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Mar 27 / Amy

Recipe 11: One Pan Chicken and Potatoes

Not going to lie, I feel like I phoned it in with this One Pot Chicken and Potatoes recipe.  It looked easy, but not really exciting or different.  But since it’s one I’ve never made, it counts as part of the challenge, right? 😉  Sometimes you just need something easy.

I rinsed off the boneless chicken thighs, placed them on the foil lined and parchment covered baking sheet.  Sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper, then added the chopped up potatoes, baby carrots, and garlic cloves.

The recipe called for you to bake it at 375F for an hour and twenty minutes.  Say wha?  It’s a weeknight…ain’t nobody got time for that.  Clearly, I wasn’t paying attention when I picked this one.  I bumped the heat up to 400F and cooked it for an hour.

Taken after I popped the pan into the oven...

Taken after I popped the pan into the oven…

I was running around the house trying to take care of other things, so the above and the final product are the only photos you get.  Not that there was a lot to this one, see what I mean by phoning it in?

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

 

Verdict:

Meh.  This one wasn’t exciting or anything to write home about.  It was okay, but we’ve definitely had better.  If I’m struggling for options on a weekend, I might pull this one out and try it again.

Our ratings:

Amy – 2.75 out of 5 stars.  Easy, but it took too long.  I think I was thinking I’d pop it in before I went to pick B up from daycare, but that didn’t happen, so dinner got started late.  Oops.

Josh – 2.5 out of 5 stars.  He agreed, it was pretty basic.  Chicken was a little dry (perhaps it really is better to cook this at 375F instead of 400F?) but the potatoes and carrots were good.

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Mar 26 / Amy

Recipe 10: One Pan Enchilada Pasta

Clearly, from the recipes I’ve tried to date, I love one pan recipes.  When I saw the One Pan Enchilada Pasta recipe, I knew I had to try it!

Standard ingredient shot ;)

Standard ingredient shot ;)

I liked that this recipe used ground turkey, instead of beef.  I thought it was a nice change of pace with the chicken and beef recipes we’ve tried.  I started off browning the meat, cooking it all the way.

Brownin' it

Brownin’ it

Then I added the taco seasoning, because I didn’t get the already taco-seasoned turkey like the recipe author did when she made her meal.

Seasoning the meat

Seasoning the meat

Once the seasoning was mixed in well, I added the two cans of enchilada sauce, chicken broth, and the rotini noodles.

Ready to simmer!

Ready to simmer!

After the liquid came to a boil, I reduced the temp and let it simmer for around 15 minutes.  The recipe then has you remove the lid and let it sit for another 5 minutes uncovered.

Noodles ready for some cheese!

Noodles ready for some cheese!

When the noodles were finished simmering, one cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese gets added. Yum.

Cheesy!

Cheesy!

Mixed it up, added a little more cheese (since the recipe calls for 2 cups), and then served it immediately.  This would be good to pair with a nice salad of your choosing.

 

Verdict:

This recipe will be mixed into the go-to recipes for sure!

Our ratings:

Amy – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The ease of this recipe made me happy, and the taste even happier.  We don’t do enchiladas often, but this pasta was delicious.  I may or may not have eaten the leftovers for lunch the next day, and dinner the day after.  Delicious!

Josh – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Josh enjoyed it, and if I recall correctly, had seconds while we were eating.  He said he’d definitely be down for having this recipe again.

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Mar 26 / Amy

Recipe 9: Chicken Fried Rice

A few friends of mine have mentioned making fried rice within the past, and I’ve always wondered how easy it would be to do.  I pinned this Chicken Fried Rice recipe awhile ago, but decided now was the time to try it out!  I was working from home, so I decided to make the rice during the day, and let it sit in the fridge until it was time to start dinner.  I think next time I’ll try to make the rice a day in advance, but a few hours ahead still worked out.

Let's see what we're working with...

Let’s see what we’re working with…

I was really excited about this recipe, so much so that I went out and bought a wok…now we have this big pan and it’s a bit cumbersome, but I really enjoyed using it for this meal! :)

I started by chopping up the chicken, adding the toasted sesame oil, and cooking the chicken.  Once it was finished, I put it in a bowl and tucked it away in the microwave to keep it warm.

Chicken chopped up

Chicken chopped up

Next up came the frozen peas and carrots and the green onions.  I cooked those for a few minutes, then added the egg.  The recipe noted to push the peas and carrots to the side, and put the egg in.  In retrospect, I probably should have put the egg in the center and made a ring out of the peas and carrots.  It would have mixed in with the peas and carrots either way, but I wonder if it would have been easier.

Peas...carrots...eggs...

Peas…carrots…eggs…

Once the eggs were cooked, I mixed all the ingredients together.

Mixin it up!

Mixin it up!

Added the rice into the mix, plus the chicken, along with the soy sauce.

Chicken added back, plus soy sauce

Chicken added back, plus soy sauce

While I got everyone together for dinner, I let it all sit and warm together before serving it at the table.

Yum!

Yum!

 

Verdict:

We’re fans!  Going to keep this recipe in mind for the future for sure.

Our ratings:

Amy – 3.75 out of 5 stars.  I love getting take out, so having an option to make at home that is likely a little healthier was nice.

Josh – 3.75 out of 5 stars.  Josh liked this one, but thought there were a lot of peas and carrots in the mix.  I can’t disagree, I’ll probably use a little less next time. :)

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

 

Mar 13 / Amy

Recipe 8: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Behind on posting the outcomes again, imagine that! 😉  I’m honestly just impressed that I’ve managed to make it this far trying a new recipe each week, and documenting the steps along the way.

For Week 8, I wanted to make a BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Josh really likes that kind of pizza, and I was ready to try something other than my standard ham and pineapple.  I figured this recipe from Honest & Tasty would be worth trying.  I found it on Pinterest awhile ago, and decided to finally put it to use.

Because I like to take the easy way out, I didn’t make the homemade dough that she did – but she has a fairly simple recipe if you’d like to try it out.  I opted to buy some pre-made dough at Publix, that it tried and true in our house.  Love their stuff!

I started on the chicken first, baking it covered in Stubb’s Sticky Sweet BBQ sauce.  It was our first time using Stubb’s, but it won’t be the last.

I baked the two chicken breasts for around 20-22 min, and pulled them out.  They looked good!

Smothered and baked

Smothered and baked

 

While the chicken was baking, I pulled out our cast iron pizza stone that I purchased on Amazon awhile back.  We’ve used it many times, but I feel like every time it has been used, we’ve had a different outcome (all good, just different).

I originally was going to follow the steps we normally take to pre-head the dough, but decided to try something new after I floured the stone… After reading a few things online, I wanted to bake our pizza at 550F, instead of 400F.  So once the chicken finished, I went ahead and put the pizza stone in the oven and set the temp to 550F to let the stone start getting hot, because I didn’t preheat it while the chicken was baking.

While the stone was heating up, I took some parchment paper and laid out the dough.

Once it was spread out, I smeared some more of the Stubb’s BBQ on the dough.

Spreading out the Stubbs BBQ

Spreading out the Stubbs BBQ

After letting the chicken rest, I cut that up and placed it on the pizza dough, along with fresh mozzarella, red onions, and cilantro.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

When the oven indicated it hit my desired temp, I carefully opened the oven and slid the parchment paper onto the pizza stone.  The parchment paper I had indicated it could be baked up to 400-something degrees, but everything I read online indicated it’d be safe for a short period of time at a higher temp.

I baked the pizza for 10 minutes at 550F, while keeping a close eye on the parchment paper.

The aroma in the kitchen was delightful.  I couldn’t wait to take our pizza out of the oven!

Finished product!

Finished product!

Guys, this is probably the most perfect pizza that’s ever come out of our oven.  The crust was SPOT. ON.  I will forever more bake pizza crust at 550F, unless it’s the dead of summer…then we may just order out.  The kitchen got a bit warm, but it was totally worth it.

 

Verdict:

We will *absolutely* make this again.

Our ratings:

Amy – 5 out of 5 stars.  So. Freaking. Good.  I am not a huge BBQ Chicken pizza fan, but this was really, really, really good.

Josh – 5 out of 5 stars.  Perfect score from Josh!  Really, it should be the second perfect score…but taking away for the smoke during the scallops event kept me from a perfect score. 😉  Happy husband with this recipe, and he definitely interested in having this recipe again in the future.

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Feb 21 / Amy

Recipe 7: Seared Scallops over Wilted Spinach and Risotto

For Valentine’s Day, I knew I wanted to try a recipe I wouldn’t normally make.  My sorority sister (and friend from high school), Jamie, recommended this Seared Scallops over Wilted Spinach and Parmesan Risotto recipe when I first posted about this recipe challenge.  I thought it would be perfect!

Now, let me just say that I’ve never made scallops OR risotto, so this was a stretch for me.  I even watched a few YouTube videos on how to sear scallops.  I felt prepared.  I was ready.

So many new ingredients...

So many new ingredients…

 

I started on the risotto first, since it was going to take the longest. (Side note: When I went looking for arborio rice, I literally stood in front of it for a few minutes before I noticed it.  It took a Google search while standing in the aisle to find a product image, and then it jumped right out at me on the shelf).  I tried chopping the shallots up by hand, but as I know I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not a fan of cutting onions. I threw the one shallot in the food processor and let it chop that way…but when I took the lid off, my eyes starting BURNING. Yeesh!

Risotto in progress...

Risotto in progress…

When the risotto was half-way ready, I turned my attention to the scallops, which I was most nervous about.  I pulled out my cast iron pan, because I rarely use it and it seemed perfect for the task (and one of the videos I watched used one).  Needless to say, I’m pretty clueless about cooking with cast iron (with the exception of our pizza stone, I have that one down).

I put the oil in the pan and laid out 6 of the scallops, searing them for a minute on each side.  For bigger ones, people recommended 1.5 min, so I cut it down to 1 min per side.

Searing scallops

Scallops searing on the stove top

All the while…smoke was filling our main floor…oops.  Josh came in with fans and opened windows to try and air things out.

Smoky...

Smoky…

When the scallops were finished, I chopped up the second shallot (with the food processor and the burning eyes…again) and placed them, along with the spinach in the cast iron pan and let it wilt.

Baby spinach ready to wilt

Baby spinach ready to wilt

When the risotto and spinach were finished, I plated the meal – excited, yet nervous, to see how it all tasted.

Last look before first bite!

Last look before first bite!

Verdict:

This is definitely not a weeknight dinner.  It took a lot more time than I planned, but it was a nice challenge.

Our ratings:

Amy – 5 out of 5 stars.  I would definitely make this again, for a special occasion.  My friend Jamie noted that she makes the risotto more frequently than the scallops, I could totally see doing that as well.

Josh – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Josh loved it!  He said he took .5 away for the smoky house (jokingly…I think), but really enjoyed it.  Honestly, I think he might have been a little impressed (I know I was!) with how it all turned out.

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Feb 20 / Amy

Recipe 6: One Pot Skillet Lasagna

With the winter temps, I was looking for something warm for dinner.  It’s been awhile since we’ve had lasagna, so this recipe from No. 2 Pencil for a One Pan Skillet Lasagna looked like the perfect option.  One-pan meals are the best!

Everything set out, ready to go.

Everything set out, ready to go.

Rather than using a skillet, I opted to use my big pot.  I started off with olive oil, frozen onions (because I hate cutting onions), and garlic paste (because chopping garlic is too time consuming/a.k.a. I don’t like doing it).  When it was ready, followed up with lean ground beef (wasn’t in the mood for Italian sausage), and cooked until it was brown.

Next up, I poured the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and ravioli.  You bring it to a light boil and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes.

Threw in all the ingredients, mixed, and covered to cook.

Threw in all the ingredients, mixed, and covered to cook.

Prior to serving, mix in the parmesan cheese as well as the mozzarella chunks (I used a block of mozzarella and cut it into chunks).

Before adding the cheese

Before adding the cheese

Pair with a breadstick and a side salad, and you’ve got yourself a meal!

Finished product

Finished product

 

Verdict:

This was an easy dinner, didn’t require much prep, and was fast on a busy weeknight.  We’ll make it again when the weather is cooler.

Our ratings:

Amy – 4 out of 5 stars.  I love lasagna, and I love ravioli.  This combination was a yummy success!

Josh – 4 out of 5 stars.  Josh was a fan this week, which I was happy about since last week was not so good.  He agreed he’d eat this recipe again.

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Feb 20 / Amy

Recipe 5: Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Tilapia

Man, I’m way behind on posting – but I’ve been keeping up with the recipes!  Woo hoo!

In Week 5, we tried the Broccoli-Stuffed Sole recipe from Recipe.com.  I have this bag of frozen tilapia in my freezer that I wanted to try to do something with.

After letting the tilapia thaw out during the afternoon, I jumped into this recipe.  And it never fails, when I think a recipe is going to be quick – it ends up taking me much longer.  Maybe one of these days I’ll realize it’s easier to measure out all of the ingredients BEFORE I start cooking, instead of trying to do it in the midst of cooking. :)

Obligatory ingredients shot

Obligatory ingredients shot

First I set the oven to 350F, thinking it’d be enough time to get situated.  It almost was.

The cut broccoli that I’d thawed out was a bit to big.  I probably should have put it in the food processor, but I ended up just attempting to break it up while mixing it in with the cream cheese (with onion and chives), stuffing, egg, and parmesan cheese.

Mixing up the stuffing

Mixing up the stuffing

Once it looked like a good consistency to work with, I scooped some out and rolled up the tilapia with the mix inside.  I failed to take pics of this, but because my tilapia filets had slits in them, it was a little more of a challenge rolling it up to make sure it didn’t fall apart.

After all of the rolls were complete, I still had quite a bit of the stuffing left.  The recipe called for 4 tilapia pieces, but I had enough stuffing to probably have 7 rolls (I made 3).

I placed the rolls in the oven for 35 minutes and then started on the sauce.

Saucy.

Saucy.

With the remaining cream cheese and some milk, the sauce was pretty easy to make.  It ended up thicker than I imagined, but still workable.

When the fish was finished, we paired the rolls with baby carrots and poured the sauce over the fish.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Verdict:

While in the grand scheme of things, this recipe wasn’t difficult.  Neither of us liked it, and we will likely not try it again.  I *may* try a variation with regular cream cheese and chicken instead of tilapia.  I am on the lookout for a good tilapia recipe though, so if you know of one, please share!  Still have lots of frozen tilapia to go through!

Our ratings:

Amy – 2 out of 5 stars.  The recipe has promise, but didn’t like it as is.  I didn’t finish it…

Josh – 2 out of 5 stars.  Josh was not a fan of this one, but he stuck it out and tried to make it through it.  The sauce was over powering.

 

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Jan 31 / Amy

Recipe 4: One Pot Beef Stroganoff

Playing catch-up on the blogging, but here’s recipe #4 of the year – One Pot Beef Stroganoff.

I picked up this recipe on Pinterest, but here’s the direct link to the original post.

So far, I have to say, this is one of my favorite (and Josh’s favorite) recipes.  It’s quick(ish) and easy.  Plus, it’s only one pot that gets dirty (which J loves).  This recipe makes quite a bit, so you’ll definitely have enough for a larger audience, or enough for leftovers throughout the week.

I got all of the ingredients together – and dug in.

Obligatory product shot

Obligatory ingredient shot

I started cooking the mushrooms in the olive oil.  Originally recipe said 5 minutes, however, I found that it took a bit longer due to the thickness of my mushrooms.

Yummy mushrooms!

Yummy mushrooms!

Once the mushrooms were ready, I put them in a bowl and stuck them in the microwave to keep them warm.  Next up came the onions.  The recipe called for onions, but since I *hate* chopping fresh onions, I used frozen.  Then the beef gets added for browning.

Waiting patiently for the ground beef to brown

Waiting patiently for the ground beef to brown

Once the beef is done, sprinkle with paprika, add the beef broth and dry pasta, bring to a light boil, and cover for 17-20 minutes until the pasta is ready.

Let's get ready to boil!

Let’s get ready to boil!

After the pasta is al dente, add the mushrooms and the sour cream, stir and serve!

Finished product

Finished product

Verdict:

Definitely an easy recipe to knock out.  Very hearty and filling, can pair with a salad or your choice of veggies.  A winner in our house for sure!

Our ratings:

Amy – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Yummy and easy. It’ll be a staple during the winter months.

Josh – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Josh loves this one – he went back for thirds (and we still had plenty left over!)

 

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Jan 31 / Amy

Recipe 3: Garlic Shrimp Tortellini

Recipe 3 comes to us from Rasamalaysia – Garlic Shrimp Tortellini.  I figured this would be a quick and easy dinner, and I was right!

So quick and easy, that the photos are lacking – but I was also on the phone with a friend, so I was distracted from taking photos throughout! :)  Oops.

Few ingredients - happy cook.

Few ingredients – happy cook.

Per the recipe (which is copyrighted, hence the link to the post above), I prepared the tortellini according to the package.  While that was finishing up, I cooked the shrimp – then added the wine and sun-dried tomatoes in oil and let simmer for a bit.

Simmer, simmer, simmer.

Simmer, simmer, simmer.

Once ready, I called the boys to the table and we had dinner.

Finished product

Finished product

 

Verdict:

An easy dinner, one that I felt like I might have made in the past – or at least something similar.

Our ratings:

Amy – 3 out of 5 stars.  This recipe fulfilled my requirement for quick, but agree with Josh that something was missing.  It probably won’t appear in our dinner rotation for awhile, and if it does, there will be modifications.

Josh – 2.75 out of 5 stars. Was somewhat indifferent, would prefer a shrimp and pasta dinner with alfredo sauce rather than the sun-dried tomatoes.

 

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

Jan 15 / Amy

Recipe 2: Three Herb Chicken and Mushrooms

Alright, two weeks in and still going strong!  I’m really excited about this challenge!

This week I tried out a recipe recommended by my sorority sister, Jessica.  She shared the link, I checked it out, and it looked delicious.  It was one I wanted to check out sooner than later.

The link shared was listed as Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mushroom Sauce, which was a slight variation of Better Homes & Garden’s Three Herb Chicken and Mushrooms.

I followed Julia’s recommendation of starting the chicken on the stove, and then letting it bake in the oven while working on the sauce.  It worked out quite nicely.

It wasn’t until after I took the chicken off the pan and onto a cooking sheet…oops.

Chicken Pre-oven

Chicken Pre-oven

After the chicken went into the oven, I started cooking the mushrooms, and then on to the sauce.

Yummmm, mushrooms!

Yummmm, mushrooms!

The sauce consists of some flour, white wine, chicken broth, and dijon mustard.  What a combo!

Getting saucy!

Getting saucy!

When the timer went off, I pulled the thighs out of the oven…

Fully baked

Fully baked

…plated them with wild rice (no veggies tonight…I know, *tsk tsk*) and poured the mushroom sauce over the top.

Finished product

Finished product

Verdict:

This one was pretty easy to make, and it’s very likely that we’ll have this again.  I’ll probably make a few tweaks here and there (less mustard), but overall it’s a solid recipe.

Our ratings:

Amy – 3.75 out of 5 stars.  I really liked it!  I’m also currently on a Z-pak (yay bronchitis), which for some reason seems to be making me really hungry.  This was a good recipe to fill that need!

Josh – 2.5 out of 5 stars. He thought it was okay, but felt he could taste the dijon mustard a bit more in some bites than others.

 

*** To view all of the posts in the 2016 recipe series, click here.  To view the spreadsheet of all recipes and links to posts, click here. ***

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