Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back on the Cooking Wagon

I"m back on the cooking wagon after a four month hiatus - yikes! I devoted quite a bit of time and effort into researching, planning and preparing meals for our family in January and February. I found myself really enjoying my time in the kitchen and it was a heck of a lot easier than doing the 5pm scramble.

In March and April, the first trimester of pregnancy shot my meal planning ways right out the window. All meat sounded truly disgusting and I had no energy to care. Poor Andi ate a lot of Kraft Fresh Takes chicken tenders and steamed vegetables because that's all I could muster at dinnertime. Half the time, he had to finish assembly himself. Poor guy. (Love those shredded cheese / breadcrumbs packets by the way. So easy.)

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen. It's summertime! Our outdoor grill and all the fresh produce coming into farmer's markets are begging me to try some new recipes. Meal planning for lake cabin weekends used to be one of my favorite things, so I dove head first into our Father's Day weekend meal plan and came up with some great meals:

Caprese Grilled Chicken
This recipe was flipping DELICIOUS. It screamed summertime and was so easy to make, too. Andi grilled up some chicken breasts while I prepared Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese slices to pair on top. We topped each breast with fresh basil and a balsamic vinegar reduction. The mozzarella cheese melted just so slightly onto of the chicken and the tomato kept each chicken bite light and juicy. So, so good. A+

We paired our chicken with fresh asparagus, sliced grilled potatoes and salad. Andi happened to snap a picture of his plate and it looks so appetizing, I'm half-tempted to make it for dinner again this week!

Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Croissants
I made my own version of this because the link was suspicious when I clicked on the recipe from Pinterest. Don't you hate that? Anyway, I'm linking to the original source here only because I used the picture as an eye-ball guide for what to make. (I needed a larger quantity than what was written in the description.)

I made Chicken Salad Sandwiches for our afternoon picnic on Father's Day. Andi isn't a big fan of sandwiches, but I was struggling with what I could make for 8 people AND transport in a canoe for  our lunch on the river. I pre-made the chicken salad the day before and stored it in a Ziploc bag until it was time to eat (at which time, I plated a few scoops onto croissants).

For this recipe, Andi boiled and shredded chicken breasts on the stove top while I tossed together green grapes, sliced apples, chopped red onion, sliced almonds, Craisins and plain Greek yogurt. I added salt and pepper to taste. I really loved this recipe and think I'll make it again this summer for lunches at home. The chicken salad would also be great atop a bed of lettuce or eaten alone. PS - The crunch factor made up for the fact that I served Andi sandwiches on Father's Day. A+

Penne Fresca Salad
I prepared this pasta salad for our Father's Day picnic as well. I followed the directions according to the recipe, except I skipped over the sun-dried tomatoes sauteed in garlic part, per Andi's preferences. I tossed the pasta with olive oil, salt and pepper but in hindsight, I'd make this again with arugula, penne pasta, grape tomatoes and mozzarella and toss with Italian dressing. I think it would give it more flavor. Good suggestion from my sister-in-law. B- for the recipe as stated, but I'd make this again using Italian dressing.

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars
Another easy recipe I threw together this weekend were these chocolate peanut butter bars. Everyone RAVED about how good these were and they seriously took me five minutes to whip up. Perfect treat for a weekend at the cabin. Not at all healthy but oh, so good! A+

Some other great recipes I've made for dinners lately ...

Grilled Salmon
Marinated in a quick mixture of soy sauce and brown sugar, then grilled for a few minutes on each side. Fast, easy and healthy = perfect weeknight meal. B

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Artichoke Salsa
If you like artichokes, you'd like this recipe. The flavors were really complex and it tasted so different than how we usually eat our grilled or baked chicken. A- ... only because I had to make a special trip to the store for capers and that was kind of annoying.

Cashew Chicken Mango Salad
One of my big cravings this pregnancy has been salads. So much so that every time I eat one, Andi rolls his eyes at me when I'm oohing and ahhing over how fresh and delicious every bite tastes. I loved this Cashew Chicken Mango Salad because it reminded me of springtime. Cashews, avocados and mangoes aren't usually on my regular grocery list, so I had to plan ahead for this one ... but it was worth it.  A


  1. Great ideas! I always have a really hard time coming up with meals in summer for some reason. I far prefer the hot soups/chilis/stews/bakes of winter for cooking, but I DO love pasta salad and sandwiches so these are awesome!

  2. I'm totally going to try a bunch of these recipes! Thanks for sharing!!