Monday, June 27, 2016

Skillet Chicken with Bacon in a White Wine Sauce

One pan cooking that starts with rendering bacon fat - how can you go wrong?

Cooking the chicken in the bacon fat and then using that same pan to start your sauce really takes the bacon flavor through the entire dish.

Give yourself about an hour for this one - 25 minutes of prep/active time and then 30 minutes in the oven. And don't forget to baste the chicken to keep it juicy and full of flavor.

My entire family loved this and every last piece of chicken and drop of sauce disappeared.

Skillet Chicken with Bacon in a White Wine Sauce
Slightly Adapted from: Pinch of Yum


  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 sm yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 c low sodium chicken broth
  • Fresh parsley for topping
  • Cooked egg noodles
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Chop your bacon into small pieces and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Turn down the heat.
  • Season your chicken with the thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. Turn the heat back up to medium high and add the chicken to the pan, cooking a few minutes per side until golden brown, but not cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate. 
  • Add the olive oil to the pan followed by the onions and turn heat to medium. Cook onions approximately 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the wine slowly, scraping up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. 
  • Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let everything cook until it reduces slightly, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and bake for 30 minutes, basting the chicken with the liquid every 10 minutes, until the internal temp of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. 
  • Garnish with the parsley and bacon and serve over egg noodles. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grilled Red Cabbage Wedges

We love grilled romaine and baby bok choy, and pretty much every other veggie we have ever grilled (except radishes... but that's a story for another day), so why not grill cabbage?

I picked up a small head of red cabbage on a whim the other day. I thought I'd make some kind of slaw, but then decided to throw it on the grill.

I cut the cabbage into wedges, poured olive oil over them and then seasoned with salt and pepper. I had no idea how long they'd take, so I put them on the grill when our pork had about 5 minutes left. I figured that would give me about 15 minutes to cook the cabbage when I factored in 10 minutes of resting time for the pork.

This ended up being perfect! I grilled the cabbage for about 7 minutes on the first side and 4-5 on the second side.

Grilled Red Cabbage Wedges
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 1 small head of red cabbage
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  • Heat grill to high
  • Cut cabbage into wedges (6-8 wedges)
  • Drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  • Place on the grill and let cook for 7 minutes (or until you see it getting nice grill/char marks)
  • Flip and cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes
  • Serve warm

Monday, June 20, 2016

Yakitori Chicken with Cold Veggie and Soba Noodle Bowls

Grilled chicken with a cold salad has become a staple in our house during the hot weather. 
We have made a lot of variations of this meal, and our most recent may just be one of my favorites - Yakitori chicken over a cold veggie and soba noodle salad with a hoisin-soy dressing.
Yakitori chicken is a grilled and skewered chicken and is so simple, with only three ingredients in the marinade. Since the chicken is in chunks and skewered, it cooks faster than a large breast. You also get a lot of great caramelized bits from the sugar in the marinade. 
Once the chicken is cooked, everyone can put together their own bowl. While my husband skipped the noodles (he has been so good about avoiding carbs most nights! I don't have his will power..), I filled my bowl with all of the veggies and some noodles. And of course my daughter could not turn down pasta. 
The dressing was sweet and savory and tied everything together without masking the amazing flavor from the Yakitori marinade. Again, a great weeknight meal that comes together quickly, especially if you do some prep ahead of time. 

Yakitori Chicken with Cold Veggie and Soba Noodle Bowls
Marinade recipe: Oishii
Bowl recipe an original creation by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • Marinade: 
    • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
    • 1/4 c mirin
    • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces each
  • 6 bamboo skewers
  • Chopped romaine lettuce or Napa cabbage (or both!)
  • Chopped carrots
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cucumbers, chopped
  • Cilantro
  • Broccoli florets
  • Red bell pepper, chopped
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Cooked and chilled soba noodles
  • Dressing; mix together: 
    • 1/4 c vegetable oil
    • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour them over the chicken in a shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. 
  • Soak your skewers in water for 20 minutes before you are ready to cook.
  • Put your chicken on skewers with green onions between every 2 cubes of chicken. Grill until done (internal temp of 165). 
  • Put noodles in one side of a bowl and create your salad on the other. Top with the dressing and grilled chicken. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Pasta and Asparagus

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

Last week I was having a hard time with meal planning, so I asked my daughter what she wanted. "Shrimp and pasta!!" That works for me! 

I picked up some asparagus and decided to bring everything together with herbs, garlic, and lemon. 

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

To make things come together quickly, my husband grilled the shrimp while I made the rest of the meal. For timing, as soon as I dropped the pasta I started my "sauce" and had him put the shrimp on the grill. He walked into the kitchen with the shrimp as I was tossing the cooked pasta with the asparagus and sauce. Isn't it great when things like that happen?

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

This was a light and fresh summer meal that came together in 15 minutes. Even better, my daughter ate 9 shrimp and all of her asparagus and asked for more. I'd say that's a successful meal!

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp with Lemon-Garlic Pasta and Asparagus
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 1 lb shrimp (I prefer 21-25 or 26-30 size shrimp); peeled
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs (I like McCormick's Perfect Pinch)
  • Optional: Cayenne (my husband put some cayenne on some of the shrimp for himself)
  • Vegetable oil for the grill grates
  • 1 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped off; cut into 2 inch long pieces
  • 1/2 lb pasta; I used thin spaghetti
  • 1/3 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Put the shrimp on skewers and season it with the Italian herbs (and cayenne, if you want a touch of heat)
  • Pour the vegetable oil onto some paper towels and rub it onto your grill grates by holding the paper towels with tongs. This will keep the shrimp from sticking to the grill. 
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the asparagus in for one minute and then transfer to a bowl of ice water using a slotted spoon. Do not dump the water! Return the water to a boil, salt it, and then add the spaghetti to the water. Cook to your liking. 
  • Grill the shrimp until done, about 8 minutes
  • While the shrimp is grilling and the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to low to keep warm, being careful your garlic does not brown.
  • Once the pasta is done and drained, add it to the pan. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and asparagus. Toss everything to combine. Serve with the shrimp. 
Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

Italian Herb Grilled Shrimp over Lemon Garlic Pasta with Asparagus - light and healthy, quick and easy! #shrimp #grilling #pasta #weeknightmeal

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Garlic Herb Roast Chicken with Vegetables

If you haven't tried roast bone-in chicken breasts yet, please try this! Using bone in chicken keeps it so tender and juicy. I like chicken, but I LOVE bone-in breasts. It is amazing how much different it tastes, and you don't even need to do that much to it.

For this dinner I coated the chicken in some garlic and Italian herbs, tossed every veggie in my fridge and pantry with oil, salt, pepper and herbs, and roasted it all together. No basting, no sauce, just simple roasting for an hour and we had this amazing dinner.

Besides the flavor and easy prep, bone-in breasts are way cheaper (about half the price per pound) and one breast will feed 2 people. I made 2 breasts - 3 of us had dinner, my daughter had lunch the next day, and I made 2 chicken salad sandwiches out of the rest! And those 2 chicken breasts cost me $5.

The veggies came out like candy! I'm serious - so sweet! The carrots were like candied carrots and that was just from their natural sugars coming out and intensifying during the long roasting. Even the mushrooms were caramelized and sweet. Imagine that!

The prep on this is just however long it takes you to chop the veggies. I'd say estimate 15-20 minutes of prep which can be done while you pre-heat your oven. Allow 1 hour for cooking, and 10 minutes for resting.

Garlic Herb Roast Chicken with Vegetables
Original recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations


  • 2 bone in chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Veggies, chopped into large chunks (1-2 inches each)
    • 1 large carrot
    • 1/2 red onion
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 6 cloves garlic, whole
    • 1/2 green pepper
    • 1/2 red pepper
    • 1 sm zucchini
    • 1 sm yellow squash
    • 1 stalk celery
    • Handful of white or brown mushrooms, halved
    • Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  • Mix 1/4 c of the olive oil, 1 Tbsp of the Italian seasoning, and the 4 cloves of minced garlic. Season your chicken with salt and pepper (over and under the skin), and then rub the oil mixture all over it, being sure to rub it under the skin. Place the chicken skin side up in the center of a medium/large roasting pan
  • Toss the veggies with the remaining oil and herbs, salt and pepper, and then add them to the pan surrounding the chicken in a single layer.
  • Roast the chicken for 40 minutes to an hour, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Healthy Carrot Muffins with Raisins and Walnuts

Can I just tell you that my five year old loved these muffins so much that she ate 2 of them today? She had one before dinner (and still ate a really good dinner, somehow!) and one after as her evening snack. I'm amazed at the things this kid will eat, but I guess that is because I am constantly introducing her to new things. Seriously, I can get her to put anything in her mouth to try it once, and it usually turns into a bunch of yumming and more eating!

It is so important to me that she eat a wide variety of (mostly) healthy things. Every kid deserves some ice cream or cookies, but they shouldn't be the only things they consider to be sweet treats. Most nights I can get her to choose fruit over ice cream as a snack, she understands protein/carbs/veggies, loves a veggie packed salad, and I can only hope that she keeps making good food choices as she grows up.

Getting your kids involved in preparing food is a great way to get them to try new things, too. She helped me every step of the way with these muffins, from putting papers in the muffin tins and measuring out ingredients to cracking the eggs, chopping the walnuts and mixing everything together.

As soon as these came out of the oven and cooled for just a few minutes we shared one (well, she gave me one bite and she ate the rest). The texture was amazing - soft with juicy raisins and crunchy walnuts. The sweetness came from the carrots and maple syrup, and the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg added great flavor.

These are the perfect breakfast on the go, mid-morning or afternoon snack, or after dinner treat with a cup of coffee, milk or tea.

Healthy Carrot Muffins with Raisins and Walnuts
Adapted from: Cookie and Kate
Makes 16 muffins


  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cups peeled and grated carrots (I used one huge carrot and it was plenty, but it is probably 3 regular sized carrots)
  • 1/2 c roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 c raisins tossed in 1 tsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 c plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with papers or grease with butter or non-stick cooking spray
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Add the grated carrots, chopped walnuts and floured raisins and stir to combine.
  • In a medium bowl combine the oil and maple syrup, beating together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, and then add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a big spoon until just combined (a few lumps are ok). 
  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a pinch each of sugar. 
  • Bake for 13 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  • Place the muffin tins on a cooling rack to cool. Once completely cooled, store covered for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days. Original author notes that leftover muffins can be frozen for up to 3 months.