better than take-out

Truly!

I came across this recipe by way of Buzzfeed of all places. You know how they have all of those list posts? I love a good list post, especially when it focuses on food. This is the post right here. Funny enough, it’s title is Easy Weeknight Dinners Your Kids Will Like. My kids though? Yeah, not so much. To say I live with two very picky eaters is an understatement and honestly I can write a whole post about it. Nee, a whole BOOK about it. It would be boring, but oh I’ve got the experience and content to author it, I do.

But back to the good.

I wound up pinning a few of the recipes, and hopefully I’ll give those a go before they fall into my pinterest food wasteland.

The details of this dish:

fresh broccoli florets
diced chicken breast
brown rice

And a fantastic little sauce.

chickbroc

I will admit, it took me slightly longer than 12 minutes. Brown rice takes over 40! But still this was relatively quick and it was very easy and it was VERY delicious.

You can find the original posted recipe here.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 bunch broccoli, chopped into small florets
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and mostly cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, make your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and sesame oil until combined. Set aside.

Once the chicken is browned, add the broccoli and stir to combine. Continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green. Stir in the soy sauce mixture, and cook for an additional 1 minute until the sauce has thickened.

Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnished with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

I only made three small modifications. I didn’t have rice wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar in the sauce. Instead of just one crushed fresh garlic clove, I used 4 small ones. I LOVE garlic! Further, I didn’t have any ginger on hand, so that I completely omitted.

chicken sausage tortellini

I came across this one-skillet dinner one day about a month ago. Don’t even ask me how/where/why. It came upon my screen and I thought, yes please! (I mean, I’m sure it was on Pinterest somewhere, but I can’t even find the original pin. Oh wells!) The original post was from last October, so seriously, I must have been sitting on this one a while. You know how you bookmark and pin stuff that you SWEAR you’re going to make? Hundreds of them yo.

Here’s what I like about this dish: it’s easy and SUPER flavorful. Need any other reasons to whip this up on a weeknight?

sausagetortellini

On to the details!

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 package pre-cooked chicken Italian sausage (4 links)
1 small shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce (I used homemade, because it’s better!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
18 ounces cheese tortellini (fresh, not frozen)
kosher salt & pepper
fresh basil

I’m going to include my own instructions because I altered it just slightly for my own preferences and tastes.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat
Cut sausage links into coins, place in olive oil, let them brown for about 10-12 minutes. (You want a nice caramelization on the edges.
While the sausage is cooking, mince your shallot and garlic.
Remove sausage, let the oil drain off of them by placing them on paper towels.
Leave the bits in the pan!
Put a splash more of olive oil in pan.
Throw in the shallots and let them sweat for about 3 minutes.
Add in your minced garlic.
Give it another minutes.
Your pan is getting brown now, but don’t worry!
De-glaze the pan with the chicken broth. Release all those flavorful bits!
Slowly stir in the tomato sauce and the cream.
Add about 1/2 tsp each of black pepper and kosher salt.
Carefully add in the tortellini and sausage.
Give everything a stir.
Lower heat to simmer.
Cover.
In 12 minutes, it’s all ready!

To serve, chiffonade some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on each serving.
You can also add some freshly grated Percorino Romano cheese. Yum!

I serve this alongside steamed asparagus with lemon zest.

An easy, lovely, delicious 20 minute meal, enjoy!

asparagus salad

A couple of weeks ago I had a bunch of asparagus in my fridge that was dancing around the past its prime date. I wasn’t making anything that required a nice roasted asparagus as a side dish, which is my usual method for cooking the stalks. (Cut the bottoms off, lay them in a line on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper, into a 400 degree oven for about 11 minutes then top with some fresh grated romano and a squeeze of lemon, seriously, it’s PERFECT!)
Since the warmer weather was here, I thought I might like to do an asparagus salad. I searched online and came across a recipe that involved shallots, dijon vinaigrette, red peppers, and feta. I tried and it was quite tasty. Mike liked it too. Lots of flavor.
Flash-forward to today, I was planning on a simple summer meal, veggie burgers with potato salad. I saw that I had a bundle of asparagus in my fridge again and figured I would make them into salad again. Problem is, I COULD NOT find that recipe again. I went to like page 5 in my google search hoping to come across it.
So, I thought, eh, it’s not rocket science, just wing it.
And so I did.

asparagussalad

I used a few elements from the previous dish and then just added a few new ones.

As follows:

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into approx. 2 inch pieces, blanched in salted bowling water for 2 minutes, then submerged into ice bath for 2 minutes
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T dijon mustard
1 lemon, zested and squeezed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
kosher salt
black pepper

Whisk olive oil, mustard, lemon juice/zest, salt, pepper, oregano, and shallots together until combined. Add blanched asparagus and tomatoes, mix to coat. Add feta, stir. Add diced avocado to top. Serve chilled.

It will be one of my go-to summer salads from now on. It was refreshing and delicious and the best part, healthy!

The potato salad was homemade too, but it’s not quite as jazzy to talk about!

white peach cobbler

Peaches are in season! Wonderful juicy sweet peaches. There is nothing like a beautiful ripe peach. It’s like candy. But only if they’re good. Peaches are fickle. Much like bananas and pears. Or maybe I’m the fickle one.
I need my peaches to be ripe, but not too ripe.
Soft, but not squishy.
Textured, but not mealy. Or mushy. YUCK.

And well, it doesn’t happen that often that I come across consistently good peaches. So whenever I find ’em, I TAKE as many as I can get in a bag. I’m pleased to say my boys love fresh ripe peaches as much as I do.

Mike ran into the store the other day and I told him to get more peaches ’cause you know I had eaten up the bunch that I bought just a few days prior. However, he doesn’t quite have the nose for a good peach, so the ones he picked up I felt were sort of lackluster. There was no SMELL! I went ahead and looked up some cobbler recipes since I felt like they wouldn’t do as handfruit.

I’ve never made a cobbler before. I’ve made plenty of pies and crisps and crumbles, but never a cobbler. And never a peach cobbler at that. But I came across this recipe and it looked yummy AND easy. I was going to give it a go.

I only had four peaches and they actually were the white variety. But by the time this evening rolled around, they were actually pretty ripe and juicy. Though not so much as I couldn’t peel (with my standard oxo peeler) or slice them without difficulty. I’m certainly glad I didn’t have the boil the skins off. I don’t have the patience for that!

The recipe took me all of 20 minutes to put together and it made our home smell delightful. I served it warm with a scoop of Aldens light vanilla bean ice cream. (It’s my favorite brand of ice cream)

peachcobbler

What a wonderful treat for a Tuesday evening!

yoshi cake!

For my son’s birthday, I wanted to make the cake that we’d be having on his actual day, for just our family. I usually do this every year for my boys and try to come up with either something really special or something at their request. I am NOT a cake decorator but I’ve come up with some pretty cute stuff in the past. Once I get all my photos together, I can link to past cakes. In the meantime however, allow me to share my most recent work.

First you should know that my kid is obsessed with this Yoshi shirt that we recently bought for him from OLD NAVY. He loves the color, the fact that it’s Yoshi and the fact that it’s a really soft, comfy tee. I do wash frequently and every time it’s clean, he will grab it. And look for it if it’s not in his closet. So we see this shirt A LOT!

yoshishirt

A few days before his birthday, I figured, “Why not make a Yoshi cake?” Indeed!

I googled image searched for yoshi cakes and there were a lot of good ones out there. but some used gum paste and made little figures. I don’t have the time or talent for that yet. I thought I could easily do it with frosting gel and fondant. I was right!

Almost done:

yoshi1

I added some Yoshi eggs and number 10s to the surrounding sides:

yoshicake2

Isn’t cutting into your edible artwork the hardest to watch?!

yoshicake3

But totally worth it! YUM!

What’s your favorite pie?

Mines APPLE, hands down, no contest.

When I was a kid my dad used to be a manager at the branch offices of Wonder Bread/Hostess cakes. We grew up with Twinkies and Chocodiles and Suzy Qs (another favorite!) and those luscious hand-held apple pies. My God, I still remember those sweet babies. I think they’re still available, but the last time I looked at the nutritional info, I nearly fell over at what’s in them. They probably won’t taste as good as I remember either.

So a few times a year, I make a pie. APPLE PIE! It’s Mike’s favorite too. He requests it for his birthday. (Along with cake too!)

This one I made to enjoy just before the Lenten season. My recipe is simple, half butter, half vegetable shortening. Flour, a bit of sugar, a little salt, and some ice cold water. Once the dough is made, I form a ball, cut it in two, wrap each individually and pop it in the fridge for a while. Inside goes about 8 or 9 apples, half Granny Smith and half something a little sweeter like MacIntosh or Pink Lady. I add 3/4 cup of cane sugar and LOTS of cinnamon.

In order to not burn the crust edges, halfway through the bake cycle I cover the edges with tinfoil. A trick I learned from my mom. I watched her and my grandma bake pies for holidays all throughout my childhood. A joyous memory.

I never get the crust to look perfect, but it sure tastes DELICIOUS!

applepie!

Lunch Wraps

Today I decided to try a new wrap recipe for lunch. I came across this recipe last week and shopped for it when I went out on Tuesday. Whole Foods wound up having those giant tortillas that I can never find, so I knew it was meant to be!

I got the recipe from Kitchen Daily via Pinterest. It’s a white bean and avocado wrap. Vegetarian! Although truth be told, this wrap would be pretty darned good with some bacon. I didn’t have any though, so totally veg friendly today. This recipe makes four good sized wraps.

A bit of the process:

wraplunch3

wraplunch2

All wrapped up!

wraplunch1

It was DELICIOUS! Every flavor came out, from the bean and avocado spread to the chipotle slaw. Just bright and super flavorful.

Mike gave it an A which is a pretty great grade for a Saturday afternoon lunch when usually we’re just having ham sandwiches.

I found the chipotle a SMIDGE too hot, so maybe next time I’ll use a tad less. My lips were seriously burning for 10 minutes after I finished.

I made only a few minor changes to the recipe:

I added kosher salt and black pepper to the bean/avocado mix, plus a squeeze of lime.
I used red wine vinegar instead of cider vinegar, mostly because I like the flavor better.
I didn’t mix the cheese into the bean/avocado mix, because I didn’t want it to get too muddled. I opted to just layer the shredded cheese during assembly.

This is something that was delicious, healthy, and I will definitely make it again.

One-pot!

I love, love, LOVE a one-pot dinner. It’s not just about the dishes either. I find using one pot to make a complete meal allows me to build deep flavors and every ingredient marries together in the pot.

This one is something I came across on Pinterest via Number2pencil, cheeseburger casserole. I’ve been calling it cheeseburger macaroni, much like the dreaded relic Hamburger Helper. Which I’m sorry to say was a prominent part of my childhood. To my child’s taste, it was delicious. Now, I can’t imagine consuming it. Especially when it’s easy enough to make a similar dinner with healthier, fresh ingredients.

cheeseburgermac

I really liked it. It was hearty and warm and very tasty. Mike gave it an A, which I was pleasantly surprised by as when I initially showed him the recipe, he gave me a half-hearted “meh”. I’m glad I made it as even my picky kindergartener liked it!

I made a few adjustments:

I used ground turkey breast
I used all low-sodium chicken broth, instead of a mix of broth and water
I didn’t use ketchup
I used no-salt diced tomatoes
I added a chopped shallot to my diced sweet onion
I added 4 cloves pressed garlic
I added 2tsp coriander, 1tsp each of oregano and basil, 2tsp paprika

We ate it with diced cherry tomatoes and chopped green onions on top. Both of these added a brightness and freshness to the dish, as well as a nice clean crunch. This recipe will definitely be a part of my winter dinner rotation.

Waffling

We (I mean MIKE), tried a new waffle recipe! Since our kids don’t like cereal for breakfast, they either get a waffle or a couple of pancakes. We used to buy them frozen from Whole Foods. Delicious and super easy, but way expensive, obviously. When Mike’s mom came for a visit last summer, she bought us our own waffle iron. Yay!

It’s a belgian iron and it works great. The process is to make a whole bunch at once. Which takes a while. But then there are homemade frozen waffles in the freezer each morning for the boys. Mike does frozen pancakes the same way. Mini chocolate chip ones, yum.

This weekend, I was reading A Beautiful Mess and came across this recipe, snickerdoodle waffles. I was intrigued!

Mike actually made them and here is the result:

snickerdoodlewaffles

The boys LOVED them. What kid wouldn’t love something sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar I ask you?

Me, I was lukewarm. I felt like they were missing something. Though I couldn’t really tell you what. Maybe more vanilla? Perhaps a light syrup would have helped. I did like the consistency of them. I say, B-
Maybe they’re worth another try in the near future.

New Dinner

So I’ve been reading Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for about a year now. I’ve have made a handful of her recipes and am always pleased with the results.
Last week I made her (famous!) sweet & sour chicken, which I have made a bunch of times. It’s seriously awesome. When I was on her site grabbing the recipe, I came across a Paprika Chicken Stroganoff. Looks good!

I had just gone to Whole Foods today and picked up the last needed ingredients. I was excited to try something new. And I LOVE paprika.

chickenstroganoff

I served it over egg noodles, just as suggested. Alongside I roasted brussel sprouts and steamed asparagus. Both had fresh lemon squeezed over them.

Mike gave the stroganoff a B. I would agree. He loves egg noodles and thought the chicken was cooked perfectly. The sauce caused him some problems. Though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that was off for him. I liked the recipe overall and would make it again. The chicken was very tasty. I might hold back on the sauce a bit. Maybe just not so much. Mike said he would eat it again too.