Dinner

Southwest Flank Steak Chili & Grits

My days growing up in hot & spicy Arizona has met our southern grit life here in the south with this one!  All of the flavors of a traditional chili soaked up into yummy, bacon and cheese loaded grits.  The juxtaposition of textures and flavors is on point with this recipe!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-3/4 lbs flank steak
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 14oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4oz can green chilis, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup American-cheddar blend cheese, shredded (pepper jack or cheddar works too)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen fire-roasted corn
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Prepared grits (I loaded ours up with green onion, bacon crumbles and cheese)

 

To your slow cooker, whisk together the chicken broth, 2 Tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, the tomatoes, pinto beans, green chiles and jalapeno.  Roughly tear 2 of the corn tortillas up and add to the liquid mixture.

Butterfly the flank steak horizontally, without cutting all the way through (opening like a book).  Lightly pound the steak until about 1/4 inch thick.  Season with salt, pepper, 1 Tablespoon of the chili powder and 1 teaspoon of the cumin.  Press the cheese over the steak in an even layer, followed by the cilantro and arrange the last 2 of the corn tortillas over top, overlapping if needed.  Starting with the long side, roll up into log-form/pinwheel and tie with kitchen twine; tuck ends in and tie lengthwise as well.  Transfer your steak pinwheel to the slow cooker and spoon some sauce over top.  Cover and set to low for 7 hours.  *Add corn in 30 minutes prior to eating.

Remove the steak and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Slice into pretty pinwheel medallions and serve over loaded, bacon’y, cheesy grits with a ladle of the slow cooker juices and vegetables over top!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

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Pumpkin, Bacon & Sage Alfredo Gnocchi

This creamy, smoky recipe is the ultimate Fall-inspired adult dish.  We all have seen pumpkin used in just about every which way (after all, it’s Fall y ‘all!), but I’d like to incorporate its savory side to the mix.  So what a better way to introduce it than to fluffy pillows of gnocchi and crispy bacon and sage!

So before you’re on the couch this Thanksgiving, enjoying that pumpkin pie and the 5th replay of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that day (I know I’m not the only one), try this dinner out.  You will impress!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 (17.6oz) packages gnocchi, cooked to package directions (or a 16oz pckg pasta of choice)
  • 8 strips bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 12 sage leaves, fresh/chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups Half & Half
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (optional, to thin)

 

Cook your gnocchi (or pasta preference) to package directions, drain in colander and set aside.  *Keep a 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain, in case the sauce gets too thick.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, crisp up the chopped bacon.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

In that same skillet, add the butter and onions, sauté for 6-7 minutes.  Turn to medium-low and add the garlic and sage leaves for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn.

To the onions and herbs, spoon in the pumpkin puree, plus the half & half and parmesan cheese; whisk until smooth and creamy.  *Add pasta water, if needed.

Lastly, add in the cooked gnocchi/pasta and most of the bacon (reserve a bit for garnish); gently combine.  Serve with the extra bacon crumbles, sage and parmesan cheese.

*The same amount of gnocchi produces about half of the volume of pasta.  Hence the 2 packages of gnocchi vs 1 package of noodles.  ….science…

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Pot Pie Potatoes

I am fairly certain that baked potatoes were made for ‘stuffing’.  Growing up with Midwest roots, we had this side dish quite often, and always, always loaded up with butter and sour cream.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing un-tasty about that, especially accompanied with bacon, cheese and chives, but why not something else?!  Let’s change it up!

Since it has been quite rainy here in Texas and the weather has cooled to proper Fall temps, all I have been craving is good, old-fashioned, comfort food!  Given my husband and oldest son are suckers for chicken pot pie, I just had to put the two together!  I chose our favorite, standard pot pie vegetables, but feel free to add green beans or corn or heck, buy a large bag of frozen veggies and be done with it!  *Just add the frozen veggies towards the end.  The other ‘best part’ of this meal is not having to worry about the crust!  If you MUST, feel free to serve it alongside warm biscuits (very yummmmmmy), but I actually liked just the warm potato for a change.  Plus the potato skin crisp’s up beautifully in the oven!

This delicious, home-style recipe is even easy enough for the work week!  Just throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker and set to low.  When you return home in the evening, bake the potatoes and bam!! dinner is served!

 

*If you have the time, by all means make your own “cream of” soup with flour, butter and cream/milk and add to the slow-cooker.  They also make great gluten-free cream soup’s now that can be substituted as well! 🙂 

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large, russet potatoes, baked (scrubbed clean, coated in extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt – baked directly on rack in 375 degree oven until fork tender, about 40-50 minutes.)
  • 2-3 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2′ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 26oz low-sodium cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf *remove prior to serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *cornstarch/milk slurry to thicken at the end, optional

 

Spray or line your slow cooker for easy cleanup.  Lay in the prepped vegetables (besides the frozen peas) and the cubed chicken breasts.  Pour in the soup and the chicken broth, stir together.  Lastly, stir in the seasonings.  Set to low for 7 hours.

About 1 hour before dinner, preheat your oven and bake your potatoes till for tender.  You can also stir in the frozen peas to your chicken pot pie mixture.

When the potatoes are ready, slice vertically, careful not to cut all of the way through.  *I like to scoop out a bit of the potato flesh, but to each their own.  Ladle a large helping of your pot pie mix into the hot potato and enjoy!

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Shiner, Kielbasa and Potato Cheese Soup

This recipe just screams Texas hill country…Shiner, sausage and a hearty dish?  Our German ancestors would be proud!  This hearty, creamy soup sings Fall in our home and I’ll gladly take the lead!  This dish is fantastic around the table with warm bread and is even better come winter around the fire.

I will say this though, please do not use a light “sissy” beer her.  Please, please go out of your way, if needed, and by the famous Spoetzl Brewery concoction!  So worth that deep, yet tangy, flavor!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3 lbs), baked
  • 8 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 package Kielbasa sausage, halved and sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 12 oz bottle Shiner Bock beer
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Garnish

  • Crumbled bacon
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream
  • Jalapeno slices, fresh

 

Begin by baking your potatoes (oven or steamed in the microwave), once cool to the touch, chop up.  The skin is optional.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon until crisp.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl, reserving the bacon grease in pot.  Add the onions and kielbasa to the hot grease and allow to sauté for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl of cooked bacon.

Back to the same pot, add in the flour to form a paste/rue, followed by the Shiner Bock and chicken broth.  Whisk until smooth.  Next, add in the chopped, baked potatoes and slightly mash up with a hand-held potato masher.  Stir in the cheese, milk and reserved cooked bacon, onions, and kielbasa.  Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Serve with your garnish of choice and warm, crusty bread for dipping.  Enjoy!

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The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

RoastedPotatoes

 

 

Mediterranean Chicken Rollatini

Believe it or not, chicken rollatini is an easy weeknight dinner that gives you a restaurant feel.  With school starting up again soon, I have been playing around with recipes that can be made with ease once those long summer days go away.

Another reason this is a keeper in our household, my entire family loves it, including the lil boys!  I’m not kidding, my 6 year old cleaned his plate and asked if we had anymore the next day for lunch!  As a mom, I feel good about that because it’s packed full of vegetables and baked.  Now, if you’re trying an even healthier route, the mozzarella cheese can be omitted…but why would you want to do that?!

*Easy way to roll up your chicken rollatini’s: Pour the slightly cooled veggie mixture into the casserole dish. One by one, take a thin chicken cutlet right onto the mix and with your hands, place a few tablespoons into the center, roll up and place seam side down on the dish. Repeat. *The filling you laid down first will help the rollatini hold together as you finish the rest of them. If you cannot fit all the filling in the amount of chicken you have, that is ok. It can linger on the sides in the dish and you can spoon over top when serving.  Plus the oil and butter the veggies were sautéed in will fully coat the chicken allowing it to brown and stay moist.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2lbs thinly sliced chicken cutlets (contains about 6 cutlets)
  • 6oz bag of baby spinach
  • 12oz jar roasted red peppers (drained, it is 6.7 oz)
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella (i.e. BelGioiosa brand), optional

Garnish/Serving

  • Balsamic Reduction Glaze
  • Parmesan Risotto
  • Parsley/Tomatoes 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a oven-safe casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add in the spinach, drained roasted red peppers, mushrooms, garlic and shallots.  Sauté for 5-7 minutes until the spinach and mushrooms have wilted.  Pour in the white wine and capers and let simmer for 3-4 minutes (salt and pepper, to taste).  Remove from burner and allow to slightly cool.

Fill and roll up your chicken rollatinis, placing seam side down, in your prepared casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the hot dish from the oven, lay the sliced mozzarella over top and return to oven until melted and ooey-gooey!

I like to serve ours sliced (so you can see the goodness inside each rollatini), over creamy, parmesan risotto drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction and fresh chopped parsley and tomatoes.

 

 

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

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