Category Archives: Meals

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

I’m someone who will try almost anything- seriously.  While I’m not as extreme as Andrew Zimmern or even Anthony Bourdain (and yes, Andrew is MUCH more extreme), I’m willing to give something a shot even if it seems weird.  I’m not sure why I’m so open to trying new things- my parents didn’t ever impress upon us that we needed to try everything or give all foods a fair shot; if anything, my mom would often recall her horror at having to eat liver and onions when she was younger, and I remember one particular wedding we attended where they were serving caviar and escargo (for the laymen- fish eggs and snails), and I was warned by my cousins to steer clear of the table.

Nope.  My ability to look past the odd and dive headlong into new waters is purely a ‘me’ thing, I think.  Like liver- I’ve never tried it, but I DO believe that -if its cooked well- perhaps it might not be so bad.  Usually what turns people off to something is texture, anyways, so maybe I’d like it.  If I ever try it, I’ll let you know.

Anyways, I say all this because I DO insist that my kids give all foods a fair shot and not to shoot something down just because it sounds weird or looks odd or has ingredients that won’t seem to work together- and even once they’ve tried something and written it off as “Do not ever eat again”, I STILL will make them try it again in the future.  Why?  Because tastes change.

Case in point- this dish.  I found it off Pinterest and Bug declared before ever taking a bite that he hated it.  Why?  Because it combined chicken and mangoes- a “no-no” in his book.  He fought me for a long time until I finally won the battle with “well, I’m not a short order cook, so you can try it and possibly like it, or you can go to bed hungry.”  In the end, he tasted it and loved it- even going back for seconds… and thirds. (Although, his pride kept him from ever REALLY saying he had been wrong in making a quick judgment.)  This is now one of our family’s favs.  Yeah, its a tad labor intensive, but every once in a while you should throw your clock out the window and just make something that will taste amazing.  This does- trust me.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade (for 4 chicken breasts)
-3/4 c vegetable oil
-Juice and zest of 2 limes
-2 cloves garlic -2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt -1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 C finely chopped cilantro
*I put everything in blender and have it mix and chop it.

Cilantro Lime Rice
-1 cup uncooked rice
-1 can chicken broth
-1 cup water
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbls freshly squeezed lime juice
-2 tsp sugar
-3 Tbls finely chopped cilantro
* Throw the rice, broth, water, garlic & some lime juice into a pot and let it cook. I also usually add a tbsp or two of butter to the pot to keep the grains of rice from clumping.  While it’s cooking I mix the sugar, lime juice & cilantro in a bowl. When rice is finished fluff the rice while mixing the sugar mixture into the rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
-1 batch prepared Ranch Buttermilk Dressing
-3-5 tomatillos (quartered)
-1 handful of cilantro
-1 jalepeno (optional)
-juice of 1 lime
-salt & pepper to taste
*Blend all ingredients in blender and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
*This ranch is for drizzling on top of each slice of casserole after it’s been cooked right before serving.  And for salads.  And veggies.  And for licking off the spoon…

-You’ll also be using a small container of sour cream, Pepper Jack cheese and prepared Mango salsa. (Or you can make your own.)

Before you do anything, you need to prep the chicken with the marinade.  This makes it so it isn’t a “last minute meal” that you can just whip up, but -once again- its worth it.  And if you do this the night before, it’ll make your life easier the next day- and the flavors will be a LOT more intense.

Next on the list- and you can do this after you’ve prepped the chicken the night before, too- is making the dressing.  Its OH-so-tasty and it makes a LOT, so save it in an old jar in the fridge.  We loved it on salads the next day and with veggies as a snack.

The day of, make the rice and layer it on the bottom of your dish.  Grill your chicken (or cook it in a pan if you don’t have a grill) and shred it.  Put it all on top of the rice (with the exception of those few bites you probably stole while you were shredding).  Slather it all with the sour cream.

Next, cover the sour cream with the mango salsa.  How much you use is your choice, but I suggest making sure the whole dish is COVERED.  Its yummy and you won’t regret it.

Finally, cover the whole thing with a TON of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through (about 20 min). Then turn on broil until the cheese crisps a little.

When serving, drizzle tomatillo dressing on top and ENJOY!

Let me know how you like it!

Heavenly Spaghetti

This has a longer name- one that points out all the great reasons to eat it- but when you break it down, this name just kind of sums up.  I mean, really now, who wouldn’t love something with garlic, chicken, roasted tomatoes…

I’m making myself hungry.

Anyways, since you all know I’m a Pinterest junkie, I found the idea for this off there.  The problem I encountered, though (which, I’m sure you’ve all been in this situation), was I saw the picture, started to drool, and when I clicked on the link, it led to that person’s front page of their blog.  I looked for the ACTUAL recipe everywhere, but all I saw was the picture.  Not cool.

So, I started to mess around and came up with something that made me happy, and -BONUS- it made all the rest of Boystown happy, too.

Heavenly Spaghetti

Ingredients:

~12 oz spaghetti pasta (cooked al dente)

~1 pound chicken breast fillets (sliced into 1 inch chunks) (or 2 large b/s breasts)

For the chicken marinade:

~2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

~2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (if using dried, use half of the amount)

~Zest of 1 lemon

~Juice of ½ a lemon

~2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

~1 teaspoon coarse salt (not table salt)

~½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

~1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

~2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to sauté the marinated chicken)

Add all the marinade ingredients into the chicken and marinade for 20 minutes (if you need this dish right away) or over night (if making this dish the next day… much better).

Saute the marinated chicken in extra virgin olive oil until cooked (about 4-5 minutes) then set aside

For the garlic gravy: (Preheat over to 400 degrees)

~½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

~4 large cloves garlic, finely minced

~2-3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

~2 ½ cups chicken stock

~1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

~salt and pepper to taste

~¼ cup parsley, chopped (to sprinkle/finish the pasta)

~½ cup grated parmesean cheese

~3 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved, or 3 cups of tomatoes, cut into 1 in. diced pieces

Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper on a sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and slightly carmelized.

Place sauté pan (you used for the chicken) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to make up 2 tbsp of oil in the pan (if there wasn’t enough left over from cooking the chicken) and add butter.

Saute garlic until fragrant. (About a minute. You don’t want it to burn.)

Add the flour and cook for a minute. You want a 1-1 ratio of oil to flour, so if you think you need to add a little more flour than 2 tbsp to keep that ratio, then do so.

Add chicken stock and simmer gravy until thickened then add the chopped basil.

Season with salt and pepper (if needed).

Add the sauteed chicken and tomatoes in the gravy then toss the cooked spaghetti into this  sauce.

Finish the dish with the chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese (serve extra on the side).

Now, I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but…

Oh, wait.  Yes I am.  Try this, though, and you’ll be sending me a virtual pat on the back, too.

And, hey- if you like it, let me know and PLEASE pin me.  Tell the world that this recipe rocks!  Yummy goodness like this shouldn’t be hidden.

Tasty Tuesday: Bow Tie Sausage Skillet

I’m a sucker for pasta.  Its kinda amazing, and if you give me half a chance I could probably give you a few reasons why pasta could be the answer to world peace.

Don’t believe me?

Ask yourself this- have you ever seen anybody ANGRILY eating pasta?

Yeah.  I thought not.

So, needless to say, sites like Pinterest help feed my addiction- literally.  Search for “pasta” and you’ll pinning for hours.  I found a version of this and I knew it was something I had to try out on my family.  I messed with it a little to suit what my family likes, and voila!

Ingredients

2-3 cups bow tie pasta
About a lb of sausage (you can use sausage links, too, if you can’t find bulk sausage- just take them out of their casings)
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, diced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more- my family can take spicy, so I actually added closer to 3/4 tsp)
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 dashes salt
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can cut tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons cut fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
About 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
About a cup of ricotta
parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the bow tie pasta until it’s al dente.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add the sausage. Cook till its in med. sized crumbles. If you’re using links, you can save time by squeezing out 1 in. pieces out of the links into the pan.

If you’re using turkey sausage or something low fat, you might want to add a bit of olive oil to add moisture.  Yes, you WANT fat in this dish.

As the sausage is cooking, add the onions and bell peppers.  Oh, and I also added about 2 cloves of minced garlic.  If you like garlic, feel free to add it in.  If not, don’t.

Then, add the red pepper flakes, and the pepper.

Add the oregano, and salt. Gently stir all of the ingredients in the skillet together.

Then, add the cut tomatoes and water.

Stir all of the ingredients together.

Add just 1 tablespoon of the parsley; reserve the other tablespoon for garnish.

Add the drained al dente pasta, and gently stir the ingredients together.

Add ricotta to the pan. Mix in a bit to help it melt.

Add mozzarella on top of the ingredients.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

Cover the skillet with a lid and let simmer until the mozzarella cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).

Lastly, garnish with parsley.

Serve hot right out of the skillet.

Enjoy!  Let me know what you think!

Tasty Tuesday: “Evelyn’s” favorite pasta

We don’t go out that often.

Apparently, trying to offer up your kids as payment for a meal at restaurants is frowned upon and looked at as “wrong” and “poor parenting”.

Anyways, when we DO go out, one of my FAVORITE places to go is The Cheesecake Factory.  If you’ve never been there, I pity you- but never fear!  For the next two ‘Tasty Tuesdays’, I’m going to share MY recipes for two of my favorite dishes there.  Its one of my favorite things to do- figure out a way to make my favorite meals or items from favorite restaurants at home.  Even better is when Corey and I can work together to make the dish- bonus!

Anyways, on one of mine and Corey’s date nights, I tried a dish at The Cheesecake Factory (Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta) without even really knowing I had ordered a vegetarian meal.  Maybe not a big deal to some of you, but if you’ve learned ANYthing about me, you should know that I am NOT a vegetarian.  I’m actually under the mindset that God gave the world pigs JUST so I could have bacon.

This is all beside the point, though.  It wasn’t until I was gushing to the hubs about how yummy the leftovers were going to be, that my hunny said,”Yeah, maybe, but I need meat in my meals.”  I hadn’t even realized this was sans meat- it was THAT good.

So, I wrote down the ingredients and decided to wing it.  I think it came out pretty fabulous, if I DO say so myself.

The following is Amber’s Fantabulous Pasta.  I’m allowed to change the name since I’m not TECHNICALLY copying it.  I’m sure they did some sort of C.F. magic to make it a tad bit better.

1 can of NON marinated artichoke hearts

1 small bag of pine nuts, roasted

1 large eggplant, cubed and roasted on a sheet til soft

1 red bellpepper, roasted and cut into strips

1 small bag of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 med. bag of broccoli florets, steamed

a container of Kalamata olives, halved

a few cloves of garlic, minced

a med. bag of penne pasta, cooked to your preference

Toss it all together with some olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh Rosemary, and oregano.  And don’t even THINK about digging in til you’ve added parmesean.

And, if you’re stomping your foot and saying,”Nope.  Not gonna happen.  No meat?  No way.”  Well, just add some meat.  Chicken would probably be pretty yummy in this.  I don’t think you’ll need it, though.

Oooo- roasted mushrooms would be AMAZING, too!

Now eat up.  You can thank me once your mouth isn’t full.

And, FYI- the leftovers of this dish were just as good.

***Tiny tip: If you’re wondering about the whole “roasting thing”, here are some pointers***

For the eggplant:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant in half and then slice a diamond pattern in the flesh.  Sprinkle salt over both sides and try to get salt in the sliced pattern (about 1 1/2 tsp. total).  Set the halves aside for about 30 minutes to draw out all the moisture. While you’re waiting, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  When the time is up, gently squeeze out the moisture and pat the sides dry.  Brush the sides with olive oil (about 2 tsp. total), place on the baking sheet flash side down, and roast for about an hour.  You’ll know its ready when the eggplant has kind of collapsed and the bottoms of the sides have turned a deep caramel color.  Once they’re cool, scoop out the flesh.  It should come out diced and ready to go.

For the roasted bellpepper:  Peel it as much as possible with a veggie peeler, scrape out the insides, and cut it into 1/4-1/2 strips.  Toss with olive oil and roast with the eggplant on a separate baking sheet.  It should only take about 30-50 minutes to reach the right tenderness.

For the pine nuts:  Roast your pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, shaking halfway through. You can also toast them on top of the stove in a heavy skillet, stirring often until they turn golden.

Tasty Tuesday: Chili Verde

Have I MENTIONED that I love food?

I mean, really, I do.  I love to cook it; I love to look at it; love to read about it… *sigh*

Wow.  I sound HIGHLY unbalanced.

I swear I’m not salivating as I write this.

Well, much.

Anyways, one of my favorite things to make for the citizens of Boystown is Chilie Verde.  What KIND usually depends on the best price I find on the meat when I’m shopping.  Sometimes its a boneless pork butt or picnic roast; sometimes its chuck (the kind of cut you’d use for pot roast); and sometimes its a few boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  It just depends, but whatever I use, its always tasty and gives AMAZING leftovers.

But, enough talking- let’s get to cooking, shall we?

Chili Verde

Sauce

4 onions, diced

1/2 cup chopped garlic

2 Serrano chilies, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

15-20 Anaheim chilies, roasted and seeded, peels removed as much as possible (if you don’t have any on hand, I’ll post a tip at the end of this for how to do it at home)

12-15 tomatillos (outer skins removed and given a good rinse), roasted

5 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp salt (I like to use 2 tsp of chicken bouillon- it adds a little bit more flavor for me 🙂 )

Remove seeds and as much of the skins of the peppers as possible.  Puree w/ tomatillos and place the mixture into a large pot.  If you’re one of those lucky ducks with a Vitamixer, I’m extremely jealous, and you MIGHT not even have to worry about getting all the skins off- considering a Vitamixer could puree a penny into a delicious -slightly metallic- smoothie.

Ok, maybe not.  But the peels, yes.  Let me know if you do.

In a med. saucepan over med. heat, add 1/2 cup olive oil.  Stir in onion, garlic, Serrano and jalapeno chilies.  Cook until soft.  Puree and add to the large pot.

Add garlic powder, pepper, oregano, coriander, and salt (or bouillon) to the large pot.  Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool and separate into 2 cup amounts (zip lock freezer bags work awesome).  Freeze them until you feel it calling to you to use it.  I give it a week.  Maybe 2.

OR…

You can use one of those 2 cup portions to make yummy nummy Chili Verde for your family.  This is my choice.

Chili Verde Pork/Chicken/Beef

2 cups Chili Verde sauce

1/2 cup Olive Oil (+1/2 cup)

5 lbs trimmed pork shoulder/pork picnic roast/boneless,skinless chicken breasts/or trimmed chuck roast (whatever is the best price) (and, yes, it makes A LOT- I’ll post a recipe later for using some of those leftovers ;-D )

1 qt chicken broth

1/2 corn flour (masa)

Cover a large pot with 1/2 c olive oil.  When it gets hot enough (read: the oil starts to look shimmer-y), place the meat in.  Sear over med. heat til well browned on all sides.

Deglaze the pan with the broth, scraping the bottom to get the brown bits off.

Add chili verde sauce, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, from here you can stick it in the oven and cook at 350 for a couple of hours (or till it shreds easily), but I usually like to use the crock pot.  I live in an apartment and the oven isn’t always the greatest to use (especially during the Summer).  If you use the crockpot, just put the whole mixture in and cook on LOW for around 8 hours.  The last half hour, mix that 1/2 cup olive oil you had left and that masa to make a slurry.  Mix all of THAT into the crockpot.  It’ll help to thicken everything.

Oh, you can also do all this on the stove top, too: bring everything up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork pulls apart easily.

Serve this yummy-ness with refried beans and Spanish rice to have a great Mexican fiesta.  And if you don’t have any great recipes for either of those, then stay tuned- I do.  One of them is over 100 years old and is DELISH.

***As promised, here’s a tip for making your own roasted chilies.  There are SOME markets out there that will do all the work for you and give it to you in a bag, all ready to use, but they also charge you for that service.  Why pay when its SO easy?  Not to mention, fresh ALWAYS beats out.  Period.

So, what you want to do is take your peppers (and tomatillos you’ve taken the skins off of, if you’re making the sauce), put them on a cookie sheet and coat it all with olive oil.  Roast in a 350 oven until soft.  If need be (if they aren’t getting soft or you’ve noticed they aren’t peeling easily), you can roast them directly on the oven rack, but make sure to place the cookie sheet below to catch the oil and juices as they drip or your oven will smoke.

Once everything is soft, place the peppers into a plastic bag to steam.  (5 minutes should work, but you can basically let them til you’re ready to peel them.)***

Tasty Tuesday #2- Smothered Steak

I’ve said it before- its kind of the motto of my life- but I’m always on the go.  Sometimes -by the time we get home and get dinner started- its well past when we should be eating, and if its TOO late, we end up spending money on yet another meal of take out.  Meals like this week’s featured meal are my go-to meals when I know that we’re likely to be gone for any length of time.

There’s really nothing about this meal that is really difficult, and in the end, it comes out great.  It just takes a few minutes to prep, and by the time you’re ready for dinner, its ready for you.

Smothered Steak
2 lbs cube steak
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can (4 oz) sliced mushrooms
2 med. onions cut into half moon slices
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
1 tbsp dried parsley
salt (about a tsp spoon)
pepper (about the same)
a couple tbsp flour for dusting
Combine pepper, parsley, salt, and flour.  Lightly dredge the cube steak in the flour mixture.  It doesn’t need to be caked on- you aren’t doing this to make some sort of crust.  If you put too much on, it will just make it gummy once its cooked.
Add the half moon slices from one of the onions on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place steak in slow cooker on top of the onion.  Place the rest of the onion on top of the cube steak.
Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the steak and onions.
Cover and cook on LOW for 6 or so hours- until it becomes super tender.  If you try to pull a piece off and it doesn’t tear easily, leave it in til its ready.  You can do it on HI in a pinch, but I recommend you try to plan ahead enough so you can always put it on LOW.
We’ve served it with rice when mashed potatoes would take too long, but -let’s face it- mashed tators are AMAZING with anything that has a gravy.
Enjoy!