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.

What’s Cooking This Week

Well honestly, not much has been happening in the kitchen between travel, a return to summer events, and graduation season. But one thing that’s been on the menu constantly are two Upstate New York favorites: salt potatoes and chicken spiedies. What are those you may ask? Well let me introduce you!

Salt potatoes are an iconic food in this area (which I didn’t realize till we had family & friends move out of the area – they always ask us to bring some along when we come to visit). They’re small, white potatoes that are boiled in their skins with a TON of salt. The rule of thumb is one cup of salt to 6 cups of water. That’s why packages of the nuggets of joy and pre-packaged salt are found in every grocery store this time of year. All that salt forms an amazing crust on the potatoes while they boil away. They’re served with melted butter (and no, you don’t need any salt on top of them!) They are the perfect side for anything: burgers, chicken, ribs… One caution if you’re going to try them: if they boil over, all that salt makes a complete mess of your stove, counter, and pot, so keep an eye on them.

Chicken spiedies seem to be one of those dishes that I only make in the summer, mainly because the grilling of the meat is key to success. Cubed chicken is marinaded in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and so many amazing spices (oregano, garlic, parsley, basil, salt & pepper). The key to the best chicken spiedie is to let everything marinade over night (ok, sometimes I forget, but a nice 6 hours will work). Because of the acid in the marinade, it will begin softening and breaking down in the refrigerator. Grill on skewers or a grilling tray (so you don’t lose any of the delicious chicken). Serve on crusty rolls (I like toasting them for a bit) They’re perfect on their own, but I also can’t resist topping with grilled peppers and onions.

Time to get planning some meals and get back in the kitchen. What’s an iconic food from your area that you can’t live without?

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!

Comfort Classic: Chicken & Rice Casserole

I will confess this recipe has been a family favorite for well over 20 years (not sure how that’s possible). Simple to make and never disappoints when it arrives on the table.

  • 8oz light cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 1/2c milk
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 16oz package of frozen, mixed vegetables (thawed)
  • 2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
  • 1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 c instant brown rice
  • black pepper & garlic powder to taste

Spray two quart casserole with cooking spray (probably better than I did in the image above). Place cream cheese in casserole dish, stir in milk & soup. Add veggies, chicken, rice, parmesan, and seasonings.

At this point, it’s perfect as is, but if you want it to be next-level, top with cheddar cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Want to take it over the top? After the 30 minutes are up, sprinkle with fried onions and back for 15 minutes more. Perfection!