Try it Tuesday: Crispy Garlic Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This is a keeper recipe I just discovered from Cafe Delites for crispy garlic butter smashed sweet potatoes.  There’s a little more effort into these than just baking sweet potatoes, but trust me they are so worth it!  As Mr. Bee and I were eating them with our grilled salmon, I suggested they would also be a great appetizer because they hold up so well as a finger food.  I can image a platter of these along side pork or beef tenderloin sliders.

In the recipe you will see there are two options for cooking the sweet potatoes — boiling or roasting.  I chose the roasting option.  The recipe said to cut the potatoes into quarters, but I just sliced the raw sweet potatoes evenly into 2 inch thick slices and baked them on an oiled cookie sheet.  Then, I picked up with the recipe where it says “smashed.”

Allow yourself about an hour for cook and prep time, nothing different than the time to bake potatoes.  But, just plan ahead and bake the sweet potato slices while you work on other parts of dinner.

You can find this recipe and over 150 other vegetable ideas on my Pinterest board.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

Since we are clearly not going to have a winter here in Texas, the weather has been so nice for evening meals on the patio.  I love the smell of meat cooking on the grill whilst sipping a good glass of wine.  I’m sharing a recipe I found on Pinterest for Grilled Lemon Herb Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  The recipe originates from Cafe Delites and if you don’t follow her blog you should.  In fact, I am sure you have already seen many of her recipes on Facebook.

The best thing about this recipe is that the marinade is also the dressing for the salad.  You prepare it, then use half for the chicken and pour the other half into a bowl or dressing bottle.

Marinade — plenty of fresh ingredients
Marinating chicken

While the chicken marinates in lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh herbs, I prepared the salad.  Instead of plating everyone’s portion separately, I decided to plate it from one big platter.

Starting with romaine lettuce, then avocados, cucumber, red onion and tomatoes.

Tip:  Always let your grilled meat sit on the counter for at least 5-10 minutes to allow the internal juices to set which keeps the chicken moist. Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the salad platter. Drizzle remaining dressing over the top.

I served it with a bottle of Pedernales GSM 2014 from Pedernales Cellars that I picked up in Fredericksburg during a wine trip I took last fall.  This Rhone-style blend incorporates Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache from their estate Hill Country vineyard and partner vineyards in Texas. Described as a “medium bodied blend brings together the diverse character of these three varieties into a fantastic balance that delivers aromas of raspberry, fennel, mushroom, and molasses. This is a rich red wine with significant oak and a soft finish.”  It really is one of my favorite wines to sip in the evening.

So if you were wondering what to make for dinner this weekend, this salad and wine along with a good crusty warm french bread would be the perfect way to start spring break!

Be sure to follow my Pinterest salad board.  I have over 150 recipes for fresh salad inspiration.

Cheese Vegetable Quiche

Trying to please a picky teen with my cooking lately has become a challenge.  Especially since she has been exploring non-meat options.  I had an excess quantity of eggs and thought a vegetable quiche might be a good option for dinner.  I pulled out my cookbooks and found a good recipe in the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  This recipe has the perfect blend of swiss and cheddar and I plan to bake it again over the summer to take advantage of using seasonal vegetables.

Cheese Vegetable Quiche

Pastry for a 9-inch pie

One cup chopped fresh broccoli

One cup chopped fresh cauliflower

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch quiche dish or pie pan.  Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.  Bake at 375 for 8 minutes; cool on a wire rack. Note:  I like to use pie weights for pre-baking my crust because it keeps the crust from bubbling up.

Arrange broccoli and cauliflower in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 5 minutes or until tender crisp.  Spoon into prepared pie crust and top with cheese.

Combine egg yolks and remaining 4 ingredients, stirring well.  Pour over cheese.  Bake 375 for 45 to 50 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I served a slice of quiche with a spinach tomato salad on my new set of soup and salad plates from Sur la Table.  These would make the perfect wedding gift!  Each white plate comes with a bowl and is a fun twist on the retro hostess luncheon plates like Mother had.  And they are 20% off right now when you code PASTA17 at checkout.

I also want to share the recipe for Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette.  I saw it in a recent issue of the Williams Sonoma catalog.  While the quiche was baking, I made a batch of the vinaigrette in my NutriBullet.

Process one garlic clove and two anchovy fillets until finely chopped.  Add one egg yolk, grated zest and juice from one lemon, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Blend until it forms a smooth paste.  Add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil until combined.  It’s really good and you will have plenty for salads the rest of the week.

Have a fab Friday!  I am heading off to a blogging conference for the weekend and looking forward to meeting to other fellow bloggers and learning something new.

Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Sunday night Miss Bee and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s to do our meal planning for this week.  I saw this chicken in the meat department and thought it sounded good and would be perfect with the bag of fingerling sweet potatoes I picked up in produce.  It’s $4.49 a pound, so this chicken was $12.99.

Oh. My. Goodness.  Do yourself a favor and visit TJ’s this week and get this Spatchcocked Lemon Rosemary chicken.  Here’s why:

  1. It’s super easy to cook.  You open the package, place the chicken in a pan and bake for about 75 minutes.  That’s it.
  2. It will make your house smell like you have been cooking in the kitchen all day.  Literally, your family will walk in and love you.
  3. It’s delicious.  I have a problem with rotisserie chickens, and the like, because they are so darn saltly.  The ingredients in this chicken are simple:

    Whole Split Chicken with Bone and Skin, Mojo Brine (Water, Orange Juice, Brown Sugar, Salt, Lime Juice), Marinade (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Buffered Vinegar, Rosemary, Parsley, Rosemary Extract), Lemon Slices.

    I placed diced sweet potatoes in the pan with the chicken and roasted them all together.  The juices from the chicken were yummy and coated the potatoes perfectly.  I served it with a side of TJ’s fresh green beans.

    If you are wondering what “Spatchcocked” means — it’s just a term used to describe the technique in which the meat has been prepared for roasting or grilling.

    So, you’ve learned something new and you’ll eat a tasty meal this week.  Enjoy!

Recipe from a Box: Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

So, one morning I was standing at the Keurig pouring cream into my coffee and I happened to glance at the recipe on the carton.  Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes using Horizon Organic half and half.  It made me remember the days when Mother made scalloped potatoes.  I am sure at one time she made them from scratch, but once boxed mixes were created so housewives could get dinner on the table pronto, a lot of homemade things were saved for dinner parties with friends.

Mother’s go-to was Betty Crocker’s Scalloped Potatoes.  While they are pretty close to homemade, the amount of salt in the recipe really bothers me.  When I saw the Horizon recipe, it made me long for a big pan of creamy potatoes with a giant meatloaf smothered in tomato sauce and a side of green beans.  I knew what was for dinner (I had to substitute pork tenderloin for meatloaf because Miss Bee WILL NOT eat meatloaf.  I think it’s the word “loaf” that bothers her).

You’ll need:

3 cups thinly sliced russet potatoes

1 small onion, thinly sliced (I used just half because that’s all I had and it was plenty)

3 TBL chopped fresh parsley

2 cups Horizon Organic shredded cheddar cheese (I always shred my own cheese from a block because I think it melts better)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups Horizon Organic Half & Half

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a 3 quart casserole dish.

Layer 1/3 of potatoes, onions and parsley in bottom of pan.  Sprinkle with 2/3 cups of cheddar cheese, then repeat for two more layers.

Pour half & half over casserole and sprinkle with remaining parsley and Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 35 minutes.

They were a pretty big hit and plenty was left over for the next day.  Now, I will be on the look out for more recipes on a box.  Are there any recipes you have found off a box that turned out to be a keeper?  Please share!

 

 

Parchment Baked Chicken Four Ways

parchment-baked-chicken

I saw this recipe idea on my Facebook feed recently and it reminded me of when I was little and Mother taught me how to make “Cowboy Hamburgers” — foil pouches filled with hamburger patties, sliced potatoes, carrots and seasoning baked in the oven.  Mother told me that’s how cowboys cooked their dinner.  Cowboys probably have access to parchment paper now making this a twist on a classic.

I tried the tomato pesto chicken recently and it was really tasty — juicy and full of flavor.  The best part was no mess to clean up afterward.  Just toss the parchment in the trash afterward.  These would be perfect suppers for the busy holiday season.  I’ve provided the recipes below so you can get started on dinner tonight.  Enjoy!

TOMATO PESTO CHICKEN
INGREDIENTS

12×18 inches parchment paper or aluminium foil
1 chicken breast
5 ounces asparagus
1 roma tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons pesto
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up.
3. Cut the ends of the asparagus and lay them on one half of the parchment paper.
4. Drizzle on oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.
5. Lay the chicken on the asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and spread on the pesto. Top with tomato slices.
6. Fold the parchment paper over the chicken, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165˚F/75˚C.
8. Enjoy!

BARBEQUE
INGREDIENTS

Parchment paper or aluminium foil, 12×18 inches
1 chicken breast
1 small potato, sliced
1/4 onion, sliced
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up
3. Quarter the potatoes and thinly slice the onion.
3. On one half, lay down the cut potatoes, drizzle on oil and sprinkle on salt & pepper.
4. Lay the chicken on the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and spread on the barbecue sauce. Top with sliced onions.
5. Fold the parchment paper over the chicken, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165˚F/75˚C.
7. Enjoy!

GARLIC PARMESAN CHICKEN
INGREDIENTS

Parchment paper or aluminium foil, 12×18 inches
1 chicken breast
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons parmesan
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up.
3. Slice the zucchini into rounds and lay them on one half of the parchment paper.
4. Mix the minced garlic and butter in a small bowl and spoon half of the garlic butter on top of the zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Lay the chicken on the zucchini, season with salt and pepper and spoon on the rest of the garlic butter. Top with parmesan.
6. Fold the parchment paper over the chicken, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165˚F/75˚C.
8. Enjoy!

FAJITA CHICKEN
INGREDIENTS

Parchment paper or aluminium foil, 12×18 inches
1 chicken breast
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons salsa
1 tablespoon Mexican cheese blend
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Fold the parchment paper in half, then open up.
3. Thinly Slice the peppers and onion and lay them on one half of the parchment paper.
4. Drizzle on oil and sprinkle on salt & pepper.
5. Lay the chicken on the peppers, season with salt and pepper, and spoon on salsa. Top with cheese.
6. Fold the parchment paper over the chicken, and cinch the paper together by folding it over itself along the edges.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165˚F/75˚C.
8. Enjoy!

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Mac and Cheese with a Twist

Hello, it’s Mac and Cheese.  I love you and I don’t care if it makes me fat.   I had to get that out before I finish this post.  If Macaroni and Cheese is one of your staples for Thanksgiving, for the love of all things cheese and pasta, break up with Kraft for the time being and make this recipe.

macaroni-and-cheese

It’s made with Truffle oil – which is used to impart the flavor and aroma of truffles to a dish.  The first time I had truffle mac and cheese, Mr. Bee and I had a fab NYE dinner at Eddie V’s.  That’s not an evening to just order a vegetable plate.  I had their Truffled Mac and Cheese.  Oh, my stars.  Literally, I saw stars.  It was so good.  A week later as I was cleaning out my pantry, I found a bottle of truffle oil.  Whomever gave this to me, thank you.   This recipe is made with Gruyere and White Cheddar Cheese yielding a flavor that is rich and intense.  And, the added touch of the truffle oil, well that sealed the deal.

I knew I had to find a recipe and the one I found that came the closest was from Williams-Sonoma.

Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter for baking dish, plus 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp. truffle oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh chives

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm, drizzle with the truffle oil and stir well.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and melt the 4 Tbs. butter. Add the flour, paprika and mustard and cook, stirring well, until no visible flour remains, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking frequently to smooth out any lumps, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add a pinch of pepper and 1 cup each of the Gruyère and cheddar. Stir until smooth.

Pour the cheese sauce onto the macaroni, add the chives and stir well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).

My Best Friend’s Baked Chicken Tacos

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I am going to be your very best friend when you make these for your family…because they are SOOOO good.  I came across the recipe on Pinterest and I think they are going to be a frequent dinner — Miss Bee loved them, ate it all and went back for seconds.

The recipe is really easy and calls for the Old El Paso Stand & Stuff Taco Shells…

20161011_164926

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 pound cooked chicken, shredded
    • 1 (1 ounce) packet Old El Paso Hot & Spicy Taco Seasoning
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced
    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomato, drained
    • 1 (4.5 ounce) can Old El Paso Chopped Green Chiles
    • 10 Old El Paso Stand and Stuff Taco Shells
    • 1/2 (16 ounce) can Old El Paso Refried Beans
    • 2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese, shredded
    • Your favorite toppings- sliced Jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.
  3. Add onion to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
  4. Stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes, and green chiles. Stir to combine fully. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.

20161011_1648225. Place the taco shells in the baking dish, standing up. I was able to get 10 shells in my baking dish.

6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of beans into the bottom of each taco shell. Top with the chicken mixture, almost to the top of each shell.

20161011_165159-1

7.  Sprinkle each shell generously with shredded cheese, the more the better!20161011_1655538. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and the edges of the shells are browned.

9.  Remove from the oven and top with your favorite items such as jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, and salsa.

20161011_172320-1

Be sure to check out my Pinterest Weeknight Dinners board for more delicious recipes!

How to Overcome Boredom with Vegetables: Five Easy Recipes

lesueur-peasWhen I was growing up Mother’s repertoire of vegetables consisted of either fresh or canned.  I don’t think she bought much frozen stuff until later on.  Usually the meat always had it’s typical partner something like chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and corn (I still love to mix these two together!).  Meatloaf with canned potatoes and either green beans or peas, but never LeSueur Peas.  I learned when she came to live with me, she would NOT eat tiny green peas.  Do you remember what potatoes out of the can tasted like? Not a fan. But, back in the day when Mother was cooking for six hungry people, two of which were boy teens, canned was easy and cheap.

martha-stewart-vegetablesFast forward, I like to include at least two vegetables at every meal. But, sometimes it gets SO BORING.  We are trying to eliminate corn, peas, carrots and potatoes from our diet due to their high glycemic levels. This means I have to be super creative. I have 143 recipes pinned to my Pinterest board so that’s a good start for inspiration.  Martha Stewart has an all vegetable cookbook that I think might be interesting to try.

box-62763ef8be2e19be6e190b5264493291

About two weeks of the month, we’ve been using the meal service from Marley Spoon for inspiration on new recipes.  They deliver an insulated cold box with fresh ingredients and recipe cards enough for 2-4 people (depending on the service you select).  It’s been fun to try new recipes and saves me from having to think of what to cook.  I can pick the weeks I want delivery, skip delivery and cancel anytime. They offer about 6-8 menu choices so I get to pick each week what I would like delivered and the day of the week for it to arrive.  I have three free meal coupons, so if you are interested share your email in the comment section below with your email address and I will send one to you (Note:  I am not compensated, it’s just a benefit they offer their long-time customers).

Here are five recipes to get you started next week for vegetables…

Brussels sprouts and scallions.  You can roast these in the oven, but another option is a cast iron skillet (don’t have one — you can also use a regular frying pan).  Wash and dry your Brussel sprouts (as many as you want for each serving), cut the ends off and slice in half.  Slice a scallion in very thin slices.  Heat your skillet over medium high heat with olive or avocado oil. Once the oil is good and hot, toss in the veggies and give a good seasoning with salt and pepper.  Saute until the onions and sprouts are crispy brown about 10 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad with almonds, dates and pecorino from Marley Spoon.  This was yummy and different.  A lot of people think kale is tough and it can be.  The secret is to cut away the stem and toss it with a wooden spoon several times. The more you handle it, the softer it becomes.

roasted-sweet-potato-and-kale-salad

Also from Marley Spooon Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta with red onions and fontina.  We served this with grilled salmon.

roasted-butternut-squash-pastaA recipe from my Pinterest vegetable board is roasted cauliflower and it’s also on my blog here.  It’s lemony and the parmesan cheese makes it have a crispy finish. Seriously, if cauliflower isn’t your bestie after this, you are not human.

oven-roasted-cauliflower

And this recipe you can find here on my blog for Lick the Pan Garlic Butter Mushrooms.  If a steak is in you future, you must have these mushrooms be their date.  Omg.

mushrooms

So, there you go.  I’ve given you a lot of material — butternut squash, kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Move over LeSueur lovers.  Now, go forth and wow your family!

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes

pot-pie-and-book
Dinner: A Love Story

If you are looking to add a new cookbook to your library or give a gift for Christmas, consider Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.  Mr. Bee gifted me this book for Christmas ’12.  Read her story here.  In summary, Jenny recorded her 14-year journey of preparing a family dinner every night for her husband and two children while working full time.  The book is organized into phases:  Phase 1 -just married, learning to cook; Phase 2 – New Parenthood where your house looks like the epicenter of an explosion; and Phase 3 — Family dinner.   Her casual recipes serve 4 people, are easy to follow and beautifully written as if Jenny is providing the narrative to each recipe herself in your kitchen.

how-to-celebrate-everything
How to Celebratate Everything

Jenny has a new book and I can’t wait for my copy to come this week — How to Celebrate Everything.

So, back to the Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes. It’s super easy to make, looks like you spent a ton of time cooking it and it’s a perfect weeknight meal with a salad since it has all the veggies you need in the pie.  It would be the perfect “soul” food for someone needing a warm hug and dinner – one in the same.  I like that you can use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, but Jenny notes that Yukon gold potatoes are perfectly fine as a substitute.

It calls for fresh thyme, carrots, onion, and peas.

fresh-carrots
fresh carrots
fresh-thyme
fresh thyme
chicken-pot-pie-filling
chicken pot pie filling

I bake a few chicken breasts each week to use for soups and salads.  Or, you can use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

Top with either your own pie crust recipe, or I use Pillsbury (I always have a few boxes in the freezer).

pot-pie-and-bread-board
right out of the oven
pot-pie-close-up
it’s the real deal — filling and flaky pie crust

Jenny has the recipe on her website here with a twist showing you how to do a monogram with pie crust.  Or, you can just do it plain like I did.  I’m thinking next time I make this recipe, I will prepare individual pot pies in these little Le Creuset cocottes I got from Mr. Bee for my birthday!

le-creuset-cocottes
Le Creuset Cocottes

With cooler weather coming this week, a pot pie is a perfect way to finish the day with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.