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Easy Weeknight Meal: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

You know when you have a busy week and cooking is the last thing you have time for? Well, this recipe is the perfect meal for those times! You see, it is not only easy but it is a very comforting easy weeknight recipe. The chicken and broccoli come together in this creamy yet tangy casserole sauce. This recipe does not use any cream soup but instead uses mayo as the base. The beauty of this recipe is that can take you 5 minutes to prepare or an hour to prepare and either way, it’s amazing.

Did I mention this is keto friendly as well? Oh yeah!

For the ingredients you will need:

  • 4 Cups of cooked and cubed chicken
    • 5 min prep: use a seasoned, rotisserie chicken
    • Longer prep: roast 4 chicken breasts at 350°F for 45 minutes
      • season these with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder
  • 4 cups of broccoli florets
    • 5 min prep: use previously frozen, thawed florets
    • Longer prep: toss broccoli with olive oil and salt, roast on a sheet pan in a single layer in 350°F oven for 30 – 35 minutes
  • 1/4 cup of bacon crumbles
  • 1/2 cup of mayo
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 splashes of Tabasco


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9 x 13 pan with your favorite cooking spray.  For the sauce, mix the mayo and the milk together using a whisk.  I like my sauce a little more ‘saucy’ so if I find it too thick, I will add more milk.  Whisk in the spices and Tabasco.  Next, add bacon crumbles, chicken and broccoli.   Lastly, fold in the mozzarella cheese, reserving about 1/4 cup for the topping.  Now, regardless if you are using the seasoned rotisserie chicken or your own roasted chicken, add the additional spices listed in the recipe.  The spices that season the chicken will mostly remain adhered to the chicken.  The additional spices added to the sauce are necessary for the sauce.  Never be afraid to use your spices!

 

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is slightly brown and the sauce is bubbling.  Let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes prior to serving.  This helps everything come together and also prevents burnt tongues.

My family really enjoys this easy weeknight meal.  I really enjoy it because of how super easy it is to prep and yet it tastes like I worked on it for hours.  The fact that it is keto friendly is also a bonus!  This recipe also lends itself very easily to doubling.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I and my family do!

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Father’s Day Treat: Bourbon Pecan Pie

One thing I have noticed over the years.  There are cake people and there are pie people.  Well, my husband falls into the latter.  There isn’t a cake around that will tempt him to eat it.  However, put a pie in front of him and he will certainly take a bite!  Among his most favorite pie recipes to devour is my Bourbon Pecan Pie.  I have to admit it is one of my favorites too!  With Father’s Day coming up in a few weeks, there is no perfect time to break out my recipe and share it with you as I promised in my last blog (which can be read here).

This recipe is super easy to make and so super tasty you will wonder where its been your whole life! My hubs will often bring it to work and inevitably it does not last long.  Now, I will let you in on a little secret- I cannot make pie crust from scratch.  I know, I know-  I can hear the pie Gods cursing my name.  But it’s not for the lack of trying.  All butter, all lard, half butter half lard, hand held pastry blender, food processor, cold bowl, frozen bowl, cold counter, frozen butter, cold hands, etc.  I tried all the tips and tricks and still, I can never get the darn thing to roll out easily.

But not all is lost since there are some phenomenal commercial pie crusts available at the local grocery store.  I buy them all the time because as a working mom and wife, I do not have any interest in spinning my wheels on a crust.  Instead, I would rather concentrate on making the inside of the pie the tastiest it can be.  And that starts with some great quality Bourbon.

Now don’t worry about this being a Drunken Pecan Pie leading to drunken behavior.  Although not all the alcohol cooks off, using such a small amount spread out over the entirety of pie, will not cause any issues in that regards.  Only in the case of religious beliefs or allergies will this be a factor.  Choosing the right bourbon is the make the pie or break the pie kind of deal.  The important thing to remember when selecting a bourbon is its taste.  If it is a smooth sipping bourbon with lots of rich vanilla, oak and caramel undertones, then it is the perfect bourbon to use in this pie.

Some bourbons can be very expensive and if you do not typically drink bourbon it may not be worthwhile to purchase a full bottle to use just a few tablespoons.  Therefore, one budget idea is to ask a friend for a few tablespoons.  Often bourbon is part of most home bar set ups and many friends will not have a problem with donating a few tablespoons.  Especially if it means they may be the beneficiary of a piece of this pie!  Another budget idea is to peruse your local liquor store.  There are a few good quality bourbons available in the 50 mls ‘nip’ size.

Second of importance to the bourbon are the pecans.  Now, being from the Northeast, I pronounce it Pee-can.  Understandably, there are a few other regional ways to pronounce the word pecan.  Here is a link to a great article depicting the regional dialects of the pecan pronunciation.  Regardless of how you pronounce it, make sure you have a variety of pecan styles in the pie.

One mistake is to have all halves, all pieces or all whole.  Have a variety of chops to add to the texture and ‘meatiness’ of the pie.  I usually start with whole pecans.  I keep 1/3 whole, chop 1/3 into half sized pieces and the final third into small pieces.  You can use the whole pieces to decorate the top of the pie by laying them in a pattern before baking.  Again, as a working Mom, that is not on my priority list.  It will still taste the same with or without a fancy pecan pattern!

For the recipe, I am including it on a free download available below.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

I hope you consider giving this recipe a try and that you enjoy this recipe as much as me and my family do.

Leave me a comment below on how you pronounce pecan.


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Quick, Low-Carb One-Pot Meal

One of the best things about coming home from work is having a plan in place for dinner.  This is extremely important to help maintain your sense of balance between work and home life.  In addition to this, having a simple, tasty, one-pot meal ready to go is an added bonus!  This meal is very quick to throw together and it includes healthy vegetables like cauliflower and kale.  The shrimp adds protein and sweetness to the dish while I spice it up with some crushed red pepper.  This is a great low-carb dish that will leave you satisfied and full without any of the regret.  It uses only one pot and is super quick on the stove top where it only takes about 20 minutes.

Low carb diet recipes including low carb ideas, meals, dinner and food.

Here’s what you will need for this Shrimp and Veggie saute:

  • 1 Package of frozen 26/30 shrimp thawed with tails removed
    • I use this size because they are hearty yet reasonably priced at my store
    • I remove the tails prior to cooking because it makes it easier when it comes time to eat
  • 2-3 green onions
    • diced
  • 2 vine ripened tomatoes
    • seeds removed and diced
  • 1 10 oz frozen package of riced cauliflower
    • you can use any brand with or without additional flavorings
    • the one I used had some additional garlic flavoring
  • 1 frozen 10 oz package of chopped kale
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 2 tsp of garlic oil
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes- more if you like it hot
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • a healthy pinch of pink Himalayan salt to taste

Directions

Into a dutch oven on medium heat, melt the butter then add garlic oil, red pepper, black pepper, Italian spices, and salt.  I use my Lodge enameled dutch oven.  This is used so much that I do not even remove it from my stove top!  Once the butter is completely melted and the spices have had time to ‘mingle’, add the frozen packages of kale and riced cauliflower.  Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium/low for about 10 minutes.  This will give the veggies time to thaw and cook.  Remove the lid and add the shrimp, diced tomatoes, and scallions.  Stir and add a healthy pinch of salt to taste.  You can put the lid back on for a few more minutes to get everything heated through.

The great thing about this meal is that it is super quick and easy to clean up.  Additionally, for those not on a low carb diet, it can be served with warm rolls or ready made, microwavable, seasoned rice.  It is very versatile and you can scale this dish up to accommodate the number of people in your family.  As written, this serves four in my family.  I hope you enjoy!



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Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Dinner

When working full-time, one thing that is very important to maintain balance is being able to make quick meals that are healthy and that all members of my family will love.  While it may be easier to swing by a local pizza shop or restaurant on my way home from work, it will be more expensive and not as healthy.  I know I cannot get out of my local pizza place under $40 and under $50 for my local Chinese food restaurant.  That money spent certainly can add up.

This recipe is something my family loves.  I love it too because it only takes about 10 minutes of prep and 35 minutes to cook.  Also, it’s a sheet pan recipe so I only have to clean one pan.  Genius!

Here’s what you will need for this Kielbasa and Sweet Potato sheet pan recipe:

  • Kielbasa 1 or 2 packages
    • I love Kayem brand.  I realize that this is probably a regional thing (being from the Northeast) but it is THE BEST kielbasa.  Phenomenal flavor and not at all salty.
    • For my family of 4, 1 package was enough
  • 3 sweet potatoes
    • washed and patted dry
  • Spices
    • garlic powder- 1 tsp
    • salt- to taste
      • I use Sherpa Pink Himalayan
      • this salt is delicious and has trace minerals that iodized salt cannot provide
    • pepper- to taste
    • cinnamon- 1 tsp
  • Olive Oil- 2 Tbsp

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  If you have a convection oven, pre-heat it to 325 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  You want to make sure that the sheet pan is large enough to fit the food in one layer.  Preferably, there should be enough room around each delicious morsel so that the air can circulate.  That’s the secret to a crispy outer skin.  When you crowd the pan, your items will more likely steam and become soggy.

Directions

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and chop off each end
    • Don’t go crazy on peeling every little piece of skin
    • Quite frankly, I am lazy- who’s got time for that?  I do a quick once over with the peeler and what’s left behind, is added fiber!
  • Once these are peeled, go ahead and slice these into 1 inch pieces
  • Place the sweet potatoes onto the baking pan
    • Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with all of the spices
    • Then get your hands dirty and mix it all around so that each piece of potato has a coating of the spice mixture
      • You can do this step in a big bowl and mix with a spoon but it does add to the dish count!
    • Once coated, spread the sweet potato on half the baking sheet taking care that they are in a single layer with room around each piece
  • Chop the kielbasa into 1 inch pieces and spread on the other half of the lined sheet pan
    • These should also be uniform pieces around the same size as the sweet potatoes
    • This helps everything cook at an even rate
    • Also, remember to leave space in between for a delicious, crispy skin
  • Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until the kielbasa is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside

This meal is so delicious.  The sweet potatoes are amazing because they caramelize during the cooking process and when you combine that with the most flavorful kielbasa- oh my!  Amazing!  It is a terrific, home-cooked meal for those busy nights.  It has a quick prep and cook time and also lends itself to easy cleanup.

This is definitely something you can feel good about feeding your family!  What sheet pan meal do you and your family like?  I would love to hear!


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Easter Prep Sheet

I cannot believe it’s coming up on Easter already.  I feel like we just got through the holidays, because in my neck of the woods, we have had lots and lots and lots of snow!  As a matter of fact, we are still expecting more snow tonight!  I cry Uncle.  With a little over a week left until Easter, I cannot imagine all the snow melting away.  Hopefully, the Easter Bunny has white eggs because any colorful egg surely will be found easily!

Every year, there are a few Holidays that I host for my family: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These are the big three in my family.  I luck out for Christmas as I only provide the space.  My sister does ALL of the cooking and schleps it to my house.  But I do the cooking for Easter and Thanksgiving and this usually equates to 13 – 15 people.  So, on top of working a FT job, making sure the house is extra clean, shopping for the big day, and prepping for the Easter dinner, I really need some shortcuts to help keep balance.  This is where my prep sheets come in handy.

I have lists going back three years and they are my life saver.  Just wait until I show all the ones I have for Thanksgiving!  The process of writing everything down in a very particular way started many years ago.  It was a way for me to be able to visualize all I needed to do, purchase, prep and time.  Over the years,  it has now become a plug and play system.  I know which recipes I can rotate and which ones I need to keep making every year.  You know those family favorites!

Easter Prep Sheet

Below are the subheadings I use:

  • Guests 
    • I always include a total number of people
    • This takes away from me having to remember one more thing and I wont have to keep counting
  • Extras
    • This is some of the items I need to do or to remember
    • This may include something to buy or clean or even remembering someone’s allergies or special requests
  • Appetizers
  • Salad
  • Main Meal
  • Side Dishes
  • Desserts
  • Drinks

I also remember to include any dishes that someone is slated to bring.  For example, my Dad is always in charge of bringing the salad because he makes a phenomenal salad- this is an art.  Thus, once the plan is set, I make the shopping list according to the plan.  I sit down with any recipes I may have and get to writing.  I break each section up into a different color as shown in the picture above.  Colorful Signo pens help me keep the different parts of my plan separated and allow me to focus on the various sections.  Plus, they are very colorful!

This is what I do every year and it saves me a ton of time and worry.  I know which dishes are the tried and true.  The ones that I would NEVER remove off the menu for fear of a family revolt.  And I also know the ones that can be changed out and revamped.

To help you get on track, I am including a free printable (based off of the way I like to plan) to help you get your Easter planning started.  Remember to keep these filed year after year, this will help streamline your Easter planning.

Get your free printable here:

Easter 2018 Prep Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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