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Blackened Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo

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Dennis is a huge fan of blackened meat.  And by blackened, I don’t meant burnt (that would be me that likes burnt meat), I mean meat that’s been rubbed with spicy blackening seasoning.  So when I ran across this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for Father’s Day.  It was perfectly suited for him, is impressive, but simple to prepare, which is pretty much a requirement for all the recipes I make these days.  It was incredibly delicious, and I would make it again, and again, and again.

Blackened Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo

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2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
1 (10 oz) container Buitoni Light Alfredo sauce
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
8 oz bowtie pasta, cooked to al dente & drained

Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts to lightly coat. Sprinkle blackening seasoning liberally over both sides of the chicken. Heat skillet on medium-high and cook chicken 3 minutes on each side. While chicken is cooking, heat Alfredo sauce and roasted garlic. Add pasta and toss; divide between two dishes. Slice chicken and place on top of pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Veronica’s notes: In a pinch, you can sprinkle in some garlic powder to taste instead of the roasted garlic.  Also, Bertolli’s jarred light alfredo works great for this recipe if you can’t find the fresh stuff.

Recipe source: Plain Chicken

Here’s the card I made for Dennis this year.  It may be my favorite card I’ve ever made. :) He loved it!

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Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs


Growing up, I practically lived on spaghetti.  It was the one “junk” food my Mom allowed us to eat (junk because it wasn’t whole wheat spaghetti).  Therefore it’s what I ate most of (because I hated health food)!  Spaghetti with Ragù sauce – I loved it.  But the best was when I made meatballs to go with it, which was a special treat because we didn’t do a lot of meat in our house.  I remember one time I was cooking my famous spaghetti & meatballs dinner for the family when I was about twelve and they all left me at home to cook while they went to the health food store.  I didn’t really love the health food store, but I still cried into my meatballs because I didn’t want to be left out.  Meanie old Davis family! haha

Anyway, this recipe is a lot different from the one I made growing up, but my recipe was little more than ground beef mixed with tons and tons of garlic powder, salt and pepper, rolled up and cooked in a skillet before being added to a pot of pasta with Ragù sauce on it.  I will always love meatballs made that way because that’s how I ate them growing up and have a fondness for it, but honestly these are better, the best I’ve had, actually, and I love the cooking method.  You don’t have to cook them separately, you just plunk them into the sauce and let it simmer away!  So simple.  It also makes the meatballs more tender and moist to cook them this way, and the flavor of the sauce and the meatballs both benefit from cooking slowly together.

The sauce is a very simple recipe and so, so good.  The amount of black pepper gives it a bit of a spicy kick so I’d cut it by half if you don’t like heat.  This is now my go-to spaghetti sauce (I’ve made it twice in the last week) and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Meatballs
1 egg
1 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

1 (1 lb) package spaghetti

Remove ground beef from the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature while the sauce cooks.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan to coat. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat if they begin to burn. The more color that develops on the onion and garlic, the more flavor they’ll add to the finished sauce.

Once the onions and garlic are tender and caramel in color, add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Add the remaining sauce ingredients (oregano through pepper), stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pot, and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the bottom does not burn.

Make the meatballs: Lightly beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Break apart the beef as best you can into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix together until well incorporated, trying not to overmix, which could render your meatballs more tough. Shape the meat mixture into 12 balls (I always get 13), each about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Drop them into the sauce, stir gently so that they’re all covered in sauce. It might look like there’s only enough sauce for the meatballs and there won’t be enough for pasta, especially if you’re like me and love your sauce, but trust me, there’s enough. Let them cook, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Once the meatballs are done, cook your spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions, drain, pile some onto plates, and top with sauce and meatballs.

Veronica’s Notes: your tomatoes matter. I bought very cheap tomato puree (and tomato paste, for that matter) from Aldi that was excellent but found that Walmart’s brand, which is higher in price, was horrible by comparison. Buy good tomatoes or you won’t have good sauce. Also, the original recipe used mint in the meatballs instead of parsley and I just wanted to mention that in case you’d like to try it.

Recipe source: Can You Stay for Dinner

Steak au Poivre

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Secret Recipe Club

It’s been a while since I participated in the Secret Recipe Club, since I opted out for the busy month of December and the club was closed for renovations during January, so I was so eager to finally participate again!  I absolutely love the anticipation of waiting to find out who my blog assignment is, then stealthily stalking their blog and picking the perfect recipe to make and share for reveal day.  That’s my favorite part, but it’s also a lot of fun to hunt down who was assigned to me after the big reveal and see what recipe they chose.  Fun, fun, fun! :)

This month I was assigned to Cupcake Muffin, which is the most expansive blog I’ve been assigned to so far.  There are so many delicious recipes in every category that it took quite a while to mark all the ones I liked and finally decide on “the one.”

I’m sure you are shocked that I didn’t pick a sweet treat, right?  So am I! :)  I figured since it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day, and I already have plenty of chocolatey recipes for you to choose from for dessert, I’d offer this fancy steak up as a consideration for your main course if you plan to have a romantic meal at home.   Also, I have ZERO steak recipes on my blog so I guess it’s about time I bit the bullet and added one.  Plus, the husband loves steak and usually if he wants it, I force him to make it himself (I’m sort of anti-steak), but I knew he would appreciate one that wasn’t rubbery and overcooked (his specialty) so I decided to be nice to every one and give you what you want. Aren’t I such a trooper? ;)

The steak is rich and so flavorful–peppery, but not overly so, despite the stunning amount of it in the recipe, and the cream sauce just brings it together so very nicely.  Despite my personal distaste for steak, I thought this was delicious and the best steak I’ve ever had in my life.

I usually covertly watch my husband while he eats, trying to see his reaction and judge whether I made a winner or a loser in his estimation.  Well, he had no reaction to this steak, except to shovel it into his mouth steadily without pausing to look up.  He knows how important it is to me to know if he likes what I’ve made, so I was a little uncertain, despite the proof of his enjoyment staring me in the face, until he was almost finished and finally remembered to look up and give his verdict.  He said it was the best steak he’s ever had!!  Coming from such a carnivore as he, this is a great compliment and a testament to the wonderful recipe.  Thank you, Sara, for sharing it–my husband is eternally grateful! This will be my go-to recipe for when I need to butter him up. :)

*Side note: Steak “au poivre” is French and translates to pepper steak. It is pronounced steak “oh pwav” or steak “oh pwavrah,” depending on which French chef you listen to.  (You can hear it pronounced from a French chef the first way on this video if you skip to :16, and the second way on this video if you skip to :42.)  I looked this up just so I wouldn’t sound a fool when I told Dennis what I was serving, and I thought I’d share for those who know as little French as I do.  I prefer to say steak oh pwav because it’s easier. :)

Steak au Poivre

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 boneless beef strip steaks (about 1 pound total)
Kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy (or cognac if you’re feeling extra-fancy)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Remove the steaks from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.  (A cold steak will contract when it hits the heat, causing the meat to become tough during cooking.)  Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season both sides lightly with salt. Coat both sides with the peppercorns, pressing so they adhere. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the steaks and cook to your desired doneness (2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare), turning the heat down to medium after both sides are seared if you wish to cook it beyond medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a plate and tent them with foil. Pour off and discard any fat left in the pan, but not the brown bits.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted, add the shallots and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add the brandy*. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook, whisking, until the brandy reduces to a glaze, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt. Transfer the steaks to dinner plates and top with the sauce.

Serves 2

*Note: Sara cautions to be careful when adding the alcohol if you have a gas stove because the alcohol will most likely ignite, as it did on hers (mine is electric and did not). Be sure to stand back and keep your hair out of the way just in case!

Recipe source: Cupcake Muffin



Impossibly Easy Vegetable Pie

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Maybe I’m not the best judge of the quality of meals since I’m on an endless diet and I tend to think anything edible is good, but I really do favor this quiche-type dish and I end up making it a lot b/c it’s satisfying and low in calories (about 200 calories per 1/6th of the whole recipe).  Den likes it too and as far as I can remember, he enjoyed it when he wasn’t on a diet (he ate it w/o complaining, anyway), so it’s probably safe for dieters and non-dieters alike.

This is my original version (based on a Betty Crocker recipe off their website), but I came up with this one for our dinner tonight b/c I found some sad looking leeks in the fridge that needed to be used in a jiffy and we didn’t have any milk.  Using chicken broth made the meal even more low-cal and worked great!

Broccoli-Leek Vegetable Pie

3 leeks, sliced (white part only)
2 cups brocolli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/4 of a red pepper, chopped (I’d use more for color but this is all I had left)
1-2 cups 2% shredded cheddar cheese
4 whole eggs
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Mix the vegetables with the cheese and spread in baking dish in an even layer.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and pour over the vegetables.  Bake 45-55 minutes, or until egg mixture is set in the middle and a knife comes out clean when inserted near the center.

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