Something I really missed while pregnant was blue cheese dressing. It wasn’t even a banned food I have all the time but I was definitely ready for it. (This one from the refrigerated produce area is my fav). I used some for this super quick buffalo chicken pizza as lunch one day. Blue Cheese dressing became part of the sauce and some drizzled on top. Pita bread as the dough is, hands down, the easiest way to whip up a pizza. Plus, it works perfectly when making pizza for one. Since there’d be zero nutritional value, I was glad this was a single serving.
1-2 breaded chicken fingers
1 Wheat pita bread pocket
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
4 tbs hot sauce/buffalo sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Bake the chicken according to the package.
Mix together most of the hot sauce and most of the blue cheese dressing for the sauce. Taste it and add dressing or hot sauce to taste for your preferred spice level.
Cut the chicken into chunks and toss with some hot sauce.
Spread the buffalo blue sauce onto the pita.
Then top with cheese, then with chicken. Drizzle any extra sauce over the top.
Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees until the cheese melts and the pita crisps a bit. I used the toaster oven.
Drizzle some blue cheese dressing over the top and enjoy!
My chicken chunks are somewhat massive for the size of my pizza but I didn’t care. I was loving the buffalo and blue cheese together, plus each getting to shine on their own too. The chicken is crispy and the pizza hit the spot. You could always add celery, if you’re into that…I’m not a celery fan. I used wheat pitas because why not pretend there’s one healthy thing happening here?
Mr. J doesn’t like spice but these little pita pizzas are perfect to customize easily. They also freeze well if you wanted to make & freeze them, or prep them with just sauce and cheese to add toppings before eating sometime. I love good pizza crust but not messing with dough is pretty sweet as well.
I haven’t made enchiladas in a while but I also had some kale I was hoping to sneak into something. Enchiladas seemed perfect. To tell the truth, I’m not a fan of raw kale but it is a good veggie to tuck into other foods. I know, I feel like anyone with a food blog is supposed to loooove kale. The health benefits are amazing but I find it so tough. Chard & spinach often score higher than kale anyway and I like them better. Greens, like kale, work well to dice up and treat like an herb. I didn’t highlight it, but it has a good place here.
This was a perfect make-ahead meal. I made the filling while I was making my lunch (see my taco salad with avocado lime dressing). Basically I ate pretty similar lunch and dinners on the same day, but I’ll take Mexican meals any day.
4 chicken tenderloin pieces (or 2 breasts)
2 tbs taco seasoning
10 oz black beans (3/4 of a can)
4 cups kale, with ribs removed
6 oz shredded cheddar
8 wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
Dice the chicken into chunks and sauté with the taco seasoning until cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, remove the ribs from the kale and chop. Steam the kale for 3-5 minutes to partially cook.
Mix together the kale, black beans, and chicken.
Assemble the enchiladas with tortillas, filling, a sprinkle of cheese. (save some cheese for the top)
Then roll them up and place with the seam-side down into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Pour enchilada sauce over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
Top with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese melts. Or refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. Or freeze for future use. I made 2 pans, each with 4 enchiladas. I baked one and froze the other.
These were really good. The sauce has some zip to it and the wheat tortillas, kale, and beans, make them a bit more nutritious. The filling really could be anything. Mine was heavier on kale and beans than chicken.
If you have any leftover filling save it and add some brown rice for a lunch burrito bowl!
I don’t make soup often enough and this was one I made in stages. It was really good practice to cook in shifts of however long the little one was napping. I baked the chicken when I had the oven on for dinner one night and I made the rice the next morning when I had a few minutes. This soup was so easy and one I’ll definitely make again.
Ingredients: (makes ~4 servings)
4 chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
5 carrots (approx. 2 cups)
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1% milk)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Bake chicken until cooked through. (I used a few boneless, skinless thighs and a few drumsticks and then made some broth from the drumstick bones). Cut the chicken into spoon-sized chunks. Prepare rice according to the package directions. (I used Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice Mix which definitely added to the soup flavor).
In a large pot, add the chicken, rice, and broth over low heat.
Cut up the carrots into coins (steam/boil/cook first if eating the soup upon completion, or let raw carrot pieces cook in the soup if you’ll let it simmer longer).
Add the carrots, thyme, & water to the pot.
Cook for 20 minutes then add the milk/cream. (Cook longer if the carrots are raw).
Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. I didn’t add any salt because the rice mix had a flavor packet that seemed like plenty.
I loved this. I went heavy on the carrots but you could add celery, onions, or whatever veggies you have. The thyme is what makes me think warm, comfort food like stuffing or pot pie.
Add more water when warming any leftovers.
I’ve been all about the meals that I can whip up a) without tons of work/ingredients and b) that are wintry and comforting. Ahhem: tomato basil tortellini soup: calzone with ready made filling of creamed spinach & meatballs: ham & cheese rolled rosetti: and the list goes on… I’m also pretty obsessed with the Al Fresco chicken meatballs so this dinner of my take on Swedish meatballs perfectly fit the bill. Also, of note, I’m not Swedish and I don’t know that I’ve ever had Swedish meatballs so I’m really just winging it after googling to figure out what they key flavors are.
~4 meatballs per person (I made 3 servings)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs cream cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp corn starch & 2 tsp water, incorporated together
1/4 cup water
2 tbs butter
Make your own meatballs, or put the frozen (fully cooked) meatballs into a large skillet with the broth and garlic over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add in mustard, creamed cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Whisk to combine. (It may look a bit chunky and not creamy yet, that’s OK!)
Make a cornstarch slurry or flour & butter roux and whisk in. Keep whisking as you bring the sauce to a low boil.
Cook for 5 minutes, then add salt, pepper, and butter after reducing heat to low.
Mix well to ensure the sauce is smooth.
Serve over egg noodles.
I added the water to this for you. Mine was quite salty so I’m reducing the broth and adding some water. Taste as you go and see what you think. I liked this as something different, something easy, and a great use for a ready-made ingredient.
Have I told you lately how I love these meatballs? They’re in my grocery store by the meat/sausages as refrigerated meatballs in smaller packs annnnd they’re in the freezer section for larger re-closeable bags of meatballs. These were caramelized onion meatballs, thus why I didn’t add more onion. You could easily use your own meatballs, beef meatballs, beef broth, etc. Go wild!
I made this chicken and wild rice dinner and loved how quick it was for something a bit different. I don’t make rice that often but maybe I should! It was saucy with tender chicken, and flavorful with some crunchy rice bits. This would be a good make-ahead one.
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 oz wild rice
6 oz brown rice
3 tbs olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 white wine (optional)
2 cups arugula
Cook rice according to packaging. (I used half wild rice half brown rice or use all of one type.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat-high heat.
Add in olive oil, shallots, garlic, and chicken tossed in flour. Flip the chicken after cooking about 3 minutes.
Add in the chicken broth & wine increasing the temperature to high. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the chicken.
Whisk well to incorporate the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Reduce heat to low and cover to thicken.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and layer in the rice, then the chicken, then top with arugula.
Add a bit more flour to thicken sauce if desired.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Bake for 30 minutes.
I loved how tender the chicken was and the rice with a good but simple sauce. The arugula was for color and freshness but the peppery flavor was a really welcome addition. I served it with some roasted cauliflower since the oven was already going and it is a no-fuss side. I try to minimize sides if the main dish is more labor intensive.
I’d make this again and getting the rice prepped would speed it all up. It didn’t take that long but maybe minute rice would help too. I’m thinking chicken and wild rice soup should follow.
Let’s talk about this one-pot wonder. I hadn’t marinated the chicken and was afraid it wouldn’t have enough flavor. News flash: it was flavorful and juicy and the pre-made sundried tomato pesto kicked the sauce onto a whole other level.
I don’t blog pasta too often because it is more of a go-to for an unplanned meal for me but this was so good as were the leftovers! The chicken was the perfect reminder that even without any advance prep, dinner can be ready really easily.
Ingredients: (makes 5-6 servings)
6 chicken tenders
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto
1 tbs chopped garlic
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 box pasta
salt & pepper
Season the chicken tenders.
In a large pan, cook the chicken over medium heat for ~10 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Flipping regularly to cook through.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and slice the chicken into small pieces.
Add the tomato sauce, sundried tomato pesto, garlic
Mix well, add in the water, cream, and the pasta.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir and add the chicken back in.
Cook another 3-5 minutes (or until the pasta is cooked to your liking).
I liked the tweak on regular tomato pasta for this. The sundried tomato pasta is a fun condiment to have on hand and is easier than chopping sundried tomato pieces. It was toned down a bit with the tomato sauce. It was so good and would be good without the chicken.
After apple picking, I knew some dinners should include apples…as well as snacks, breakfasts, and any other occasion this fall. Seriously, the orchard only did big bags so we have a LOT of apples. I hadn’t made a calzone in awhile so that was the winner.
Apples are easily served with brie or baked into some dessert. Well, no brie or soft cheeses for me for another 3 months, and I’m not a big baker.
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, sliced
2-3 chicken sausage links
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone if using one, to 400-degrees.
In a large skillet over medium low heat, gently cook the onion until lightly browned and cooked through.
Slice the sausage and add them to the pan to warm through.
Roll out or spread the dough out. Then drape it onto the pizza stone or pan, off-centered so the toppings will go on the bottom and the excess will fold over.
Layer on the cheese, sausage and onions, and the apple slices.
Keep layering the toppings, even if it seems like it is over filled.
Pull the rest of the dough over the top and pinch to close.
Cut a few slices in the top of the calzone to vent it.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden browned and cooked through.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
I loved this one. I’ll definitely make it again. The apples being raw added a soft crunch to go with the sweet onions and the mild chicken sausage. This is such a fantastic combination. I’d love these flavors as a sub or panini, or as a pizza, or an app of some sort.
Let’s start Monday off gently. This is not going to overwhelm your brain. We had houseguests early last week and I wanted to throw some dinners together on Sunday so we could leisurely visit and not put anyone to work. My thought for these Chicken Parmesan Cups were that it seemed like less work than serving Chicken Parmesan and anything in serving size portions is fun. I was going for a crowd pleaser and something I was pretty familiar with making.
Chicken Parmesan Cups
Yield: 12 muffin cups, ~5 people
Time: prep ~20 min, cook ~20 minutes
1 sheet of puff pastry
sprinkle of flour
5 chicken tenders
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and defrost puff pastry to room temperature.
Cook the chicken until fully cooked through.
When cool enough to handle, chop up the chicken and set aside.
Spray a muffin tin or 12 ramekins with nonstick spray.
Lightly flour a surface to roll out the puff pastry. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick and cut it into 12 squares, about 3×3 inches each.
Lay the puff pastry into the muffin tin.
Divide the chicken into each cup, spoon sauce over, and top with cheeses. (I had some extra puff pastry so I put another mini 1″ square on top)
Bake for 20 minutes, or until puff pastry puffs up and get golden brown.
I loved these. They made serving way easier. I tossed a salad together an poof, dinner was ready. These would be super simple to serve to a crowd since they almost could be eaten by hand.
chicken parmesan cups + baked eggplant = dynamic duo of parm
chicken parmesan cups – tomato sauce – cheese + pot pie fillings (corn, carrots, celery, gravy, etc) = chicken pot pie cups
chicken parmesan cups + ricotta = chicken “lasagna” cups
I had this idea for a Thanksgiving inspired burger but it didn’t seem right for Mr. J’s annual birthday burger, since that’s for June. Now that the air is cooler it seemed perfect! A turkey burger, sharp cheddar, cranberry spread, and one special ingredient boarders the line of grilling season and holiday flavors.
Ingredients: (for 2 burgers)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup stuffing mix
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme or dried sage
cranberry sauce or raspberry jam
2 burger buns
Preheat a grill or grill pan.
Prepare stuffing according to the package.
Mix ground turkey, stuffing, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Form into patties and grill. Spray the grill with non-stick spray since turkey has a lower fat than ground beef, ground pork, etc.
Serve the burgers with cheddar, and cranberry spread.
I didn’t end up getting cranberry sauce because I had some lingonberry jam which has a tartness like cranberries. I mixed it with a touch of mayo for a spread. I also was thinking that chopping up some craisins into the burger would give that flavor too.
The stuffing really wasn’t too much. I thought it might make the the burger heavy but I think the amount was spot-on. Serve with some sweet potato fries for all the flavors you love later in the fall while it is still burger season!
These flavors would be good as turkey meatloaf before Thanksgiving without having to cook a whole turkey.
Or this Thanksgiving Sandwich is fun
or a panini with turkey, brie, and cranberry
A family favorite from our town “house of pizza” is the Chicken Ranchero. It is almost hard to order anything else from there. After 2.5 years of eating this favorite pizza, I decided to recreate it at home.
2 chicken breasts or chicken thighs
3 tbs ranch dressing mix
4 strips of bacon
3 tbs ranch dressing
6 oz shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone, if using one, to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the chicken until cooked through, then remove from the pan and shred. Return to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add ranch dressing mix and a drip of water.
Roll out the pizza dough until 1/4 inch thick. Spread it onto the pizza stone or baking sheet. Poke a few holes with a fork.
Bake for 5 minutes until lightly cooked.
While the dough is cooking, chop each bacon slice into 1/4 inch strips and pan fry until crisp, but until 75% cooked (it crisps more in the oven.
Top the pizza dough with ranch dressing, then cheese, then add the chicken.
Top with bacon, then another sprinkle of ranch mix is optional, lastly a last sprinkle of cheese.
Bake 10 minutes until crust is crisp and cheese melts.
This was a great one. Bacon on any pizza is a winner, but this has some great tried and true flavors that are beautifully uncomplicated. I’m glad I didn’t junk it all up trying to add too many things to it.
I used chicken thighs mostly because it was what I could find in the house, but I think it was a good choice because it didn’t get too dried out. Rotisserie chicken would also stay moist and would speed up the cooking time.