What’s Cooking This Week

I very dutifully create a menu planning our dinners each week before heading to the grocery store, but honestly, sometimes I just get distracted and go off script. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes an overabundance of an ingredient calling my name, sometimes what I planned, I’m just not feeling on cook day! That’s exactly what happened this past week when I switched things up to make stuffed peppers and chicken, bacon, ranch grilled flatbreads.

I cannot resist loading up on fresh peppers during this time of year. Sometimes I get a little too enthused and end up with an entire vegetable bin of them! So stuffed peppers are my go-to way to make sure they all get used. I cook up some basmati rice, brown some ground beef or turkey with diced onion & minced garlic, then add tomatoes (yes, I’m still using up the end of my San Marzano’s). When the rice is done, I add it to the meat mix, tossing with some red wine vinegar and fresh parsley. The last step is to mix in some shredded parmesan. I cut my peppers lengthwise, stuff the mixture in and top with shredded mozzarella or provolone. Put them in a grill pan and grill until the peppers have a nice char and the cheese is melted (and yes, if you look closely at the picture, you’ll see I flipped one over trying to get them on to a serving platter!)

If you are ever looking for a quick and satisfying meal, chicken, bacon, ranch flatbreads are amazing. The bonus is that I typically have all the ingredients on hand (because after all, we’ve planned for an entirely different meal so we don’t want to be running to the grocery store!). Just spread some naan, or your favorite flatbread, with ranch dressing and top with healthy amounts of cooked chicken, chopped tomatoes, cooked bacon, and shredded cheddar. Grill for about five minutes, top with diced scallions, and dinner is served.

What’s your favorite way to transform your planned dinner menu? No matter what it is, I hope you enjoy it in good health and surrounded by people who bring you joy!

Eat well friends!

Parmesan Chicken

This is another family favorite. If I ask for input on what should be on the dinner menu this week, 9 times out of 10, parmesan chicken will be suggested. I don’t mind in the slightest, just don’t tell them! But honestly, this dish has the perfect mix of crispy breading, tang from the mustard and Worcestershire, and the chicken stays super moist.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp of your favorite mustard (I love Dijon or spicy brown)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add the mustard and Worcestershire to the melted butter, stirring well to combine. In a plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan, mixing well. Dip the chicken in the butter mixture, then shake in the crumb mixture to coat evenly. Place each chicken breast in the dish, drizzle with any of the leftover butter mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. (longer depending on the size of your chicken pieces).

Our favorite sides are russet potatoes tossed in ranch seasoning and olive oil and finished in the air fryer and a simple helping of green beans.

Chicken Scampi

We’ll just call this when life gives you lemons… Seriously, this is an easy and wonderfully tasty weeknight meal that’s filled with the flavor of garlic, wine and lemon! I’d made a ton of chicken on the grill earlier in the week, so I knew this would be making an appearance on our dinner menu.

2 pounds of skinless chicken breasts, fully cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 garlic cloves
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp oregano
ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup parsley
lemon wedges for garnish

Place chicken in a single layer in a broiler-proof casserole dish. Crush garlic in a saucepan, melt butter into garlic. Add wine, lemon juice, salt, oregano and pepper. Heat until butter is melted. Pour over chicken, coating evenly. Place under broiler until fully heated (6-10 minutes). Top with lemon wedges and parsley.

Serve over angle hair pasta. Green beans make a perfect side dish.

What’s Cooking This Week

This week, we’re taking on the flavors of the world without leaving our backyard. We’ve been all about mixing up flavors and thinking outside the box a bit (because I find it’s really easy to get in a rut of just making the same thing)

First up, I made grilled chicken in a tandoori marinade. It’s plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and crushed red pepper (I understand some of these may not be pantry staples, but if you’re making curry on a regular basis, you should be set). Marinate the chicken for 6 hours in the fridge, then grill it up. I always brush some of the marinade on the chicken for the last 10 minutes on the grill. Any kind of chicken works. Speaking of mixing things up, the hashbrowns in the air fryer tend to be my quick go to, but the magic is they never taste the same way twice because of I use flavors that compliment the main course. For this dish, I used a little smoked paprika, Garam masala and crushed red pepper.

Later in the week, we made grilled quesadillas. I used my favorite fajita spice blend on the meat before grilling till it was just about medium. At the same time, I grilled up some peppers and onions. When everything was set, I sliced the steak into thin slices, then layered flour tortillas with shredded cheddar, some of the sliced steak and some peppers and onions. Then it was back to the grill till the tortillas were crispy. A little sour cream and a quick guacamole (avocado, lime juice, diced jalapenos, cumin, cayenne and diced tomato) on the side and it was perfect.

As I’m heading out to plant some cherry tomato and jalapeno pepper plants in my modest garden, what are your favorite ways to spice up dinner and break out a rut? No matter where your culinary adventures guide you, eat well my friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

I’m patiently waiting for the real return of Spring. Seems like this year, we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of a day or two of spring followed by the return of winter which means we’re still in the comfort food mode to take the chill off the days.

When it comes to quick and comforting, nothing beats a stir fry. Plus it’s a great way to use up the vegetables that are in the fridge (yes, I’m still over-ordering from Misfits Markets). It all starts with cooking up a pot of basmati rice. I always use chicken stock instead of water for a little extra flavor punch. Then the stir fry came together with some skinless chicken breasts tossed with Chinese five spice and red pepper flakes and sautéed in some olive oil & sesame oil. I then added snow peas and red peppers, grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and some stock till the veggies were crisp-tender. Everything goes back into the pan to coat the rice. Sprinkle with some chopped green onion and enjoy.

We also love a good pork tenderloin. I rubbed this one with brown sugar, ground mustard, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and pepper. I’ve discovered when I don’t want to make a potato, cooking some frozen hash browns in the air fryer works beautifully. Just toss with olive oil, garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes. Shake the basket every five minutes so everything gets crispy (a little spritz of olive oil helps make sure they don’t stick). These took me about 15 minutes. Rounding things off were steakhouse green beans (tossed with a mix of melted butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic).

On the rare days we enjoy some spring weather, nothing beats a relaxing evening around the fire pit after dinner. What are your favorite spring is almost here eats? No matter what the weather is tossing your way, eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Spring might finally be starting to arrive here (well other than the snow that’s in the forecast for tomorrow), but it has me thinking about getting back to spending some time getting organized for the week: prepping some things to make for easier dinners and making sure the extra veggies we don’t use during the week don’t go to waste. So as today’s plans got rescheduled, I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. Honestly, I blame the productivity app on my phone that asked if I wanted to get more organized at dinner. Sometimes it’s like the thing watches what happens in our house.

Here’s what we ended up with. Not bad for a day’s work! I started with cooking some broccoli and sausage for a pasta dinner this week. I used two of my favorite kitchen gadgets: my air fryer to cook the broccoli in some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano and my grill pan to put a nice grill on the hot sausage links. It will come together as I heat them in some sauce while cooking some pasta.

Then I cleaned off the grill pan to move on to chicken to make tacos this week (since I’ve got all the veggies coming from my weekly Misfits delivery to seal the deal). One of my pandemic finds was this amazing guide on making your own spice blends so I love this mix for any kind of tacos. I’ve learned to keep the chicken from drying out, once I get the grill marks on the chicken, I just add some water to the pan to keep it juicy while it’s finishing up.

Last up, looking at the weather for tomorrow and knowing we could spend a chunk of the afternoon outside, I wanted to have something warming and ready to go when we got home so I made a batch of white chicken chili. I love the flavors in this: roasted red and poblano peppers, cannelloni beans, cooked chicken and some cayenne pepper, cumin and chili powder for heat.

Of course, I was under the watchful eye of my dutiful kitchen assistant at all times (who may have been rewarded with a taste of the cooked chicken before it got into the spicy mix!) What are your favorite prep time shortcuts?

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Well friends, it was pasta week this week in my kitchen. I’ll confess sometimes I’m not exactly paying attention when I plan the week’s dinners and this happens. And sometimes, we’re just in the mood for some pasta! So this week it was pasta two ways (I didn’t hear any complaints!)

First up, we have the classic chicken riggies (or is that more of an Upstate New York thing?). When I think about building layers of flavors, I think chicken riggies: the combination of the spicy cubinelle peppers and the sweetness of the roasted red peppers gets me every time. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is to wear gloves when working with any kind of spicy peppers (one benefit of the pandemic is it seems I now have a never-ending supply of disposable gloves! But back to cooking, it’s the perfect, soul-satisfying weeknight dinner that comes together with pantry staples and a couple well-planned editions to my weekly grocery list (I rarely have hot peppers in my veggie bin or heavy cream in my fridge). Just brown bite-sized pieces of chicken and set it aside while you saute onions, the cubinelles and garlic. Add crushed tomatoes and the roasted red peppers to form the sauce. To finish up, add the chicken to reheat and the heavy cream to warm through. Toss in the cooked pasta, sprinkle on freshly grated Parmesan and dinner is served!

Another of our favorite pasta dishes is Italian steak and pasta. I like to start with grilling a steak that’s been rubbed with pepper, garlic power, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. Depending on the weather, I either cook it outside on the grill or in a grill pan on the stove top. One of the things I love is how the sauce brings together so many fresh veggies. While the steak is resting, saute zucchini and mushrooms till soft then add a can of stewed tomatoes (I do like to give them a bit of a rough chop first). Add some crushed red pepper and basil, then just stir in some cooked pasta. Top with slices of the steak and that’s it.

So probably no pasta on the menu this week, but I will never say never! What’s your favorite one-dish pasta?

Eat well friends!