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!

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!

Maple-Soy Portobello Mushroom Burgers

One of my tricks for cooking at home more is to find recipes that are not only tasty, but incredibly easy.  These Portobello Mushroom Burgers check both of those boxes.

When the kids were younger, we used to cook these up fairly frequently.  Since those meals were met with groans and refusals to eat them, I ended up taking them out of the rotation.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Since it had been a while since I cooked them, I was pretty pleased when I received them in my Plated.com box.  Now that the kids aren’t around, I really don’t need to worry about their tastes 🙂 This is a little different than what I used to do with them, I didn’t use the maple syrup or the guacamole, but I find the to be quite tasty.

I’m not a big hamburger bun fan so I actually buy French rolls, warm them up in the oven and use those instead.

Thai Peanut Chicken Curry Recipe

Thai Peanut Chicken Curry

 

We’ve been using Plated.com for over a year.  This Thai Peanut Chicken Curry recipe was in one of our first few boxes and one of the first I tried on my own, you know, when I had to buy the ingredients and actually measure them out myself.  I absolutely LOVE the fact that Plated sends you all the ingredients pre-measured and all you have to do is unpack the box.  Since we had already tried this recipe and loved it,  I wasn’t apprehensive about buying all the ingredients to make it again.

Finding all the ingredients was another story.  Although my grocery story carries a wide selection of food, I could not find sticky rice or gochujang.  After stopping in at a local Oriental foods store I found out that gochujang is usually sold under the description of red pepper paste.  Oh well, I now have enough of red pepper paste and sticky rice to last me a lifetime 🙂

This Thai Peanut Chicken Curry recipe does have a bit of a bite.  While I’m not a complete lily lips, I don’t like overly spicy food.  This was border line for me in terms of spice.  If you don’t like spicy foods I would halve or leave out altogether the red pepper paste.

Now that I have the majority of the ingredients, I’ll be adding this into a somewhat regular rotation.  Now if I could just find someone to pre-measure all the ingredients……..

Apple Cider Pork Chops with Butternut Squash Polenta

Apple Cider Pork Chops

Pork chops are not typically a favorite in the WWIN household.  Before making these Apple Cider Pork Chops, my experience has been mostly with the Shake and Bake variety.  I can count on one hand how may times I’ve eaten pork chops on one hand.

Considering our somewhat negative feeling towards pork chops, you may be surprised that I chose this recipe from one of our Plated.com box.  I know, me too.  However, the whole purpose of getting the Plated.com boxes (besides making my life easier) was to step outside of our comfort zone when it came to food.

I would have to say that although not a favorite (and we won’t be adding it into our regular rotation) these Apple Cider Pork Chops really weren’t bad.  I know, not a rousing recommendation to try a new recipe. But you know what they say, different strokes for different folks.  If you like pork chops I’d definitely give this recipe a try.

Apple Cider Pork Chops

  • 1 cup butternut squash cubes
  • 2 pork chops
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 packets butter, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 8-ounce container chicken stock
  • 1 cup polenta

Place squash in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until very soft, about 8 minutes.

While squash boils, peel shallot and thinly slice. Heat 1 packet butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Rinse pork and pat dry with paper towel. Season all over with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering, add pork and sear until browned on outside and cooked through, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

When squash is tender, immediately drain, transfer to a medium bowl, and add ½ of milk. Using a potato masher or fork, mash until smooth. Set aside.

Add shallot to pan from pork over medium heat and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add apple cider, tarragon, and apple cider vinegar and simmer, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by ½, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

While pan sauce simmers, add chicken stock and 1½ cups water to pot from squash over high heat. Bring to a boil, then slowly add polenta, whisking continuously. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender, 1-2 minutes (see Recipe Tip). Whisk in mashed squash, remaining butter, and remaining milk. Remove pot from heat. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve pork over a bed of polenta and spoon pan sauce over everything.

I hope you enjoy these Apple Cider Pork Chops!

 

Chicken Tostadas – An Easy Dinner

Chicken Tostadas

Mexican food is a favorite in our household, even though chicken tostadas haven’t been on our radar.  There’s a local restaurant that we go to so frequently that they know what we want as soon as we walk in the door.  I love that kind of service!

However, when it comes to making Mexican at home our go to is usually our taco buffet.  Not overly exciting, it is?  Belle does like quesadilla’s but she keeps it pretty generic with just cheese and the shell.  Our Homemade Guacamole is as wild as we get here 🙂

Since we love Mexican cuisine so much, I was pretty excited to get this Chicken Tostadas recipe in a Plated.com box we received a while ago.  Fortunately it wasn’t a recipe that disappointed, we’ll definitely be makiAng this one again!

Chicken Tostadas

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 12 ounces ground chicken
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • ½ cup refried beans
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco

Preheat oven to 425°F. Peel onion and quarter. Rinse tomato and quarter lengthwise. Rinse jalapeño and thinly slice into rings, discarding stem. Pat chicken dry with paper towel. On a baking sheet, toss tomato and ½ of onion with 1 tablespoon canola oil, ½ of cumin, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Save remaining onion for another use, as desired.

While vegetables roast, heat ½ tablespoon canola oil in a large pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and remaining cumin. Season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken cooks, halve avocado and discard pit. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out flesh and discard skin. Halve lime. In a medium bowl, combine avocado, juice of 1 lime, Greek yogurt, and 3 tablespoons warm water. Whisk until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Wipe pan from chicken clean and add 3 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add tortillas in a single layer, working in batches if necessary, and cook until golden and crisp, 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Wipe pan from tostadas clean and add refried beans over medium heat. Cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop roasted onion and tomato. Stir together in a medium bowl to make salsa.

Divide tostadas evenly between 2 plates. Top each with a layer of refried beans, then spoon over chicken, salsa, shredded cabbage, and jalapeño. Drizzle over yogurt-avocado sauce and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco. Serve.

Enjoy your chicken tostadas!

2 servings – 770 calories per serving