Dinner Straight from the Freezer

I just had a really great frozen meal. No, not a TV-Dinner style meal, but real food, just frozen. Way back when, for my birthday (in March) Mrs. S sent me a gift certificate to pick out a frozen dinner of my choice. They came with a protein, starch, veggie, and even dessert. Unfortunately it got a bit buried and I didn’t choose right away.
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Once we were in the final planning stretch for our wedding, it seemed like the PERFECT time to have a ready-made meal to call on. It came from Omaha Steaks and was delicious.omaha_box_590_390
We had chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, green beans with herbed butter, and cheesecake. It was a meal for 4, so that meant two dinners. Score!
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It was a really nice gift. I think anyone stressed at work, busy planning a wedding, bringing a new baby home, or just moved to a new home would all really appreciate this.
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Lemon Pepper Kebabs Without So Much Pepper

Summer mugginess and I don’t mix so something cool, fresh, and Mediterranean sounded perfect. It was also a good use for some marinated chicken hanging around.
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The boneless skinless lemon pepper chicken came from our fav butcher. Mr. J thought it was too peppery so I thought re-marinating it in a basic Italian dressing would tone down the pepper a bit.

One of my favorite things about Greek and Mediterranean food is that the fresh ingredients get to be the focus. It screams summer to have so much crunch and individual flavor.

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast, marinated, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 tomato
1 English cucumber
1/2 cup feta
1/4 cup Italian or Greek dressing

Directions

Soak wooden kebab sticks in lukewarm water
Skewer chicken chunks alternating with pepper chunks and grill.
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Chop tomato and cucumber before mixing with feta and dressing.
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Serve kebabs with rice pilaf and cucumber tomato salad.

I couldn’t stop marveling over how perfectly cooked the chicken was. It was perfectly juicy. I think the size of each piece had a lot to do with that. The peppers got a nice char too without losing all the crunch.

The kebabs, plus buttery rice pilaf, plus salty feta in a crisp salad was awesome. I was really happy with it and thought this meal was nicely well rounded.

Have a good Labor Day Weekend everyone! Can you believe it is already September?!

Wing It

I’ve been so excited to post these fan-tas-tic wings. Despite chicken being a very regular menu item for me, I haven’t cooked wings…probably ever. Also, I haven’t even thought about cooking wings since I do not have access to the grill. Waaa waaa. Someday it will come out of storage.
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These were so good! I was so happy with them! They were sweet, had a nice soy zing, and the fresh green onions provided a crispness that I appreciated. I truly felt like these were restaurant quality.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken wings, drumette & wing separated, if desired
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbs honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
2 tbs chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped green onions

Directions

Whisk liquid ingredients together before adding trimmed wings and sauce to marinate for at least 3 hours.
After chicken has marinated, sprinkle with salt and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake chicken in a single layer, skin side down for 20 minutes and flip and bake for 25 minutes until browned & crispy
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Serve with chopped green onion.

The leftovers were just as good served cold. It made me feel like I was on a picnic…though I haven’t picnic-ed in years and probably didn’t have Asian-inspired wings then anyway.

The recipe is pretty basic but super convenient since I had everything on hand, and an easy one to set up to marinate while other fun things are happening. I chopped off the wing tip but left the wing and drumette attached. I used the tips to make a little bit of chicken stock.
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I served these bad boys with some of my favorite (also, mayo-less) slaw. It has apple for sweetness and a vinegary/mustardy dressing. I love it and can’t get enough of it. I made it here too. I haven’t attempted potato salad yet and it’s already August so I should really get on that!

These would be a great game time snack, appetizer, or meal. BBQ wings cooked low and slow and finished on the grill are my favorite. Until I live somewhere that allows grills, ours will hide in the garage just waiting for a chance to make the neighbors, and the pup, jealous with a smokey scent in the air.

Fun to Say and Fun to Eat

Succotash is such a fun word and made me really excited to make it since I’d never had it before. Announcing this made Mr. J’s jaw drop which made me even more excited to make this chicken & succotash meal!
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Sometimes I dream about when I won’t live in an apartment and I can have a normal kitchen, or when my puppy can have a yard, and especially when I can have a grill! That sometimes might actually be quite frequently. I promise the dog he’ll have his own yard all. the. time.

This dinner is pretty good inside but would be amazing on a grill outside too. The chicken is stuffed with pepperjack cheese and spinach with a zippy spice on the outside. It’s served with succotash too.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
6 oz pepperjack cheese, sliced
2 cups baby spinach
2 tbs grilling rub of your preference
1 cup edamame
1 cup red pepper
1 cup corn
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup lime salad dressing or lime juice and olive oil

Directions

Butterfly the chicken breasts and stuff with cheese and spinach, or cut a pocket into the middle and stuff with cheese and spinach.
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Season the outside with a rub or spice mix
Grill chicken on a grill pan or panini press for about 10-minutes until all juices are running clear
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Meanwhile, saute edamame, red pepper, corn, for about 3 minutes and then add tomato.
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Add lime dressing and serve
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I got this recipe from The Food Network Magazine awhile back. I use spinach instead of argula like they recommend. I also did edamame instead of lima beans and threw in the red pepper instead of summer squash and thought it made it wayyy better.

Funny story. I always stop by the reduced produce, don’t judge, and I thought I was grabbing a bag of cukes & zuccs. I figured the store employees don’t know the difference. I got home and had lots of cukes but no zucchinis. This is kind of like the time when they didn’t know how to label prosciutto and charged me the bologna price. Score! Anywho,  I also got a steal on red & orange peppers (4 for $1.77!!). The cashier just entered the pepper code and it would have been $5-something if I wasn’t watching. I felt like I was on extreme couponing!!

This is an easy & casual one that would definitely impress friends with only a few pans OR deviate from the norm of your grilling menus this weekend!

‘Zone or Pie

I grabbed a few ingredients to make pizza but when I got home, I realized it could easily be a rolled out pizza, or a deep dish pizza, or a calzone! Love love love how versatile Italian dishes can be!
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Ingredients

pizza dough
1 head broccoli
2 chicken breasts
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup alfredo sauce
2 tbs cornmeal or wheat germ

Directions

Cut chicken breasts into thirds and roll in breadcrumbs and Parmesan before pan frying in olive oil.
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When chicken is cooked, rough chop it into bite size pieces.
Rough chop yellow onion and caramelize onions in the same pan the chicken cooked in.
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Steam broccoli florets.
Spread out dough onto a sheet pan sprayed with non-stick spray and sprinkled with wheatgerm. Leave half of dough hanging off the edge to become the top.
Layer cheese, chicken, broccoli, sauce and repeat. Pile it high!
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Close the calzone by wrapping the hanging edge over the filled half. Press tightly to close.
Make a few air-vent slits across the top and brush with olive oil or egg wash.
Bake 35 minutes at 400.
Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The key to the best calzones is filling with much more filling than seems appropriate. It settles and should be dense.

I liked this combo and thought it would be easy options from the freezer if you have them on hand. Mr. J didn’t think the broccoli was necessary, but it was OK. I always think a veggie and some color are necessary. Leftovers are also one of my favorite aspects to a calzone!

Enjoy cinco de mayo tomorrow! Have a margarita for me! I’ll be working super late but I’ll celebrate my favorite mexican later in May…

A Little Sweet & A Little Sour

I know after making my own turkey meatballs I said I should be making them instead of buying them, but I’m crazy at work for another 25 days. I can’t wait to rejoin life afterwards!
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Anywho, I made Sweet and Sour Meatballs using turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s. I’ve made this before but it has been awhile.

Ingredients

1 can pineapple chunks
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
6 meatballs
½ green pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
1 cup rice

Directions:

Bring pineapple chunks, some liquid, brown sugar, and soy sauce to a rolling boil for 2 minutes.
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Add red pepper flakes and meatballs before lowering heat to medium low.
Prepare rice.
Add peppers to meatballs and sauce for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
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How easy?! I didn’t have any egg noodles but it turns out Mr. J thought he’d like it better over rice. I also didn’t have any rice but I did have aborio. Risotto with sweet and sour meatballs turned out to be a success!

I had “natural” pineapple chunks and I liked it much better than regular canned pineapple. It’s definitely as close to fresh as you can get.

Intense Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

I’d categorize Mr. J as a sauce person whereas my sauces don’t always come out perfectly. I think they are coming along. I made a lot of sauce even when making chicken-for-two. This was a FLAVORFUL meal.
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This was a pretty quick meal to put together and I loved the vinegar flavor. It felt different and made me want to use balsamic vinegar more often.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup of chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and cook chicken thighs until a medium golden brown, about 5 minutes.
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Flip the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes.
Put chicken into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add garlic to the chicken pan (careful: don’t let it burn).
Stir in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth over a low boil.

Whisk in mixed flour and butter to thicken sauce, cooking for about 2 more minutes over low.
Add in chicken and coat in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
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I liked the balsamic flavor but also think I put in too much (I used about ⅓ cup) so I’d recommend a quantity of a few tablespoons.I eat a solid amount of chicken but I don’t use chicken thighs very often. They were a great change. A little dark meat here and there never hurts.
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I served this with mashed potatoes (with a touch of sour cream) and steamed green beans. It was a really comforting meal.

Honey Mustard Chicken with a Crunch

After a weekend of food, friends, diner breakfast, and drinks I wanted a slightly healthier Sunday night dinner. I was working with what we already had around, since I hate to grocery shop and we had been gone a lot.
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Honey Mustard Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoon orange juice
1 large clove garlic, minced

Honey Mustard Directions

Wisk honey, mustard, orange juice, and garlic
Refrigerate for at least an hour before enjoying

I love honey mustard. I know you can buy it but this is better. I sneak a little spicy brown into it as well which better rounds out the mustard vs. sweet flavor. A splash of cider vinegar would be good too.Honey mustard is so versatile! Marinate chicken in it, dip veggies in it, put it on salad, put it on a sandwich…the possibilities are endless. Bottled honey mustard always has a few weird preservatives and when it’s this easy to make, why buy it?

Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Ingredients

chicken tenders or chicken breasts
1 egg (with 1 tbs water), whisked
½ cup flour
¾ cup breadcrumbs (half panko, half regular bread crumbs)

Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Directions

1) Marinate chicken tenders in honey mustard.
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2) Set up your flour, eggwash, breadcrumbs, in that order
honey_must_flour_290_200 honey_must_egg_290_200honey_must_crumbs_290_200 3) dip the chicken into the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
4) bake 20 minutes at 375 on a sprayed cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, turning once

This was so great! I really liked that I could taste the honey mustard and the crunch on the outside was awesome. I served it with honey mustard on the side but could have tossed the crispy tenders in the sauce too. I think I was too scared that the crunch wouldn’t stick since they were baked, not fried.
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Mr. J and I thought the chicken was cooked perfectly. It was a fun and different dinner that was lighter than the restaurant equivalent since the chicken wasn’t fried. I served it with couscous (where I snuck in some finely chopped baby spinach for another veggie dose) and some yellow squash and leeks we had.
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Itsa meatball!

I made meatballs for the first time ever. Well, not never, but I made them by myself for the first time. I can’t eat red meat so if I want meatballs, they have to be turkey and it usually means I eat them at home after buying them.

When I was little I remember making meatballs. My mum would put all the ingredients into a bowl and dad would let us help roll and cook them. I think as a kid I probably thought she was “letting us help” but it was probably more that she doesn’t like to handle meat with her hands because of the “ick” factor.

We would get some cooking and then make a big one with all the remaining mix and giggle relentlessly before continue to roll them.

Even after buying some frozen turkey meatballs at Trader Joe’s (theirs are the best!). I decided to make some and they were AMAZING, if I do say so myself. This is a prime example of a simple meal, made with really great ingredients, and letting them speak for themselves.

Ingredients

¾ pound ground turkey
2 links sweet Italian sausage
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup milk
2 tbs parsley
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs Parmesan cheese
½ cup red wine
salt & pepper

Directions

Remove sausage from casing.
Mix bread crumbs and milk. Let sit a minute.
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Combine ground turkey, sausage, egg, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, wine, salt and pepper. Add breadcrumb mix and combine well.
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Form into balls depending on your size preference. I went with larger ones.
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Heavily oil a baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees, turning every 10-15 minutes to evenly brown.
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I was so happy with these! I thought sausage would provide enough fat for moist meatballs instead of proscuitto or bacon, but those would be good too. I was super diligent about turning them to ensure that they cooked evenly. I could have fried them but baking them was way easier.

I’ll continue to purchase them but they weren’t a big deal to make myself. The wine was a HUGE flavor enhancement. A few glug glug glugs of a pinot noir that was already open definitely added some depth of flavor.

They smelled simply amazing! Have you met my sous-chef Windsor? He was standing by, under my feet in our tiny kitchen as usual. I think he was super excited to see what delicious item was coming out of the oven! Even with that cute face he still doesn’t get anything I make.
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Part of my inspiration to make some came from another blog I love We Are Not Martha. Theirs were featuring prosciutto and were pan fried. I literally read the recipe and thought, ooo red wine would be good with these as I channeled my wine-loving college roommates as inspiration. Parsley isn’t my favorite so I just used dried parsley. Rosemary would be good.

I served these with a basic red sauce and spaghetti. I thought my meatballs were good enough and deserved to shine! I’m so proud!
meatball_plate_290_200I didn’t make a ton of meatballs but now that I know this recipe is a winner I’m sure I’ll make more and freeze them. I will probably also make some cute little ones to freeze for appetizers or soup. They aren’t that much effort and I keep thinking about all the exciting additions! Spinach very finely chopped would be good, sun dried tomatoes, maybe a little nugget of mozzarella? Mmmm the possibilities are endless. I also love sweet & sour meatballs which would definitely highlight these guys.

A Comeback with Chicken

I know a few of you felt cheated with the Brownie post. In an effort of full disclosure: I love all food. I love to make things myself and I love that which others make for me too. There are not as many restaurant reviews as I originally anticipated but winter in New England makes us hole up inside sometimes.

I’ve been sick so I agree that my recent posts are not all AMAZING. The other night I did make a pretty amazing meal. Without further ado…I present to you: Smoky Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa. Boo-yeah.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
marinade
spice rub
1 ½ cup chopped mango
1 cup chopped tomato
½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Marinate the chicken and then dredge into the rub. I used my fav lime salad dressing and a rub blend I got Mr. J in Seattle from the famous Chef Tom Douglas.
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Grill the chicken until cooked through. Since our chicken breasts were so enormous I cut them each in half (yes, those are 2 breasts cut in half, woah!)
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Chop the mango, tomato, roasted red pepper pieces. Add vinegar, oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Roughly mix with a fork to incorporate all the flavors. Let stand while chicken finishes cooking.
mango_salsa_290_200Serve over rice with salsa spread on top.
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This was so easy and was wonderful! The chicken was veryyy spicy because of the rub but I liked that combo with the sweet salsa. Mr. J may not have been expecting the kick during his first bite! I hadn’t been sure what to make for dinner when I defrosted chicken early that morning but this was almost all pantry/freezer items!

I used frozen mango chunks that I keep handy for smoothies or when we’re just out of produce and I’m in fruit-withdrawal. Since mango can be so pulpy or fibrous I probably should have chopped it while frozen, but I didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect. Pineapple would be a great alternative!

We ate the chicken & mango salsa over instant brown rice to cut the spice. I steamed some pea pods on the side. I really enjoyed this flavorful & instant dinner! It was refreshing and was a perfect amount.