Tag Archives: 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!!

ChileGrits

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…

PumpkinBaconSageGnocchi

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.

 

 

Spicy Crab Cake BLT’s

We’ve all heard me ramble on about my love affair with the simple BLT sandwich and it’s no secret that my cuisine of choice is Mexican.  What one may not know is that when I enter any restaurant, I go straight to their seafood options!

So when I saw our local grocer had lump crabmeat on sale, it was on!!!  The sweetness of crab goes wonderfully with a bit of Mexican inspired heat, and please tweak the spiciness level to your liking.  Just remember, don’t go too overboard since the crab is the star of this sandwich!

Oh yeah…and bacon. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat, pick over to remove any broken shell
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 finely minced jalapeno, seeded (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • a couple dashes of Mexican hot sauce
  • Pinch of salt 

Breading

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

Assemble

  • Thick slices Texas toast or bakery rolls, lightly toasted
  • Bacon, cooked crisp
  • Beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • Spicy mayo (whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 minced chipotles from can of ‘chipotles in adobo’ and juice of 1 lime)

 

Crab Cakes:  In a large bowl, mix together the crab meat, mayonnaise, beaten egg, Panko, scallions, jalapeno (optional), lime juice, cilantro, hot sauce and salt.

Breading:  Gently form the mixture into about 8 (1/2-3/4th inch) patties and then fully coat in the Panko/cumin bread crumbs.  Set on a platter and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes to firm up.

Fry:  In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil to medium-high.  Fry 2-3 crab cakes at a time until a golden brown crust appears on each side.  About 3-4 minutes per side.

To Serve:  For each sandwich, smear a tablespoon of the chipotle mayo on each slice of the lightly toasted bread or a split roll.  Next layer on the lettuce, tomato slices, spicy crab cake(s) and crisp bacon.  Top with remaining dressed bread slice and serve!  Enjoy!

SpicyCBLT

 

Creamy Bacon and Pea Pasta (one-pot)

When you combine the flavors of smoky and salty bacon with sweet green peas and creamy pasta, something magical happens.  Well, magic may be a strong word, but at the very least something your taste buds would deem incredible!

This is a neat recipe, because you can take such simple everyday ingredients and elevate them into a dinner worthy of a party…aka “dinner party” ;).  Plus, all it takes is one large pot, yes just one, and about 30 minutes of your time.  It just can’t be beat!

The Starting Lineup

  • 8oz penne pasta
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (8oz) sour cream
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese

In a large pan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it is crisp.  Set the bacon aside and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

Next, add in the mushrooms and onions to the pan and sauté until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, followed by the chicken stock, milk and pasta to the same pan.  Bring to a low boil, cooking for 7-10 minutes (covered) or until pasta is al dente.

Add in the cup of frozen peas to the pasta and gently stir until they have defrosted.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and sour cream.  Crumble the crisped bacon overtop and gently fold into the pasta.  Salt and pepper taste.  To serve: sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese overtop.  Enjoy!

CreamyBacon&PeaPasta

Slow Cooker White Bean & Sausage Soup

Due to the wacky weather of a Texas Spring, it fortunately still affords us the opportunity to enjoy a warm bowl of soup.  Now, I won’t delve into the rich, hearty, creamy versions that I indulge in come Fall and Winter.  I will, however, sit down to a light broth style.

This meal is so stinkin’ easy as you simply cook and sauté your sausage and onions and then it all goes into the pot!…or the slow-cooker so to speak.  *In many, if not all, slow-cooker meals, I advise always sautéing you’re veggies prior.  Your dish will have SO much more flavor!  Same goes with meatloaf, precook your veggies first people, do not add them to your meat blend raw!…I digress…

So back to THIS bowl of light and flavorful soup, my other tips and/or advice is to use the hot Italian sausage, not the mild or the sweet.  If you insist on the others, so be it, but I promise this soup is anything but spicy.  Also, please drain and rinse your beans with a fine mesh sieve or colander.  Removing the extra starch the beans contain in the can will ensure a light broth.

Now, I suggest if you’re in a slump for what to make this week, please try this out!  You can serve it with warm bread and butter, a half sandwich or a light salad… and life will be good.

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 (15oz) cans of white cannellini (or great white northern) beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 (32oz) cans or boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, fresh/bagged
  • 2 lbs of hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (garnish)

In a skillet on your stovetop, over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage with the onion, garlic and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.

Drain and add the cooked meat mixture to your slow cooker along with the beans, chicken broth, tomatoes and spinach leaves.  Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 3-4/LOW for 5-6 hours.

To serve:  Ladle into bowls and top with a bit of the fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!

WhiteBeanSausageSoup

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