Lemon Garlic Chicken

Several months ago, some girlfriends and I got together for a freezer cooking party.  Having attended several commercially-run events over the past few years, we decided to try our hands at creating our own menu and shopping list.  This allowed us to share ingredients and accommodate a variety of allergies and preferences.  And I must say, the effort was well worth it!

This recipe was intended for the crock pot, but Husband and I are picky about chicken meals. Unless you plan to shred the chicken for tacos, for example, whole chicken breasts can come out a bit rubbery after being in a slow cooker all day. So for an easy Monday meal, I defrosted this freezer bag recipe and pan-seared the chicken in a seasoned steel skillet. This was so delicious served over steamed rice with a quick pan gravy.

(RE: Lodge Seasoned Steel – if you don’t know, now you know.)

Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp minced parsley
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lemon zest
Salt to taste

Preparation Instructions

Place all ingredients into a gallon-size freezer bag, Mix well to ensure chicken is coated, then place in freezer.

The night before serving, move the freezer bag to the refrigerator to defrost.

For slow cooker preparation: cook for 5 hours on high, or 7 hours on low.

For pan-seared preparation with gravy (optional, but highly recommended): Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to pan and turn heat to medium-high. While pan heats up, use meat tenderizer to flatten the chicken breasts until they have even thickness throughout. Sear chicken for 4 minutes on one side. Flip to other side and cook for another 4 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove chicken from pan.

With heat still on medium-high, add 3 Tbsp flour to the pan and stir quickly with a fork or whisk until absorbed. Slowly add in 1 cup milk while stirring, continuing to stir until gravy reaches desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Easy Buffalo BBQ Meatballs

Some nights you feel like getting fancy, and other nights it’s a miracle that you don’t give up and order pizza. This recipe was created on one of those “other” nights. Sometimes it’s fun to grab some random items from the freezer and fridge and hope for the best!
I saw the meatballs in the freezer and immediately thought of buffalo BBQ sauce, so I perused several recipes online before throwing this one together. It’s a bit too spicy for kids, but Husband and I like spicy food and this did the trick for sure. My made-up recipe turned out super yummy, and has practically zero prep time! Served with fries and green beans, we had a meal in minutes.
Easy Buffalo BBQ Meatballs
1 package bite-size frozen meatballs
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot original sauce

4 Tbsp barbecue sauce

3 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp apricot preserves
1 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
Preparation Instructions 
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a deep baking dish with cooking spray and place frozen meatballs in the dish. In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients until blended. Pour sauce over the meatballs and stir until all meatballs are coated. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes or until hot throughout.

Bread Machine Naan

One time (yes, just one time) I made Indian food at home. I thought the chicken curry was yummy, but it stained my black spatula yellow for weeks, and Husband complained about the smell in the house for just as long. This is also how I learned that he had a college apartment that was above an Indian restaurant, thus suppressing any appetite for Indian food he might have had.

None of this stopped me when I saw a friend post this recipe on Facebook. It’s bread! And bread is the best.

I’m so glad I tried this one out.  Super easy, fun to do, and incredibly delicious.  Warm buttered bread fresh out of the oven just can’t be beat.  The whole family gobbled it up!  Looking forward to my next batch already.

Substitutions: No substitutions on ingredients, but I did tweak the process a bit to make it even simpler.  I put the initial ingredients into the bread machine bowl, waited 5 minutes, then added all the remaining ingredients directly into the bread machine bowl as well.

Adapted from original recipe at Food.com.

Bread Machine Naan

2/3 cup warm skim milk
2 teaspoons melted butter
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 lb all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 large egg
2 teaspoons sugar, divided

Preparation Instructions
In the bowl of your bread machine, combine warm milk with yeast, butter, and 1 tsp sugar.  Wait 5 minutes.  Add the other 1 tsp sugar and all remaining ingredients into the bread machine bowl.  Set the bread machine to the dough setting and let it run through the complete cycle.

When the bread machine has almost finished the dough cycle, preheat your oven to 500.  When bread machine cycle is done, take dough out and separate it into six equal sections.  Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten dough out to ovals about 1/3 inch thick.  When oven has pre-heated, place rounds on pre-heated baking stone or heavy baking sheet.

Bake on top shelf of the oven for 1-3 minutes, watching carefully throughout; the naan should start to puff up like a balloon.  Switch the oven from bake to broil for an additional minute and broil until the top starts to brown.  When brown on top, remove from oven and cover with a towel while you finish baking the remaining loaves.  Brush the warm naan with butter before serving.

Slow Cooker Burgundy Pot Roast

Last week, I opened a bottle of red, excited about drinking a glass with dinner… but the wine was terrible. I’m no wine snob, but I couldn’t even finish the glass. So I popped the cork back in and wondered what on earth I was going to do with the rest of that wine. Clearly, this called for a cooking experiment!

I started scrounging through the freezer and found a good looking beef roast. Using up ingredients I already had at home, I made Sunday dinner in the crockpot and managed to use up some of the less-than-palatable wine in the process.

Roast with veggies, homemade creamed corn, some redneck garlic bread (yes, those are sandwich rolls), and Olympic Track & Field made for a great night!  Husband thought the wine flavor was a touch too strong.  I don’t agree, but if you want the wine flavor to be very subtle, I would substitute 1/2 cup of the wine with water.

Slow Cooker Burgundy Pot Roast

Large beef pot roast (I started from frozen)
1 cup red wine
2 cups water
1 packet Lipton Beefy Onion Soup mix
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups baby carrots
1 onion, cut into wedges

Preparation Instructions

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  Place roast in the middle of the pot, then add carrots and onions around the sides.  Pour in wine and water, then add soup mix and spices to the liquid and gently stir a bit to mix in.  Cook on low for 10 hours or until meat is tender and falls apart with fork.

Summer Garden Soup

It was the perfect confluence of events, really. While scrolling through Pinterest, I saw a chicken noodle soup recipe that looked really good. Then I got to thinking about the huge bowl of fresh produce on my kitchen counter that needed to be cooked.

You don’t have an overflowing amount of homegrown veggies on your counter? Well then obviously you don’t know Mr. Winston, our buddy and resident neighborhood gentleman farmer and tractor driver. Big Boy and Little Boy are enamored, naturally.

This is a great recipe for using an assortment of veggies. It would also be good for those who have run out of ideas with a CSA box. It’s rare that I make up a recipe on the fly, but this one turned out great so I’m delighted to share. Use whatever you have and see how it goes! I even threw in some leftover canned corn from the boys’ dinner.

When Husband came home and saw me at the stove, he exclaimed, “Oh great, soup! Perfect for this chilly summer day!” Oops.

Summer Garden Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
1.5 quarts water
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup diced carrots
3 stalks celery, diced
8 mini new potatoes, diced
2 yellow squash, diced
1/3 cup yellow corn
1 package Reames Frozen Egg Noodles
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp garlic salt
Black pepper to taste
1/3 cup milk

1 tbsp lemon juice  

Preparation Instructions
Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and minced garlic; sauté under tender and fragrant. Add chicken broth and water. Bring to a low boil. Add squash, corn, potatoes, butter, and spices. Bring back to a rolling boil. Add the frozen noodles to the pot and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add milk and continue to boil for 5 minutes or until noodles are soft and broth has thickened. Stir in lemon juice before serving.

Creamy Fruit Dip

Easiest recipe ever?  Probably.

Many thanks to Grandma and Aunt Marcie for teaching me how to make this extraordinarily simple treat.  Lots of extended family gathered at Grandma and Pap Pap’s house during our recent trip to West Virginia to see us and the boys — and to enjoy a smorgasbord of delicious snacks and dips.  I’ve never been a big fan of fruit dips, but I tried this one and couldn’t keep myself away from seconds… and thirds…

I made it this past weekend for a dinner party and we ate every last bite.  Looks like I’ve got a new regular for the rotation!

Substitutions: To save a few calories, I used the Kroger Greek Cream Cheese made with greek yogurt.

Creamy Fruit Dip

1 (7 oz.) container marshmallow fluff
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
Maraschino cherry juice
Chopped fruit for dipping (I love strawberries, red grapes, pineapple)

Preparation Instructions
Stir together marshmallow fluff and cream cheese until smooth.  Add cherry juice a splash at a time, stirring until desired flavor and pink color is reached.  Chill before serving.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Some recipes are so simple and so yummy, you almost want to kick yourself for forgetting about them for long stretches of time.  King Ranch Chicken is one of those recipes for me.

You get the comfort food aspect of casserole, the fun of lasagna-style assembly, and the deliciousness of things covered in cheese.  What more is there to love?  This week I was scheduled to bring meals to a couple of families, so I turned my kitchen into a chicken factory and got to work boiling, chopping, layering, and baking!  Tripling this recipe was quite easy – just make sure to use a very large pan when sautéing the veggies so you don’t run out of room for the sauce.

The casserole is rumored to have originated from the famous King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas. My paternal grandmother was an alumna of the teacher’s college now known as Texas A&M Kingsville, so naturally, this was one of her regular dinner staples! Southern Living calls this a church covered dish classic, and when I suggested I would bring it for my Yankee friend, she said she obviously didn’t have enough church suppers in her life. I think it’s just a shortage of Texan grandmothers!

Layers in progress…

Substitutions: I used butter instead of margarine.  For the chicken, I boiled boneless skinless chicken breasts for about 20 minutes, then cut them into large bite-size pieces once they cooled.  I also used kitchen scissors to cut the tortillas into pieces.

You can kick up the heat with Ro*Tel Hot or hot sauce, if you like things spicy!

This recipe adapted from the one found on the Ro*Tel website.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Cooking spray
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 can (10-3/4 oz each) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (10-3/4 oz each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
12 corn tortillas (6 inch), torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat, then add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in both soups, undrained tomatoes and chicken.

In your dish, layer one-third each of tortillas, chicken mixture and cheese. Repeat layers twice more. Bake uncovered 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.