Sous Chef Sunday: Roast Beef & Horseradish Dijon Cream Cheese Snack Crackers

Just the right amount of creamy and crunchy textures, with a little zip of horseradish and the tang of gourmet mustard– Roast Beef & Horseradish Dijon Cream Cheese Snack Crackers couldn’t be more perfect. These feisty little bites make a great appetizer for any gathering, an easily pack-able lunch or a quick grab and go snack.

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Shrimp Salad

Nows when I’m gonna need to call all my other bargain shoppers to the table. I’m sure there’s a fair number of you who ( like I did for w a y too long ) think seafood, or at least quality seafood is out of your budget. Well let me just tell ha that that ain’t the case, at least it’s not the case if you’re willing to bide your time, wait for a good sale, and then stock up. Even then though, I can’t always swing the grocery money enough to actually stock up. That being said, I do keep my eyes peeled for when my local grocery’s brand of salad shrimp go on a great sale. For just a few bucks I can grab a few bags and almost never feel guilty about it.

 Shrimp Salad 2

Now salad shrimp are a bit smaller, ok — A LOT smaller than their often more expensive, uncooked counterparts, But they’re absolutely perfect for recipes/meals like this shrimp salad. What can I say? We all love us some shrimps, so even if there’s no fancy shrimp cocktail for us I’m all about finding the wiggle room between fancy and none.

Shrimp Salad

This is salad makes a perfect sandwich ‘meal’. Even better? If I make it for lunch the sons think we’re oh-so fancy, and they have no idea just how simple it really is.

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp Salad 3

1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise 1⁄3 cup chopped celery 1⁄4 cup finely diced onion 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1⁄4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

1. Cut shrimp in half, or just break them up a bit later on when you stir everything together. In a medium sized bowl, combine the shrimp with the remaining ingredients. Stir just until everything’s evenly incorporated. Chill for an hour. Serve the prepared, chilled shrimp salad on bed of lettuce as a sandwich on toasted bread.

Sous Chef Sunday: Cuban Hot Dogs or Cubano Dogs

Ok, the sons are the sons, and Lord knows I love my boys, BUT in the past few months the lazy/put upon bug has bitten them in the butt. HARD. Yes, I expect you to help with dinner. Is it going to kill you? No. You’ve got no problem eating the 4 course meal, and you expect me to help with homework, run you around, and generally revolve my whole world around anything you deem fit. SO, if I need a little help with some prep work? You’d better pretend to be willing to lend a hand. That being said, their idea of a complicated recipe and mine are totally different. You ask them to dice or chop and onion, and just the thought has them crying crocodile tears. Big babies. That’s what those big fat science safety goggles are for! 😉

That being said, I try to pick my battles. So if it’s actually their turn to cook, or I delegate the job (yep, it happens) I try to keep their sometimes waning enthusiasm in mind. Things like Cuban hot dogs are perfect for these nights. Still relatively easy, but still technically a recipe. Little prep work, mostly just assembly. And pair it with a simple tossed salad? Or some steamed veggies? Dinner. Is. Done.

So for this Sous Chef Sunday were bringing you dogs. Hot dogs, but not just any hot dogs. CUBAN hot dogs. This may not be the prettiest picture we’ve ever taken, but man oh man don’t let that turn you away. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy a hotdog! So good! It’s a flavor picnic packaged neatly in a little bun.

Cuban Hot Dogs/Cubano Dogs

Cuban Style Hotdogs

4 hot dogs, we prefer the all beef variety
8 thin slices of Swiss cheese
8 slices of deli ham
4 buns
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
prepared yellow mustard
4 dill pickle spears

Directions

1. Cook the hot dogs however you normally would.
2. Place the opened hot dogs buns on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and layer two pieces each of cheese and sliced ham over the inside of the bun. When the hotdogs are just about done cooking, put the buns in the oven and broil until they’re toasted and the cheese is melted. This step is optional. I prefer the toasty, melty cheese version, but the hungry sons usually skip it to get it on their plates faster 🙂
3. Place the cooked hot dogs in the buns and top each with a pickle, onions, and a drizzle of mustard.

recipe adapted from Sweet Treats & More

Sweet Strawberry Broccoli Salad

So it’s become apparent, undeniably apparent at this point, that the youngest son does not like dinner. We’ve verified that he likes food. He eats every other meal. He will be for food between his afternoon snack and dinner. But no matter what you put on his plate at dinner time he will insist he doesn’t like it, or that he’s full. The older sons enjoy fighting over his leftovers. While at any other meal, even if not happily or even willingly, he will eat his veggies, this whole dinner time protest thing has left me struggling to find new ways to re-present some of his A.M. Favorites.

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

All the sons, and I do mean ALL have inherited there Daddy’s sweet tooth. Even the hubs is a picky veggie eater, but I figured if I knew him then anything, no matter how ‘good’ for you, in the guise of something sweet would be a surprising hit. And I know our little apples didn’t fall for from the paternal tree. So, this is what I came up with. Totally tasty, with some ‘tiny trees’ as they’re known around these parts tossed with some farm fresh fruit, and a sweet (but good for you!) yogurt-based ‘dressing’.

My game must still be good, because the sons all ate it, and I watched the hubs as he kept eating bite after bite, talking in between about how he doesn’t even like broccoli or strawberries, but he just couldn’t stop eating it.

Sweet Broccoli Strawberry Salad

Sweet Broccoli & Strawberry Salad

4 cups of fresh, chopped broccoli florets
2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries
¼ cup of chopped pecans
1/3 cup of goat cheese, crumbled
5 oz plain Greek yogurt
2-4 tsp maple syrup or honey, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt, to taste
½ tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

1. Combine the broccoli, strawberries, cheese, and pecans in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, maple syrup or honey, and lemon juice, stirring until everything’s evenly incorporated.
3. Fold the dressing into the broccoli and strawberry mixture until all the fruit and veggies are evenly coated.
4. Add some salt and the poppy seeds and stir them in.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve. I also like to omit the pecans and instead garnish with slivered almonds.

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

Asian Chicken Wraps

Spring has sprung which, for the sons and I, meant another Spring Break sprung (up) upon us and just as sneakily slipped away. Everybody enjoyed themselves for the most part. A few days were touch and go though. Son # 4 has developed a case of motor mouth. If he’s awake, it’s running. It’s pumpking out questions. Everything is why? And he’s a repeater. It doesn’t matter how fa into a sentence or a story he is, if he gets interupted by anything, he begins again. From the begining, repeating every words just the same, whether it’s the third or fifteenth try. And I mean interrupted by anything. By me, by another thought, but a bird chirping when he’s trying to talk. The whole world must stop and give their full attention to every. single. word. Aside from that he doesn’t talk. He spells. Everything. He asks to spell everything. It’s like having a conversation in textlish. ‘I W-A-N-T … … Mama, how do you spell lunch again? L-U-N-C-H.” Most days it’s cute, but by day 4 I had pulled out the plug. Ear plugs, a great investment for any parent.

But speaking of lunch, with a whole week of everyone home for all their meals I do try to ‘spice’ things up a bit, after all it is Spring Break. Even if we’re staying home we can still pretend we’re on vacation right? We don’t have to be as responsible, and that’s reason enough to celebrate. So plain old, ho hum lunches just wouldn’t do. Sandwiches just scream ‘school day’. We want lunches that loudly proclaim, we’re home for a week full of sleeping in, binge watching tv, and lots of fort building in the woods. I don’t know about you, but we’ve found wraps are a good way to transform a boring sandwich into something that’s so much more. It’s ok to break away from the loaf and leave the boring sandwich behind.

This east meets west, easy wrap idea is perfect for lunch, or even a lighter dinner. And doesn’t an Asian Chicken Wrap sound way more exciting than a sandwich? Chock full of flavor with a perfect chow mein noodle crunch these were the perfect way to say ‘School’s out for Spring Break’.

Asian Chicken Wraps

 Asian Chicken Wraps

4 medium sized tortillas
2 chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced into strips
2/3 cup General Tso’s sauce
1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce
romaine lettuce, or other lettuce variety of choice
1/2 cup shredded carrots
4 tbsp chow mein noodles

Directions

1. In a small skillet or pot, add both sauces and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
2. Add the cooked, sliced chicken to a medium sized bowl and pour the prepared sauce over top. Stir to toss the chicken with the sauce until all the chicken is well coated.
3. To make each wrap, add about 1/3 cup lettuce, 1/2 cup chicken slices, 1/4 cup carrots slices, and 1 tbsp chow mein noodles down the center or each tortilla.
4. Fold in the top and bottom of each tortilla and then roll it up. Enjoy!

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

The sons love spaghetti and meatballs. Mention lasagna. Our mouths are watering. Soup’s simmering on the stove? There’s more than a 50/50 chance it contains some sort of pasta.

We eat A LOT of pasta. A. Lot. We love pasta, but I feel like 9 times out of 10, no let’s be realistic, like 8 times out of 10 the pasta is just a caveat for other yummy things. Like meatballs. And cheese. And sauce. And who needs all that extra pasta when it’s the goodies that ‘dress’ it that you really want. So let’s forgo the pasta tonight and just stuff all that yum in a bun. Mmmkay?

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

Any great meatball sub needs two things: great meatballs and a great sauce. For this here ‘recipe’. Heck, who’re we kidding? It’s basically just one big suggestion of some things to nuke and then stuff together into a bun for a fun flavor fiesta in your mouth around dinner time. Suggestions are good, right?

Back to the great sauce. You’re more than welcome to make a from scratch Alfredo sauce. But this recipe idea or delicious suggestion, is a favorite around here because it’s so darn easy. I can’t beat a quick throw together sandwich, that I don’t feel guilty about serving for dinner on busy nights. I mean as opposed to bologna and cheese or a pb & j on the go these things are gourmet! Since I’m going for quick and easy, I just use a jar of our favorite store bought Alfredo sauce. I can’t be Martha Stewart every night of the week. We froof the sauce if with the addition of our favorite pesto and it’s a 5 star combo. Again, I use frozen store bought meatballs, or homemade, it just depends what I’ve got on hand and what kind of time frame I’m working with.

Serve these with a simple tossed salad and you’ve got great taste in simple meal form.

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs

Pesto Alfredo Meatball Subs 2

16  frozen meatballs
14 oz Alfredo sauce, any brand
2 tbsp basil pesto
4 slices of provolone cheese
4 sub rolls

Directions

1. Cook the meatballs according to the package directions.
2. Add the Alfredo sauce and pesto to a small pot or pan and stir together. Heat it over medium/low heat, or just until heated through.
3. Spread some of the sauce on the insides of each roll, like you would mayonnaise or butter. Place 4 meatballs in a roll and drizzle them with more sauce. Fold and tear each slice of provolone roughly in half and place 2 halves on top of each sub to cover the meatballs.
5. Place the prepared subs onto a baking sheet and cook them in the oven at 450 for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the roll is lightly toasted.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

If you grew up in the South, chances are you’ve eaten a variation of chicken & dumplings a few times in your life. We’ve taken Grandma’s recipe and given it a few modern adjustments, making it a quick and easy dinner for any occasion. Set it, forget it, and let your machine do all the work– come supper time, tuck into a cozy bowl of Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

 

Chicken & Dumplings. There’s something so Southern sounding about it. Just it’s name, aside from the fact that it is of course a Southern staple.

For years though, the hubs and I only had it when we’d visit a restaurant. Namely, Cracker Barrel who specializes in Southern style fare.

This recipe takes all that old-fashioned taste, all that classic dumpling texture, and wraps it up nice and warm in an easy slow cooked package.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

You guys know all about my love affair with soups.

The sons don’t think anything broth-based should be considered a ‘meal’ for a guy, and the hubs likes soup but really only in winter and only if it’s hearty with plenty of toppings, and served with a salad and a hunk of bread.

All my guys are meat and potatoes kinda people. And I get that, and appreciate it when they suffer in silence for me.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

Wanna know how I know Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings got it going on? Not. one. single. complaint.

And everyone came back for seconds.

The hubs liked it SO much that he insisted we have it twice in one week, and then acted like a kid at Christmas when he came home one night the next week from work to find out I was making it for him again.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

Let the slow cooker do all the work, and you just sit back and soak it all in.

We’ve even found a perfect dumpling shortcut, keeping the whole thing as simple as can be from start to finish.

Refrigerated biscuits, cut into small pieces, plump up and cook in the soup creating yummy, fool-proof dumplings.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

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Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
A southern staple, we've taken Grandma's recipe and given it some modern updates for an easy meal, anytime.
Ingredients
  • small white onion; diced
  • 2-3 stalked celery thinly sliced
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 tubes refrigerated biscuits not butter flavored or flaky layered, 10 oz each
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 heaping tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp water
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium high heat, saute the onion and celery in a little bit of olive oil until tender, and then transfer them to the slow cooker.
  2. Lay your chicken breasts over top the cooked veggies and then season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the soup, chicken broth, half & half, and the additional seasonings in the slow cooker. Give the liquids a gentle stir to combine.

  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 4-6 hours. An hour before it's done cooking, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until smooth. Add the mixture. Cut each of the biscuits into 4-6 small pieces and add them into the slow cooker as well. At this point give everything a stir and return the lid to the pot to cook for the remaining hour.
  5. When the soup's done cooking, you can either break up the chicken in the slow cooker with a spatula or remove the breasts and shred the chicken and then return the shredded chicken to the soup.

Pictures Updated 9/15/2017

Chicken & Dumplings

 

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This  soup is everything you could hope for in a meal on a cold Winter’s night. It’s creamy. It’s comforting. AND it saves you money. How does it save you money you might be asking? Because it’s so good (and filling) that there won’t be any reason for you to run out to a certain ‘bread cafe’ to get a bowl full.

Copy Cat Panera Bread Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup 2

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Mediteranean Tortellini Pasta Salad

 It was the day after Christmas, and all through the house children were playing with plenty of arguments over tv time and game systems for their parents to dowse.

The wrapping paper was all picked up and Santa’s supplies packed away with care, when I realized, ‘Oh, crap!’ Dinnertime soon would be there.

The sons’ were all asking, wondering what there was going to be to eat.

And this Mom had nothing. I’d never even thought to pull out any meat….

None. Nada. Zilch.

It was then that a little light from heaven shone down…right into my fridge. And my heart and belly (and my Mommy-conscience) leapt with joy! (Let’s be honest, what was I going to rhyme with Zilch or fridge?!)

Pasta with Cucumbers, Tomatoes and vinegrette dressing…maybe even a little Feta cheese.

An easy, meatless meal? Yes, please.

Oh, had I been craving some good pasta lately. And the lasagna I’d had for dinner on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas day still hadn’t cut it.

And thus to us, a new recipe was born.

Mediterranean Tortellini Pasta Salad

 Mediterranean Tortellini Salad

1 lb tortellini
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

For the Dressing

⅓ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste

Note: Serving a crowd? No worries! The recipe easily doubles. Just don’t cry any crocodile tears over the empty bowl that comes home and the fact that you have no leftovers to enjoy later on.

Directions

1. Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Soak the onions in a bowl of clean, cold water. Drain after 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl add the onion slices, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, cheese, and tortellini. Gently toss them together.
4. In a different bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk everything together until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the tortellini salad and gently mix until everything’s nicely coated with the dressing. Serve this salad warm or at room temperature.