Asian Shrimp Salad – An easy summer salad

Do you like light, summer salads?  If you do, then look no further than this Asian Shrimp Salad!  Bonus points for this being a super easy recipe!

Asian Shrimp Salad

Long time readers won’t be surprised to find out that this Asian Shrimp Salad recipe originated from one of our Plated.com boxes.  My husband and I love Plated to the point where even on the weeks that we don’t get a box, at least a few of the meals I make are originally Plated meals.

This one is a particular favorite since it takes our love of Asian flavors and mixes it with a healthy salad and protein.  I also like this recipe due to that fact that it can be made on the grill which is my favorite way to cook in the summer.  Oh yeah, it also has fresh mint which I absolutely love!  Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

Unless you already have skewers (which I don’t know how many of us do) I would recommend a grill mat (affiliate link) as an easy way to make these on the grill.  If you don’t like to grill or don’t have a grill, these are just as easy to make on the stove top.  Either the grill or the stovetop use medium high heat with the shrimp being on just long enough to turn opaque.  Usually a couple of minutes on each side.

One other bit of advice, keep in mind that red onion has a strong flavor.  I tend to like to keep my red onion to a minimum so I actually add the onion after I plate it so that I can control how much I add to each of our plates.

I hope you that your family enjoys this as much as Mike and I do!

Steaks on the Grill – a family favorite!

 

 

Steaks on the grill is a staple in our household.  We do a lot of grilling at our house and steak is one of our go-to meals.  For a long time I was banned from the grill as that was my husband’s territory.  However, when he started working his funky hours I needed to get handle on how to properly grill.

 

Steaks on the grill

When I first took over grilling, I was a bit apprehensive.  If you think about it, it was a bit crazy.  After all, I’ve been cooking for years and how hare could steaks on the grill be!  Brats and hamburgers I learned were pretty simple.  Steaks, those were still a little overwhelming until I got the hang of it.

Steak can get a little pricey and if I wanted to add it into our regular summer rotation, I needed to find a way to do so economically.  Our go to steak is a New York Strip.  Don’t ask me why, we just love them.  There’s a small, local gourmet grocery store with the BEST New York Strips where we can spend about $20/lb.  They are delicious but, not quite in our weekly budget.  Our regular grocery store sells prime New York Strips (usually grass fed but not always) for about $15/lb.  That’s definitely a better price but I tend to look for the smallest steaks which doesn’t make my husband a happy boy.

Enter the whole beef loin.  Our grocery store sells end pieces of a choice whole beef loin for $5/lb.  Yep, you read that right, $5/lb.  As you can guess, at that price there’s a little bit of work to be done!  When I first noticed these loins earlier this year I went ahead and bought it knowing I’d be able to cut it up but not quite sure how it would work.  After doing a bit of online research, I came across this tutorial that helped me cut up the loin into New York Strip steaks.  All I can say is be careful, at times it was a bit like wrestling a greased pig but I did get the hang of it after a while, without losing any fingers!  The steaks turned out delicious and inexpensive enough for us to add it into our weekly menu.  Success!

You know you’ve been successful when the next day your husband says to you “I can’t believe how good those steaks were that you cooked yesterday.  I was a little worried but they were really good!”

Chicken Caprese over Spinach Salad

It’s a well known fact that we are chicken lovers around here and this Chicken Caprese is one of our absolute favorites!  We received this recipe in one of our Plated.com boxes last year and it immediately made it into our weekly menu planner.

Chicken Caprese

When I’m planning our menu, I need at least one meal that keeps well and travels well for Mike to take to work.  This Chicken Caprese recipe does just that.  I usually add in a couple more chicken breasts (the cheese mixture usually makes more than the four breasts the recipe calls for) so that Mike has left overs for a couple of days.  Although I originally serve this with a salad, for leftovers Mike likes to put it on a onion bagel.

If I can offer one bit of advice, it would be to splurge on some high quality Parmesan cheese.  For years, my go to was the old stand-by in the green shaker but oh my goodness, there is nothing like a high quality Parmesan cheese to amp up the taste.

When you are cooking this on the stovetop, be sure that the pan is hot, but not to hot.  I usually put the heat on about a 6 – 6.5 so that it gets a golden brown without burning.  Don’t be afraid to turn the chicken multiple times if you need to, that helps me not to burn it!  If you need to, add more olive oil to help the chicken cook evenly.

Also, while pounding the chicken out is a bit of a pain, it helps the chicken to cook evenly and acts as a tenderizer.  It is definitely worth taking the time to do it.  It you’re like me and don’t have a meat mallet, just pull the heaviest kitchen utensil you have out.  Trust me, that will work too!

I hope your family enjoys this meal as much as mine does!

Manchego and Fig Jam Burger

We have our son Michael to than for our love affair with this Manchego and Fig Jam Burger.  He, along with his girlfriend, bought a copy of Bob’s Burgers Burger Book (affiliate link)and shared this recipe with us.  They have been having a lot of fun with trying all the different recipes in the book.  It only took us making the Manchego and Fig Jam Burger once and we were hooked!

Manchego and Fig Jam Burger

Before you start looking for the ingredients to make this burger, I do need to warn you that it tends to be a tad bit expensive.  Manchego cheese at our grocery store runs about $20/lb.  I usually look for the smallest block of cheese which I can normally pick up for $5 – 7.  Depending upon how many burgers we make, this will allow us to have these burgers 1 or 2 times.  Fig jam can be expensive as well.

I do have to admit, not all fig jam is created equal so be careful with what you buy  There has been fig jam that I bought and needed to get rid of because I just didn’t like the taste.  Given that it’s a bit expensive I now stick with the tried and true.  I personally LOVE Davina’s Orange Fig Spread (affiliate link) which I find at Festival Foods by the gourmet cheeses.  In the store I am usually able to get it for about $6 which is cheaper than I found it on Amazon.

To make this recipe even easier, I like to buy pre-formed hamburger patties that I can pull out of the freezer and cook as needed.  I usually cook a few more burgers than needed so that Mike and Belle have left-overs to eat for lunch.

White Chicken Chili – A Great Way to Stay Warm this Winter

White Chicken Chili is a regular in our winter menu, making its appearance on the weekends and for lunch during the week.   Living in the frigid north means finding those meals that fill the belly and give you that inner warmth.  This chili fits the bill!

White Chicken Chili

 Although my husband loves my red chili, my go to is the white.  As I strive to eat out less at lunch during the week, I’ve found that a crockpot full of White Chicken Chili made on the weekends helps me stay true to that goal.
 Out of curiosity, I’ve tried to find the origins of white chicken chili, but there was no information to be found.  Regular chili seems to have originated in Texas sometime in the 1700 or 1800’s.    It would appear that it was an inexpensive way to easily feed a bunch of cowboys on the range  My guess is somewhere along the line somebody probably tried to healthy it up.
This recipe originally came from Weight Watchers.  At the time (many, many years ago) a cup was worth one point.  Given the changes that the program has made over the years, I have no idea how it would fit into their plan now.  I just know that it’s reasonably healthy and tastes fantastic.
 I’ve shared the recipe as I originally received it, but I’ve made a few tweaks to it over time.  Instead of 2 cups of chicken broth, I like to use a tablespoon or so of chicken base and one cup of water.  It makes the chili a little richer and less watery.  I also use extra mozzarella cheese because, well, it’s cheese! Fresh baked bread or a garlic breadstick is a perfect accompaniment to this chili.
This chili freezes great so get some small freezer containers (personal sized are my favorite for easy meals) and stock up.  You’ll thank yourself when you’re looking for something tasty to eat on the go.

Steak Fajitas Recipe With Guacamole

We first tried this Steak Fajitas recipe about two years ago when it showed up in our Plated.com box.  It was one of those meals that were so fantastic; Mike wanted me to cook it the following week again.  Sadly, since that time I think I’ve only made it a couple of time.  Recently we were going through some of our old recipe cards, and we found this one.  It had been a while since we had made it, so I added it to our menu.  Yikes!  I forgot how much I loved it!  Since I liked it so much (and my original pictured totally sucked!), I decided to update the image and re-share the recipe with you.  This is one of those recipes that is super easy and taste awesome.  My favorite kind of recipe!

Steak Fajitas

The recipe as written below calls for adding some hot sauce into the guacamole but I left it out and put double the hot sauce in the marinade.  That was just a personal preference on my part as I don’t like hot and spicy guacamole.  I also made the guacamole, took out half for me and then added the jalapeno for Mike.  He likes the jalapenos much more than I do. One quick tip, if you want to save time go ahead and buy pre-made guacamole (you obviously won’t need the guacamole ingredients), it may not be as tasty but it will be easier and who can complain about that?

One other recommendation that I would have is to cut the steak into bite size pieces instead of strips.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was more worried about the picture of the steak fajitas versus the eating ability, so I left the steaks in strips. Cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces will simplify the eating process.

If you like fajitas (feel free to substitute chicken for the steak if you’d like), I would highly encourage you to try this recipe as it was one of the best ones that I’ve tried.  You can bet that we’ll be having this again sometime soon!

Carrot Cookies – A Family Favorite

 These carrot cookies are a family recipe from when I was quite young.  Many, many years ago my mother belonged to a monthly recipe club.  I remember her having a large, avocado green recipe box with dessert cards that arrived monthly.  This recipe is one of two remaining cards my mother has kept and one of our family favorites that is made year after year.

Carrot Cookies

The cookies by themselves are a little plain but the frosting makes them pop so I am very generous with the frosting. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does.

Carrot Cookies

  • 1 cup shortening (I use half butter/half shortening)
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 cup mashed carrots
    2 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 cut shredded coconut
    2 cups flour

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and carrots. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt – stir in coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonful about 2″ apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Batter is loose, not your typical cookie dough. Note: Use the coconut even if you don’t typically like coconut. You don’t really taste it and it will change the consistency of the cookie

Orange Juice Frosting

  • 3 tablespoons soft butter
    1 1/2 cup powder sugar
    2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    1 tablespoons orange juice

Blend butter and sugar, stir in orange peel and orange juice.  Beat until smooth.  As I stated I go pretty heavy on the frosting so I triple this recipe. I also use the juice from a real orange since I’m zesting the orange peel.  Do not add vanilla to the frosting, it tints the frosting and detracts from the orange flavor.

Here are a couple of tips I’ve learned over the years to make the carrot cookies the best they can be.

  • Keep the batter in the refrigerator while baking.  If this batter gets warm the cookies tend to spread
  • These cookies do not brown like typical cookies so just make sure they look fully cooked (i.e. don’t look runny)
  • Instead of cooking my carrots with water I cook them with some orange juice.  This gives a little additional flavor to the cookie itself.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of orange zest on the top of the cookies for additional visual appeal.

Enjoy!  I’d love to hear if your family liked them or not.

Mediterranean Chicken with Tzatziki

This Mediterranean Chicken recipe was recently included in one of our Plated.com boxes.  What I really liked about it was that it used a lot of fresh produce.  In fact, if you are looking to stretch this meal a little further you could add another ear or two of corn and another small zucchini to the recipe and you’d be able to serve another person or two.  A further way that this recipe could be modified would be to add whatever other fresh produce you have on hand.

Mediterranean Chicken

In addition to a lot of fresh produce, the recipe is basically a one-skillet recipe.  One-skillet recipes really help make kitchen clean-up after cooking a lot easier!

Nutella Brioche Bread Pudding

Nutella was first introduced to my family a few years ago when we had a German exchange student.  Prior to that, we had NEVER had it in our house.  Crazy, isn’t it?  I’d like to say it was a life changing experience and we eat gobs of it all the time, alas that isn’t that case.  Although Nutella hasn’t been introduced as a permanent fixture in our house, it has been a nice treat addition.

Nutella Brioche Bread Pudding

When I was checking out my Plated.com box a while ago I noticed that they were offering a Nutella Brioche Bread Pudding as a dessert option.  Um, yes please!  Although I’ve never tried my hand at it personally, I absolutely love bread pudding.  Throw a little Nutella in it and I’m in heaven!