Posts Tagged ‘Easy Dinner’

Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

I finally own matching dishware for a service for 12! I was ecstatic the day I brought them home. Hubby, however, just wanted dinner because it was late by the time I brought the new dishes home. I threw dinner together while I washed a couple of my new salad plates to serve it on.

The dinner was incredibly tasty for something so quick and easy. So much so, that I’ll definitely be making it again sometime when we have the kids. They’ll love the pasta and veggies, and they’re always asking when we’ll be having salmon again because it’s one of their favorite foods. Besides, when “my stepmom’s good food” makes one of your kids’ required “things I like” lists for school, how can you not make them what they like?

Serves 2; can be doubled easily to serve more

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop
  • Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Place 2 6-ounce salmon steaks on foil, skin side down
  • Drizzle olive oillightly over the salmon, brushing it to coat all of the meat
    • I have rosemary and pink peppercorn infused olive oil my cousin made for Christmas that I love to use on salmon. I think it adds the perfect hint of spiciness and flavor.
  • Season the salmon generously with salt and black pepper
  • Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness; I baked mine for 20 minutes
  • While salmon bakes, add 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to package directions
  • A few minutes before the pasta is done, add 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables to the pasta and continue to boil
  • Once pasta and vegetables are done, drain and toss with 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Divide the pasta with vegetables evenly between two plates
  • Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan and cracked black pepper to taste over each serving of pasta and vegetables
  • When salmon is done baking and easily flakes with a fork, take a metal spatula and carefully remove the steak from the skin and place on top of the pasta with vegetables. I don’t grease the foil specifically so the skin sticks to the foil and the salmon steak slides right off the skin.

Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

The measurements for the pasta and veggies are an estimate. I had leftovers of already cooked macaroni in my refrigerator that I simply warmed up with some frozen vegetables in the microwave. This meal is incredibly easy and fast to put together. The Parmesan is a must with the pasta and veggies, really adding a punch of flavor. Be sure not to under-season the salmon before baking. You need that seasoning to enhance the flavor of the fish.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~


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BBQ Chicken Taco

There’s a barbecue place in Central Texas that has this tasty little creation that every once in a while, I just have to have. Fuschak’s takes a tortilla, loads it with refried beans, brisket, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, cheese, and onions, and wraps it all up, creating the most delicious burrito, what they call a bar-burrito. When my hubby insisted we serve barbecue at our wedding because “otherwise it wouldn’t be a real Texas wedding,” I insisted we hire Fuschak’s to cater just so I could order myself a bar-burrito. They kindly delivered a handful of their delicious bar-burritos for hubby, my stepsister, and me.

The only problem about getting a bar-burrito craving is that I’m not about to hop onto IH35 and spend up to two hours in death-trap-like traffic just to get one. The only solution is to make our own version at home. And on Friday evening, that’s just what I did – except I switched the brisket for chicken and the white flour tortillas for whole wheat.

Makes 6-8 tacos, serving size 2 per person
Downloadable PDF of Barbecue Chicken Tacos

  • In a large, deep skillet, add:
    • 1 pound chicken breast; I used a package of chicken breast tenders
    • 1 cup barbecue sauce; use more if needed – you want just enough sauce to simmer the chicken, but not so much that it covers the chicken. I used Jack Daniel’s Original No. 7 Barbecue Sauce
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover and reduce heat, letting the chicken simmer until just cooked through and no longer pink, about 15 – 20 minutes
  • While the chicken cooks, prepare the beans:
    • You can use a can of refried beans, or you can use my method below for smashed pinto beans. I prefer the smashed pinto beans because canned refried beans are too dry and thick for my liking. If you make your own homemade beans, that would be absolutely perfect.
    • Drain just a bit of liquid from 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
    • Pour beans and remaining liquid into a medium saucepan
    • Using a potato masher, mash the beans into the liquid until they are all smashed, resulting in a creamy, slightly thick consistency.
    • Cook over low heat until just heated through, cover to keep warm and turn off heat so as not to burn.
  • While chicken and beans are cooking, finely chop half a small onion and set aside.
  • Set aside 1/2 cup shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese
  • Also set aside 1/2 cup barbecue sauce of your choice and 2 Tablespoons hot sauce of your choice, such as Tobasco.
  • When chicken is cooked through, turn off heat and shred the chicken using two forks. I shred it in the skillet.
  • Stir the chicken into the sauce remaining in the skillet, adding more if necessary to coat chicken, and heat through.
  • Heat 6 7-inch whole wheat flour tortillas by either wrapping in damp paper towels and steaming in the microwave until hot (30 seconds – 1 minute) or warming for 15-30 seconds per side in a dry skillet over medium heat.
  • To assemble:
    • Spread beans onto each tortilla
    • Place chicken on top of beans
    • Sprinkle shredded cheese over the chicken
    • Sprinkle on the finely chopped onion
    • Top with 1 Tablespoon or so of barbecue sauce and 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, give or take for your own preference
    • Fold tortilla and enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Taco

I’ll be honest – I forgot to put the hot sauce on mine and I was missing it. It adds that perfect kick to enhance all the flavors. They were not the Fuschak’s bar-burrito (chicken is not a replacement for slow cooked brisket!). But they were still really good – good enough to fulfill the craving. I’ll definitely be making them again, especially when I can talk hubby into firing up the charcoal grill to grill the chicken.

The girls loved these for dinner, without the hot sauce and onions, of course! And the leftover chicken was used for:


The next day the girls wanted grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I sliced some smoked cheddar, buttered some bread, used the leftover barbecue chicken, and made a tasty take on grilled cheese that was a hit with the kids.

Downloadable PDF of Barbecue Chicken Tacos

Are there any restaurant specialties you like to recreate at home? I’m always trying to recreate different dishes I had at restaurants, especially since we drastically scaled back how often we eat out, venturing to a restaurant only twice a month now.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Thank you for everyone’s support and prayers for my baby great nephew! His surgery was successful! He is still in the hospital, in recovery, but his sweet mom finally got to hold him a couple of days after the surgery and he has an amazing team of nurses, doctors, and specialists looking after him.

Beef and Barley Stew
Beef and Barley Stew

I am going to discuss a practice this week that I rarely take part in: Freezer Meals. Even when I had a busier schedule, I only made freezer meals a couple times a year. But for many families, they are very helpful, and on occasion I find myself wishing I froze more meals in advance, for days when I’m too tired or sick to deal with the prep work of a meal, or days when our schedule is just plain hectic. I love having a freezer meal option on days when we tackle big house projects, like painting. All the energy spent on home improvement zaps any desire to stand in the kitchen and cook!

This past Saturday, I spent the entire day in the kitchen on a sudden whim to prep as much as possible for the week’s upcoming meals. In one day I made or prepped:

  • Beef & Barley Stew (can be frozen, but I left mine in the refrigerator for Sunday’s dinner)
  • Chimichurri marinade for salmon steaks
  • Two Chicken & Spinach Pasta Casseroles
  • Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken boiled & cut, but meal assembled the next day for lunch)
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
  • Green Chili Pork Stew (chopped meat & veggies, all frozen in separate freezer bags, then stored in one larger freezer bag, prepped and ready to be thrown in the slow cooker another day)
  • 8 cups of chicken broth, divided into portions.

That’s seven meals ready to go, plus a full 8 cups of chicken broth to have on hand for soups, stews, casseroles, and so on. I also restocked the cheeses in my freezer. I buy shredded cheeses in bulk for a lower unit cost, divide them into 1-cup portions, and freeze them. I always keep monterey jack, colby jack, cheddar, and mozzarella on hand for casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, lasagna, etc.

Beef and Barley Stew

Serves 4; Stew can be doubled so half can be served immediately and half can be frozen
Downloadable PDF of Beef and Barley Stew

  • This stew can be frozen in individual portions and reheated in a microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop
  • Use frozen stew within 2-3 months
  • Options for freezing and reheating:
    • Freeze portions in individual freezer & microwave safe dishes, topped with foil, then tight-fitting lid. To reheat in the microwave straight from freezer, remove foil, vent lid, and thaw using the microwave’s defrost setting. Once stew and container have gently defrosted enough, microwave at 50% power for 2 – 4 minutes, stir stew, then microwave at full power an additional 1 – 2 minutes until thoroughly hot. Let sit for a minute, stir, then serve.
    • Freeze portions in individual sized freezer plastic bags. To reheat in the microwave, tear the bag away from the frozen stew, place frozen stew in microwave safe dish and follow above instructions. To thaw on the stovetop, tear bag away from frozen stew, place frozen stew in a saucepan, and heat over medium low heat until thawed. Increase heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes until stew is heated through and steaming hot.
    • Freeze one batch of stew in a large freezer safe container. To reheat, place container in refrigerator 24 hours before you want to serve the stew (the night before serving). Pour thawed stew into stock pot and reheat over medium heat, simmering at least 5 minutes, until heated through and steaming hot.
    • When putting a dish straight from the freezer to the microwave, I ALWAYS use the microwave’s defrost setting to thaw the dish and food gently. Many dishes will crack or even explode if exposed to extreme temperature changes so ALWAYS be careful.
  • In a large stock pot, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat
  • To the hot oil, add: 3/4 pound beef stew meat, cut in bite size pieces
  • Sprinkle stew meat with salt and black pepper to season while browning
  • While meat browns, dice 4 large carrots
  • Add diced carrots to browned meat and saute 4-5 minutes
  • To the carrots and meat, pour in 32 ounces low sodium beef broth
  • Add 1/2 cup barley to the soup
  • Stir in 12 ounces cream of mushroom soup (I use Pacific Organic brand, which has a wonderful, rich flavor)
  • Bring soup to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low
  • Simmer for 30 minutes or so
  • Serve immediately, or cool to freeze
  • Cool soup thoroughly in refrigerator before freezing
  • Divide into desired freezer-safe containers, label with date, name of meal, and reheating instructions, and freeze.

Beef and Barley Stew

This is one of my all time favorite stews for fall and winter. It’s so rich and hearty with very few ingredients. It freezes and reheats well, so it’s easy to double a batch and freeze half for later. I have been known to freeze portions of stews in individual microwave safe containers, take them to work, and heat them for lunch. They make an easy and filling homemade lunch at the office.

Remember to always, always ensure your dishes are microwave and freezer safe, and never subject them to sudden, extreme temperature changes for your safety. Exploding dishes are very dangerous. Also be sure to reheat food thoroughly, to steaming hot, to avoid food-bourn illnesses. Never freeze partially cooked meat. Freeze it raw, or fully cooked, never partially cooked. When in doubt, consult the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service’s website on Freezing and Food Safety.

Downloadable PDF of Beef and Barley Stew

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Oven Fried Catfish

This crazy easy meal has been sitting in my “to-post” queue for a while now. Every time I’d look at it, I wasn’t ready to post it. Probably because it’s not really a recipe. It’s 3 ingredients; 4 if you count the bagged cole slaw kit. Talk about an easy dinner. You could make your own cole slaw from scratch, or serve whatever other side you prefer (my top choice is always mashed potatoes – something I contribute to growing up in the Midwest on my grandma’s mashed potatoes).

Serves 2; easily doubled (or more) to serve more people
Downloadable PDF of Oven Fried Catfish

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Spray foil with cooking spray
  • In a shallow dish, mix:
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal
    • 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Lite Creole Seasoning; adjust amount to your own liking
  • Dredge 2 catfish fillets in the cornmeal mixture, coating thoroughly on both sides
  • Place fillets on foil-lined baking sheet
  • Spray fillets lightly with cooking spray
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, or until cooked through and cornmeal coating is crisp
  • Serve with cole slaw or side of your choice and preferred dipping sauce, such as tartar sauce

Oven Fried Catfish

I love turning to this meal when I don’t have a lot of time for cooking, which has been my life the last couple of weeks. First, it was the back-to-back birthday celebrations (one with friends, one with family) for our now 12-year-0ld, followed by my sudden urge to scrub our entire house for the last week. I’ve been scrubbing walls, doors, baseboards, blinds, cabinet doors, and everything in between, one room at a time since early last week. I promise, once I get over my cleaning obsession, I’ll get back into posting regularly. Though, with my other new obsession of Pinterest, I have a ton of recipes “pinned” to try instead of creating my own…

Tonight, our simple, minimal ingredient dinner will be roasted potatoes with seared sea scallops and my standard lemony white wine butter sauce.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Fall weather and soup go hand in hand, which means I try to make a soup once a week now that we’re finally getting some fall-like weather. One of my hubby’s favorites is posole. My stepaunt makes the best, and I can’t come close to what she makes, but hubby and the kids love this version too.

I used this recipe, but halved it. I don’t like having tons of leftovers that I have to store or freeze. If I wasn’t home to cook dinner every evening, I’d be all about leftovers. But since I’m home, I like making something different every night. I also did not brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker. I know many folks would say I’m losing flavor without browning it first, but it was still full of flavor and oh-so-tender without browning it.

Recipe from allrecipes.com
(we got 5 servings from the below modifications)
Downloadable PDF of Slow Cooker Posole

  • Chop 1/2 medium onion
  • Saute chopped onion in a dash of olive oil, or whatever oil you prefer, in a hot skillet
  • While onions are sauteing, cut pork
  • Cut 1 pound pork loin roast into cubes, 1-inch or smaller (I like mine smaller)
  • Place cubed loin roast into a 4-quart slow cooker
  • Top cubed meat with sauteed onion
  • Add:
    • 1 14.5-ounce can red enchilada sauce (I use La Victoria brand, mild)
    • 1 15.5-ounce can white hominy, drained
    • Using the empty enchilada sauce can, add 2 cans’ worth of water to the slow cooker
    • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Cook on low 6-7 hours, or until meat is tender
  • Add:
    • 2 Tablespoons dried cilantro
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cook on low an additional 30 minutes
  • While the soup finishes cooking, prepare home baked chips:
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Cut 5 corn tortillas into strips
    • Cut the strips into pieces, so you have mostly squares of tortilla
    • Cover a baking sheet with foil
    • Very lightly spray the foil with olive oil or cooking spray
    • Arrange the cut tortillas onto the baking sheet – mine covered the entire sheet
    • Lightly spray with olive oil or cooking spray the tops of the tortilla pieces
    • Sprinkle lightly with salt
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or so, until lightly browned and crispy.
    • Remove from baking sheet and set aside to sprinkle onto bowls of soup
  • Serve soup topped with:
    • Splash of lime juice
    • Chopped avocado
    • Home baked tortilla chips
    • Sour cream


Yum! This soup is so easy, so tasty, and a perfect slow cooker meal for days when I’m too swamped to make dinner. This was the perfect amount to feed our family of four, and have just enough left over for hubby’s lunch the next day. (I have green smoothies for lunch every day, so I try to have something more substantial on hand for him.)

What’s your favorite soup?

Do you like making soups in the slow cooker?

Downloadable PDF of Slow Cooker Posole

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Bacon Wrapped Halibut and Roasted Veggies

Bacon-wrapped halibut is my favorite meal to serve for date night at home. It’s usually what I’ll make for Valentine’s Day if we don’t go out to dinner (which we usually don’t – neither hubby or I like the big crowds for such holidays).

The version above is not my favorite I’ve made, but it’s still good. In the recipe below, I’ll note what to change to make it the version I prefer.

Halibut is an expensive fish at our local grocery store, but buying just for the two of us is still way cheaper than going out to eat for date night. Don’t get me wrong – we still go out. As a lover of food, I enjoy being treated to a dinner I didn’t make. But sometimes, it’s really fun to have date night food at home. And this meal couldn’t be easier.

Downloadable PDF of Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Roasted Vegetables

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • In a small roasting dish, place:
    • 14 baby Dutch potatoes, rinsed well
    • 10 radishes, rinsed well with stems and long root ends removed
  • Coat vegetables lightly with olive oil (I keep a spray bottle of olive oil that ensures I coat them with just enough that’s needed and no more)
  • Sprinkle vegetables with salt, black pepper, and dried thyme to taste
  • Toss vegetables to distribute the seasonings
  • Set vegetables aside while you prep the fish
  • Season 2 4-ounce fillets halibut with salt and black pepper
  • Variation pictured:
    • Sprinkle with dried basil and dried oregano
    • Place a layer of crumbled feta cheese on top of the fish
    • Wrap fish with 3-4 slices bacon (I used the fully cooked variety since that’s what I had on hand)
    • Place on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet
    • Place fish and veggies in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork and veggies are browned
  • My preferred variation:
    • Spread a layer of garlic & herb flavored soft goat cheese on the fillets
    • Wrap each fillet in 3-4 slices of bacon
    • Place on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet
    • Place fish and veggies in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork and veggies are browned

Veggies prepped for roastingPrepped halibut
Bacon Wrapped Halibut and Roasted Veggies

Use whatever vegetables you prefer. I happen to love roasted radishes. Roasting sweetens them a bit, but they keep a slight peppery edge. Baby Dutch potatoes are super yummy roasted. The fully cooked variety of bacon gets quite crispy, so I’d suggest either covering the fish loosely with foil while baking, or using uncooked bacon slices. I keep the fully cooked variety on hand because it’s so easy for the kids to warm up for their breakfast without any grease splattering on them.

Using soft cheese, such as a spreadable goat cheese, is preferable to crumbled feta, just because it stays on the fish. I only had feta on hand this time around. It was okay, but I preferred the robust flavor and texture of garlic and herb goat cheese.

If steak is more your thing, whip up some bacon wrapped filet mignon, place a dollop of herbed butter on top, and serve with these roasted vegetables for a variation of this dinner that’s just as easy and yummy.

This is also an easy meal to double or triple when in need of a fancy dinner for guests. Keep the cost down by using a different white fish, or using boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Downloadable PDF of Bacon Wrapped Halibut with Roasted Vegetables

What’s your favorite date night at home meal?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Lemon Sauced Dory

Wednesdays are the busiest days at my house. It’s trash day, lawn-watering day (and with no actual sprinkler system, that makes me the lawn waterer), and vacuum/mopping day. Wednesday is also a day one of my strength training workouts falls on. And of course after that, I have to walk the pup 3 miles or he’ll drive me batty the rest of the day.

Usually all these tasks are enough to wear me out. That’s why on Wednesdays, I make really easy, fast meals of fish. White fish cooks in mere minutes and served with a quick steamed veggie, means that I have dinner made in about 30 minutes or less.

Yesterday, I had a sudden impulse to do some fall gardening, which really kept me busy. I put fresh, nutrient-rich soil around all my rose beds, and planted two Chapel Hill Lantana by the back porch.

Needless to say, I had no energy to even consider a complicated dinner. I’m very glad I had already planned Lemon Sauced Dory for the menu. It’s quick, easy, tangy, and yummy. And did I say it’s quick?

I can’t remember if I first this sauce on the back of a frozen fish package or where, or even if the measurements are the same as that first recipe I saw, but this is one of my favorite ways to have fish, with a lemony, buttery, white wine sauce poured over it, with bits of thyme and tangy capers.

Serves 2
Downloadable PDF of Lemon Sauced White Fish

  • In a medium, deep skillet over medium heat, heat a minimal amount of olive oil, 1 teaspoon or less
    • I have a spray bottle of olive oil, and I just spray the pan lightly
  • Place 2 fillets of dory, or other white fish you prefer in the heated skillet
    • I use dory because it’s only $3-4 for a frozen bag of 5 fillets, making it very economical, and easy to always have on hand in my freezer
  • While one side of the dory cooks, season the top side with salt and black pepper to your preference
  • Zest 1/2 of a lemon over the tops of the fish evenly
  • After cooking for 4-5 minutes on the first side, flip fish over and season the cooked side with salt and black pepper – no need to add lemon zest to this side if you have none left
  • Cook another 4-5 minutes, or until fish is cooked through
  • Remove fish from skillet
  • The skillet should be somewhat dry with brown bits stuck to it at this point
  • Over medium heat, pour in 1/4 cup white wine
    • Be careful, it may splatter from the heat
  • Add 2 Tablespoons butter and stir until melted
  • Add:
    •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon capers (optional)
    • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Let simmer about 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly browned from the butter
  • Pour sauce over fish

Lemon Sauced Dory 2

I keep bags of the Ore-Ida brand steam and mash potatoes in my freezer. They only take 10 minutes in the microwave, so in the time I made the fish, I also steamed the potatoes. I quickly mashed them with some butter and sour cream and in 15 minutes, we had dinner. And it was SO GOOD! I love having this quick and easy meal on our dinner rotation. If your kids are fish eaters, they’ll love the lemony sauce. And the lemon zest cooked onto the fish really adds a pop of lemony flavor. Just don’t tell them it’s dory, or use another fish, if they’re sentimental to the characters in Finding Nemo.

Downloadable PDF of Lemon Sauced White Fish

What’s your favorite quick and easy go-to meal to make when your day is too exhausting to think about more than take-out? I was very tempted to use the Subway coupons that came in the mail yesterday instead, but this dinner was faster than getting in my car to get the sandwiches.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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