Hasselback Potatoes

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At the end of December my mom’s very best friends threw me a beautiful bridal shower. My “aunts”, as I call them, put so much thought and detail into the special day. From the green and white “Michigan State” color scheme to the perfectly festive Christmas centerpieces, everything about it was perfect. They even gave every guest a jar filled with cookie ingredients with an attached recipe.

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Our festive table

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My beautiful bridesmaids and best friends

But one of my favorite details had to be the Recipe Box that they gave me, filled with recipes from all the guests who were able to attend. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift and will serve as a wonderful memory of such a great day. So now, well after the holiday season has calmed down, I am finally getting around to sampling the recipes that were carefully stuffed into my recipe box. The first recipe I tried was a recipe for Hasselback Potatoes from my Aunt Renee. You slice russet potatoes and sprinkle with herbs and cheese for a delicious and decadent side dish. Make sure you fan the slices out well, or the potato will not bake through all the way. I served these potatoes with a simple pork loin and it was an incredibly delicious dinner.

Ingredients: Makes 4 servings

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs ( I used a combination of chopped thyme & sage)
  • 4 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  1. Scrub and rinse potatoes
  2. Cut potatoes into thin slices but not all the way through
  3. Put potatoes in a baking dish, fan them slightly
  4. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with melted butter. sprinkle with dried herbs
  5. Bake potatoes at 425 for 50 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheeses
  7. Bake potatoes for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned, cheeses are melted and potatoes are soft inside

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Chicken Parmesan Burgers

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Once the last present has been unwrapped and the last Christmas cookie has been eaten, I can’t help but feel a little sad. I look forward to Christmas all year, so once the season comes to a close I’m usually hit with a dose of post Holiday blues. But it always helps getting over the blues when you have something to look forward to. And 4 years ago, I had something pretty exciting to look forward to on December 26th. A first date. And not just any first date, but a first date with my good friend Eric. He came out to my hometown to see me and didn’t even ask for directions. I found this very impressive. And when he arrived at my house, he didn’t call or text me from his car, but he actually came to the door to pick me up. My dad and brother found this very impressive. I was so excited to be going out with Eric that I really didn’t put much thought into where we should go to dinner. So when he asked me where I would like to go, I picked the closest restaurant to my house. And the food was terrible. But Eric didn’t mind and we had a great time anyway. In fact, at the end of the night I had a feeling that it would be my last “first date.” And I was right. And this year, my post Christmas blues has been appeased by the fact that in a few short months I get to marry my best friend. So on this Friday after Christmas I thought I would share a meal that I recently made for Eric which far surpassed the crappy burgers we ate on our first date. I found this recipe for Chicken Parmesan Burgers on Courtney’s blog Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. And I gotta say, it is probably the best dinner recipe I have ever found on the blog world. The burgers are full of flavor and will definitely be a repeat meal for us. And they are also incredibly easy to whip up. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 4 burgers, Recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

  • 1lb. ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Hamburger buns

Preparation:

  1. Place first 7 ingredients (chicken through Italian seasoning) in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated
  2. Divide chicken mixture into 4 equal sections and form into 4 patties
  3. Place each patty on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes, flipping burgers after 6 minutes
  4. Spoon 1 additional tablespoon of marinara sauce on each burger and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese, and let bake for an additional minute, or until cheese melts

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Wraps

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Well guys, the holiday season is almost upon us! The 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are without a doubt my favorite time of the year. I get overly excited each and every year for this wonderful time filled with family, friends and, of course, holiday food. But before I bombard you with billions of festive recipes and holiday adventures, I thought I would share my new favorite weeknight dinner. And it all starts with a slow cooker. My mom bought a slow cooker at an estate sale last summer and I have been loving this amazing kitchen appliance. And no, I am not embarrassed that I am excited about an appliance. Even when I was little, relatives would often give me random cooking and baking appliances for Christmas and I loved each and every one of them. At 12, I received my own blender which resulted in tons of milkshake and smoothie “recipes.” At 15, I received a breadmaker which resulted in loaf after loaf of homemade bread. And now, at 24, the slow cooker is the apple of my eye. My new routine is to throw a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker on Sunday afternoon so I have several servings of shredded chicken to use for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Monday I heated it up and mixed it with a healthy serving of barbeque sauce. Tuesday I  used it in a big salad. Wednesday I added it to Chicken Quesadillas and Thursday I made these super easy Chicken Caesar Wraps. Below is both the base recipe for shredded chicken and the recipe I used for the Chicken Caesar Wraps. The nice thing about the slow cooker is that there is no added butter or oil, yet the chicken comes out incredibly moist and tender. So here is (perhaps my last) healthy recipe before the holiday baking season officially begins. Enjoy!

 

Shredded Chicken Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings

  • 6 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt (or seasoning of your choice)

Chicken Caesar Wrap Ingredients: Makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
  • 2 wraps
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the shredded chicken: Place frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover with chicken broth and seasoning
  2. Turn slow cooker on high, and let cook for 6 hours
  3. After chicken is tender and cooked through completely, transfer chicken breasts to a large bowl, straining any remaining liquid
  4. Using two forks, shred chicken breasts*
  5. To prepare chicken Caesar wraps: Place 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken in a medium bowl and add Caesar dressing, mixing until just combined. (You may want to add more dressing depending upon your preference)
  6. To assemble wraps, place 1/2 cup shredded romaine in each wrap
  7. Top each wrap with 3/4 cup chicken mixture
  8. Sprinkle each wrap with 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  9. Roll the wrap up and enjoy!

*Store extra shredded chicken in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Mediterranean Baked Salmon

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Eric and I officially have a place to live when we get married! We found the cutest little condo that I have affectionately dubbed our “Snow Cottage.” And though I am so excited to start this new chapter, I will definitely be sad to leave my current roommates. And by roommates, I mean my parents. I have been living at home since I graduated college and I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it. Ok scratch that. I loved every minute except the time they woke me up at midnight to scream, yell, and sing because the Tigers made it to the playoffs. But other than that, living with mom and dad has been great. I’ll miss watching the Colbert Report with my dad every night and “Pinterest-ing” with my mom. And I will really miss cooking dinner with them. A few nights ago I made this delicious salmon recipe from Eat, Live, Run and it was a big hit. Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it is also very easy to whip up. The prep time is short but the result is a flavorful and impressive looking meal. I think it would definitely be a great meal to serve at a dinner party. But for now, since I only have few more months living at home with these two, I might just serve it a few more times at our nightly dinner party for 3.

Ingredients: Serves 3, Recipe from Eat Live Run

  • 3 pieces of salmon, skin removed
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 10 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  1. Place 3 pieces of salmon on a greased cookie sheet
  2. Spread salmon with pesto
  3. Top each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes, chopped red onion, feta and chopped olives
  4. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Nobody loves a good deal quite like my mother. I’ve observed her thrifty ways for years and admired each and every incredible deal that she has scored. She can tell you which Marshall’s has the best home goods, and which TJ Maxx has the best deal on workout clothes. She knows all the great online shopping sites and somehow always manages to get beautiful clothes and shoes for half the price. But her latest spot for scoring a good deal is a bit more old fashioned. Estate Sales. She’ll flip through the newspaper to find which old homes around town are hosting estate sales and off she goes. She has found some beautiful old furniture, a plethora of bakery style cookie sheets and cupcake pans, and most recently, a slow cooker. And the best part? Not only are these items found at half the price, but they are in great condition as well. So when she brought home a slow cooker in perfect condition, I knew I had to test it out with a recipe I’ve been saving. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. This recipe is incredibly easy and only has a handful of steps to complete before your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of slow cooked barbeque. You can choose to cook the pork for longer at a low heat, or if you are short on time, you can cook it on high. Both methods result in a tender and flavorful batch of pulled pork that is delicious with or without barbeque sauce. Personally, I like my pulled pork with just a drizzle of barbeque sauce and a scoop of tangy cole slaw. The perfect summer dish brought to you by my mother’s incredible bargain hunting skills.

Ingredients: Recipe from Chow.com, Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon packed  brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt),
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place thinly sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker pot and cover with chicken broth
  2. In a small bowl, combine next five ingredients (brown sugar through cinnamon) and rub mixture over pork
  3. Place pork over onion layer and cover. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours, or cook on low for 8 to 10 hours
  4. After pork has cooked through, use tongs to remove pork pieces from the slow cooker (it should be very tender and fall off the bones)
  5. Place pork in a bowl and use two forks to shred pork
  6. Mix in barbeque sauce, if desired

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Berry Salad with Cornflake Crusted Chicken

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Whenever I go out to eat, I’m drawn to salads that are filled with an interesting mix of produce and topped with a delicious source of protein. But then I’m left wondering why I just spent $15 on something I could easily make at home. So this past Sunday I did just that. I wandered through the produce aisle, and just picked out a few different items that sounded good. Like a fresh mix of berries and a perfectly ripe avocado. I love the contrast of the creamy and mild avocado with the sweet and slightly tart berries. And since I wanted to give an added punch of protein (and I had a certain guy coming over that would NOT eat a plain salad for dinner) I decided to throw together some healthified crispy chicken strips. And rather than use Panko breadcrumbs, like I usually do, I decided to use cornflakes as the main component in the crust. And I thought it had fantastic results. The chicken is perfectly tender with a crunchy and flavorful crust. I made a large enough batch of the chicken strips to have leftovers for quick dinners throughout the week, but you could easily divide the chicken portion of this recipe in half to have just enough for a couple salads. And there you have a perfectly light spring meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 2 large salads and 12 chicken strips (plenty of leftovers!)

  • 2 packages thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups mixed greens or chopped romaine
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries & blackberries)
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken strips in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and cover with buttermilk; place in fridge and let sit for 3-4 hours
  2. Place next 5 ingredients in a food processor (cornflakes through mozzarella) and grind until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Place cornflake mixture into another 13 x 9 inch baking dish and dredge chicken breast in mixture until completely coated
  4. Place cornflake crusted chicken strips on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes
  5. To assemble salad, mix greens, avocado & mixed berries together and top with cooled chicken
  6. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette to taste

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Bruschetta Chicken

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If you are looking for an easy recipe that looks impressive, you’ve come to the right place. This Bruschetta Chicken is another recipe I found on Pinterest, and I am so glad I gave it a try. It is full of flavor and is a great recipe for anyone who loves bruschetta, because there is a hefty serving of balsamic glazed tomatoes on top of each serving. I’ve always loved bruschetta, but lately anytime Eric and I see the garlicky tomato appetizer on a menu we have to laugh. Because we experienced a pretty funny bruschetta related incident the night we got engaged. As I mentioned before, Eric’s big proposal plan was to pop the question in front of the big Christmas Tree outside of Campus Martius in downtown Detroit. Seeing as we both work a few blocks from this area in Downtown Detroit, getting me in front of the tree wouldn’t have been too difficult on a normal night. However, December 21st was my last day of work before the holidays, and my boss took us out for lunch and let us leave early for the day. So Eric had to hatch a plan to get me back Downtown. So naturally, he asked me to meet him Downtown for dinner. Because food is obviously a huge motivator for me. He told me to meet him at the Hard Rock Cafe, because, as he told me later, it is the closest restaurant to the Campus Martius Christmas Tree. When I arrived at the restaurant Eric had ordered a big plate of bruschetta for us. I remember thinking this was slightly weird because he is not a huge fan of the appetizer, but I went with it. (He told me later that he felt an appetizer was necessary because it was going to be a special night. What a funny guy!) Seeing as I’m the only bruschetta lover of the two of us, we had a good amount left over so our waiter wrapped it up for us. As we walked out of the restaurant, doggie bag in tow, we found ourselves in front of the Christmas Tree and well…you know the rest of that story. But there is one funny little moment I left out in my previous recap. When I saw Eric down on one knee, I dropped the doggie bag, and since it was a pretty windy night, the bag blew away. A few minutes later, after yesses had been said, and rings had been distributed we looked behind us to find a homeless man chowing down on our bruschetta. God bless him.

Ingredients: Makes 3 servings, From ICanCookThat.com

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Bruschetta

  • 4 firm Roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced into thin strips

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken, balsamic vinegar, olive oil & minced garlic in a large plastic bag
  2. Place bag in the fridge and let marinade for 2-3 hours
  3. For the bruschetta, combine diced tomatoes, onions and minced garlic in a medium bowl
  4. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil & salt and pepper to bruschetta, set aside
  5. Remove chicken from bag and place on a cookie sheet, lined with tin foil
  6. Place chicken in oven and bake for 25 minutes at 350, or until chicken is cooked through
  7. Meanwhile, saute bruschetta mixture in a large saucepan over medium heat until tomatoes are soft and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes
  8. Remove chicken from oven and preheat broiler on high
  9. Place 2-3 tablespoons of bruschetta mixture on each chicken breast and top with 4-5 slices of fresh mozzarella on each chicken breast
  10. Place chicken back in the oven and broil for 3-4 minutes
  11. Sprinkle fresh basil on top of chicken and serve

Mushroom & Sweet Pea Risotto

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I may have mentioned this before, but I am a total Food Network junkie. I can spend hours watching cooking show after cooking show and never get bored. But my favorite Food Network chef by far is Giada DiLaurentiis. I love her. And whenever someone tells me they don’t like her, I get personally offended. How can you not love Giada? She’s so perky and fun and makes the most delicious food. And I think she loves chocolate as much as I do. I may or may not be her biggest fan. Well this recipe is one of Giada’s. And I think it would be a perfect side dish for your Easter dinner. The recipe does take a lot of time and attention but the result is an incredibly creamy and cheesy risotto that pairs with a number of different main courses. I recently made it for a family dinner and served it with Pinterest Greek Yogurt Chicken. My brother asked for the leftovers. And that, my friends, is always the indication of a great recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 8-10 servings, Adapted slightly from Food Network

  • 8 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan and set aside
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat
  3. Add olive oil to melted butter
  4. Add onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes
  5. Add the white mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes
  6. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes
  7. Add wine and stir occasionally until the liquid is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes
  8. Reduce heat to medium low and add chicken broth one cup at a time, stirring often
  9. Repeat until all broth has been added into the pot and rice has absorbed all the liquid, about 30 minutes
  10. Stir in the thawed peas and freshly grated parmesan
  11. Season with salt & pepper to taste
  12. Serve immediately

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Italian Mini Meatball and Tomato Soup

 

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As much as I love living in Michigan…I gotta say, I am getting really sick of this cold weather. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled the last couple of years, but usually by mid March, 20 degree weather is a thing of the past. Last year, we were blessed with 60 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine by St. Patrick’s Day. 2013 is a different story. Nowadays I get really excited if it’s above 30 degrees in the middle of the day. And the biggest bummer is that these somewhat frigid temperatures are totally screwing up my running schedule. I know, I know. First world problems. But having to bundle up with layer after layer of under armour is definitely making training for my next race a little less fun. I have a 10K in 3 weeks and am having a hard time fitting in longer distances without having my lungs freeze…or ya know, falling flat on my face and breaking my finger.

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Yeah, that happened. A few weeks ago I slipped on some ice at 6am and wound up with a swollen and purple index finger. But once I got to work, my boss whipped out a makeshift splint for me which obviously left me looking super cool. What can I say? I have a talent for attracting catostrophes. But I must say, the one upside to the cooler temperatures is I’ve had a little more time to try out the warm winter-y recipes I’ve been saving. Like this recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. This soup is warm and comforting, and thanks to the mini meatballs is total “guy food.” (but it is still pretty healthy) I used medium size shell pasta the first time I made it, but I would recommend using macaroni noodles or mini shells because the pasta does tend to soak up a good amount of the broth. The result is a rich tomato soup perfect for a chilly winter…or spring evening.

Ingredients: Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Mini Meatballs: Makes 40 mini meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans ( 10.5 oz each) lower sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (28 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup mini pasta shells or macaroni

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, place all meatball ingredients and mix well until spices are well incorporated (mixing with your hands is the easiest way!)
  2. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, evenly spaced
  3. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through
  4. In a large soup pot, place 2 teaspoons olive oil and heat over medium heat
  5. Add onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften
  6. Add garlic and let cook for 1 minute
  7. Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil
  8. Add in pasta and reduce heat
  9. Cover pot and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is tender
  10. Stir in meatballs and stir until heated through

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“Pinterest” Greek Yogurt Chicken

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I remember the first time a coworker told me about Pinterest. It made absolutely no sense to me. I did not understand how a collection of links to other websites could really be all that addicting. Flash forward a year and Pinterest has become a huge craze. And I finally understand why. The ability to save and organize recipes, wedding ideas and home decor tips all on one convenient little website is really pretty cool. But my only problem is that I almost never make or use any of the ideas that I so carefully pin and save. Until now. I had seen this recipe for Greek yogurt chicken pinned a number of times, and the reviews were always fantastic. So when we had a family dinner this weekend I decided to give this recipe a try. And I was very pleasantly surprised. This chicken is not only incredibly easy to make but it is also really delicious. The Greek yogurt mixture locks in the moisture of the chicken and the flavor is fantastic.  And it’s a healthy recipe? Can’t get much better than that. Well played Pinterest, well played.

Ingredients: Makes 4 servings

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Lawry’s)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken breasts on a lightly greased cookie sheet
  2. In a small bowl, combine next 5 ingredients (yogurt through pepper)
  3. Spread yogurt mixture on the tops of each chicken breast
  4. Bake chicken at 375 for 45 minutes
  5. Remove chicken from the oven and turn to broil on high heat
  6. Return chicken to oven and broil on high for 3-4 minutes until topping is slightly browned

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