Mimi’s Fried Squash

Last weekend my grandparents came down to see the house, since they havent yet and we cooked dinner for them and just kind of hung out and then David and I picked my grandma’s brain for some of her old family recipes. She makes some of my favorite side dishes, like most souther grandmas! Things like macaroni salad, cucumbers in vinegar, creamed corn, annnnd the famous fried squash and onions, which I suggested we have as a side dish to our tasty meal so she could give me a little lesson. Its not that I can’t sauté up some summer veggies on my own but she gets them just the right amount of crispy and delicious so I was looking for a few tips on improving upon any failed attempts I have made in the past, annnnd a little help with some of the side dishes, and she definitely delivered! If you’re looking to make some hearty southern fried squash, here is my attempt to rehash Mimi’s hands on lesson in the kitchen.

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 large squash sliced (or quartered, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 onions halved and sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • flour

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Slice the squash and onions and mix them together in a large mixing bowl. then spoon flour on top of the ingredients and mix well.

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Mimi says the best method is to hand toss it, starting form the bottom and folding the flour through the mixture until all the pieces are coated. Also, make sure none of the pieces stick together since you want all the sides coated pretty well. While you’re doing this put enough vegetable oil in a large pan to coat the bottom

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Continue to let the oil heat until you can flick flour in it and it sizzles and crisps right up, then you know you’re cookin’! Start with the pan on high and if needed you can reduce the het throughout, but you never want to be below about a 7 unless your stove is unusually hot and fast cooking.
Next, add large handfulls of the squash and onions to the pan, making sure to distribute them evenly across the bottom.

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Then make sure that they are all pressed flat to the bottom and there are no air pockets and that something is always touching the bottom of the pan to get crispy and delicious.  Once everything is spread evenly, let the mixture simmer for a bit to let to bottom get nice and toasty. you can check occasionally by pulling up the sides with a spatula because it starts to stick as you cook it.

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When you feel that the bottom is pretty browned, slide the spatula underneath to lift and flip large sections of the squash and onions all at once, so they are kind of stuck together.

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Continue this process until they are relatively browned on all sides and the squash are cooked all the way through. This takes about 30 minutes. As you finish, tilt the pan at an angle and pull all the squash and onions to the top side to drain off as much of the oil as possible and then move the drained veggies to a serving bowl.

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Then its time to eat! Its best to make sure these finish just as you are getting ready to eat, as they are not as good cold. AND, if you have left overs like we did, you can reheat them by throwing them into a warm pan with no oil for a few minutes until they heat all the way through. Microwaving is definitely NOT your friend here. But MMMMM are these good! Hope I can pull it off on my own next time!

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Crockpot Asian Chicken

The crockpot got me again. Somehow I am always convinced that I can remedy the bland taste of crockpot chicken by trying a variety of different sauces. I think its because it over cooks so its a little drier than I like. I even started this one when I cam home for lunch, but it was still a little over done by the time I got home from work at 6. I think it was because the chicken was cut into bite size pieces as opposed to being larger strips that needed to cook all the way through. I really need to be better about thinking these things through. But the sauce was really good and had the chicken been a little more moist I would have really liked it, so I really think we will give this one a try again.

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Ingredients: 

  • chicken breast strips
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup Teriyaki sauce for crock pot, 1 cup for glaze
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • honey

Instructions: 

  • Place chicken into crock pot
  • Combine the chicken broth, 1 cup teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, and garlic powder in crockpot, pouring over the chicken
  • cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Before serving place 1 cup of teriyaki sauce into a sauce pan and bring to a boil then slowly add honey (to taste) and a bit of brown sugar until the sauce thickens and reduces. Once the sauce is thick, add it to a bowl and remove chicken from crockpot and toss in the mixture.
  • Once chicken is coated serve over white or brown rice with a side of steamed veggies and enjoy, another easy crockpot meal.

+if you’re still skeptical about the crockpot chicken like we are, you can bake the chicken or pan sear it and then toss it in the sauce, but the sauce is definitely what makes it!

Fun Friends and Food

Like I said on Monday, our friends Jaque and Chris came over for dinner on Friday night for a little relaxation and dinner before we get completely bogged down with all things wedding for the next 3 weeks (BECAUSE ITS SO CLOSE NOW!!!! AHHHHH!!!!) It was nice to do something to keep my mind from wandering into wedding never land for a bit thinking a schedules, and organizing, and how were going to get what where, etc etc. We were also very excited to have the chance to break out some of our fun new serving pieces we have gotten from showers and to use our fun little rolling island we got from ikea a while back! Well David was excited about the island, I was excited about the serving pieces, to set the record straight. But I just love entertaining and setting everything up, I think its just so fun!

I picked up some small bouquets of assorted flowers at the local grocery store and used a small little vase I acquired from someone dropping off some treats at work (I love fab freebies!) I always joke that I should have gone into flowers because I love fresh flowers so much. I just think they add so much to a room and really soften the space. Not the fanciest thing ever, but I appreciate the touch of class!

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So to add to the set up we wheeled out our awesome butcher block ikea island and set up a little appetizer area for our guests featuring dipping bread and a tasty red wine sangria (which probably would have been better if I had more time to let it rest and mix all the flavors together!). But it was a great set up and kept everyone from congregating around the food prep space on the counters and opened up the counter space by giving us a little bit of extra room to set things, which we also appreciated!

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The great thing about this cart is that it has shelves underneath so for a big gathering you could keep plates/cups/etc underneath and place all the food or drinks on top AND because it has wheels we can just roll it outside and BAM more serving space for out there. Im really starting to like it and not resent buying it just to store it in our closet under the stairs! And then, when it was time for dinner… BAM Change over and we were serving the main course here which made it so easy to feed everyone through the kitchen to prep their plates etc.

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David grilled up some BBQ chicken quarters and fresh squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some brown rice! super tasty! I love all the fresh veggies that are available in the sumer and I especially love that David is so into grilling. It alleviates some of the stress in the kitchen! Such a great night with great friends, and if you’re dying for that sangria recipe, here it is for ya!

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  • 1 Large bottle of red wine – chilled ( I used Pinot Noir)
  • 1 large orange sliced and placed in the bottom of the pitcher
  • 1/2 large orange juiced into the pitcher, slice the other half for garnish
  • 1 lemon sliced (half for garnish)
  • 1 -1 1/2 cups of a dark juice (I used cranberry pomegranate, but you can personalize the recipe here or leave this part out)
  • Add orange liquor to taste. I added enough to cover the fruit in the bottom of the pitcher.

Combine all the ingredients into a pitcher Fruit slices first then orange liquor, then red wine, then juice to mellow things out a bit, if needed. Then stir everything out and let chill for at least 3o minutes before serving. Then pour into glasses and garnish with freshly sliced fruit! Bottoms up!

Jerk Tilapia with a White Wine Mushroom Sauce

We made this a few weeks ago as a tasty change to our week night dinner routine, we were a little nervous about it taking a lot longer than we had originally intended but the tilapia filets were small and cooked pretty quickly. The recipe called for brown rice or grits as a bed to serve the fish on, and we decided to go with grits. A) because we had them already and b) because its a nice change from the traditional dinner starch options. Definitely recommend giving this a whirl, especially if you’re looking to do a dish for people who aren’t the biggest fish lovers!

Ingredients: 

Mushroom Scallion Sauce
1 tablespoon butter (or cooking spray)
2 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms (cremini, or other regular mushrooms)
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 pint heavy cream (or fat-free milk w. 1/2 tsp of flour)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper

Grits
5 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Tilapia
6 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
1/3 cup jamaican jerk spice, marinade

Instructions: 

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Mushroom Scallion Sauce: Melt butter in a large saute pan. Saute mushrooms and scallions for about 3 minutes. Stir in wine and heavy cream. Season with garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir until sauce thickens slightly. Keep warm until ready to serve.

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Grits: Bring milk to a boil. Gradually whisk in grits, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir constantly for about 3 to 5 minutes until grits thicken to desired consistency. Keep warm until ready to serve.

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Tilapia: Heat grill to medium. Rinse and dry fillets and then rub with jerk seasoning. Grill tilapia for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.

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Plate entree by spooning grits on center of plate. Lay tilapia on top of grits. Lay the carrot slices on top of fish in a criss-cross manner and place broccoli stalk on the side of fish. Top with mushroom scallion sauce and serve immediately.

Not my best plating attempt but you get the idea. Layer it all up and serve it as one dish for lots of deliciousness and minimal clean up, one of our favorite things to do on the week nights!

Breakfast Stromboli

I made this a few weeks ago, but David LITERALLY still hasn’t stopped talking about it. One night my friend Jaque was coming over so we could have a much needed girls night and we hadn’t really made plans for dinner so in a last minute attempt to avoid just grabbing takeout we decided we would try a new take on breakfast for dinner! I found this recipe for breakfast stromboli and because I am always willing to try something once, we gave it whirl. We grabbed all the ingredients (including the fresh pizza dough ball, which was in the bakery/deli section in a little bag) from the local supermarket. All the ingredients were easy to fix up, just cook the ground sausage over medium high heat in a skillet and add the peppers at the end, and then scramble the eggs with the milk and a bit of cheese and put all of it inside the pizza dough. The hardest part was rolling out the dough because it got kind of gooey and I just couldn’t get it to roll out the right way, I guess this is where my lack of experience in a pizza place is really showing through! So after A LOT of struggling and everyone else just standing around laughing at my inability to get the job done, we finally just started pulling it (which Im SO sure is not the correct method) until it did what we wanted it to. Anywho, once we got that whole situation taken care of, we stuffed it, rolled it, and baked it and BOY was it yummy! A great breakfast treat, if you’re looking for one, and definitely a fun take on something similar to a breakfast casserole! I definitely recommend it, we served ours with grits and it was quite tasty. I think my favorite thing about this is you can really make it whatever you want, you could add spinach, mushrooms, onions, cook it with only egg whites; there really are endless possibilities!

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb pizza dough

Ground breakfast sausage (we used neeses)

2-4 eggs, plus one more beaten for an egg wash

2 Tbsp milk

Pinch salt and pepper

1 sweet bell pepper, seeded and diced (or half of a medium regular bell pepper)

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Parchment paper to line pan (don’t leave this one out!)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray, trust me you DEFINITELY want to use parchment paper.
  2. In a large skillet, brown your sausage, and add your pepper to it to brown a bit. Once cooked all the way through, transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Keep oil rendered from sausage in pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, a bit of cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Back to the skillet with the oil, reduce the heat to medium-low and scramble the eggs
  5. Spread pizza dough out on baking sheet to be approximately 10×16 inches. Leave a 3×16 rectangle of plain dough along one of the edges and on the rest, sprinkle with half of the cheese, followed by the sausage, eggs, red bell pepper, and the remaining cheese on top.
  6. Brush the plain strip of dough with the egg. Fold in the outer sides about an inch and brush them with egg. Roll up like a jelly roll* lengthwise starting along the long edge of dough topped with all the fillings and ending with the plain strip of dough on the bottom of the roll.
  7. Brush the entire Stromboli with egg and gently cut slats in the top of the dough every 1-2 inches. Sprinkle parsley over top and bake 8-10 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes and slice into pieces.

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterst and have been dying to try it, especially since I have a weak spot for tasty cheeses, and Gouda definitely makes that list! This was relatively easy to make and considering its the first time I have made a real baked mac and cheese casserole, I was pretty happy to find out it wasn’t going to be as complicated as I had first feared. We used way too many noodles so we probably should have doubled the gravy sauce you are supposed to make but, you live and you learn, other than that it was a pretty rocking dish, and definitely a good change of pace from a more traditional mac and cheese dish. IMG_3900

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 4 garlic cloves,- minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups hot cooked macaroni
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese ( your choice, we used mexican cheese mix, hahah, because we had it in the fridge, I think gouda would have been rather delicious, but we didn’t have enough!)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Add cheeses; stir until melted.

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Add macaroni to cheese sauce, stirring until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spary, to make a thin layer on the bottom then sprinkle with some of the shredded cheese, continue to layer until the dish is full.Then, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with a bit of cheese . Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

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We obviously did NOT have a dish large enough to hold the massive amount of mac and cheese we made, so we ate the single servings for dinner, and then we had the larger casserole to pair with various meals throughout the week, which was awesome! It saved really well and was pretty tasty even as a left over, and was really easy to reheat and serve! Definitely a good dish to make a lot of!

Pulled Pork Tacos with Homemade Coleslaw

If you’re anything like us you just had a tasty tasty Fourth of July with lots of pork deliciousness… and you probably have some leftovers. Not that I don’t LOVE eating bar-b-que, but lets be honest, I can only eat so many BBQ sandwiches before I need to entertain my pallet with some other tasty treat, hence our pulled pork tacos. The perfect marriage of everything David loves… pulled pork and mexican food. We started pulling this meal together and just thought “Well, we can just throw the pork on the bottom, and then top it with regular taco toppings” But that quiuckly changed when we decided coleslaw would be better than lettuce, and BBQ side dishes would make better toppings, and we were right, the coleslaw was the perfect compliment. We made a more vinegar based coleslaw, because I wasn’t digging the super heavy mayonnaise based set up then we topped them with BBQ sauce my grandpa makes and it was quite the tasty treat! Here’s all you need to make the perfect coleslaw topping for your pulled pork tacos:

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onions, finely chopped

Dressing

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar

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Instructions: 

1. Combine the chopped cabbage, onions, and bell peppers in a bowl, hand mix so that all ingredients are well distributed in the slaw.

2. In sauce pan mix the dressing ingredients together and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved and let cool

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3. Pour the dressing over the dry slaw and mix with tongs to completely dress the entire mixture. Cool in refrigerator and then serve as a side dish OR a great topping for your pulled pork tacos!

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Now that David and I have discovered that we LIKE brussels sprouts, we are now finding all these different ways to cook and serve them, like with anything we make. This one was good because it added some extra flavors in there, and it was a little more rustic than a traditional pan seared brussels sprout or even an oven roasted one, and it was pretty light for summer. Its a great and easy side dish for grilled dinners, and I also think a good starter for someone who might not be on team brussels sprouts yet! Definitely give this one a try, its quite tasty!

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb. brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup of crasins
  • 3/4 up of feta (or as much as you want)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups of cooked barley

Instructions: 

In a pot of boiling water, add two cups of cooked barley and prepare according to package instructions ( this usually takes about 30-45 minutes to cook, so about 15 minutes in you can start with the brussels sprout). To cook the sprouts, melt the butter in the pan and the sautee the brussels sprouts over medium high heat until they are tender. slowly add in the crasins as you cook them and mix well.

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Once they are tender, turn the heat down, while they are still hot drizzle the syrup and balsamic vinegar over them and fold in to coat all the brussels sprouts. Then let them cool.

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After they have cooled pout into a bowl, then add the barley, pecans, and feta cheese and mix well. We ate it the first time at room temperature, then tried it the next day cool, and then decided that warmer was better, so just a little tip, if it sits for a bit, maybe keep it on a warmer or in the microwave, but its definitely not as good straight out of the fridge. I felt like the flavors were not mixed together as well.

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Like I said, this dish is definitely a great spin on traditional brussels sprouts and a good way to get people to try them that might be a little apprehensive! Might be a fun and healthy side dish to try with all your tasty grilled treats for the fourth!

Chicken Parmesan Rollotini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are always looking for new takes on some of our old standbys. I mean you can only eat the same spaghetti so often before it becomes the same old same old. Apart from our beloved mexican dishes, we really try not to repeat things too often, and even try to get creative with leftovers if we cook things in bulk on the weekend, which we have been doing a lot of lately. Anywho, so our most recent spin on a favorite has been Chicken Parmesan. You can see our original recipe here, but I found a recipe for little rollotinis on pinterest, which just means you get to stuff to chicken parmesan with cheese and top it with… more cheese, so it was pretty much an all around win. We did add some spinnach to the mix so it wasnt ALL cheese, but ya know, mostly! So here’s how to create this delectable dish yourself!

Ingredients: 

  • 8 thin chicken cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 6 tablespoons egg whites or egg beaters
  • 5 oz frozen spinach, squeezed dry of any liquid
  • 6 tbsp part skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 oz part skim mozzarella (I used Polly-O)
  • pam
  • marinara sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup flour

Instructions: 

 

Wash and dry cutlets, season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly spray a baking dish with pam. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp grated cheese in one bowl, flour in a second and 1/4 cup egg beaters or egg whites in another. Make sure to season all three portions with salt  and pepper so that all the different parts and pieces add a bit of seasoning to the dish!

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Shred or finely chop 1.5 oz of mozzarella cheese and combine with remaining grated cheese, spinach (make sure you squeeze it dry), 2 tbsp egg beaters, and ricotta cheese.

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Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of spinach-cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep seam side down.

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Dip chicken in the flour, then the egg mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in a baking dish (no toothpicks needed). Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray with pam.

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Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven, top with sauce then cheese.

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Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 3 more minutes. Serve with additional sauce on the side and grated cheese, and on a bed of pasta if you choose. We used rotini noodles. Twas tasty. Definitely a great way to spruce up that traditional chicken parmesan and it really wasn’t too had to make because we did cook this from scratch on a week night, so, no excuses! You can totally to do, and it will be a big tasty success!

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Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to — chips

David and I have been trying to get our week night dinner routine in sync, so were trying to revisit old recipes, which means… lots of our new recipes are now side dishes. Soooo get ready for a ton of new ways to spice up your weeknight dinners. Last Friday we actually had a weekend at home, but we had a huge list of home projects to tackle, including yard work, house cleaning, and the awesome bench we refurbished!! So, meals kind of took a back seat and on Friday night we made out avocado egg salad, and wanted to add a little something extra to the meal so we made some homemade potato chips… Probably not our best effort for lack of consistency, we definitely need a mandolin to avoid differences in cook times. But the ones that just happened to be cooked perfectly were quite tasty, so we will definitely be trying this again… POST mandolin purchase.

Ingredients:

  • russet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt

Instructions:

Wash the potatoes, then slice them as evenly as possible, consistency is key!

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Once you have sliced them all, coat them in olive oil and the toss with seasoning salt until they are well coated with the seasonings.

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Spread them out on a cookie sheet and then bake them at 425 for 30 minutes

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Once they are done baking let them cool for 5-10 minutes and then serve!

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