from a few days away and just want a homey, simple meal? I always seem to need a food break after a trip. I spent last weekend camping at my Nanny’s cabin. It is my favorite place on earth because there’s no cell service, no tv, no internet and a huge field to play in with a creek to cool off in. My kids burst out of the car like rockets when we arrive and run around all day every day. The cousins build forts and mud pies and memories together. They sleep like rocks while we’re there, usually drifting off on the deck trying to spy shooting stars in the mountain skies.
These little pizzas will forever remind me of slumber parties. Growing up, this was the standard dinner fare for all things involving a gaggle of giggling girls in their jammies (I wish jammies started with a “g”). You can make dozens at a time and everyone can pick their favorite toppings. It is awesome when feeding a crowd. I remember all of us piling into my mom’s kitchen, carefully creating our pizzas and then positioning them on baking sheets so we’d know which were ours. Heaven forbid you go thru all the work of making a perfect pie only to have the neighbor girl spending the night think it is hers.
Quinoa is totally the cool kid in school right now. The topic of every conversation. Exotic. Mysterious. You aren’t sure exactly how to pronounce their name. Ok, ok…you totally do know how. But I didn’t. I had an entire conversation calling it “qwi-no-ah”. Then my sister set me straight. She’s been all over this stuff for years. Keen-wah? Seriously? Ok then. Did you know that once you tell a 5-year-old how something is pronounced, there’s practically no earthly way to convince them otherwise? Apparently “Mommy was wrong” doesn’t hold mustard with my kids. I’ll have to be careful what I tell them as fact lest they sprout off totally false information and give me all the credit.
Quick. Easy. Delicious. These are the words I like when doing a weekday dinner. This moist delicious chicken is all three. I make it all the time. It’s one of my go-to “I don’t really feel like cooking tonight” meals. Throw it in a dish, dump sauce over it and done. No chopping, no prep really at all. I usually serve this with some pasta, but it goes great with potatoes or rice as well.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you think chicken breasts are dry and tasteless it’s because you are cooking them too long. The magic number you’re looking for is 160° F. That’s it. Then get those babies out of the oven.
And enjoy every single perfectly succulent morsel.
Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, basil, paprika, and parsley. Mix well. Pour 1/2 of this mixture over the chicken, and brush to cover.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and brush with the remaining 1/2 of the honey mustard mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear (temp should be 160°). Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
I’ve heard stories about the appetites of teenage boys for many years. All of my friends with older man-children talk about the heaps and piles of food they plow thru. I have to admit, I didn’t really believe all the tales. Then, I had my 14-year-old nephew stay with me last week. I’m a new convert of the “Holy cow, teenagers must have hollow legs or a second stomach…how can they eat so much?” crew.
Nicholas (my nephew) is helping us out with some yard work. He started by powerwashing and scraping our fence. It’s about 300 feet long. This week, provided the weather clears up, he’ll be painting it. Tom Sawyer style. I know, aren’t I the best aunt ever? I’m not sure if it was the deliciousness of these subs, the fact that he’d been working outside all day or pride in knowing he helped me make them (bonding time = shaping meatballs together), but whatever the reason, the teenager hunger was on full display that night at dinner. It was amazing. Good thing I made up the full recipe of 2 pounds of meat.
These are full of meaty goodness on toasted buttery buns. Drenched in sauce and covered with cheese, they may leave you wondering in embarrassment “Who ate that entire sub so fast?”. Hint, if there’s a teenager in your house, make sure you take the full number of subs you want right away. There might not be any leftover by the time you are done with your first…no matter how quickly you wolf it down.
Meatball Sub Sandwiches
adapted from Taste of Home Potluck Cookbook 2011
For the meatballs:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 gloves garlic, minced fine (I shred mine thru a microplane zester)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 pounds ground beef
1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
Additional Parmesan cheese, onion or green peppers for topping, optional
For the buns:
10 sandwich buns, split
1/4 cup butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and place it in the oven while preheating.
- In a medium bowl, mix together all meatball ingredients using your clean hands.
- Using melon baller/ice cream scoop if possible, form the meat into 1-2 inch meatballs. Place about 1 inch apart in the hot baking dish.
- Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn them over, and continue baking for about 5 more minutes, or until somewhat crispy on the outside.
- While meatballs are cooking, bring jar of spaghetti sauce to simmer in a large pot over low heat. When meatballs are done, add them to the warmed sauce and stir to coat.
- Spread sandwich buns with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder and seasoning salt. Turn oven on to broil and place buns on cookie sheet under the broiler. When golden brown, remove and top with meatballs, sauce and additional Parmesan cheese, onion or green peppers (if desired).
It’s grilling season! Woo-hoo! This tasty marinade is quick and easy and will turn just about any cut of meat into a tender, flavorful mouth party. I know, it’s supposed to be meatless Monday. And obviously that’s a picture of steak. Be patient.
I love to soak some big chunks of steak and chicken in this glorious saucy goodness and then grill them up as kebabs. Mmmmm. Kebabs. Meat on a stick. Does anyone else hear Liam Neeson saying “Sam! I’ve done chicken kebabs!” in his gorgeous “Love Actually” accent? Sometimes, I wish my name was Sam. Anyone?
It’s also incredibly delicious on veggies. But I only bathe them in the marinade for about 15 minutes. Don’t want them to lose their fresh bright flavor. There. That counts right? Meatless veggies on a stick.
Also, am I the only one who keeps my veggies on different skewers? Maybe it’s because I like crisp veg and if they share a stick & stay on the fire long enough to cook my meat, the mushrooms are mostly just mush and the peppers have lost their pep. And that is just wrong. Veggies get their own stick in my house. You gotta keep em separated.
Great. Now I have scenes from Love Actually & the lyrics of “Keep Em Separated” running thru my head simultaneously. Bet that’s never happened to anyone in the history of the world. Since the movie is about a bunch of people getting together, and the song has pretty much the exact opposite goal.
Speaking of getting people together, have a BBQ, make this marinade and cook up some flavorful moist and marvelous meat. Your friends will love it! So will you! It’s fantastic and delicious! Oh, if you don’t have any teriyaki sauce, no worries – I love that I can use up the little bit that’s left at the bottom of my bottles when making this, but it’s great sans the bottled stuff too.
adapted from Food.com
1 1/2 cups oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 – 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill it almost to the top)
3-4 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/3 cup store-bought teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup honey
- Put all ingredients into a blender, food processor or a ziploc bag. Blend, pulse or shake the crazy out of the bag until combined.
- This recipe makes 3-1/2 cups of marinade, but may be stored in the refrigerator tightly covered in a glass container for up to 3 weeks.
- Pour over your favorite cut of meat for 2-24 hours. Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, venison etc…can be used on almost anything!
4 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup milk
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
- Season pork chops with salt & pepper to taste.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown the chops on both sides. Remove to plate and tent with foil.
- Add onion and mushrooms to the same pan and saute for two minutes, until onions are slightly translucent. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds then deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up any brown bits.
- Add milk and cream of mushroom soup to the pan and stir to combine with mushrooms and onions. Place pork chops back in the pan. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover skillet, and reduce temperature to medium-low. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until chops are cooked through.