Grilled Chicken

Oh my goodness, the weather has been gorgeous the last few days, whoo hoooo!  Sunshine and warm temperatures.  I am one very happy girl.  To celebrate, I marinated some boneless, skinless chicken in a lemon garlic marinade and we grilled them for dinner.

chx and orzo

I paired the chicken with a roasted carrot and orzo salad.  My husband LOVES this salad.  It is super easy to make, roast carrots and garlic in the oven, make a dressing of lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, the roasted garlic, and olive oil.  Add in a bunch of sliced scallions and a generous handful of minced dill.   John prefers this dish hot, as soon as I add the cooked orzo to the dressing and carrots, he digs in.  I actually like it room temperature and it can be served cold, it really is incredibly versatile. A few years back, I felt like we were in a summer salad rut – coleslaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad – were all I was making.  I put a moratorium on those three salads and started pulling out cookbooks and scouring the internet for other ideas.  We had some great dishes that summer, but this one had endured, year after year.  It makes a great leftover cold lunch – just slice some chicken, put it on a bed of the salad, and take it to the office.

I really wanted broccoli again, but settled for cauliflower instead.  It made for a very vanilla looking dinner, but it tasted good so who cares!

BBQ Pork Chops

Once again, we were able to grill our dinner and eat on the deck – I need this streak to continue!  One of the reasons I love living in the Mid Atlantic region is the seasons.  During the winter months it is slow roasted meats and pots of soup, early spring is fresh and green, summer is all about the grill at our house.

I picked up two thick cut boneless pork chops from the butcher counter.  I seasoned them with Penzey’s Pork Chop Seasoning.  John grilled them while I made a batch of mac and cheese.  What is it about pasta, cheese, and milk that so addicting?  I mean really, it should be illegal.  Once I slid that into the oven, I prepped the broccoli for steaming.

The hubby slathered the pork chops with a tangy BBQ sauce while I cooked the broccoli.

pork

It was definitely a fan favorite dinner  – I mean seriously, how can you go wrong with sweet, tangy BBQ pork, melty cheesy pasta and tender vibrant broccoli. The plate was colorful, flavorful, and absolutely delicious.

Buffalo Chicken Celery Bites

Superbowl Sunday we were invited to our neighbors for a party.  I was exhausted from working an insane amount of hours, but I was excited to be invited.  I feel like everyone hibernates in the winter, we just don’t seem to do as much socializing in January and February.  Anyway, I had to work all weekend, which didn’t leave me a whole lot of time to come up with a fun appetizer.  I scoured the internet looking for inspiration and came across this recipe.

I thought, what a great idea, buffalo chicken dip that you use to fill celery sticks. BRILLIANT!  Anyway, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, well, because, let’s face it, I hardly ever do, and two, I didn’t want to have to go to the store.

I used the Frank’s Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce already in my fridge, added shredded chicken, a generous palmful of blue cheese crumbles, and the cream cheese.

After cleaning and drying the celery, I filled it with the mixture, cut it and plated it.  I drizzled ranch dressing over the top and added green onions for color, texture, and flavor.  They were a huge hit.  A bit messy to eat, but really delicious and low carb to boot!

buffalo chicken celery

I think next time I will use a bit less sauce and add some more blue cheese crumbles.  These are definitely going on my go to list of appetizers – they are super easy to make and they taste awesome.

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on their Superbowl win.  It was an incredible boon for the city AND our offices closed Thursday so everyone could attend/watch the parade.  How amazing is that!

Minestrone

The hubby and I are both soup lovers and whenever I have a day off from Fall until early Spring, you can usually find a pot of soup on the stove.

I ended up being off on Sunday, because the event that was SUPPOSED to take place was postponed so that the attendees could all stay home and watch the Eagles in the Super Bowl.  Gotta love a town that puts football before all else! Anyway, the weather was yucky, snow, followed by sleet, and I decided we needed a warm, comforting bowl of soup.

One of the things I love about soup is that you can add a ton more veggies than the recipe calls for and no one (OK, in this house, my husband) is none the wiser!  I will get that man to eat more veggies if it is the last thing I do….

minestrone

Since we just came off a month of vegetarian meals, I decided not to torture him with a vegetarian soup, so I added a pound of ground hot italian sausage to the soup pot.

sausage

I started by sauteing my mirepoix (diced onion, carrot, and celery) in the stock pot.  I added a bit of salt, pepper, and oregano and let that cook for about 10 minutes while I finished prepping the rest of the vegetables.   I diced up two zucchini and a pound of green beans.  I minced four cloves of garlic.  One the onions, carrots, celery were tender, I added the garlic and four cups of chicken broth.  I brought the broth to boil, turned it down to a simmer and let it cook for twenty minutes.  I added in a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, the zucchini and green beans, along with a can of drained and rinsed kidney beans and a can of drained and rinsed white beans.  In went the browned sausage and another four cups of broth.

After simmering on the stove for an hour, I added four cups of fresh spinach.  While the spinach cooked down, I cooked a box of orecchiette pasta.  I added pasta to the bottom of our bowls and added a ladle of soup.  Perfect mid winter meal, if I do say so myself!  AND it will give me lunch for a few days this week.

The end is here!

Well folks, we made it, the end of January, without alcohol, meat, or sweets!   Of course the hubby couldn’t stick with the whole dry January thing, but he did forgo meat and sweets.  I don’t think it would have been possible for him without the option of seafood, but hey, whatever works, right!?

mexican style stuffed peppers

Our “last” vegetarian meal of January 2018 was Mexican style stuffed peppers.  I cooked up a batch of rice and added a can of black beans, a jar of salsa, a bag of corn, shredded cheddar cheese, sauteed zucchini and onions, and some minced jalapeno’s.   I steamed the peppers, then filled them with the rice mixture.

I whisked together 6 oz of white wine and a large can of enchilada sauce and poured it around the peppers.  I covered the dish with foil and baked it at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  I took off the foil, and let it cook another 15 minutes.  Originally, I was going to add some more shredded cheese to the top of the peppers, but I decided against it.  We certainly didn’t need the added fat or calories in this dish.

They were really good, in fact, the hubby is interested in having them again…..if I add some ground beef to the mix, of course!

Risotto with Asparagus

Back in the beginning of January, I made a big batch of parmesan broth.  I portioned it out into four cup servings and froze it.   It was the perfect base for risotto!   I knew risotto for dinner was not an option for the hubby, he needs (or THINKS he needs) more sustenance than that so for him, I baked a piece of Salmon to accompany the risotto.

salmon risotto

I rounded out dinner with a store bought kale salad mix.   The plate looked so pretty, almost to pretty to eat!

I find making risotto to be relaxing, I know that isn’t the case for everyone.   It truly is easy to make and doesn’t take that long to prepare.  Truly, about thirty minutes, start to finish and you can add some many different vegetables to change the flavor profile.

For this batch, I roasted the asparagus, then cut it into bit sized piece.  While it was roasting, I minced a bit of onion and sauteed it in some olive oil.  Once the onion was soft, I added the rice, stirring to coat it with the oil.  I let that cook for a few minutes before deglazing the pan with white wine.  Once the wine was reduced, I started ladeling in the parmesan broth.   Risotto is usually a 5 to 1 ratio of liquid to rice.   For this batch, I wanted it extra creamy and luscious, so I used a total of 8 cups of liquid.  Four parmesan broth and four vegetable broth.  Once the rice was tender, I added in some grated parmesan cheese and the asparagus.  It was DELICIOUS! If I do say so myself.

Vegetarian Taco Soup in the Crock Pot

I really needed an easy recipe that I could throw in the crock pot before I left for work.  I searched google and found this one on the The Spruce.  Of course, I didn’t follow it EXACTLY, but then again, when do I ever!  It was definitely more stew than soup, which is perfect for us, we LOVE our soups to be very hearty.

I used what I had on hand rather than following the recipe exactly.  Instead of canned corn, I used a full bag of frozen.  I had an open can of white beans, a very large can of red kidney beans, and a 14oz can of black beans.  I put all of that in a bowl, and tossed it with a packet of taco seasoning.  I added more cumin and garlic and two 14oz cans of Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies.

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I was able to do all of this the night before so right before I left for work, I was able to transfer the items from the bowl to the crock pot, set it and leave for work.  It didn’t look like there was enough liquid so I added an 8 ounce container of vegetable stock to the mix.

When I got home, the house smelled amazing!  I steamed a bit of rice, honestly because I wasn’t sure the hubby would be satisfied with a bean soup without meat.  I thought he might ladle the beans over the rice and not even notice the lack of meat – and guess what, I was RIGHT!

taco soup

A little shredded cheese added to the top and dinner was served.  It was super easy, delicious and very, very filling.  I will certainly make this again, although the hubby has asked if next time I can add some ground beef to the pot, so we once again gained a new recipe for February!