I’ve told many of you friends and family that I’ve been cooking a lot and making (real) meals these past few weeks, but I haven’t gotten the chance to share any of the good ones yet! So I thought I would take you through our last 4 weeks of meals and give you all the info in case you’re looking for something new to try!

Many of the new recipes I’ve tried have been so good Jon and I both agreed they were keepers! Sadly I did not remember to take pictures of any of the meals until this week, so I’ll have to settle for the pictures with the recipes ūüė¶

I started with using an app called Food on the Table, which is really helpful! You can search for certain types of dishes, add the ones you like to your meal plan, and when you do, it automatically adds the ingredients (including the amounts you need) to a grocery list for you! You can even change the amount of servings it makes, and it will change the amounts of ingredients on your list.

Baked Paprika Chicken

I started out with baked paprika chicken, which I found through Food on the Table. It was really good with mashed potatoes (not homemade – I’m not that advanced yet!). I scaled the recipe down from 6 servings to 4, but then found it didn’t really make enough for leftovers, so I would suggest making all 6! See recipe below. Sorry, no picture. ūüė¶

Baked Paprika Chicken

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2¬†(pound)¬†boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/3¬†(cup)¬†all-purpose flour
  • 1¬†(tablespoon)¬†paprika
  • 1¬†(teaspoon)¬†salt
  • 1/8¬†(teaspoon)¬†pepper
  • 2 3/4¬†(cup)¬†chicken broth
  • 1/2¬†(cup)¬†light sour cream
  • 1¬†(tablespoon)¬†cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Dredge chicken with mixture of flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Place in large baking pan. Add 1 cup chicken broth. Bake 20 minutes; add 3/4 cup broth. Bake 10 minutes more.
  3. Remove chicken to platter. Pour 1 cup of pan drippings into saucepan; add 1 cup chicken broth and sour cream. Stir well to combine. Heat gently over medium heat.
  4. To thicken sauce, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the broth mixture; whisk into sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens.

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Crock Pot Cubed Steak And Gravy

The next night I did cubed steak and gravy, thanks to the crockpot Jon brought into our marriage (who would think a college guy would asked for a crock pot for their birthday?!) It was delicious with Uncle Ben’s rice. Making dinner at lunchtime, and then just letting it cook until dinner was pretty easy, too. This recipe is for 4 servings, but I would again suggest making 6 if you want 4 full servings.

Crock Pot Cubed Steak and Gravy

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 10 minutes; Wait: 6 hours; Cook: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2¬†(pound)¬†cube steak
  • 1¬†(1.0 ounce envelope)¬†beef gravy mix
  • 1¬†(10.75 ounce can)¬†cream of mushroom soup
  • 1¬†(cup)¬†beef broth
  • 1/3¬†(cup)¬†flour
  • 2¬†(tablespoon)¬†Canola Oil
  • (to taste)¬†salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Dip steak in flour, and saute in skillet, until brown, approximately 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place meat in crock pot. Add beef broth, soup and gravy mix.
  3. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.

 

The last meal I tried that week, grilled turkey burgers, which I also got from Food on the Table, was a fail – the ground turkey just did not cooperate on the grill like it was supposed to – so I won’t lead you astray with that one! ūüôā

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Spaghetti Carbonara

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The next week I started searching on¬†The Nest¬†(next step after The Knot!) for ideas. This¬†spaghetti carbonara recipe¬†was SO YUM. You should definitely try it for yourself. I doubled this recipe to make 4 servings, and I’m so glad I did. It even made a little extra.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 4 oz. pancetta or 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup (2 1/2 oz.) freshly grated pecorino Romano salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove all but 1/2 Tbl. of the fat.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta, and add it to the skillet. Toss to combine.
  4. Whisk the egg and the egg yolk in a large bowl. Turn off the heat under the skillet, add the eggs and 1/2 cup of the cheese, and toss thoroughly to combine. Add the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce to desired consistency. Add salt to taste and generously season with pepper.
  5. Serve immediately with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese sprinkled on top.

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Crockpot Barbecued Chicken Drummies

Next I used another crockpot recipe from Food on the Table – barbecued chicken drummies. Those were super easy, and I would definitely make them again to pair with lots of different sides.

Makes: 4 servings

Prep: 10 minutes; Wait: 5 hours; Cook: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3¬†(pound)¬†chicken drumsticks
  • 1 1/4¬†(cup)¬†barbecue sauce (your own or purchased)
  • 2¬†(tablespoon)¬†chili sauce
  • 1/4¬†(cup)¬†honey
  • 3¬†(clove)¬†garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. Pat the chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel and place on broiler pan. Broil 5-6 inches from the heat for 8-10 minutes, turning often, until chicken is browned. Place in 3-4 quart crockpot.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over drummies. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. These can be held for 1 hour after the cooking time on low.

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Gourmet Mac and Cheese

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This time I decided to do a homemade side to go with the chicken rather than just something from a box. I found this¬†gourmet macaroni and cheese recipe¬†on The Nest. It turned into a lot of work, though…I’m not sure I’ll be saving this recipe to make again because I didn’t think it was absolutely amazing for the amount of work it was. Jon thought the bread crumbs on top were strange for mac & cheese, so if I ever do make it again, I’d probably leave those off. Also, I didn’t realize ahead of time how expensive mascarpone cheese is! Nevertheless…

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh, chunky bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 2 Tbl. butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 3 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 12 oz. macaroni
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 x 8- inch baking dish (or 4 ramekins)
Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the bread crumbs on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 6 minutes, remove and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and mustard and saute for 1 minute before adding the flour.
  3. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture forms a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn the heat down to low and then let simmer in the pan for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add the cheddar, half of the Parmesan cheese and the mascarpone. Boil the pasta in salted water until just al dente, drain and mix with the cheese sauce. Season and spoon the mixture into the baking dish or ramekins. Top with the bread crumbs and with the remaining Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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Turkey & Brie Panini

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Next up, turkey and brie paninis! This was a very easy meal since we have a panini maker (one of my own wedding registry requests)! There aren’t many ingredients in this recipe, and I didn’t even use pomegranate arils (definitely had to look that one up) or the basil leaves, but it was somehow still so tasty! I looked the HUGE produce section in our massive grocery store here twice over and could not find the arils (or just a pomegranate – maybe they’re not in season?), so I have no idea where they would be, but you can see them in the picture. And I meant to use the basil, but it was moldy after only a couple days! Does anyone have any insight on the arils or basil for an inexperienced cook??

I used some kind of specialty turkey rather than our usual lunch meat. One night we used Italian bread, but I tried it with healthy wheat bread later and it was still just as good!

Turkey & Brie Panini

Makes: 8 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • ¬Ĺ cup arils from 1 POM Wonderful Pomegranate
  • 8 slices Italian or other sturdy type bread
  • 8 thin slices smoked turkey (1 ounce each)
  • 8 ounces brie cheese cut into 8 slices
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • ¬ľ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for toasting bread

Directions:

1.¬†Score 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate underwater to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl. Reserve ¬Ĺ cup of the arils from fruit and set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining arils for another use.)
2. Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil; place four of the bread slices in skillet oil side down.
4. Brown until golden, about one to two minutes, over medium high heat.
5. Remove skillet from the heat and remove the bread slices from skillet. Place bread slices on a flat working surface and set aside.
6.¬†Mix applesauce with ¬Ĺ cup arils and divide onto the soft side of the bread just removed from skillet.
7. Place brie, basil and turkey on top of applesauce and cover with remaining bread slices, oil side up. Fasten with toothpicks if necessary.
8. Return skillet to the heat and add the sandwiches soft side down. Press second heavy pan on sandwiches to flatten them. Cook until bottom side is golden brown and cheese is soft.
9. Cut into halves and serve warm.

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Broccoli Chicken Casserole

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We started the next week off with a¬†broccoli chicken casserole¬†from Taste of Home. My mom has always made a simple one I really like – chicken, broccoli and cream of mushroom soup – but I decided to try out a different version after seeing so many variations online. I think I’m split on which kind I like better now! What makes this one special is the stuffing and broccoli cheddar soup. It was really easy to make, too. However, confession – the first time I tried to make this I ruined it. I forgot to cook the chicken before putting it in with everything! It’s not in the directions, but says “cooked” in the ingredients. Oops! My second try was much better!

Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Makes: 8 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups¬†water
  • 1 package¬†(6 ounces) chicken stuffing mix
  • 2 cups¬†cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup¬†frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 can¬†(10-3/4 ounces) condensed broccoli cheese soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup¬†(4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in stuffing mix. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, layer chicken and broccoli in a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Top with soup. Fluff stuffing with a fork; spoon over soup. Sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350¬į for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.¬†Yield:¬†6 servings.

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Chili Pie

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Next I looked to my first cookbook from my Aunt Cathy – The Stuffed Cougar! – and found this chili pie recipe. This was another easy one.

Chili Pie

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 T. shortening
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 c. canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c. drained kidney beans

Batter

  • 1 c. cornbread mix
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Brown meat and onion in shortening.
  2. Add salt, chili powder and tomatoes.
  3. Cover and simmer 15 minutes over low heat. While chili mixture is simmering, mix cornbread mix, egg and milk to form batter.
  4. Add beans to chili mixture and stir through.
  5. Put half of the cornbread batter into greased casserole dish, and then meat mixture.
  6. Add remaining batter, but do not mix.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, or until batter is done.

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Pasta with Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

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Next I made this WONDERFUL sundried tomato pasta recipe that came from Jon’s mom! (Who got it from Jon’s sister, who got it from the Tarheel cookbook, I hear!) I can’t handle anything spicy at all, so I made a completely spice-free version (just delete the crushed red pepper). This one is a must-try and is just as good without the chicken if you want a delicious, meatless meal! Seriously, SO good!

Makes: 6 servings (??)

Ingredients:

  • ¬†4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 1 7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, packed in water,¬†drained and chopped
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1 cup parmesean cheese
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 lb. chicken tenderloins cut into bite size pieces
Directions:
  1. Use the olive oil that the sun-dried tomatoes are packed in and pour into a heavy medium saucepan. Sautee the chicken pieces in the oil until they are cooked.
  2. Add tomatoes, cream, red peppers, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the basil and continue simmering.
  4. Cook the pasta. When you drain it, keep about a cup of the water that it boiled in.  Mix the pasta in with the sauce, and then stir in the parmesean cheese.
  5. If it is dry, add some of the reserved water. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Shrimp New Orleans 

That brings me to tonight and another recipe from the classic Stuffed Cougar cookbook – Shrimp New Orleans! I really went out on a limb here, having never made anything with shrimp before. It turned out really well, though, and wasn’t that difficult, either. The most time-consuming thing is measuring out all the ingredients. The only downside is that it’s a pretty expensive recipe with both shrimp and white wine. I ended up not using celery because I don’t like it anyway, and I also could not find chopped pimiento for the life of me! After looking it up several times I believe it’s a spice – dried from a red pepper, but not a bell pepper…a hot pepper I think? Does anyone else know? I read that a red bell pepper can be substituted, so that’s what I did. My hatred for spiciness is much to Jon’s dismay…he ended up sprinkling some Creole seasoning on his, which “really woke it up” in his words! I’m so mad I forgot to take a picture! ūüė¶

Shrimp New Orleans

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. chopped celery
  • 2 T. chopped green pepper
  • 4 T. chopped onion
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 T. chopped pimiento
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 5 T. flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 c. chicken bouillon
  • 1 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 T. sweet cream
  • 2 (3 or 4 oz.) cans mushrooms
  • 1.5 lbs. cooked shrimp
  • 3 T. white wine

Directions:

  1. Cook the celery, green pepper, and onions slowly in the butter until tender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except wine.
  3. Heat until hot throughout.
  4. Add the wine just before serving. Serve over rice.

That concludes my cooking adventures so far!¬†Hope you might be inspired to try one of these if you’re looking for something new!

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