What’s Cooking This Week

Well I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it’s the holiday season, but beyond excited to start cooking some of our favorite foods (later this week!) But in the meantime, we’re still looking for meals we love, but haven’t made it onto the weekly menu in a while! Plus it was a weekend of basketball and football so we were looking for some game day go-to’s! First up was a saucy chicken cornbread skillet (why yes, that is a mouthful!)

This starts off easy with a box of corn muffin mix, an egg, 2 tbsp melted butter, 3/4 cups milk and 1 cup of frozen corn kernels. Spread into a cast iron skillet that’s been coated with olive oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes (or until golden brown)

While the cornbread is in the oven, sauté some diced onion and pepper until soft. Add some garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir to combine. Add a couple cups of diced, cooked chicken, a small can of tomato sauce, a tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of brown sugar. Simmer until the cornbread layer is finished.

When the cornbread is golden brown, spread the chicken mixture over the top, sprinkle a cup or two of shredded cheddar cheese over everything and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Top with scallions and some fresh, chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and enjoy! (I always like a dash of sour cream on the side)

And we always love a good meatloaf. It’s like the perfect fall comfort food. I know there are a million different ways to make it but my favorite is to use steel cut oats in the mix instead of any breadcrumbs (or even bread soaked in milk). My traditionalist husband was also quite distressed to learn many years ago that I don’t use all ground beef like his mother always used to, but a mix of ground beef, pork and veal. To me, both those ingredients keep everything moist and give it wonderful flavor.

One thing that never varies are the sides. In my house, it has to be mashed potatoes and a green bean casserole. To my family, the only acceptable vegetable substitution is peas. It’s a tough crowd to cook for! 😉

You’ll notice there’s no gravy. That’s not a deliberate choice, but an accident in realizing that I didn’t have any on hand until we were sitting down to eat. I view it as an excuse to make meatloaf again soon!

One thing I have tried is to lighten things up by using ground chicken or turkey. I find to keep that nice and moist, it helps to bake them in muffin tins to make mini-meat loafs.

Hoping that Thanksgiving brings you your favorite foods enjoyed in good health and surrounded by those you love!

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Sometimes I find myself in a cooking rut where I make our current favorites in a non-stop loop. That’s actually one of the friendly reminders this blog has given me – when it’s time to shake things up. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that both of these meals were the suggestion of my family. It’s always an epiphany when someone says “hey, you know what you haven’t made in a while…”

First up, we had taco salad (which has emerged in concession stands and food trucks everywhere as a walking taco salad served in a mini-bag of chips).

The possibilities are endless here, but the basics are browned ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning that has cooled to room temperature.

Fill a bowl with some sturdy lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, diced onion, peppers, chopped green chilis, olives, kidney beans… you get the point: the possibilities are endless! Crumble in most of a bag of Doritos (I always save some for the side) and toss with Catalina dressing. A while ago we were craving this, but didn’t have any Catalina dressing, so I’ve been making my own ever since!

In a mason jar, combine:

1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c red wine vinegar
Onion powder and paprika to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re feeding more than four people, just double the recipe.

Bonus: I always make this in a bowl that my grandmother gave my mother, which now I lovingly use!

Next up, we have scrambled egg sandwiches. This one is a mix between breakfast for dinner and how can I use these leftovers in my fridge.

Slice a baguette in half, then cut each half in two (which is my way of saying you’ll have four pieces of bread). Toast in a 200 degree oven for about 5 minute. Heat a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter in a frying pan and sauté a cup of finely diced ham steak. While that’s heating, whisk 6 eggs with salt, pepper, dill, and a dash of Dijon mustard. Add the eggs to the ham and gently cook until the eggs are just set.

Top each piece of bread with a few scoops of the ham and eggs, top with slices of Swiss cheese, then bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Sprinkle some chives and parsley on top and you are good to go! I made some hash browns in the air fryer that I tossed with olive oil, garlic powder and salt and pepper. It will take as long to get crispy as the eggs take to cook.

Leftover sausage works really well too in this dish – I just use sliced provolone as the cheese instead of the Swiss

Now I’m excited to see what other favorites we can re-discover. What dish haven’t you made in a while that your family loves? No matter what it is, I hope you enjoy it in good health and surrounded by those you love!

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.

Skillet Tater Tot Bake

Here’s another one of those recipes that’s been a family favorite forever (to the point where whenever I ask “what do we want for dinner this week?” the answer is always Tater Tot Bake). Honestly, it doesn’t make a weekly appearance, but when I make it, it’s a hit. The original recipe called for canned cream of mushroom soup – I’ve messed around over the years to replace that with fresh mushrooms.

1 lb lean ground beef (ground turkey works well too!)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup white mushrooms (cleaned & sliced)
1 shallot (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c beef stock (or chicken if you’re using ground turkey)
1 c milk
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Smoked paprika to taste
1/2 of a 32 ounce package of tater tots

Optional:
1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or pepper jack)
6 oz. French Fried Onions

Brown meat in a cast iron skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and remove from pan.

Melt the butter then add the mushrooms & shallots. Cook until the mushrooms soften. Add the garlic (so it doesn’t burn). Add the flour to the vegetables and cook for a minute. Slowly stream the milk and stock into the pan, whisking constantly (and making sure you get any of the brown bits up off the bottom of the skillet). As the mixture starts to thicken, add the Worcestershire and smoked paprika. Keep simmering until it thickens. Add the meat back into the pan and give it a stir.

Arrange the tater tots on top of the meat. Tip: if you like the potatoes a little crispier, bake them for 400 degrees for 20 minutes while you’re getting everything else together.

Bake 15-20 minutes (if you don’t bake the tots ahead, you may have to add another 10 minutes to get them fully cooked). When the tots are cooked and the mixture is bubbly, you can top with the shredded cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes to let it melt. Same with the French Fried Onions – layer them on top of the tots (and cheese, if you added) and give it another five minutes till they’re crispy and golden brown.

Nice green salad on the side makes it a perfect dinner!