Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

A creamy Chicken Florentine and Farfalle pasta dish is the ultimate Italian American comfort food. Lunch, dinner, no matter what this dish- featuring chopped rotisserie chicken, fresh baby spinach, and tangy Parmesan- is made to be something quick & easy that’s sure to satisfy anyone.

Chicken Florentine and Farfalle

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Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai food rocks the hubs world. I kid you not, the hubs could eat it every single day, for any meal, and be quite a happy camper. I am not nearly the fan that he is. I remember struggling through menus trying to find something that appealed to my pallet as he took me to various Thai dives when we were dating. Luckily, the company made it all worth it! That and there was always something I could find to enjoy. The real problem for me was the over abundance of peanuts. Peanuts and pork. Two seemingly totally different flavors that blend flawlessly in this recipe, and many another Thai dish. Here the tenderloin is taken to the next scrumptious level with the help of some peanut sauce. Go to your local grocery store right now, and I promise you its ethnic section (even the smallest) has Thai peanut sauce, probably even a Thai AND American made version. The stuff just seems to get more and more popular as time goes by. This key ingredient doesn’t disappoint even in our quick, from scratch batch.

 Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai. Peanut. Pork. Tenderloin. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. And let’s take another look at these pictures. Not the best staged photos, but still mouth-watering. Drool-worthy really.

(Go ahead, lick the screen. Nobody’s watching)

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin 2

recipe adapted from Let’s Dish

1 (1.5 lb) pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp lime, or lemon, juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine marmalade, garlic, coriander, cumin, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, lime juice, orange juice, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until evenly incorporated.
2. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and place it in gallon sized zip-locking plastic bag. Carefully, add in the marinade, and then gently squeeze the excess air out of the bag before sealing it shut.
3. Refrigerate and let the meat  marinade for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 8 hours.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet (like cast iron or even a dutch oven) over medium-high heat, until the oil is shimmering.
5. Add the pork tenderloin, and sear on all sides, until it’s nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes total. Place the entire skillet into the preheated oven, and cook at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
6. While the pork is in the oven cooking, pour the marinade out of the plastic bag and into a small saucepan. Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Slice the tenderloin and pour the sauce over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

In our home, meatloaf is and has always been a stand-out family fav. Usually, I just make my Grandma’s meatloaf. It’s simple, no-fuss, no-frills, but it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. It’s a relatively short list of ingredients, and it’s fairly simple to throw together, but whenever I’m asked for the recipe I have to explain that there actually isn’t one.

Do you have any idea how long it took for me to learn how to make my Grandma’s meatloaf?! There was no. recipe. This meant that any time I wanted to make meatloaf, or she was making up a batch for the freezer, I would pack up my Costco-sized packages of ground beef, and the other ingredients I needed, and go over to her house and stand in the kitchen for hours watching her ‘eyeball’ ingredients as she casually threw everything together into a giant bowl. The only part I was allowed to partici[pate in was getting my hands dirty and smooshing ans squishing everything together. I was an excellent meatloaf masher 😉

After several months of ‘eyeballing’ she must have seen something that told her I was ready for the next step. The next meatloaf day I showed up energized, packing my lean ground beef, and ready to finally give it a go. This lasted through like two ingredients before she ended up taking over and just doing it herself. She said it was easier. This happened every time. Every. time. Do you have any idea how frustrating this was? Yes, I’d end up taking home several great meatloafs, but I couldn’t make them at my own house or by myself. It was beyond me (and totally out of my comfort zone at the time) to experiment by throwing various amounts of food stuffs into a bowl full of hamburger meat and hoping for the best, or knowing when to add more liquidy stuffs and when you needed more dry crap. I thought it was hopeless, and resigned myself to my Grandma making, or taking over making, my meatloaves for the rest of my life. But, Grandma’s been gone for almost 6 years now and it turns out, that unbeknownst to me, she knew what she was doing. Even without a recipe, I can whip up a kick ass meatloaf, and I cherish all those memories of us in her kitchen that I might not have had as an adult without all our meatloaf days. Somewhere along the way, I observed enough to interpret and absorb her secret meatloaf makin’ ways 🙂

While Grandma’s meatloaf will always be our  ‘put-up-on-a-pedestal’ favorite, we do enjoy trying other versions, especially ones that incorporate some of our favorite flavor combos. I like to think Grandma would be proud of our ingenuity and of pushing the recipe boundaries– something that would have been way out of her much more traditional kitchen comfort zone 😉 We’ve enjoyed bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, Mexican meatloaf, and even several Chicken versions. This recipe here though, is one of our most often enjoyed variations.

 French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

Think of your favorite meatloaf, then imagine that stuffed with your favorite french onion soup. And cheese. CHEESE! In our defense we usually stuff ours with mozzarella, but here Swiss is the perfect companion to the tender caramelized onions tucked up in our savory, prepared ground beef. This gourmet version is sure to wow the socks off of the family, and is a perfect option for those night’s when company’s coming.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

French Onion Soup Au Gratin Stuffed Meatloaf

recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kalechips

For the onions:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-large onions, halved & thinly sliced
½ tbsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup beef broth
¼ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
For the meatloaf:
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs or quick cooking, ground oats
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups mozzarella, or Swiss, cheese, shredded, divided
For the sauce:
2½ cups beef broth
½ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
3 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

For the onions:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. When the oil’s hot add in the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until they’ve caramelized.
2. Next, add the thyme and sauté for a minute or two, then add in the wine and beef broth.
3. Give everything a stir, and allow to continue cooking while the liquid reduces, until very little liquid remains in the skillet. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the meatloaf:
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs or oats, parsley, pepper, salt, and eggs. Using your hands (you can wear latex gloves if you’re squeamish) squish everything together until evenly incorporated.
2. Lay the meat mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and press it out into a roughly 10×12-inch rectangle.
3. Set aside ½ cup of the cheese and ½ cup of the onions. Sprinkle the remaining 1½ cups cheese and onions evenly over the ground beef. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from the short end, lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap as you roll. Seal the end completely, and place the loaf seam-side down into a 9×13-inch baking pan.
4. Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While the meatloaf is baking, prepare the sauce. For the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside
5. Remove the pan from the oven, pour the prepared sauce over the meatloaf, and sprinkle the top with the reserved onions and cheese.
7. Return the meatloaf to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
8. Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

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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Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

Once upon a time I thought beef wellington was just for rich people (and snobs). Those pricey cuts of beef were certainly out of my budget, even if puff pastry was not. I mean, I’ve got four kids and one income. Fancy cuts of beef are reserved for special occasions. Heck, who am I kidding? Even our anniversaries are more economical than that. But, over the years and with lots of trial and error, I’ve learned that cooking in a frugal kitchen and staying within your budget doesn’t mean we have to give up fancy meals. Sometimes, a little creativity is all you need to turn a gourmet favorite in a budget-friendly dish.

 Poor Man's Beef Wellington

Then I stumbled across this wonderful recipe. This revolutionary idea for Poor Man’s Beef wellington. Subbing ground beef for expensive cuts and adding in a healthy helping of veggies, it makes it doable, and delicious, for all of us. It’s like this fantastic hybrid that crosses the classic flavors of Shepherd’s Pie with all the delectable texture of a traditional Beef Wellington.

Hooray! Beef Wellington for everyone!!

Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

Poor Man's Beef Wellington 2

recipe adapted from Oh, Sweet Day

1 onion
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
1/2 cup of frozen peas (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 package of store-bought puff pastry
flour, for dusting and rolling
salt and pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, gently saute all the veggies, garlic, and the herbs, stirring occasionally, until your vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent. It will take about 6-8 minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies into a large bowl and allow them to cool completely.
2. Once they’ve cooled, add in the beef and peas. Here is your chance to play with your food! Get into the bowl with your hands, really dig in, and start kneading everything together, including salt and pepper and half of the beaten egg, reserving the other half for the pastry crust. Make sure everything is good and mixed up and evenly incorporated.
3. Dust a clean work surface with a handful of flour and roll out the puff pastry to a 1/4 inch thickness.
4. Shape your beef mixture into a log (as close as you can get) and place it in the center of the rolled out pastry sheet, finish shaping into a log if necessary, and brush the edges with the reserved egg. Roll it up, tucking the ends inside like a giant burrito, brush the sealed pastry log with beaten egg everywhere you can see, place it on a baking sheet seam down, and lightly brush the top with the remainder of the beaten egg.
5. Bake the Beef Wellington at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour, depending on your oven, until golden and crispy on the outside.
6. Allow the Beef Wellington to cool for about 5 minutes. Use a serrated bread knife to gently slice the wellington into the desired portions. Serve and enjoy!

To round out the meal, you can serve your Wellington with a simple green salad or, if you’re looking for a heftier meat and potatoes kind of meal, even roasted potatoes.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

These sliders. If you’ve seen them floating around the web, but haven’t given them a try yet, now’s the time to get to it. They really are that good. After my first bite, I could’ve kicked my own self for dragging my feet for so long.

Ooey, gooey finger-lickin’ good. Yes, that’s exactly what these sandwiches are. Prepare for the deliciousness. I think we can all agree that when cheese is involved with any meat, it’s pretty much a wonderful thing. Ham and cheese may be a beloved classic, and most definitely a wonderful thing, but add in the poppy seed mustard butter onion sauce thing and it’s umm, wow! The sauce is what really knocks this one out of the park.

 Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

So they’re yummy, and super simple to assemble, two things that don’t always go hand-in-hand in the kitchen. Doesn’t that just make them perfect for even your busiest days or nights?

The sons’ and the hubs drool over these things now, even the leftovers (if there are any the next day, which is rare). Are you thinking it sounds great, but bummed because you don’t have tiny any pretty petite buns on hand? If you’ve got some kind of larger bun, you’re in luck. I’ve made these on kaiser rolls, dinner rolls, and once even on hamburger buns with the same drool-worthy results.

Game day, brunch, a regular party, dinner, even a hot lunch. Whatever the occasion these bad boys will be the stars of the show.

Don’t want any pressure? Great. The sandwiches can be made up to a day in advance. Just don’t fix and sauce ’em until you’re ready to heat and serve. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with mush. And I haven’t met a ‘mush’ yet that I actually liked.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

Hot Ham & Swiss Cheese Sliders

24 Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
24 pieces of ham, regular or honey flavored
24 slices of Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy Seed Mustard Sauce:
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1½ tbsp yellow mustard
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp minced onion
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

1. Spread the mayo onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese inside of each roll. Close the rolls and place them close together into a large baking dish, or onto a heavy cookie sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until evenly combined. Pour the sauce as evenly as possible overtop all of the sandwiches. If you don’t want to use all of the sauce that’s ok. Just make sure to use enough to cover the tops of the rolls. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly browned and crisped. Serve warm.

Sous Chef Sunday: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

The Sons’ are at it again, bringing the masses another recipe they’ve knocked out of the park.

Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub and the result is out of this world!

Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Subs

This recipe will leave your house smelling like a heavenly Italian restaurant and you’ll be lucky if you can keep your family from devouring it before it makes it to their plates. I think the Sons were worse than our pug that night, loitering around the kitchen and watching for any missed speck of this recipe while they waited for me to plate everything up for them.

Savory, buttery, crispy garlic bread stuffed with delicious spaghetti and meatballs… it’s a match made in heaven. How could I blame the little scroungers?!

I’m always watching the sons turn their spaghetti and garlic bread into an open faced sandwich (I’ll admit it freaked me out slightly the first few times), so I knew this would be right up their alley. And oh boy, were they sure on to something…

 son 3 helping

(The apron says it all)

Son # 2, just like his Daddy 🙂

He could easily (and quite happily) eat spaghetti and meatballs every night of the week. Which is why he nominated himself to oversee this particular meal.

 Spaghetti & Meatball Sub Sandwich

It may not be the prettiest presentation, but it delivers 100 % on flavor. All the sons and the hubs gave it two thumbs up. Just make sure you have some napkins handy, because it is messy. But man, you can’t go wrong with Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub! Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

Spaghetti & Meatballs Sub Sandwich

recipe adapted from The Cards We Drew

frozen, or homemade, meatballs (we used about 1/3-1/2 of the package)
Parmesan, and/or Mozzarella cheese, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1 loaf of Italian bread
garlic butter (either store bought or homemade)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meatballs with the spaghetti sauce until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and then set the aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your bread loaf in half length wise, and liberally coat both sides of the inside with garlic butter.
6. Place bread in a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, with the insides facing up and bake it until the butter is melted and inside is lightly crisped.
7. Once the bread has baked, top the bottom half with the cooked spaghetti, top the spaghetti with the meatball and sauce mixture, and then sprinkle some parmesan, and/or mozzarella cheese on top.
8. Put the loaf back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is heated through. Slice loaf into individual sandwiches and serve with salad for dinner.

UPDATE: The Sons’ found this gem and declared it a must share. Son # 1 putting his spaghetti on a baked potato! Bleck!!

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Welcome to my life 😉

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

For those of you who don’t know the hubs, which is probably most of you, let me tell you about his love of all things neat and orderly. To put it bluntly, he can’t function in any other sort of environment. He knows where everything goes, and if one thing is out of place it’s going to systematically drive him crazy. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me since he’ll be the first one to start cleaning or come behind me as I’m cooking and wash the dishes as I go. Even when I get annoyed, I can’t help but appreciate this side of him because he totally balances me out. For example, just last week the hubs went on a two day long streak where he decided that we would pull everything out of every nook and cranny in the house and clean it and organize it. At first I was frustrated since this had clearly not been on my honey-do list for the weekend, but by the end of it I was thankful. Everything was thoroughly cleansed, we’d swapped out spring/summer wardrobes for fall/winter. The freezers had been defrosted and updated inventories made of what was where and when it expired. Instead of dreading taking on these tasks myself and getting them done piece meal, we both felt like we’d accomplished something, we both had help, and we rewarded ourselves the next day by mindlessly relaxing & binge watching a new TV show on Netflix with all the sons. And that had been on my list.

So that was the good. The bad? I had several things in the freezer that needed using in the very near future. Several of those things were multiple pounds of pizza dough. So guess what? We had pizza for dinner two nights in a row last week. The sons thought I’d gone and lost my mind. They were thrilled. This was what was on the menu with two pounds of said dough. Several of our favorite flavors and ingredients, coming together to star in one perfect pizza.

While I can flourish in clutter, the hubs can’t. The happy medium? We keep each other in sync and have many things to show for it. Not the least of which are some damn delicious dinners!

This recipe is a doozie. If you love pizza, bacon, chicken, and ranch dressing then you are going to love this.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

 Chicken Bacon Garlic Ranch Pizza

recipe adapted from I Heart Naptime

Dough for 1 large pizza
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

 Garlic- Ranch Sauce

2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients to make the garlic-ranch sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2 inch of ‘crust’ all the way around.
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over top the sauce, then evenly spread the chicken, bacon, onion and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.