The absolute best thing about our house is the ability to have dinners on the deck on a gorgeous evening. Tonight was one of those evenings. The trees still aren’t green in our view but the evening was perfect nonetheless. We fired up the grill too in order to make another new recipe from the “Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook” that I checked out from our library (I’m going to have to purchase one of these as I’ve rechecked it now three times and I want to copy way too many of the recipes.)
Not the best picture of our deck but this gives you a glimpse at why it is so wonderful. This was from the end of April last year. Our deck is up in the trees.
Plan Ahead- Chicken and Pineapple need to marinade for 6-8 hours.
Place in a ziploc bag:
- 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to prick my chicken with a fork to help the marinade ooze into the chicken a bit more)
- 3/4 cup of Lawry’s Santa Fe Chili Marinade with Lime and Garlic (the recipe calls for a lime and garlic marinade….this was the closest I could find!)
Seal the chicken in the ziploc bag and chill for 6 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Cut into fourths:
- one cored fresh pineapple
Place the pineapple into a ziploc bag and pour 1/4 cup of the marinade over the pineapple. Seal and chill for 6 to 8 hours.
Ready to Grill:
Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Drain the pineapple.
Grill chicken 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done.
Grill pineapple 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
Wash and prepare:
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups of strawberries, halved
- 1 cup of raspberries
Once the grilled items are cooked as needed, cut chicken into strips and the pineapple into bite-sized pieces.
Arrange the lettuce, chicken, and fruit into bowls.
You could toss the fruit with some of the marinade before adding to to the salad or just let each person add extra marinade as desired. We just added as desired as my girls don’t really care for dressing on their salad.
This was a great dinner and easy to prepare. Everyone left the table happy….even the extra child that joined us for dinner!
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Magic Pot Alert! Yep, this one is a dump and go kind of recipe….my kind of slow cooker meal. It gets four smiley faces from my family of four. The only thing you have to plan for is to be home for the first hour of cooking as you cook on high for one hour and then reduce it to low for the next 5 hours. * I found the base for this recipe in a Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook that I checked out from a local library.
Chicken Lasagna Florentine
Combine in a large bowl and stir well:
- 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
- 10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry (I used frozen from Trader Joe’s and didn’t need to drain and squeeze)
- 2-3 cups of diced, cooked chicken (I used some shredded chicken that I had in the freezer, you could also use the Tyson’s diced cooked chicken)
- 8 ounces of sour cream
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 Tablespoon of Penzey’s Mural of Flavor (a mix of spices, dried shallots, onion, garlic, lemon peel, citric acid, chives, orange peel) If you don’t have this, one variation I found online has 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
- salt and pepper to taste
Place in a larger slow cooker, coated with cooking spray (or maybe one of those liners would be good)
- 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, breaking the noodles in half, to fit in the slow cooker. (will need 9 noodles in all for the layers)
Spread one third of the spinach mixture over the noodles.
Sprinkle over the mixture
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
- 3 more noodles (breaking as needed)
- half of the remaining spinach mixture
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
Top with the remaining noodles, mixture, and cheese.
Cover and cook on High for 1 hour
Reduce to Low and cook for 5 hours or until the pasta is done (mine was fine after 5 hours)
* Note: I did search around before posting this and see that someone did this same base recipe on Low for 8 hours and said it was fine—that way you don’t have to worry about the High/Low switch.
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That is the name my girls gave to the dish I created tonight…..yes….I actually made something without any recipe—miracles DO still happen.
I am not one that likes to go-it-alone in the kitchen without a recipe because I HATE to mess up and I HATE to waste food (and messed up food is a waste!). But tonight I was stuck. Thursday nights are often quesadillas or burritos for us (Dad isn’t home for dinner). Both of those options require tortillas and I was low on tortillas. The other Thursday night option is often pancakes and I just wasn’t in the mood. So I hit the freezer. There I found some of my favorite grilled chicken strips from Tyson’s.
But what could I do with them?
Ahhh…..some noodles….but what else?
Good ole “Cream of” to the rescue….I could mix that in with some milk to thin it out.
Chicken Noodle Yum!
Boil water to prepare 3 cups of medium egg noodles.
2 cups of Tyson’s Grilled and Ready chicken
- warm the chicken in a non-stick skillet for 3 minutes
Add to chicken
- one can of cream of chicken soup
- milk…probably 1/4 cup???? The purpose was to thin out the soup- I didn’t measure as I dumped the soup in a 2 cup measuring cup and then poured milk over it until the milk was even with the dumped out soup.
- stir and pour over the chicken warming in the skillet
By this time your noodles should be done.
Drain the noodles and add to the chicken and soup mixture.
Then I seasoned with salt and pepper.
I also had some spices from Christmas from my MIL. I sprinkled the Pasta Sprinkle from Penzeys Spices over everything. Basically this is just basil, oregano, garlic and tyme in a jar!
Both of my girls ate it right up and I loved that we had a warm meal quickly after a busy afternoon.
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This is an easy one—especially if you have cooked chicken or turkey in the freezer to use up! I made use of the last bit of turkey from Thanksgiving this week when I made this recipe.
Ro-Tel Chicken (or Turkey!)
Heat in a large skillet which has a lid: (or if you have 4 cups of chicken/turkey that is already cooked and shredded, as I did from the freezer, just warm it through, season it then add the other ingredients)
- 1 T Vegetable oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Season the chicken, to taste, with
Add to the cooked chicken:
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 can Ro-Tel (I used the Great Value Brand of Ro-Tel)
- 1 small can tomato sauce (8 oz)
- 1 cup water—-don’t dirty another dish…just fill the 8 oz tomato sauce can with water and dump it in
- 3 green onions, sliced
Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender (mine took about 30 minutes this time)
Stir chicken and rice.
- shredded cheese (about 1 cup)
Cover and cook until the cheese melts.
This actually got four smiley faces from my family of four
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Need a fast and easy dinner? This one will do the job then. We usually have all of these ingredients minus the french bread on hand in our kitchen. The recipe says to use 2 grilled chicken breasts. I used Tyson’s frozen sliced chicken breasts- I actually had their fajita seasoned one’s in the freezer and used them. It made the dish even easier!
Chicken Fajita Melts
Slice open lengthwise:
Prepare your chicken breasts
- Either season them with a little fajita seasoning and grill OR
- Use prepared, frozen chicken and put a plate to warm in the microwave
- bell peppers- sliced (red and green)
- Onions- sliced
- season with fajita seasoning, to taste
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of salsa over the bread (I didn’t measure; I just slathered it on until it looked right!)
- Add the grilled chicken slices
- sprinkle the sauteed peppers and onions
- top with pepper jack or cheddar cheese
Place under the broiler to melt the cheese
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I’m always up for a “magic pot” recipe….you know what I mean, throw it all in, turn it on and come back later ready to eat. This is one that I found on imom.com in a recipe file on their site. It says that they are for tacos, which we did indeed eat them as with hard shells and also some flour tortillas. I thought they were great on the tortillas, not so great in the hard shells. BUT I think this is actually wonderful as a soup. We crumbled up tortilla chips in it and really liked it that way.
So here is the recipe and then after that I will tell you how you could make your own tortilla strips if you don’t have any chips on hand.
Chicken Enchilada Tacos
Combine into the slow cooker:
- 1 lb diced or shredded cooked chicken (I had 4 cups frozen in the freezer and just defrosted that—made this recipe even easier!)
- 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce (we used green sauce)
- 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
- 1 (10 oz) package frozen Mexican corn blend (well, I couldn’t find this and wasn’t running to Trader Joes to get some so I used a can of corn that I drained of the juice)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Turn on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4.
Garnish with your favorite garnish: sour cream, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro, avocado, crisp lettuce…
You could also serve this over white rice.
Make your own tortilla strips:
Cut tortillas into 1/2 inch wide strips.
Cut those then in half crosswise.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet
Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until crisp and slightly browned.
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I tried really hard to mess this recipe up and it still turned out tasty! I don’t know where my brain was while I was preparing it but it wasn’t functioning for sure. I found this recipe on another blogger’s site after she liked one of my recent posts. (I thought it only right to go and see who this person was and check out what she might have on her blog! You should check her out too. I’ve linked her below)
Since I’m trying to prepare fewer red meat meals for my family, I thought this one might be a good one to try. Chicken, especially chicken breasts, often have very little flavor and I can’t stand to eat leftover chicken….BUT with this recipe, I’m looking forward to the leftovers.
So on the greengourmetbooks.com you will find:
- 3 large chicken breasts and cut them in 1″ wide strips but then cut those down to where they were nice, finger food size. This made enough for my family of four.
Then I doubled the “rub” because remember, I LOVE flavor.
So mine was:
- 2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika (Yes, they make this. If your spice jar just says “paprika” then you don’t have smoked, you have sweet. Purchase the one that says “smoked paprika” evidently there is also a “hot paprika” too)
- 4 teaspoons Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Mustard Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Of course this would be “brain blink” #1—-I forgot to put the olive oil in until I had rubbed the spice mix on half of my chicken. So then I sprayed the already rubbed chicken with cooking spray and since 1/2 of the rub was gone I then only added 1 T of Olive Oil….see what I mean by trying hard)
- Salt and Pepper to taste (This would be “brain blink” #2—I forgot this altogether. My handsome fella loves salt so I remembered about 12 minutes into the baking and pulled them out and sprinkled everything with salt and pepper.)
Lori at greengourmetbooks.com says that these are great served cold for a picnic or bagged lunch OR serve hot on a bed of rice for a family dinner. Well, that would be “brain blink” #3…I forgot to make the rice and had every intention of preparing it.
So we just ate ours with the corn-on-the-cob, Ranch Style beans, and apple slices- no rice.
This is a winner of a recipe—even my child that had been running fever all day ate some without being asked to eat. We will be having this again—maybe next time for a picnic in the park!
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It is going to be 70 degrees here on Thursday and we are planning to fire up the grill. As Texan-transplants to Pennsylvania, we don’t fire up our grill until it warms up outside! (I do know of natives to PA that stand outside in the snow and grill.) In case you are looking for an easy recipe to grill, let me share this one with you that I got at our Moms4Moms group last fall. The recipe says to broil the chicken but my friend Fredda says she grills them when she makes the recipe. I made this on Monday night using the broiler and they were great so I know on the grill they would be even better.
Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs
Preheat grill (or broiler)
Combine in a large bowl:
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
Add to the bowl:
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Toss to coat (rather than tossing I dredged my chicken in the mixture making sure it got a good coating)
Place the chicken on the grill or on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
Grill/Broil the chicken 5 minutes on each side.
Combine in a small bowl and stir well:
- 6 Tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Brush the chicken with half of the honey mixture (if broiling you will remove it from the oven to do this…or else you might burn your hands!!!) and grill/broil for another minute
Turn the chicken over and brush it with the remaining honey mixture.
Grill/Broil for another minute or until the chicken is done. (The temp for “done” chicken is 165° and no less than 160°)
Now you may be wondering…broil on low or on high? I broiled on high…but my oven has issues! So if you broil the chicken you might start it on low and see if it takes 5 minutes to cook it half-way through. If it seems to be going to slow bump it up to high.
I can’t wait to try this again using the grill. Let me know how it turns out for you!
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I made this today and it was a great meal to come home to after church. It didn’t taste like a “crock pot” meal either! I was able to prep most of it last night and then got up this morning and threw it in the slow cooker. Below is how I prepared it in stages. We ended up cooking the shrimp and rice before adding it into the rest of the dish (which is different from how the recipe originally said to do it…but I just don’t trust a slow cooker to get my shrimp cooked fully in a short amount of time).
Easy Slow-Cooker Jambalaya
The night before:
Chop and place into a tupperware-type container
- 1 large onion
- 1 large green bell pepper (seeded of course!)
- 3 stalks of celery
In a prep bowl combine:
- 1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning (or Cajun)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Make sure your meats are defrosted:
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pound smoked sausage
- 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (next time I will cut these in half so they are easier to serve)
- 1 -28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of canned chicken broth OR make your broth and place in the refrigerator until ready to mix things up
- Rice to prepare (cook 1 3/4 cup rice)
Morning of making the dish:
- Cut sausage into 1 1/2 -2 inch slices
- Chop your garlic cloves
- Layer in the slow cooker:
- 1/3 of the Vegetables
- 1/2 of the Chicken
- 1/2 of the Sausage
- 1/2 of the seasoning mix
- 1/2 of the garlic
- 1/2 of the Broth
- 1/2 of the tomatoes
- Repeat layers
- Top with vegetables
Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 5 hours.
Before I left for church I got the rice going (1 3/4 cup rice). After putting the rice into the boiling water, I turned the burner off and left the pot on the burner. The rice was ready when we got home.
We boiled water and cooked the shrimp right after we got home.
Then we put the rice and the shrimp in the slow cooker and kicked it up to high while we got everything else ready. (About 30 minutes) If you don’t think it is warm enough for you, throw it in a large pot on the stove and warm it until the rice is heated up.
We served it with bread, salad, and apple slices.
It makes a ton so you can easily serve 8 people.
We will be having this one again and inviting people over after church—I love a good Sunday afternoon dinner.
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It has been C-O-L-D this weekend. So what is better on a cold weekend than warm soup???!!! I was actually out of Ro-Tel and we had to make a quick stop by the store on the way home from church for it (I had two recipes and each needed Ro-Tel…it really is staple in our cooking at the Smith house!). Some of my friends in PA haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ro-Tel….well let me introduce you:
Ro-Tel: A Smith Family Staple
You can find Ro-Tel at every grocery store now but the best prices are at Target and Wal-Mart. I cringe to pay over $1 for it, but today I had to as the grocery store was a lot closer than Target/Wal-Mart.
Once I had my can of Ro-Tel, I was able to throw this soup together in no time. I had the other ingredients on hand because I had planned to make this on Tuesday. But I like to have a warm, family meal on Sunday and since we threw sandwiches together for lunch…I had to come up with something for dinner.
Enter Santa Fe Chicken Soup….
I shared this recipe about the same time last year! It was in the crockpot and ready to go in no time thanks to some previously cooked, shredded and frozen chicken I had.
We served the soup with tortilla chips and Fritos along with apple slices of course (that is always my…I know if the girls don’t really eat enough soup they can fill up on Apple slices strategy)
So if you need something quick to throw together and ready to eat in about 3 or 4 hours….this is one for you.
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