COOK’s CORNER

Asian Chicken Salad

There’s nothing like a good salad for an easy dinner night. This tasty dish with an Asian flare is easy to throw together on a weeknight or for a simple Saturday night.

The chicken marinade (which features Bragg Amino Acids, a soy sauce alternative) is simple, but so tasty when the chicken is browned and popped in the oven to finish.

The salad offers the sweet, the salty and the crunch, which is all complimented by the Asian dressing featuring the soy, honey, fresh ginger and sesame seeds along with rice vinegar and sesame oil.

If you’re a fan of all the Asian flavors put this on next week’s dinner menu.

It’s delish!


It’s a Soup Night


Today, it was one of those chilly, windy days that reminded me it’s November and winter is around the corner.

I am more of a summer girl, but I do love some hot and hearty soup to warm me up on a crisp fall evening.

One of the best things about making soup is I can use whatever is in the cupboards, without making a big fuss. As long as there is something to make a base with, it’s as easy as pie.

I used some tomato sauce I had in the freezer, along with some ground chicken, then I raided the vegetable drawer.

The best part about this soup is you can substitute ground beef or Italian sausage or whatever you may have on hand. I threw all of my ingredients in the slow cooker, but if you are in a hurry just cut the cooking time, and make it in a stock pot on the stove. (And, because I know at least one friend who will ask…cook until the veggies are tender.)

It’s a great weeknight meal, and something you can throw in the slow cooker after lunch and have it ready by dinner time. Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich or with a side salad and bread or crackers, if desired.

Chicken Veggie Soup

2-16 oz. cans of tomato sauce

3 cups chicken broth (I used two Knorr’s chicken bouillon cubes and added about 3 cups of water)

1 lb. ground chicken, browned

4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 med onion, cut into chunks

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. rosemary

Add tomato sauce and chicken broth to crock pot and turn on high and cover. Meanwhile, brown ground chicken and prepare veggies. Stir in chicken and veggies and lower temperature to medium. Add in seasonings and cover and cook about 4 hours or until veggies are tender. Enjoy!


Banana Chocolate Chip Br… uhh Cookies


Yeah, sorry for tease. I was going to make some banana bread last week, but then decided I have a Cookie Monster in the house. Well, a chocolate chip Cookie Monster for sure.

My little patient, who really isn’t that little anymore, is doing great since his burn accident. His appetite isn’t always up to par most days, so I decided I would make him something he loves. I know it’s not a subsitute for a healthy meal, but at least it’s something that maybe will spark an appetite and put him on the road to eating more.

I had a lot of ripe bananas that needed to be used so I decided to make some banana bread and add one of his favorites….chocolate chips. After thinking about it a little more, I deciced chocolate chip cookies are his FAVORITE.

But, what about the bananas??

What the heck. I’ll make chocolate chip cookies and throw in the bananas. That’s a fruit. It’s healthy, right?

They were delicious and tasted like banana bread. Soft in the middle and crispy around the edges. Make sure to keep the dough refrigerated, and use parchment paper because I have a feeling they may stick if you don’t.

Mission Accomplished!

For the recipe visit:

https://www.momontimeout.com/chocolate-chip-banana-cookies/

Cookies and College

Baking is just one of those hobbies that distracts me from my worries and gets my mind off of thoughts I wish I could forget. It also gives me some alone time with my feelings and a chance to sort them out.

I know most of us mommas are feeling a little down and blue this month with our kids leaving the nest, going off to college and embarking on their life journey.

It’s bittersweet for most of us. A moment they have been waiting for, and one we have hoped wouldn’t come quite this fast.

But, enough of those teary thoughts.

Speaking of sweet, it’s a perfect excuse for me to cheat a little on the healthy eating, comfort myself, and eat plenty of cookies. And, Lord knows I like some cookies.

I decided Friday afternoon was a wonderful time to do some baking and send my boy off to college the next day with some homemade treats from mom. It was a great idea if I do say so myself.

I made some chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on the back of the Ghirdelli chocolate chips, and then I made some very peanut buttery cookies with peanut butter and almond butter. Delish!

Almond-Peanut Butter Cookies

Too delish in fact! The few left in the container that didn’t go off to college got packaged up today and are getting shipped out of my sight. I think that’s peanut butter on my thighs!

Almond-Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the eggs and beat about 1 minute. Add the peanut butter, almond butter and vanilla, scraping down the sides as needed. Continue to beat on low and add the flour mixture until combined.

Cover and chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Dough may be chilled up to three days.

Prior to baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly spray a stone with cooking spray. Roll cookie dough into balls, and then roll in sugar. Use a fork to flatten and make a crisscross on top of each cookie. Bake each batch for 10-12 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Memorial Day Morning

This morning was no different than any other when all the kids are home. A little chaotic, but a mother’s bliss. Listening to them all chatting and laughing, sometimes arguing.

One on the phone with my dad, laughing at his dry like humor, repeating his words he found so funny. Going upstairs to tell his brother and hearing the giggles. Another one with her silly personality making her witty comments, playing with the dog. Shrills and laughter, voices conversing. It’s all a normal day at our house. CRAZY!

In the midst of all that, I’m trying to cook breakfast and listen and think how happy I am they are all together. This is a momma’s joy. If only they knew it.

This morning in the middle of all the chaos I once again forgot to take pictures of the goodies I made for them. I will say bacon is always a hit and bread of any sort. I have some bread lovers in the mix…they inherit that from the men in my family.

Some bacon and cheese and some honey, along with some biscuits and they thought I was a gourmet cook. Not exactly part of my healthy eating plan, but hey, it is a holiday.

Happy Memorial Day everyone! And, thank you to those who serve and those who have sacrficied. Remember and Honor. xo

I will just share the link to the best Biscuits swimming in butter! Reminds me of my mom’s Southern Hoe cake she used to make. Enjoy!


Are you tired of cooking or just coming up with what to cook?

I love to cook, but the challenge is finding new recipes and deciding WHAT to cook. I don’t know if you all feel this way, but wow food is crazy expensive when you are trying to eat healthy.

My grocery bill just keeps climbing, but I’ve been trying to plan out a menu for the week and make one trip to the grocery. Maybe that’s why it seems like I’m spending more, because I’m not running to the grocery every few days.

Regardless, we have been enjoying some great meals and some new recipes. Last week we had chicken piccata and the family loved it. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture in the mad rush to get everyone fed, but I will try to remember next time so I can post later.)

It is my goal to get better at this cooking part of the blog and share more. Life is just crazy at my house right now with so much going on. Meanwhile, give this recipe a try.

Chicken Piccata

4 large chicken breasts, split horizontally,

1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 Tablespoons olive oil

6 Tablespoons butter

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup white wine (or instead double the chicken broth)

3 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 jar of capers

fresh basil for garnish

Rinse chicken breasts and set aside. Heat olive oil and 4 Tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan at medium high heat. Mix flour, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper together in a bowl and coat breasts, then add them to the hot pan. Cook on each side about 4-5 minutes until browned and done on the inside. When chicken is done place on an oven safe plate, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven.

Add chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice and capers to the frying pan and then bring to a boil. Scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan, lower heat to medium and reduce the sauce, cooking for about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken to the sauce and serve. Garnish with fresh basil if desired

(I served with a side of Angel Hair pasta and a side salad.)

Serves 4-6


Has anyone been cooking and trying new recipes?

I have been trying lots of new recipes and my family is loving it.

We seeded lettuce recently, and today I checked, and the seeds are starting to sprout. They look microscopic at the moment, but hopefully they will make it because I have lots of new salads I want to try out in the coming weeks. I’ve been testing out new salad dressings and trying to eat healthy so I definitely want to stay on track.

This past weekend I made soup and a delicious Greek Salad. My family loves most salads in general so I’m always working to come up with a new twist. This time around I made a greek seasoning blend and added some good olive oil for the dressing. I have used the same seasoning blend to marinate chicken in so I’m thinking I have come up with a masterpiece.

In all serious, serve some pita bread with this chicken and salad for an easy weeknight meal. My family loves this juicy chicken, and somtimes there are even leftovers.

Enjoy!

Greek Seasoning for Chicken

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon dried basil

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon dried dill weed

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all ingrediets in a small container with lid and store.

Greek Chicken Breasts

Greek seasoning (see recipe above)

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil

4-6 Boneless chicken breasts cut and trimmed

Add chicken to a glass baking dish. Drizzle chicken with olive oil, toss, then sprinkle both sides with Greek seasoning and marinate 6-8 hours. When ready to cook remove from refrigerator and put in a cold oven. Bake at 375 degrees uncovered, for about an hour or until chicken is cooked through. Turn chicken over about half way through cooking to keep tops moist. Do not drain juices. When chicken is done remove from oven, leave in baking dish and slice into strips. Toss chicken to absorb juices and serve on top of Greek salad. (I have grilled this chicken before also, but you just don’t have all the juices.)

Serves 4-6

Greek Salad

2-3 heads of Romaine lettuce, cut up (Sometimes I use a mixture of Romaine, iceberg, red leaf or whatever I have on hand. Use your preference.)

1 seedless cucumber, sliced thinly

1 red pepper, deseeded, quartered and sliced

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

1/2 carton cherry tomatoes, sliced

Green olives

Feta cheese

Greek dressing (see recipe below)

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl and then toss with the dressing. Serve alone as a side dish or with Greek chicken and pita bread for a meal.

Greek Dressing

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

About 1/3 cup good quality olive oil

Mix all dry ingredients in a container. Add olive oil to your satisfaction and combine. Toss dressing into salald and serve.


Planting Season

I’m so glad it’s planting season. Know why?

It means summer and warmer weather is right around the corner. With this virus scare, I cannot wait to get some hot temperatures and humidity in the forecast in hopes of killing it off.

Meanwhile, we are trying not to think about it and just spend time with family doing much needed chores around the house.

My boys did a little planting of their own this week for my birthday. They planted a little flower garden, with a birdbath they made and a bird feeder, outside my kitchen window and surprised me. It’s a nice addition to the yard and something pretty to look at while I’m hard at it in the kitchen.

This past weekend I worked on my pots for the front porch, and yesterday I planted herbs and seeded lettuce. Whew! It’s nice to get that accomplished and checked off my list.

This week I plan on cleaning the pollen infested screened porch.

If you haven’t seeded your lettuce now is a good time to start. The threat of frost is narrowing, and it takes a little time for the plants to sprout.

I opted to seed part of my plants in a tray, and later I will transplant them.

This year I’m going to transplant to a small raised garden space in the back yard, rather than growing them in a container. I seeded two varieties and I can’t wait to harvest lettuce for those springtime salad recipes I’ve been working on.


Old Recipes, Old Memories

I’m sure most of you are like me, trying to figure out what to cook and not spend a fortune on groceries?

With all my children coming home and this virus, my grocery bill has skyrocketed and unfortunately, that is not in the tight budget. I attempt to be healthy, but frankly, cooking healthy everyday requires multiple trips to the grocery each week, and it’s EXPENSIVE. We eat salad quite often, but I like to mix up the meal plans.

I’ve been trying to buy meat and make multiple meals, so I can freeze some for those days I’m away, or if I’m having a bad day and struggling with what to cook. Fresh meat is kind of scarce these days, and sales even more so.

In my quest to find some new ideas of what to cook, I pulled out a stack of mismatched papers and note cards with recipes scribbled on each of them. Within the stack was a few old pictures of my children when they were little and lots of familiar memories that flooded my mind.

Life back then seems so simple and carefree at this moment, and I long for those days. I cling to my recollections like a lifesaving device in the midst of the storm I’m living. Memories are one of my saviors I hold close to my heart, along with the Lord.

Boy, do I miss the days when they were little.

Back then I had a considerable collection of recipes the kiddos loved. I think it’s a great time, while we are together, to cook and reminisce.

A fellow elementary school mom shared with me one of our favorite dishes. I came across the recipe card she had handwritten for me and it brought back so many fond memories of those special school days. Life was so good then, and I pray we have more of those times to come.

Enjoy this time with your family, and I’ll share new recipes in the coming days. Meanwhile, give this one a try.

Poppy Seed Chicken

6 chicken boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into strips

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 rolls of Ritz crackers, crumbled

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Arrange strips in casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk together soup and water in a saucepan over medium heat to remove all lumps. Remove from heat and add sour cream; stir in cheese and half of the poppy seeds. Pour over chicken. Mix together remaining poppy seeds, butter and cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Stocking Meals

With my large family, I’ve been trying to keep the fridge stocked and cook foods where I can make multiple meals and freeze one. Yesterday, I cooked chicken and used half of it for chicken noodle soup and saved the other half for another meal later this week.

Today, I made lasagna and made an extra one for the kids for next week, while I’m indisposed with being a caregiver.

The unknowns of this virus are a little unnerving for me. I know all you parents who have to actually “teach” your children and work a job are a little stressed as well. I’ve had a busy week with my children and my caregiving duties. I feel I have neglected my blog this last week, but I’m working on changing that, I promise.

I am hoping to plant my lettuce in the next couple of weeks. If you are out and about and you want to join in maybe try to grab some soil, lettuce seeds and a container so you will already have them on hand. I’m going to attempt to plant my seeds in the next couple of weeks.

Today, I’m sharing my Aunt Di’s famous lasagna recipe because I know everyone will love it.

Aunt Di’s Best Lasagna

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, diced

1 28 oz. can tomatoes

1 12 oz. can tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 bay leaf

1 package lasagna noodles

2 eggs

1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese

16 ozs. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large Dutch oven over high heat, cook ground beef and onion until all pan juices evaporate and beef is well browned, stirring often. Add tomatoes, along with their liquid, tomato paste, sugar, salt, oregano, thyme, pepper, garlic salt and bay leaf. Heat to boiling, stirring to break up tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally. Remove bay leaf and discard, then remove any fat from sauce.

Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. In a 13″x9″ baking dish arrange half of noodles (about 7 noodles), overlapping if necessary. Combine eggs and ricotta cheese. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and top with half of the mozzarella cheese. Top cheese with half of the sauce. Repeat layers.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes and serve. (Makes 8 servings)

**Double the recipe and freeze one for later.


Spring Forward

I dislike losing an hour of sleep more than most things, but I love having more daylight and the long warm days ahead of me. The winter can be quite depressing, especially with the winter I’ve had. If anything, Spring brings a renewed hope with green grass, flowers and more sunshine.

It also provides conditions to grow some pretty good lettuce, which I love to use in my salad concoctions. I have this knack and reputation for making some pretty awesome salads, and I will be sharing some of those in the coming weeks.

There’s nothing like a fresh homemade salad, with newly picked lettuce leaves and some grilled fish or chicken for a nice healthy dinner. During the warmer months, it frequents the dinner table and is a favorite in my house.

This spring, when the threat of frost is over, pop on over to the hardware store and pick up some good quality potting soil, some lettuce seeds and a large container (be creative) and plant your lettuce for some good spring salads.

A couple of years ago my boys started a lettuce garden in a large galvenized wash tub that now sits on the deck and houses lettuce in the spring and then herbs later on. It’s one of my most favorite things they have ever done for me.

Together we can make some wonderful salads and dressings, and I will share some of my favorite recipes. And, gardening on a small scale in containers can be quite therapeutic without being too much work or overwhelming.

Get your materials together. It’s almost planting time!


Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

This morning I spent some time in the kitchen cooking chicken breasts, cutting up veggies and making a chicken pie for the boys to have another night when I’m away.

Since I had some writing to do this afternoon, I wanted to make something relatively easy for dinner tonight. I cut up some carrots and celery and chopped some onion and put it away in the fridge. Then, I shredded up my cooked chicken and reserved some for tonight’s dinner.

I love spending time in the morning doing meal prep, or cooking a couple of different dishes so I can “bank” food for later. My schedule is crazy, and we spend A LOT of time on the road traveling to the Cancer Center. I don’t like to go off and leave the boys without dinner in the fridge if I can help it. Otherwise, they end up eating fast food.

I made the soup in about 30 minutes max. The boys LOVED it, but they are always easy to please. xo

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons butter

3 peeled carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6-8 cups chicken broth

12 oz. package extra wide egg noodles

2 Cups shredded chicken breasts

Directions:

Heat butter on medium high in a large stock pot and add carrots celery, onions and garlic. Sauté for about a minute and then add seasonings, salt and pepper. Next, add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook just until tender, according to package directions. Add chicken and simmer, covered, until ready to serve.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches for a delicious weeknight meal.


Chicken Dinner

Tonight, I made the best chicken thighs I have ever tasted.

And, if you aren’t a fan of thighs don’t be discouraged. These are delicious! The only changes I made to the recipe….I used boneless thighs and I made a little extra sauce to cook them in.

I’ve made this recipe before, but it has been awhile. My son requested it for dinner this weekend, and I love when my boys make requests. I always tell them, I will cook anything if you will just tell me what you want. Figuring out what to cook is half the battle for me.

This recipe is great served with rice and a vegetable. It’s an easy weeknight meal.

Check out the link to the recipe below, and enjoy!

https://damndelicious.net/2014/11/29/garlic-brown-sugar-chicken/


Hearty and Hot

The weather is so upredictable with the daffodils blooming and 70 degrees one day and 40 degrees and rainy the next.

How do we know what to wear or better yet, what to cook?

I’m loving a hot cup of soup when there’s a chill in the air, but far from wanting it when it’s spring like outside. With a warmer than normal winter, I’ve missed pulling out some of my hearty comfort food recipes. There’s nothing like a recipe that offers contentment for the soul and creates an inviting smell throughout the house.

This family favorite in my house may be familiar to you, in one version or another, but this particular one was shared with me years ago from an old friend.

Colder weather is coming, we better get to the grocery.


French Onion Salisbury Steak

2 pounds ground chuck

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons minced fresh scallions

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix together and form into oval steak patties and place on parchment paper. Set aside.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup flour

2 cups sliced valdalia onion

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 1/2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup red wine

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat olive oil in large frying pan. Meanwhile, using half of the flour, dredge steak patties in flour and add patties to hot pan. Cook on each side until browned and center is done. Remove patties, place on a plate and set aside. Add onion to pan and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook about 1 minute. Sprinkle other half of flour into the pan, stir and cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, wine, salt and thyme. Add meat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve steaks and gravy on a bed of mashed potatoes. Or, slice a loaf of French bread, top with shredded paremesan cheese, then toast. Serve steak and gravy over top of toasted bread slices.

Pairs well with a green vegetable of your choice.


Kebabs

This warm weather is giving me spring fever and making me yearn for some warm nights on the screened porch. I know I’m a little premature on my thinking, but a girl can dream.

I was browsing some recipes today in search of what to make for dinner and found this delish recipe from my Aunt Di. Now, she claims she can’t really cook, but we all know that’s a lie. Maybe she doesn’t cook often, but she can cook some good stuff.

When you’re ready to fire up the grill give these kebabs a try.

Aunt Di’s Steak Kebabs

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or use 1 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

12 oz. boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes

8 cherry tomatoes

4 large mushrooms, cut in half

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 8 squares

In glass dish, combine soy, honey, ginger, garlic, lemon peel and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add beef and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Alternate beef and veggies on skewers and grill.


Comfort Food

Who doesn’t love to have dinner waiting when they get home in the evening?

I like making hearty Crock Pot meals in the winter, the smell throughout the house, and having a hot meal waiting when dinner time rolls around. How appropriate that January is National Slow Cooker Month, which was probably established to give us all a break from so much cooking after the holidays.

I have a few different versions of stews I make, but one of my family favorites is Beef Bourguignon.

It is such a hearty meal and so comforting on a chilly day. I love to make it on a Sunday, when I have the time to do the prep work for it, and enjoy the aromas that fill the kitchen.

The boys love it, and there’s always leftovers for lunch the next day.

Beef Bourguignon

6 Slices of bacon cut into 1-inch pieces

4 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 small bag baby carrots cut in half

1-2 cartons of baby portabella mushrooms cut into quarters

1 cup diced onion

2-cups full bodied red wine

2 cup beef or chicken broth

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup of tomato paste

3 tablespoons minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dry thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

Prepared mashed potatoes

Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain, and leave the excess grease in the pan.

Mix flour, salt and pepper, and toss with beef cubes; brown on each side, in batches for one to three minutes in the pan with bacon grease. As beef cubes are done, transfer them to a Crock Pot. Then, add bacon, carrots and mushrooms.

Add onions to the bacon grease pan and sauté for one minute. Sir in one cup of wine and scrape all the bacon bits off the bottom of the pan, then pour into the Crock Pot.

Mix the remainder of wine, broth, soy sauce, minced garlic and tomato paste then add to Crock Pot. Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper over the beef and vegetables and add bay leaves. Cover and cook 6-8 hours on low.

Remove bay leaf. Serve stew in a bowl over prepared mashed potatoes. Enjoy!


What’s Cooking

Are you tired of trying to figure out what to make for dinner every night? Has cooking become a miserable chore?

I have always LOVED to cook. Sometimes more than others, but there’s nothing more satisfying than making delicious meals for my family and people I love. I used to write a food column and was fond of the time I spent working on new ideas and recipes for the upcoming month. Often, I featured food holidays and complimented them with stories of my childhood.

In 2018, when hubby was first diagnosed with cancer, there were five weeks where I left the boys home with their “Manny.” That’s what we named him anyway. He was actually a dear friend, who happens to be a Marine, who needed helping out, and who ended up helping us out. During the week when we traveled to Duke, he would stay with the boys.

Every Monday morning I would leave a list of planned meals taped to the kitchen cabinet and a fridge filled with pre-prepped food for Manny and the boys. Some of the days took more prep time for him than others, and some days took more cooking, but the boys pitched in and helped out with dinner every night.

It was an all win situation because Manny was a pretty good cook on his own, the boys got to help out with cooking and dishes, and they had home cooked, easy weeknight meals each evening.

Ever since Manny left to go back to live with his own family he has wanted me to get my blog going so I could do meal planning for him each week. At home, he cooks for his own family, and he’s always looking for a new recipe.

After talking with a friend the other day, who has been trying out some meal planning of her own, it got me thinking I really want to make meal planning a part of this blog. Besides, if you can help someone, help them. Right?

I like cooking, entertaining, and I LOVE recipes! So here goes….

Keep an eye out because I’m working on your weeknight dinners for next week, and I’ll be posting them soon!!


Weeknight Meals

Life is so much easier when I plan meals out for the week and make a shopping list. If I try to throw meals together I end up making extra grocery trips and spending way too much money. I have put together some of my family’s favorite meals that I feel are pretty easy to prepare and cook. This section is kind of a work in progress, and there’s no fancy photos, but I promise it will make your life a little less painful if you shop and prepare ahead. For me, half of the battle is deciding what to cook so let me know what you think. Bon Appétit!

Dinner Menu #1

  • Greek Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Iceberg Salad with feta
  • Pita Bread
  • Cucumber Sauce

This weeknight meal takes medium prep time.

Serves 4-6 with leftovers for lunch

Prep:

  • Make Greek seasoning and store in airtight container.
  • Trim chicken breast and then score by cutting slits across the breast about half way down into the meat and about one inch apart. Be careful not to cut chicken all the way through. Marinate chicken the night before or in the morning before work. (see recipe)
  • Prepare cucumber sauce and store in airtight container in the fridge.
  • Cut pita bread into fourths and wrap in foil to heat.

Time to Cook: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • While chicken is baking prepare salad.
  • About 5 minutes before chicken is done put pita bread into oven to heat.

Greek Seasoning 

  • 4 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 4 tsp. Dried basil
  • 4 tsp. Dried oregano
  • 3 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. Dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp. Dried dill weed
  • 2 tsp. Marjoram
  • 2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Ground thyme
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Cucumber Sauce

  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and grate cucumber and then add to a strainer to drain; press out excess water. Add to a bowl and then mix in remaining ingredients. Store in a container in the fridge until ready to serve.

Greek Boneless Chicken Breasts

  • 4-6 boneless chicken breasts
  • Greek seasoning (see recipe above)
  • 3-4 tablespoon Olive oil, or enough to drizzle over chicken

Trim chicken breast and then score by cutting slits across the breast about half way down into the meat and about one inch apart. Be careful not to cut chicken all the way through. Add olive oil to a glass backing dish then sprinkle Greek seasoning inside slits and on top of chicken and place in dish. Marinate several hours in fridge.

Remove chicken from fridge and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake about one hour or until chicken starts to brown. When chicken is done remove from oven and slice where scores are located. Leave chicken in baking dish to soak up juices. Serve with cucumber sauce if desired.

Iceberg Salad with Feta cheese

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 seedless cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 package cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 carton of feta cheese
  • Ranch or Greek dressing

Wash and shred lettuce and top with remaining ingredients. Serve with dressing of your choice.

Shopping List

  • (check to make sure you have all the spices for Greek seasoning)
  • 4-6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 2 seedless cucumbers
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon or lemon juice
  • 1 carton feta cheese
  • Small carton Greek yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Ranch or Greek dressing
  • Olive oil
  • Pita bread

Dinner Menu #2

  • Mexican Stuffed Green Peppers
  • Chips and Salsa

This simple weeknight meal takes minimal prep time

(Serves 4)

Prep:

  • You may make the rice ahead of time and store in the fridge.
  • You may make this dish ahead of time and store in the fridge until ready to cook.

Mexican Stuffed Green Peppers

  • 4 Green Peppers, cored and cut in half
  • 1 pound Ground beef, sausage or chicken
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, plus more for peppers
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • 1 cup rice, cook according to package directions
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 6 ounces shredded Mexican cheese (I use the taco blend)

Cut peppers in half and cup off tops and remove seeds and membranes. Put halves in a pot of boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes. Drain and place in a glass baking dish; sprinkle each with a pinch of salt.

Cook meat and onion in a large frying pan until browned; drain excess fat. Sir in tomato sauce and then add Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and cumin. Next, stir in rice and then add beans and cook. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes. 

Spoon beef mixture into cooked pepper halves and bake covered at 350 degree for about 25-35 minutes, or until heated. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and then bake about 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Shopping List:

  • 1 pound ground beef, sausage or chicken
  • 4 green peppers
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ground cumin
  • 1 package rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 package shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • Chips
  • Salsa

Dinner Menu #3

  • Grilled Salmon
  • Steamed Garlic Green Beans with Sugar Snap Peas
  • Rosemary Oven Fried Potatoes

This simple weeknight meal takes minimal prep time

(Serves 4)

Prep:

  • Wash the potatoes and let drain on a paper towel.
  • Marinate the salmon, cover and let sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Mince garlic and set aside for at least 5 minutes. (Make sure to mince garlic just a few minutes before cooking for its maximum taste and benefits.)

Time to cook:

When ready to prep dinner simply preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the potatoes and then toss with remaining ingredients. Put in the oven to bake.

Prepare grill and cook salmon. Meanwhile, sauté garlic and prepare to cook beans.

Grilled Salmon Fillets

  • 2 pounds salmon fillets
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning

Prep:

Put fish in a glass dish; add soy sauce and sprinkle Montreal steak seasoning on top and let marinate about 30 minutes.

Time to cook:

On a clean grill, oil grate and heat on medium heat. Grill salmon about 6-8 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve.

Steamed Garlic Green Beans with Sugar Snap Peas

  • 1 package fresh petite green beans
  • 1 package fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mince garlic and then heat olive oil on medium heat in skillet and sauté garlic about a minute; then add water. When water starts to boil add beans and peas, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once while cooking. Remove lid, add salt and pepper and serve.

Rosemary Oven Fried Potatoes

  • 4-6 Russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper 

Prep:

Scrub and wash potatoes and put on paper towel to drain. 

Time to cook:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut potatoes in bite sized cubes and place in a bowl. Toss potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread potatoes out evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes or until they become brown and slightly crispy.

Shopping List

  • 2 pounds Salmon fillets
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 4-6 Russet potatoes
  • 1 package Fresh Petite Green Beans
  • 1 package Sugar Snap Peas
  • Fresh garlic bulb
  • Olive oil 
  • Soy sauce
  • Rosemary

Dinner Menu #4

  • Crock Pot Chili
  • Corn chips or corn muffins

This simple weeknight meal takes minimal prep time

Prep:

  • If you choose to serve with corn muffins you can make them ahead. I use Jiffy corn muffin mix.
  • This meal may be made ahead of time and put in the Crock Pot or cooked on the stove at meal time.

Crock Pot Chili 

  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds ground beef (sometimes I use ground chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 large cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cans light kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • Toppings of your choice:  sliced jalapeños, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese

Mince garlic and set aside. Chop onion. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic; saute about 1 minute and then add onion and ground beef and cook until browned. Remove from stove and stir in chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add mixture to crock pot and then add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and beans. Stir and cook on low until ready to serve. 

NOTE:  Sometimes I just cook this on the stove and let it simmer on low until ready to serve. There’s something I love though about the Crock Pot and cooking it through the day.

(Serves 6-8) 

There’s always leftovers for lunch the next day or make Chili Cheese Nachos.

Make Chili Cheese Nachos for another meal or a snack. Simply heat the chili in a pot on the stove and then spread chips on a foil lined cookie sheet. Top with heated chili and then add shredded cheese. Heat in a 350 degree oven until cheese is totally melted. Remove and top with your favorite toppings like shredded lettuce, sour cream, jalapeños, guacamole, sliced black olives, or fresh cilantro.

Shopping List

  • 1- 2 pounds Ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • 1 fresh garlic bulb
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2 cans light kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 large cans tomato sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Toppings:  jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro
  • Jiffy corn muffin mix, plus ingredients to make muffins
  • Corn chips

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