Dinner Recipes

I've been a bit behind in posting weekly dinner menus since we've had a lot going on. Because we've been so busy, it's important for me to stay organized, plan ahead, and get my grocery shopping done on the weekend. This ensures that we 1) are eating home cooked meals and 2) eating relatively healthy. It's important to both of us that we make it home for dinner so we can spend some QT (quality time) together in the midst of hectic schedules. With that, here are some tasty dinner recipes that we've made over the past two weeks that we would recommend:

Margarita Chicken
This chicken dish was so easy and very flavorful. The recipe is intended for grilling; however, I baked our chicken in the oven and it came out great. You could use this recipe for chicken tacos :)

Ingredients: 
  • 1 can (10 ounces) frozen non-alcoholic margarita mix, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
 Directions: 
  1. In a small bowl, combine the margarita mix, lime juice and garlic. Pour 1 cup marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
  2.  Drain and discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, basting frequently with reserved marinade.
Creamy Sausage and Tomato Pasta
This was one of the best pasta dishes I've made. I'm not a huge fan of sausage, but I know that Tyler loves it. So, I decided to take a risk and try making this dish. Boy, am I thrilled I made this dish! It was so hearty and there was plenty of leftovers!

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 Italian sausages (about 1 pound) found in the fresh meat department. We bought the sausage filling and not actual sausages. You can usually get this in the meat department.
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes 
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5-6 big leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 12 ounces penne pasta (get a 16 ounce box and use 3/4 of it)
  • grated Parmesan for topping
Directions:
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water al dente, according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, brown the sausages like you would ground beef).
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the sausage and saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Pour in the entire can of diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce and heat through.
  5. Pour in the cream and heat through. The longer you cook the sauce the thicker it will get so simmer it until it is the consistency you want.
  6. Add the fresh basil and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Finally, mix the sausage sauce with the pasta and serve. Top each serving with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty garlic bread.
Seared Scallops Served Over Parmesan Risotto
Tyler and I both love risotto and thought this would be the perfect Sunday night dinner. The challenge lied in the scallops....I love scallops and Tyler isn't a huge seafood fan. I'm happy to report that after this meal, Tyler doesn't mind scallops!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups fat free chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 16 oz (about 12-14) sea scallops
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 10 oz baby spinach, washed
Directions:
  1. Heat chicken stock in a small pot.
  2. In a medium size heavy sauce pan, add butter on medium-low heat. 
  3. Add shallots, sauté about 1 minute.  
  4. Add rice mixing well until well coated and transluscent, about 2 minutes. 
  5. Add wine, salt and pepper and mix well until it is absorbed into the rice.  
  6. Ladle 1 cup stock into rice and mix until all stock is absorbed, add another ladle, and continue adding and stirring until all broth is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.  
  7. Add parmesan cheese and parsley, mix well and serve.
  8. Wash scallops and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  9. Season with salt and pepper.  
  10. Heat a medium size pan on a high flame. When pan is hot, melt 1 tsp butter and place half of the scallops in the pan. Sear without touching them for a few minutes until the bottom forms a nice caramel colored crust.  
  11. Turn over and cook about another minute or 2, until the center is slightly translucent (you can check this by viewing them from the side) and the bottom is seared. Be careful not to overcook.  
  12. Remove from the pan and set aside on a warm plate. Add addition tsp butter and cook remaining scallops. 
  13. Add olive oil to the pan and sauté shallots, add spinach, salt and pepper. Toss until spinach wilts. 
  14. Serve over spinach over risotto topped with scallops. 
Revolutionary Mac & Cheese:
As many of you know, I LOVE Mac & Cheese and could eat it daily! I'm always up for trying new recipes and especially love ordering it at restaurants. This recipe was definitely good and very cheesy.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups dried pasta
  • 2 cups 2% or skim milk
  • 1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (When I make this again, I might use lest mustard or not include it at all)
Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.
  2. Turn heat off, add cheese & salt & and stir to combine.  Stir in the mustard a little at a time to taste. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, then stir again and serve. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
  3. If you would like to bake it at this point, place in a baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until cheese has melted.
  4. As a side dish this makes enough for 4 people with no leftovers (can easily be doubled). We made it as a main dish and it's enough for 2-3 people.

Oven Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
This recipe is very easy and takes ordinary green beans and spruces them up! Tyler isn't a huge veggie fan so I sometimes have to conceal vegetables :)

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed (make sure they are dry)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp shredded parmesan
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum for easy clean-up.
  2. Wash green beans and cut off the ends. Lay green beans out on the baking sheet and drizzle oil over them. 
  3. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss to evenly coat.
  4. Spread the beans out on the sheet so that they all lay flat and place on the lower third section of your oven. 
  5. Bake 10 minutes, shake the pan to turn; bake 5 additional minutes. 
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese. If you want a healthier option, you don't have to use the cheese.

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