I can count the amount of times I've purchased flank steak on one hand--it's a cut of meat that I seldom buy, because it tends to be rather pricey. I happened to find a piece marked down at the grocery store last night, so I thought I'd treat my husband and I to one of my favorite recipes from growing up! My Mom used to make this flank steak for special occasions--mostly for my Dad's birthday, as it was one of his favorites. It's so very simple to do and the marinade only calls for three ingredients. The hardest part is having to patiently wait 24 hrs to let it marinate before being able to cook it!
Mix all marinade ingredients well in a shallow dish. Place meat in dish and turn to coat meat evenly. Marinate meat at least 24 hours, turning every 4-6 hours. Grill meat until cooked as desired and serve with sliced mushrooms. (Make sure you slice against the grain!)
NOTE: You would be surprised at how far that amount of flank steak goes--it doesn't seem like a lot, but 2 lbs should easily serve a family of 4-5. Also, I used a grill pan and cooked my steak on my stovetop. I grilled the meat approximately 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare. My husband NEVER ate steak prepared anything less than "well done", but after the first time I convinced him to try medium rare, he was sold! I owe it to my Dad for convincing me that meat tastes so much more flavorful when it's prepared this way!
People who know me, know that I am a fairly organized individual and thrive on "planning"--I'm not, nor have I ever been much for spontaneity...at least regarding most things in my life. (I'm not saying I'd be devastated if my husband took me on a "surprise date" or something...HINT, HINT!!!), but for the most part, I live by my "planner" and love knowing exactly what I'm doing and when I'll be doing it! Anyway, the purpose of my little "rant" is that I knew I had everything all planned out for Christmas Eve and Christmas and knew I'd have leftover lasagna for last night (when I got home from work), but I needed something for Saturday's dinner. While I was out doing my last minute Christmas shopping this past Wednesday, I grabbed a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts, remembering that I saw a recipe in my borrowed library cookbook that I wanted to try! I was just a tad bit nervous, because my husband is a super picky eater and I didn't know if the mere fact that the recipe called for certain ingredients would turn him off, before he even tried it, but he liked it so much that he went back for seconds! I often wonder if he's being honest when he tells me he likes some of these new recipes I've been trying or if he's just saying it to avoid hurting my feelings, but going back for seconds certainly confirmed that this recipe was a "winner" in his book! I was thrilled, because it was SUPER easy to throw together and is a great recipe to add to my "quick weeknight meals" list!
Crunchy Garlic Chicken
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 2 tablespoons milk 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or parsley (I used dehydrated chives) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 3 cups corn flake cereal, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups) 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (again, I used dehydrated parsley) 1/2 teaspoon paprika 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 - 2 lbs) 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. In shallow dish, mix 2 tablespoons butter, the milk, chives, salt and garlic powder.
In another shallow dish, mix crushed cereal, parsley and paprika. Dip chicken into milk mixture, then coat lightly and evenly with cereal mixture. Place in pan. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons butter.
Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when centers of thickest pieces are cut.
NOTE: The package of chicken I used was about 1 3/4 lbs and contained three, good-sized chicken breasts. I ended up baking them for closer to 30 minutes, as they were fairly thick. I had bought popcorn chicken for the kids, because I wasn't sure if they would like this chicken, but next time, I will most certainly make it for them, as well! I definitely think this is a recipe that kids would enjoy! I've found that most smaller packages of chicken from the grocery store tend to contain three chicken breasts and average around 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 lbs, but you could certainly double it if you have more people in your family, or, you could make extra so you could try out the suggestion the cookbook offers--they say that the leftovers are great reheated and eaten as a sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise!
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker Money Saving Meals
Thankfully, I got two shifts in at the hospital this weekend and I was quite pleasantly surprised when I found a gift in my "mailbox". I didn't get a chance to open it until later in the day, but when I did, I was very touched! One of my friends gave me a cookbook by Pampered Chef, called "29 Minutes to Dinner". It couldn't have possibly been any more appreciated, as not only do I love to cook, but I LOVE quick meals!!! I brought the cookbook home on Sunday night and rather excitedly showed my husband. It seems as if he only "half listens" the majority of the time, but apparently it caught his eye, because he spent yesterday morning looking through it (while I was working) and picked a recipe to make for dinner last night. I didn't get home until about 9pm, but when I walked in, the house smelled WONDERFUL! I had no idea he had picked a recipe from that cookbook until after I ran up and showered, because dinner was supposed to be a "surprise", but I got a kick out of the fact that he seemed as excited by a new cookbook as I was! While I had absolutely nothing to do with the preparation of this meal, I wanted to include it as a post, because it most definitely is worth trying and it was very cute to see my husband proudly making dinner for me after a long day's work. Just a couple of little "notes" before I post the recipe...
1) My husband used bow tie pasta, which was a perfect substitution! It seems awfully difficult to find orecchiette pasta around here--I think I've only been able to find it once!
2) The dish was a tad bit spicy for me, even though my husband said he made a point to use mild Italian sausage as opposed to the hot Italian sausage that the recipe called for. Perhaps it was the *optional* crushed red pepper flakes that he added--he ended up putting two teaspoons. As a side note on the recipe, it suggests using sweet Italian sausage for a milder dish--I would definitely make this recipe again and would consider going that route instead and/or omitting the red pepper flakes altogether.
This would be a great dish to make if you are having company over, as it presents really nicely--it looked really pretty in person, but unfortunately, I took the picture about 9:30pm, so I didn't have an ounce of natural light to work with. My husband served it with garlic bread, but it would be great to serve with a nice salad, as well. God love him, but he doubled it for just the two of us (because he said he wanted to make sure there was enough), so it made a TON! There easily is enough left for at least 2-3 meals! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Orecchiette with Spinach, Sausage and Tomatoes
1 1/4 pounds bulk hot Italian sausage 3 cans (14.5 oz each) Italian-herb diced tomatoes, divided 12 oz uncooked orecchiette pasta 2 1/2 cups water 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups grape tomatoes 1 oz Parmesan Cheese, grated 5 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart as it cooks. Drain canned tomatoes using a colander into a large bowl; reserve 1 cup of the tomato liquid for later use in this recipe.
Add drained canned tomatoes, tomato liquid, pasta, water, minced garlic, red pepper flakes (if desired) and salt to skillet. Cover and cook 13-15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut grape tomatoes in half. Add grape tomatoes, spinach and reserved 1 cup tomato liquid to skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with cheese.
Source: Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner, Volume 2
Well, well, well...it has been exactly one month since my last post--pretty awful, huh?!? It has just been one heck of a couple of months, between finding out about different family members who are really ill and three deaths between my family and my husband's...two in the past week. We're very much looking forward to a fresh start this New Year and hoping it brings good health and happiness to all of our family and friends!
Although things have been unbelievably crazy/stressful, I still have been attempting to try new recipes! I have several I need to post, but I thought I would go ahead and post this particular recipe, as it's a quick weeknight meal and I know everyone is incredibly busy this time of year! My sister, Sarah, will probably make fun of me, but I'm still borrowing cookbooks from the library to "preview" them and decide if I want to go ahead and buy them. I found a cookbook called "Betty Crocker Money Saving Meals" on a shelf they have with newer released books and figured that was a "must have"! It features over 200 recipes and breaks down the cost per serving...some are much more inexpensive than others. I'm becoming a big fan of "one dish meals"--this recipe would be great by itself or you could even serve it with a Spanish/Mexican rice as a side dish. I have a good 20 or so recipes marked to try, from this cookbook alone, so be on the lookout for other inexpensive/easy meal ideas!!!
To all fellow bloggers: I'm looking forward to catching up on all of your blogs very shortly! I apologize I haven't been commenting as frequently! Aside from checking my email/Facebook, I haven't been doing much on the computer at all.
Fiesta Taco Casserole
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef 1 can (15-16 oz) spicy chili beans in sauce, undrained 1 cup chunky-style salsa 3 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips 3/4 - 1 cup sour cream 5 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup) 2 roma tomatoes, chopped 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese Shredded lettuce, if desired Additional salsa, if desired
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 10 inch skillet, cook beef over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in beans and 1 cup salsa. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
In ungreased 2 quart casserole, place broken tortilla chips. Top with beef mixture. Spread with sour cream. Sprinkle with onions, tomato and cheese.
Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with lettuce and additional salsa.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker Money Saving Meals
If you were to look up the word "picky" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of my husband off to the left. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of different foods and encouraged to experiment with different flavors, but after meeting my husband, I somewhat locked myself into an eight to ten meal rotation and was reluctant to deviate. I have since given birth to two of the least picky eaters on the face of the Earth, thus inspiring me to transform my cooking style. I know many people, like myself, lead such hectic lives, so I strive to find recipes that are quick and easy--especially those that you can whip up with ingredients that you ordinarily have on hand!
A bit about me...I married my husband, Marcus, on June 1, 2003 and we welcomed our son Jacob on March 22, 2005. Our daughter, Madeline, was born on March 1, 2008. I stay home with the kids for the most part, but also work occasional shifts as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I truly hope you enjoy my blog. A special "thank you" to my sister, Sarah, for giving me the idea! Her creativity is hard to live up to, but I'm a very determined person and hope to make her proud :)