Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

Summer is coming! I can feel it! And for me, summer means one thing: GRILLING!

There is no more classic grilled food, in my humble opinion, than the good old beef burger. This one will seriously tingle your taste buds, because it puts all the good stuff INSIDE the burger, instead of piled on top.

Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

You’ll want to start by dicing 1/4 of a medium sweet onion (very small dice!) and cooking up 4 slices of bacon. Once the bacon is cooked and cooled, break it into small pieces.

Then, in a medium bowl, add a little over a pound of ground beef. (Generally, I see them in the store packed in 1.25-1.40 pound packages.) Personally, I like to use 93% lean beef. It’s a bit more expensive, but the burgers don’t shrink as much! If you use 85% or 73%, just bear in mind that there will be a fair bit of shrinkage to your patties once they start cooking!

To the ground beef, add your cooked bacon pieces, the diced onion, 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce, and hefty sprinklings of the following: salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground ginger, and if you’ve got it, your favorite dry steak seasoning. (I use Montreal Style Steak, which is made by McCormick.) If you’d like a little heat, sprinkle in either some chili powder or some cayenne.

Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

Combine it all together with your hands. DON’T OVERWORK THE MEAT. Work it until everything is well distributed, and then stop! If you work it too much, the burgers will be tough – no bueno! Once it’s well combined, make it into four patties. They’ll be pretty big – that’s okay! Remember they will shrink!

Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

To prep your grill, spray with with cooking spray and turn the heat to medium high. (Or equivalent process for a charcoal grill. Mine is gas – I know, I cheat!) Let it warm up for a few minutes, then put the burgers on! They should sizzle when they hit the grates. Cook to your desired level of done-ness, flipping halfway through. I like my burger pink inside because it’s super tender and juicy that way, so that should be about 5 minutes per side for burgers of this size. If desired, after you’ve flipped them and they are almost done, top with mozzarella cheese! Serve them on a toasted bun with whatever condiments you prefer. I LOVE barbecue sauce on my burgers. If you’ve never tried it, you should. It’s especially good with these!

Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

I made a salad ahead of time to serve with the burgers – the freshness of the veggies in the salad is a great compliment to the savory burgers! (Plus it’s far better for you than a side of fries or chips!) Full Recipe:

Teriyaki Bacon Burgers

Yield: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 sweet onion, small dice
1 & 1/3 (ish) pounds lean ground beef
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground ginger, steak seasoning, cayenne (optional)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (if desired)

4 hamburger buns, plus condiments, for serving.

Process:

1) In medium bowl, combine ground beef with cooked bacon, diced onion, teriyaki sauce, and spices. Work with your hands until just combined. DO NOT OVERWORK MEAT.

2) Form into four equal size patties.

3) Spray grill with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Place burgers directly on grates and let cook for 4-5 minutes per side (medium), or until desired temperature is reached.

4) When only a minute or so of cooking time remains, top with mozzarella cheese, allow to melt, and then serve burgers as desired. (Try them with barbecue sauce!)

Spinach & Mozzarella Chicken Roll Ups

We’re gettin’ fancy over here today, folks! Rolling up a delicious filling inside a thin piece of meat has long been a trick of restaurants to make a dish look polished and expensive. Truth is, you can do it right at home! This was super delicious and didn’t take much effort to get a restaurant-quality plate.

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Now, I pulled a bit of a multi-tasking trick here. I knew I planned on making Parmesan rice with this (find the recipe here!) so I made more “filling” than I needed so that I could stir it into the rice. I highly recommend you do the same, because it makes the rice even better! The measurements I give allow for you to have that extra amount of filling.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then saute half a diced sweet onion and two cups of chopped frozen spinach. (Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil while cooking.) When the onions start to become translucent, add 2 large cloves of minced garlic, toss, and then remove from the heat.

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For your chicken, take two large breasts and cut them in half so you have four thin slices. Salt and pepper each half, then sprinkle mozzarella cheese on the wider end of each. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of your filling on top of the cheese, then carefully roll up from the wider end to the thinner end. Place in a greased baking dish seam side down and then top with lemon zest, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with Parmesan rice (don’t forget to stir in the extra filling!) and sauteed green beans.

(For the green beans: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute 1/4 finely diced onion or shallots for two minutes, then add 8 ounces frozen green beans, salt & pepper, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until green beans are cooked with a little crunch left to them.)

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Wow your family or entertain dinner guests with this fabulously fancy (and deceptively easy) dish! Serve with a mild white wine like Pinot Grigio if you’re feeling extra fancy. 🙂

Full Recipe:

Spinach and Mozzarella Chicken Roll Ups

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cups chopped frozen spinach
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt, pepper, and basil, to taste
2 large chicken breasts, each cut in half into thin slices
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet, then saute onions and spinach with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil until onions become translucent. Add garlic, toss, and remove from heat.

3) Salt and pepper each piece of chicken, then evenly divide mozzarella cheese on the wider end of each piece. Top cheese with 2 tablespoons of spinach filling, then carefully roll up each piece of chicken and place seam side down into greased baking dish.

4) Sprinkle lemon zest, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese on top of chicken, and then bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

5) Serve with Parmesan rice – stir extra filling into rice for added body and flavor.

Slow Cooker Pork Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

I’m still in a Greek mood over here at SS&N (check out my last post, Warm Greek Salad with Chicken, if you missed it!) so I’m continuing the theme with another very much Greek-inspired dish!

Gyros are one of the most well-known parts of Greek cuisine. You’re probably familiar with them – a grilled pita filled with either chicken, pork, or veal, along with various condiments and veggies. Traditionally, the meat is roasted slowly on a spit over a constant heat. I’ve deviated a bit from tradition here, mainly due to my lack of a vertical turning spit for meat, and decided to do mine in the slow cooker. One of my most popular posts was my Apple Pulled Pork, and this definitely gives a nod to that method, but I’ve switched up the spices and cooking liquid a bit to make the dish definitely Greek.

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Start by dicing 1/2 a red onion and 2 stalks of celery and put them in the bottom of your slow cooker, to create a bed for the pork. Next comes the ever-important spice rub, which as always, starts with brown sugar. To the brown sugar, add 1 tbsp sat, 2 tsp of pepper, and about a teaspoon each of garlic powder, basil, oregano, celery seed, and dill weed. Rub this liberally all over your cut of pork. For mine, I used a 2 pound pork loin, and it turned out SO tender! If you’re needing to serve more than 4 people, you can use a pork butt (also called a pork shoulder) like I did in my original pulled pork recipe. If you get one that’s 4 pounds it should easily serve 8 people. (Obviously, double the quantities of everything listed if you go that route!)

Carefully place your pork on top of the bed of celery and onion.

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The last thing you’ll need before you set this thing a-cooking is your braising liquid. It’s so simple, you almost won’t believe it. Just combine the zest and juice of one lemon, 1 cup of dry white wine, and 1/2 a cup of balsamic vinegar. Pour that around your pork, put the lid on, and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 7-8).

After the pork is cooked through, take it out of the slow cooker and use two forks to shred the meat, then return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and let simmer on low for another 15-30 minutes… essentially as long as it takes to do the rest of the prep for the meal!

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To make the tzatziki sauce, dice 1/2 a cucumber, salt liberally (perhaps 2 teaspoons or so), and then add them to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, and a teaspoon each of pepper, dill weed, and mint. Blend until smooth and then dish out into a small bowl.

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Finally, no gyro is complete without vegetables! Julienne 1/2 a red onion and 1 green pepper and saute with olive oil over medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until they become tender and pliable. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, saute for one additional minute, and then remove from the heat.

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Once everything is done, use a slotted spoon to dish the pork out of the slow cooker, ensuring that you let most of the liquid drain off. Serve the pork, sauce, veggies, and some feta cheese in warmed pita bread. Pita bread comes with a handy little pocket for filling, but for the pictures, I just piled all my filling on top! 🙂

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Enjoy with a glass of dry white wine. Cheers!

Full Recipe:

Slow Cooker Pork Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Yield: 4 hearty servings

Ingredients:

Pork:
1/2 red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp each garlic powder, basil, oregano, celery seed, dill weed
2-pound pork loin
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Tzatziki Sauce:
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 tsp salt
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
1 tsp each pepper, dill weed, mint

Gyro Assembly:
4-6 pieces pita bread
1 tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
Feta cheese, for topping

Process:

1) Make a spice rub for the pork. Combine brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, celery seed, and dill weed in a small dish. Rub liberally all over the sides of the pork.

2) Place diced onion and celery in bottom of slow cooker. Carefully lay rubbed pork on top.

3) Combine lemon zest and juice, white wine, and balsamic vinegar, and then pour around the pork. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

4) Once pork is finished cooking, remove from slow-cooker and use two forks to shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and let simmer on low for another 15-30 minutes.

5) To make the tzatziki sauce, salt the cucumbers with the 2 tsp of salt and add to a blender or food processor. Also add the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, pepper, dill, and mint. Blend until smooth and pour into a small dish for serving.

6) Saute julienned green pepper and onions in olive oil over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes or until beginning to become soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute for one additional minute, then remove from heat.

7) Warm the pita bread and then cut open and fill with sauce, pork, and veggies. Top with feta cheese and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Loin

Slow cooker recipes are always the best, so here’s another for you that may shock you! I grabbed a 2 pound pork loin on sale the other day and I was trying to decide how to make it different and interesting … Obviously the first way I decided was to cook it in the slow-cooker instead of the oven, but the second was to use a balsamic vinegar based cooking liquid.

Let me tell you, it was some kind of amazing! Super tender, so much so that I couldn’t even slice it nicely for photos – it just fell apart! And oh-so-flavorful… and oh-so-easy!

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The cooking liquid is important, of course, but the key to really flavorful meats is the spice rub. I always start pork spice rubs with brown sugar (about 3/4 cup) and then build up from there. For this one I added 2 teaspoons of salt, and then a half teaspoon or so each of black pepper, celery seed, oregano, thyme, cumin, and cayenne.

You might have to cut the pork loin in half before rubbing it (I did), but once its an appropriate size to fit in your slow cooker, rub it on all sides with the spice rub until it’s entirely gone.

Into the bottom of the slow cooker, add half a diced onion and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, then carefully place the pork on top.

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For your cooking liquid, in a small glass bowl or measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 cup cranberry juice, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Whisk it together and then carefully pour it around the pork in the slow cooker.

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That’s it! Cover and set the slow cooker to low and leave it alone for 4-5 hours. Once it’s ready, carefully lift it out and attempt to slice it – if it doesn’t really work, just pull it apart!

Full Recipe:

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Loin

Yield: About 4 servings

Ingredients:

One 2-pound pork loin
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup cranberry juice
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced

Spice Rub:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne.

Process:

1) Combine ingredients for spice rub in a small dish and rub onto all sides of the pork until it’s all been used.

2) Add onion and fresh thyme to slow cooker; carefully lay pork loin on top of the bed of onion.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, cranberry juice, mustard, and garlic until combined. Pour over the pork loin and then cover. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until cooked through and tender.

Hearty Chicken Stew

In light of the fact that winter is just NOT giving UP, here’s a fabulous cozy winter dish to keep you warm until spring finally decides to arrive! I’m a big fan of any kind of stew, but this one is like if you made chicken pot pie without the crust – it is so thick and hearty and full of goodness.

What makes this even more awesome is that it’s SO cheap. I mean like less than $7 when you break it down – and this feeds 5-6 people. The most expensive part is the chicken – all the vegetables come SUPER cheap in the produce department.

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The best part is that the whole thing is made in only ONE pot – which means less dishes! Yay!

Start by doing all your prep work – called “mise en place” – you’ll need a cutting board and a good kitchen knife. 😉

Dice: 1/2 an onion, 2 stalks of celery

Peel & Slice: 2 carrots

Cube: 2 red potatoes, 1 large chicken breast

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Do it in THAT order and you should only need ONE cutting board and ONE knife! 🙂

Once this is all completed, put a couple tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. After the oil has heated, add the chicken to the pan and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

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Allow the chicken to brown, moving it around the pan occasionally to keep it from sticking. This should take about 5 minutes or so. Once it’s browned, remove the chicken and then add the diced onion and celery.

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Sweat the onions and celery until they start to become translucent (about 3-5 minutes), making sure to scrape those brown bits off the bottom of the pot as you go! Once they’ve sweated, remove them from the pan.

Now, here’s where you can cheat a little: to the pan, add 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup and 2 cups of milk. Stir this until it has all combined, and then add two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon each of pepper, oregano, and thyme. To give depth, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and the zest of half a lemon. Stir in all the spices, and then add your previously cooked chicken, onions, and celery, along with the potatoes and carrots. Stir those in, then add 1 cup of frozen peas, 1 cup of frozen corn, and 1 cup of uncooked white rice.

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Cover and cook on LOW for about an hour (maybe even 45 minutes if you need it quick!), returning occasionally to stir. (The rice likes to settle to the bottom, so you’ll have to stir it every so often and scrape the rice off the bottom of the pan.)

After an hour of cooking it should be nice and thick and everything in it should be cooked through. Ladle it out and serve immediately!

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Best part, it just gets thicker and better if you leave it overnight! The starch from the potatoes and rice seeps into the liquid and just keeps thickening it!

Alternatively, you could do this in a crock pot by adding the soup and milk first and stirring until smooth, and then putting in everything (raw) at once and leaving it on low for about 4-5 hours or so. But I like this quicker version better. 😉 After you spent a few minutes prepping and browning, you can essentially busy yourself with something else for the hour that it’s cooking on the stove as long as it doesn’t take you too far from the kitchen. If you’re home from work at 5:00, you could theoretically have this on the table by 6:30!

Full Recipe:

Hearty Chicken Stew

Yield: 5-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of oil
1 large chicken breast, cubed ($2)
1/2 onion, diced ($0.20)
2 stalks celery, diced ( ($0.25)
1 can cream of chicken soup ($1)
2 cups milk ($0.50)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into medallions ($0.16)
2 red potatoes, cubed ($0.80)
1 cup frozen corn ($0.50)
1 cup frozen peas ($0.50)
1 cup uncooked white rice ($0.10)
Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne (negligible)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon ($0.25) – because you can still use the lemon for something else.

(Total cost, if you buy in bulk and fraction it out: $6.26. That’s $1.05 per person!!)

Process:

1) Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add chicken, season with salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

2) Add onions and celery to pan. Stir, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once onions and celery start to become translucent, remove from pan.

3) Pour in can of cream of chicken soup and 2 cups milk. Stir until smooth and combined, then add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp each pepper, oregano, and thyme, 1/2 tsp of cayenne and the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Stir to combine.

4) Add previously cooked chicken, onions and celery, along with the potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, and rice. Stir until well distributed, cover, and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to ensure rice doesn’t stick to bottom of pan.

5) After simmering for 1 hour, give it a final stir to ensure it has thickened properly and then ladle into shallow bowls and serve immediately.

Truly Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Okay, so I know that food manufacturers make it like SUPER easy to skip a bunch of steps when you’re cooking and buy everything pre-made and then just throw it together in various pans.

While the convenience is nice… you lose a lot of flavor potential and, quite frankly, the dish tastes flat and, well… canned. Hmm, maybe that’s why the “pasta alfredo” you make at home with lackluster jarred sauce and frozen meat doesn’t taste quite like the “Pasta Alfredo” you get from the authentic Italian restaurant down the road that promotes their “made from scratch” Alfredo sauce and “fresh, never frozen” meat.

I have tried to really make it clear through this blog that cooking from scratch and making restaurant quality dishes doesn’t have to be hard or expensive! If you shop smart and cook without waste it really becomes so worth it to make everything yourself.

Now, I’m not about to tell you to start making your own pasta – while that can be very rewarding, it’s a tricky process and sort of defeats the “it’s really easy and quick” mantra I continually put out. So, keep on buying boxed pasta on sale for $1 a box – it’s really cheap and still tastes fine!

That being said, after reading this post, you should never buy jarred or canned Alfredo sauce – EVER again!

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The kind of pasta and meat you use for this is really entirely up to you – I used smoked sausage for my meat and Cellentani for my pasta. The important part is getting the sauce down. A note though: if you’re used smoked sausage, it’s really seasoned enough on its own, so just brown it in oil and set it aside. If you’re using something like chicken or shrimp, however (which has a blander flavor profile) you’ll want to kick up the spice a bit while you’re cooking it – even if it’s just salt, pepper, and something like basil or cayenne.

So, once you’ve browned/cooked your meat in some olive oil and removed it from the pan, keep the pan over a medium-low heat and add 1/2 a diced onion to the remaining oil. Let the onions sweat for about 2 minutes, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

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Let this sweat for another minute more, then add 1 cup of cream (or milk, if you’re trying to keep things low-fat).

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It will bubble and steam as it de-glazes the pan and reduces down. After about 1-2 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, along with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted and spices are combined.

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Stir in your reserved meat and then whatever pasta you cooked, and serve! That’s it. It’s that simple – and it will taste so much better than that lame jarred stuff!

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Full Recipe:

Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cream (or milk)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Process:

1) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and allow to sweat for about two minutes, then add garlic and let sweat for an additional minute.

2) Pour in cream to de-glaze the pan and allow to reduce for 2 minutes or so, then stir in spices, Parmesan, and mascarpone until cheese is melted and everything is combined.

3) Stir in cooked pasta and browned meat of your choice and serve immediately.

Skillet Chicken with White Wine Cranberry Glaze

I often have occasions where I stare into my pantry/fridge and I see a couple of different things and think, “Hm, I wonder if I could make this work together…”

Perhaps I just watch Chopped too much, but this dish was born out of that type of experience. I knew I had chicken in the fridge and dried cranberries in the pantry, so I got to thinking, “What if…” and thus, this dish was born. And boy, was it delicious.

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Bonus, I’ll also include a recipe at the bottom for that amazing spicy and sweet succotash you see with the chicken. 😉

Preheat the oven to 350. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-low. While the pan is heating, sprinkle both sides of two chicken breasts with salt, pepper, oregano, cilantro, and thyme, then add them to the pan.

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Let them cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes. While they are cooking, roughly chop about 1/4 cup of pecans and spread them out on a small baking sheet. Then dice 1/4 of an onion and mince 1 clove of garlic.

Once the chicken has browned on both sides, put it in a baking pan coated with non-stick cooking spray and allow to bake while you prep the sauce. (About 15 total minutes in the oven should do it.) You can also put the chopped pecans in the oven now – just remember to take them out after about 5 minutes.

In the same pan that you cooked the chicken (still over medium-low heat), add your diced onion and toss to coat in the remaining olive oil. Allow these to saute for a few minutes, then add the minced garlic and about 1/2 cup of dried cranberries.

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Toss to combine and allow to simmer for another two minutes or so, then add 1/2 cup dry white wine to the pan. Allow this to reduce down (3-5 minutes) and then add 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir this in until it melts, leave on the heat for one more minute, and then remove from the heat.

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Plate your chicken once it’s cooked through and top with the glaze and a handful of chopped pecans. Serve with the spicy-sweet succotash listed below!

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Recipes:

Skillet Chicken with White Wine Cranberry Glaze

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, cilantro, oregano, thyme (to taste)
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp butter

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.

2) Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt, pepper, cilantro, oregano, and thyme, then place in the heated oil. Cook for 5 minutes per side, then place in a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes. Put the pecans on a small baking sheet and also put these in the oven – bake for 5 minutes.

3) In the same pan used for the chicken (still over medium-low heat) add the onions. Toss and saute for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cranberries. Saute for another 2 minutes or so, then add wine and allow to reduce for about 3-5 minutes.

4) Add the mascarpone and butter to the pan and stir until they’ve melted. Remove from the heat after an additional minute.

5) Plate chicken and top with glaze. Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Spicy-Sweet Succotash

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup frozen lima beans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
Salt, pepper, cilantro, cayenne, to taste

Process:

1) Add frozen corn and lima beans with water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.

2) After the initial 7 minutes, add the cranberries to the water and cook for an additional minute or two.

3) Drain, then put the succotash back in the sauce pan over low heat and stir in butter, sugar, and spices. (The more cayenne you add, the spicier it will be. A safe bet to not be overwhelming is about 1/4 tsp.) Serve immediately.

Potato-Sausage Hash with Scrambled Eggs

Everyone always seems to have creative, interesting, different ideas for lunch and dinner and even dessert, but it seems like breakfast is often thought of with very little care, or just cast off and forgotten entirely. As evidenced by past posts like my Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and 4 Simple Breakfast Ideas, I’m determined to give breakfast the credit it’s due!

This dish is great for mornings when you’ve got some time for a hearty breakfast to share, but you’re tired of the sweetness of pancakes, waffles, or french toast. This one will keep you full for hours and is really easy to prepare!

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Start by dicing a large red potato and coating a medium skillet in olive oil over medium-low heat. Add your potatoes to the heated pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Keep tossing them every minute or so. Meanwhile you can dice up about 8 inches of a smoked sausage.

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Once your potatoes have started to brown, add your sausage and season with some additional salt and about 1/2 tsp of thyme and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder. Toss to combine and continue to let this simmer for another 3-5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. Meanwhile, dice up 1/4 of an onion and 1/4 of a green pepper.

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Once the sausage is beginning to brown, add your diced onion and pepper into the pan and season with 1/4 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp of cayenne. (If you don’t like your breakfast to have much spiciness, leave the cayenne out.) Toss to combine, cover, and let simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

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While this is simmering, prepare your eggs. There is a real art to getting scrambled eggs perfectly light and fluffy without being overdone, and I’m here to reveal that secret to you!

Start by cracking three eggs into a small bowl and adding only 3 tbsp of milk (or less!) along with a few dashes of salt and then whisking this together with a fork.

MAKE OR BREAK TIP: You don’t need any more than 1 tbsp of milk per egg that you’re scrambling, and you don’t need to whisk them to death. Just get the eggs so the yolks are nice and broken up and it’s fairly well combined, but don’t try to beat out every last trace of the whites of the eggs.

Heat a small skillet over low heat and melt about 1/2 tbsp of butter in it. Then, add your eggs and LEAVE THEM ALONE!

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Let this cook nice and slowly (about 1-2 minutes) over that low heat until you see that the egg is starting to cook through (the clear portions will be turning white). The top layer will still be pretty much uncooked at this point.

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Once this happens, crank your heat up to high and quickly move the eggs around the pan with a spatula until they are almost all the way cooked. They should still be a little wet when you turn off the heat!

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Leaving the eggs just slightly wet when you remove them from the heat prevents them from getting overdone. The residual heat within the eggs themselves and the still-hot pan will finish the cooking process for you in the time it takes to get them from the pan to the plate!

By now, your hash should be perfectly done. Take the lid off the skillet and give it a final toss to get it ready for the eggs.

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Remove your eggs from the pan and then top the hash with the scrambled eggs. Of course, if you’re splitting this dish, you’ll want to plate this separately. 😉

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Full Recipe:

Potato-Sausage Breakfast Hash with Scrambled Eggs

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 large red potato, diced
8 inches (about) of smoked sausage, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne

3 eggs
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tbsp butter

Process:

1) Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, then add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and let simmer for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

2) After 5 minutes once the potatoes have begun to brown, add diced sausage and then season with thyme and garlic powder. Toss to coat and let simmer for another 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3) After 3-5 minutes once the sausage has begun to brown, add diced onion and pepper and then season with cumin and cayenne. Toss to combine and then cover and let simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

4) While this is simmering, crack 3 eggs into a small bowl and beat together with 3 tbsp milk and a few dashes of salt. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat, then add eggs and allow to slowly cook for about 1-2 minutes.

5) Once you see the eggs beginning to cook through, turn the heat up to high and move them quickly around the pan with a spatula until they are almost cooked through, but still a little wet.

6) Remove the lid from your hash and give a final toss before plating on two dishes. Divide the eggs between the two dishes and then serve immediately.

Grilled Chicken Cilantro Lime Salad

This is a fabulous summery dish that you can have really any time of year if you want to remind yourself of the crisp and sweet tastes of the warmer months! (I really needed that reminder since Old Man Winter keeps dropping snow on us!)

It uses a great combination of different flavors to provide a really great flavor profile for a great dish that’s good for a hearty lunch or a light dinner!

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Start off by getting your spices together: in a small dish, combine the zest of 1 lime, and then 1/2 tsp each of salt, cilantro, and garlic powder, along with 1/4 tsp of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

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Coat a small frying pan in a couple teaspoons of olive oil and heat it over low heat. Take about 1/4 of your seasoning mix and rub it over one side of a chicken breast.

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Put this in your frying pan, seasoning side DOWN, and then add some more salt, pepper, and cilantro to the unseasoned side. Let this cook for about 5-8 minutes or until it’s started to brown, then turn the chicken over, cover, and cook for an additional 8 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through.

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While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the salad. Roughly chop 1 romaine lettuce heart and add it to a medium-large bowl. Then, julienne 1 carrot, 1/2 an onion, and 1/2 an apple. (I used Gala to add some red color, but any crisp/tart variety would be fine!)

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Add these to your lettuce and toss them together. Then, to the dish of your remaining seasoning, add the juice of the lime you zested earlier, 2 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of rice vinegar. Use a fork to whisk this together, then pour it over your salad and toss to combine. Dish the salad out into two bowls.

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Once your chicken is done and has cooled a bit, cut it into thin slices and then top each salad with equal amounts of chicken. Serve immediately!

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Full Recipe:

Grilled Chicken Cilantro Lime Salad

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Zest & juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp olive oil
1 boneless skinless chicken breast

1 romaine lettuce heart, roughly chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 onion, julienned
1/2 apple, julienned

Process:

1) In a small dish, combine lime zest, salt, cilantro, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

2) Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Rub 1/4 of the seasoning mix onto one side of your chicken breast and place it seasoning side down into the skillet. Sprinkle unseasoned side with additional salt, pepper, and cilantro. Cook for 5-8 minutes, then turn and cover and cook for an additional 8 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool.

3) Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, and juice of 1 lime to your seasoning mix.

4) Combine lettuce, carrots, onions, and apples in a large bowl and toss together. Add dressing and toss to combine.

5) Plate salad in two separate dishes. Cut your chicken into thin slices and divide evenly between the two salads. Serve immediately.

Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

The other day I had an intense craving for chicken fajitas. Over the last year I have developed a real love for Mexican food, and fajitas are probably my favorite Mexican creation to make at home. I tore through my kitchen for the necessary ingredients and was disappointed to find that I had everything I needed – EXCEPT tortillas. Which are sort of the most necessary part of a fajita. Otherwise it’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables.

*Bing.* Light bulb. It’s just a pile of delicious chicken and vegetables … until you add ANOTHER starch to it. And thus, the idea for this dish was born. All the goodness of fajitas, but on top of a bed of cilantro lime wild rice instead! This recipe serves two.

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Wild rice takes a little longer to cook than regular white rice, so you’ll want to get the rice going first. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup wild rice and a 1 cup of water plus a couple more tablespoons. Put it over high heat and then add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the zest & juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp cilantro, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover until all the water is absorbed. (Wild rice takes 20-25 minutes or so to cook.)

While you’re waiting for your rice to cook, dice 1/4 of an onion and 1/4 of a green pepper and set them aside. Then take one chicken breast and slice it into thin pieces.

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When your rice is nearly done, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and then add your chicken to it. Spice the chicken by adding 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cilantro, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Toss to coat, and continue to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

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It should only take a few minutes to cook the chicken. Once it’s cooked through, add your diced onion and pepper, reduce heat to low, and cover.

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Allow this to simmer for a few more minutes to soften the onion and pepper, then uncover and add 1/2 cup of your preferred salsa. Stir this in, and then serve by plating the rice first between 2 plates and then dividing the chicken evenly between them on top of the rice. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy!

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Of course, you could always modify this by julienning the onions and peppers instead of dicing them and serving this all on nice flour tortillas with sour cream to make fajitas!

Full Recipe:

Chicken & Pepper Mexican Rice

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Rice:
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
Zest & juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Chicken:
1 large chicken breast, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp oil
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish.

Process:

1) In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients for rice over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until water is cooked through.

2) In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and chicken. Season with spices listed and toss to coat, continuing to toss occasionally to ensure even cooking.

3) After about 3 minutes, once chicken is cooked through, add diced onion and pepper and cover. Let simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

4) Once onion and pepper have softened, uncover and stir in 1/2 cup salsa. Allow this to heat through for about a minute and then remove from heat. Plate the rice first and then add the chicken on top, and garnish with cheddar cheese. Serve immediately.