3/11- Starlit Spicy Lemon Chicken Wraps

I, along with the rest of modern civilization, am hooked on Pinterest. It has its disadvantages, such as sucking up all my time that I could be using to be productive, but it has distinctive advantages too. These include, but are not limited to, giving me ideas for things to do with the kids, helping me find ways to decorate my house when we win the gazillion dollar lottery, and finding new recipes to try. My kids are very grateful for the new things we've tried from there, but I think my favorite thing that I've found on Pinterest so far is this recipe. It's so good, in fact, that I'm sitting here blogging about it not more than an hour after I finished eating it. (I usually take at least a week to get around to blogging, folks.) It's THAT good.

Now, the title says "spicy"..... I kind of left that part out. I'm not huge on spicy myself, and I know the kids aren't, so I adapted it a bit. I totally left out the 6 T of hot sauce. I don't even have any hot sauce in the house for the aforementioned reason. I still used the chili flakes and paprika, and even added a dash of cumin. And since it was absolutely gorgeous outside today, I used the real grill- no silly grill pan for this girl if I can help it! (The actual grill is way easier to clean!)

The other changes I made were to use store-bought guacamole mix. I did actually mash up 2 avocadoes, but Food Lion sells this mix that looked good and easy, so I gave it a shot. LOVED it! Easily as good as that Wholly Guacamole stuff, and probably way cheaper. I used light sour cream instead of creme freche, and used regular old lettuce instead of watercress. I'm cheap, what can I say?

The whole family loved it, so it's definitely a keeper. I've actually decided that whoever we have over for the first time this Spring/Summer to grill out will be having this for dinner. :) This is definitely going on my list of favorite grilling recipes!


3/1- Balsamic Chicken

This winter has been one of the strangest winters I can remember with more days in the 50's than in the 30's, and less snow than I ever remember seeing here. I decided to take advantage of one of the warmer days and fire up the grill since it felt more like spring than winter. One of my CL magazines had a page with several different ideas for marinades and ways to cook chicken, and this was one of them. I'm a big fan of balsamic vinegar, so I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed!

The recipe actually calls for a combination of booking in a skillet and then finishing it in the oven..... that just seemed like way too much work and too many dishes, so that was further reason to use the grill. Much easier clean-up!

The chicken was served with steamed broccoli, broccoli alfredo pasta, and grilled pineapple. Delicious!

HH6 February Challenge

Here was February's challenge: In celebration of Valentine's Day, create a dish that represents your relationship with your significant other. (example: the meal you had on your first date, on a vacation together, what you ate before you got engaged, the meal you had at your wedding etc.)

I'm late posting because I couldn't get my act together, but I'm posting nonetheless! When my husband and I were in college, whenever we visited each other, he would run to the store and buy some steaks and then grill them for me. It was something I rarely cooked since chicken is cheaper, so it was kind of a treat. He'd bring candles and set the table and everything, so it was something special and romantic that he'd do for me. It's something we still do once in a while, but not as often as either of us would like.

For this particular meal, I bought super cheap steaks (because I'm trying valiantly, and mostly unsuccessfully, to come in under our grocery budget), covered them with salt and pepper, and grilled them. I find that that way often tastes better than smothering them with some sort of sauce. I served the steaks with garden salad, and broccoli cheddar pasta. As usual, the kids were more into the pasta than the steaks, but Joe and I thought it was all delicious, and enjoyed the memories associated with the meal. :)

Once again, the picture is stuck on my phone, sorry! 

2/26- Chicken Cakes with Horesradish Ailoi

I could've sworn I'd posted about these before, but I didn't see it in my archives so here goes. I apologize if it's a duplicate. I hesitated to make this for a long time because it sounded weird to me, but it's really amazingly good. The food processor makes grinding up the chicken really fast and easy, and from there it's just like mixing up meatloaf or burgers or something. The cakes cook very quickly, and the horseradish sauce is really fast to make as well. It's another quick and easy meal that's very tasty! The kids love it, and R actually like the horseradish sauce! I've never met a not-quite-two year old with such mature taste buds!


2/25- Ginger-Honey Pork Chops

This recipe is actually for a pork tenderloin, but I substituted pork chops instead. Potato, potahto, right? The sauce was really simple to make, and was very flavorful. I'll definitely make this again.


Once again, the picture is stuck on my phone. Humph. Since I generally sit down and do these post in batches, there will be a few more where this is a problem. Lesson learned, but I still have catching up to do, sorry. It looked so pretty and yummy, too!

2/21- Warm Ham with Shallots and Vinegar

Ham steaks usually go over really well with the kids, so when I found this I knew I had to give it a try. It's from my big Cooking Light cookbook, and it's a really fast meal. The recipe actually recommends it for brunch, but it worked very well as an entree for dinner. I served it with scalloped potatoes and mixed veggies. As predicted, the kids inhaled it! Some of the leftovers worked super well in scrambled eggs the next morning. :)


I have a picture on my phone, I thought I could upload it from it but it's just for Android. Phooey.

2/19- Enchilada Casserole

We had friends from Church over for dinner, and I decided to make them gineau pigs for a new dish. I've never made Enchiladas of any kind before, but this recipe seemed super easy so I decided to give it a try. It was super tasty! Adults and kids alike gobbled it up. It's definitely on my list of things to make again. I served it with salad, cilantro rice, and fruit salad. Yum!


2/15- Cheesy Potato Soup

This little gem showed up in one of my recent CL magazines, and I couldn't wait to try it! I absolutely love potato soups, particularly Pargo's from back in the day. This one seemed a bit different though- it uses red potatoes and keeps the skin on. I decided to give it a go because it sounded good, slightly different, and said it only took 40 minutes to make. (In case you were wondering, they told the truth. Dinner was on the table in 45 minutes.)

I didn't notice until I was beginning to cook that the recipe paired it with mini ham sandwiches. Luckily, I had some bread on hand, and just used that to make half-sandwiches of grilled ham and provolone. Went perfectly with it, and helped to round out the meal.

While the soup was delicious, and I'd make it again, I did find it a bit bland and had to add a fair amount of salt to my bowl. I also felt that it was missing some bacon, but I tend to like "loaded" potato soups, so that could just be me. Adding bacon would probably ruin the lightness of the dish too. Nevertheless, I'll probably add it in next time.

2/13- Mongolian Beef

I'm on of the millions who have joined in the Pinterest craze, and this recipe is the result of wasting my time there. :) At least 2 friends of mine have made this and raved about it, so I decided it was my turn to give it a try. I've said on here before that I've been intimidated by Asian food, but this was by far one of the easiest ones I've ever made. No more intimidation here! To top it off, it seriously tasted like it came from a restaurant!

The recipe calls for flank steak, but that's a little too steep for my grocery budget, so I went for the reduced-price grilling steak. I confess that I looked at the price and not the cut of meat, so I can't tell you what it was, but it worked just fine (and it was CHEAP!).The recipe also says it makes 2 servings- I had about a pound and a half of meat, so I 1.5'd the recipe, and it fed all 4 of us, plus had some leftovers for Joe to take to work.

Mongolian Beef Recipe:
makes 2 servings
You will need:

1 lb of flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic (about 2 -3 large cloves)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I think I'll scale this back a bit next time, just to lower the sugar content for the sake of my crazy kids)
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 large green onions, sliced crosswise into thirds

Prepare the meat:
First, make sure the steak slices are dry (pat them dry) and mix them with the corn starch. Using your hands or a spoon, move them around to make sure all pieces are coated. Place beef slices in a strainer and shake off excess corn starch (see picture bellow).
Make the sauce:
Heat half of the oil in a large wok at medium-high and add the garlic and ginger. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Don't worry if the sauce doesn't look thick enough at this point. The corn starch in the beef will thicken it up later.
Cook the meat and assemble dish:
Turn the heat up and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook, stirring until it is all browned (this is a quick thing). Pour the sauce back into the wok and let it cook along with the meat. Now you can choose to cook it down and reduce the sauce or leave it thinner. Add the green onions on the last minute so the green parts will stay green and the white parts crunchy.
Serve it hot with rice.


This was seriously amazingly good, and I can't wait to make it again! Despite the heat in it, both kids devoured it, and I absolutely inhaled it. SO good!! (I also think next time I'll make sure I have broccoli on hand to toss in as well.)

2/12- Honey-Lime Chicken with Coconut Black Bean Rice

This recipe appeared on the page of another one I was looking at, and it looked too good not to check out. Chicken dipped in honey and lime juice, then coated with crushed tortilla chips? Sounds good to me, and I was right! The lime really came through, and the corn chips and honey brough fried ice cream to mind as well. Not that chicken tastes remotely like ice cream, but I think you know what I mean.

Even though it sounded really good as well, I confess I didn't make the rice. I wanted to, but couldn't find coconut milk the 2 places I looked, so I decided not to spend the time and energy scouring town for it. I gave up and made Zatarain's brown dirty rice mix instead. It tasted good and went with the chicken well enough, but I still really want to try this rice. The next time I happen upon coconut milk, I'm grabbing it and hanging on to it for whenever I want to make this again, that's for sure.

Scott was being picky about his chicken again last night, but Rebecca sure chowed down! The adults loved it too.

2/11- Easy Manicotti Florentine

I had some left over Ricotta and Cottage cheese, and wanted to do something other than lasagna with it, so I hit up allrecipes.com. This was one of the search results, and I decided to give it a try. Sure it's sort of like lasagna, but it was different enough for me! It really truly is easy, especially since you stuff the pasta before it's cooked! Pure genius! You mix up the filling, put it all in a zip-loc bag and then cut off a corner of it to make a piping bag, then squirt the filling inside each tube. Viola! Stuffed manicotti!

It's super easy, and really good. Both kids and adults devoured it, so that's a win in my book!

2/9- North Woods Bean Soup

This soup was DELICIOUS. The flavor profile isn't quite what I normally go for, but it sounded so good that I decided to give it a shot. While it wasn't a humongous hit with the kids, it scored big with the husband and me. Now, since it's from CL again, it does call for turkey keilbasa. I didn't even bother trying to find that, especially since I had 3 leftover regular old Italian Sausages in my freezer. I may try it again and go with the turkey, just to see the difference, but it tasted just fine with the regular stuff. I also substituted frozen spinach because I had some on hand.

The sausages I had were already cooked, so that saved some time, but even if it hadn't been this meal would've been fast. I had intended to make some bread that day but forgot, so I got out the Bisquick and made some biscuits instead. I also served it with fruit salad, which didn't exactly go with this very Mediterranean soup, but I love fruit salad, so there! :)

You have got to try this soup, it's awesome!


2/7- Oatmeal Crusted Chicken Tenders

With 2 small kids, how could a girl go wrong with chicken tenders? I got this recipe in an email from Cooking Light and knew I had to try it. Oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, and baking instead of frying? Yes, please! They were delicious, tasted just like regular chicken tenders, and will definitely go on my list of "regulars." They're really quite easy to make, and the kids loved helping me pound out the chicken!


I served them with store-bought frozen fries (a huge treat in our family), and a garden salad. Delicious!

2/4- Nikon Camera Cake

A friend's husband's birthday was last weekend, and she asked me to help her make a cake. He is big into photography (as am I, but he's better), so she wanted to make him a cake exactly like his Nikon D90. It's been a while since I had a reason to make a cake, so I jumped at the chance. It didn't take nearly as long as I expected it to, I was surprised! It was easily the most detailed cake I've done to date, but that actually made it more fun. If I did it again, there are certainly a few things I'd improve on, but they're very minor details like piping pictures on the buttons so they stand out more. Anyway, I was so glad she asked me to help her, and am super pleased with how it turned out!

1/30- Old World Chicken and Vegetables

Nothing quite suits a chilly winter night like a Crock Pot meal. This night was no exception. Well, I guess it was a bit of an exception in the fact that this was my first time ever cutting up a whole chicken. I must say, that's a job I'll happily leave to the butchers at the grocery store, or wherever they actually hack the things up. No thank you. The meal was pretty good, so I guess it was worth it in the end. :)

1 T dried oregano
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 medium green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cut-up whole chicken ( about 3 pounds)
1/3 c ketchup
Hot cooked egg noodles

1. Combine oregan, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper in small bowl; mix well.
2. Place bell peppers and onion in crock pot. Add chicken thighs and legs, sprinkle with half or oregano mixture. Add chicken breasts, and sprinkle with the rest of the oregano mixture. Cover; cook on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours. Stir in ketchup and remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

3. Serve chicken and vegetables over noodles.

1/24- Maple Salmon with Nutmeg Zucchini

Cooking Light strikes again! (Would somebody please tell them I post about their recipes all the time so they'll start to pay me?) I got this from a friend's cook book, and just knew my gang would love it. The kids are pretty big fans of salmon, especially if it's served with some sort of sauce or honey. They're also good about eating vegetables- Scott even told his doctor once that his favorite food was squash and zucchini! Anyway, this is another super fast and super easy meal. I also served it with garlic mini shells.

The recipes both came from "Cooking Light SuperFast Suppers."

Maple-Glazed Salmon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)

Preheat broiler. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Place salmon, skin side down, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Brush with maple mixture. Broil 10 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, brushing with maple mixtures after 5 minutes and again after 10 minutes. Serves 2.

Nutmeg Zucchini
1 Tbsp butter
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 small or 2 large)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, and saute 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg

 [I didn't shred it, I just halved the zucchinis and then sliced them up horizontally. I didn't feel like having a food processor to clean that night. It worked just as well, I think.]
Serves 2 (serving size: 3/4 cup)

I was so hungry that night that I forgot to take a picture of the food until it was gone!

1/17- Rosemary Chicken and Cranberry Almond Cous Cous

This meal wasn't exactly planned, it was one of those "Oh shoot, I somehow don't have what I need for what I planned to make and I have to come up with something fast!" nights. I was surprised at how well it turned out though, especially the cous cous.

For the chicken, I just thawed some breasts and then cooked them in a skillet with a little butter, salt, pepper, and rosemary. (I think... I didn't exactly write down what I did, and I am posting this almost a month later. Go me.) Pretty simple and not particularly inspired, but tasty.

The cous cous was more inspired though. I added some lemon juice to the water and butter that it cooked in. While I waited for the water to boil, I toasted some sliced almonds in the toaster oven. Once the cous cous was done, I mixed in some craisins and the almonds, and I think some lemon zest (again, can't quite remember). I thought it was delicious, and the family agreed.

The whole meal was ready in about 20 minutes if I recall. Definitely an easy, tasty, fast week-night meal!

1/16- HH6 January Challenge: Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Risotto

The challenge for this month was: Prepare a dish that you have never made before but always wanted to try. Tell us why you have taken quite some time to make this dish.

Something that I've always been a bit intimidated by is risotto. You have to stir it constantly, which is difficult to do with 2 small kids who always need my attention one way or another. You have to make sure it's cooked all the way through, which you don't really have to do with normal rice. Top Chef contestants have been sent home for risotto, for Pete's sake! If THEY can't do it, how can I?? This challenge made me man up, though. It was time to conquer my fears and attempt to make something myself that I've eaten before and absolutely loved. (Brian Voltaggio's butternut squash risotto at VOLT was by far the best I've had, and I have no delusions of ever topping that.)

Anyway, for this challenge I not only decided to brave making risotto, I decided to completely make up the dish I was making. I normally hunt up a recipe online and follow that, but not this time! (Ok, I did look up how to make a basic risotto, but the rest was all me.) I had some bell peppers, an onion, and half a butternut squash in the fridge, so I chopped it all up, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and basil, and tossed it in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes. I then cooked up a pack of Sweet Italian Sausage and sliced it after it rested for a bit. I made the risotto with chicken broth, and then tossed the vegetables and sausage in the pot and mixed it all up. I had originally intended to serve the veggies and sausage on top of the risotto, but I decided to mix them together to enhance the flavor of the risotto. I was skeptical of how it would turn out, but it was delicious! Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how it came together. [Well, to be honest, the rice was a tiny bit undercooked, but that was more because I knew everyone was really hungry and that I had to leave soon so I just took it off the stove and served it up, al dente or not.]

1/15- Homemade Pizza

I know I've posted about pizza before, but I tried a new crust this time so I figured it deserved a post of its own. We usually have Pizza Hut every Friday with my parents, but they were on a missions trip to Belize so they weren't exactly available. While I LOVE Pizza Hut, I decided to make our own pizza and to try to do it even more healthfully than I have before. The whole family loves the Honey Wheat Bread I make, so I decided to give a honey wheat pizza crust a try. It was a big hit! Well, actually, both kids are sick right now and hardly ate anything, but the adults sure liked it! I did a Hawaiian pizza (a requirement in this house), and a veggie pizza for the grown-ups. It's definitely a crust that I'll make again!

I just googled "honey wheat pizza crust" and clicked through the links that came up until I found one that I liked. This one was the winner:


1/12- Venison steaks with Rosemary Red Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables

Thanks to an old friend of mine, I got to try my hand at venison for the first time!(Well, technically the second time, but I hardly think substituting ground venison for ground beef in Hamburger Helper in an empty house with a big cooler for a kitchen table just days before moving halfway across the country counts.) So my friend Matt um..... ahem.... aqcuired some venison and generously passed some along to us. He's a good guy to know. :)

I used this recipe as inspiration: Sirloin with Tarragon Garlic Sour Cream. Since I had Round Steaks to use, I just substituted the meat. I was told to cook the venison on fairly low heat so that it would cook slowly. I put the steaks in the pan, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and let them gently simmer until I could see the juices coming out the top of the steaks. Then I flipped them. Since it was wild game, I cooked it all the way through instead of leaving it a bit pink like I normally like steak. Once it was done, I took it off the heat and should have let it rest for a few minutes, but dinner was late so I just sliced it right up (against the grain). It was tender and juicy, and paired perfectly with the Sour Cream sauce! I served the steaks with my Rosemary Red Potatoes, and roasted vegetables.

The kids were a little hesitant aboutthe venison, but they tend to be that way with plain old steak too. Scott is deathly afraid of eating fat in meats, so he's weird about just about anything but chicken. Rebecca is teething so she's just weird all around right now. She devoured the sauce, though, mustard and all! Anyway, after a little convincing, and a little honey, they both ate the venison just fine.

Rosemary Red Potatoes:

3-5 red potatoes, depending on how many you're feeding
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed rosemary

Cut up potatoes in a big dice- kind of like home fries. Heat oil in a pan, then add potatoes. Stir around to coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally so the potatoes can get brown and crispy on the edges. (I find that putting the lid on helps them cook faster.)

Roasted Vegetables:

1/2 small butternut squash
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
2 carrots
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Preheat oven to 400*. Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Cut up vegetables and toss in dish to coat. Season with salt, pepper, tarragon, and garlic. Toss again. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with foil to speed up cooking if needed.

1/11- Almond Chive Salmon

Well this one wasn't such a hit with either of the kids, but the parents sure liked it! It's super easy, and really flavorful. The herbs and lemon really come through. I served it with rice, green beans, and fruit salad. (I cooked the rice in chicken broth to give it a little more flavor.) I'll definitely be adding this one to my list of salmon favorites!

I actually didn't have any chives and substituted Dill. I really liked it, but plan to try it again with chives once my herb garden is going again in the Spring/Summer.


1/4- Creamy Four-Cheese Macaroni

So it's once again been quite a while since I posted on here. The Holidays got the best of me! I cooked quite a bit, but forgot to take pictures, must less post about anything. Anyway, this was our dinner one night, and it was delicious! It's another Cooking Light recipe that lived up to my expectations! I think they intended it to be a side dish, so I added some cubed cooked ham to it to beef it up for the entree. I served it with green peas. Try it, the kids gobbled it up!