mrs.b and her boys

embrace the chaos

Category: Sunday Dinner

SPINACH & FETA STUFFED CHICKEN

Full disclosure: This dish is so scrumptious that I did a happy dance when I took my first bite! There are so many layers of flavor to it. You’ve got the fresh earthiness of the spinach and parsley, the pungency of the feta, the acidity of the tomato sauce and the sweetness of the mango. So many different flavor levels that meld together beautifully.

I don’t want to call it healthy, because then I feel some of you will turn and run. But I am telling you whether you are watching what you are eating or not, this is a great dish either way. And shockingly, the children ate it. They were not in love with it, but they did not complain one bit either. They said they liked it. {That’s a win to me!}

 

We all look for dishes that we can pull off as decadent, but it’s really quite a simple and healthy dish. You could serve this as a holiday meal or at your next dinner party. When you cut each piece in half, it is so beautiful. Then you top it with the sauce and all the colors pop on the plate! You will impress the pants off all your guests.

 

If you have a bit of extra time, you can pull it off on a weeknight. But, I am going to leave it as a “Sunday Dinner” seeing as the bake time is 40 minutes.

 

I served it with Lemon-Oregano Basmati Rice and steamed broccoli. It would also be lovely with an orzo or quinoa side dish or a big fat lettuce salad. For kids that are not fans of salad yet, just throw raw carrot sticks on their plate. It’s a legit vegetable option for kids that refuse most veggies. I waited until my kids were in grade school to make them choose another veggie to add to their picky eater palates. And now, they each have a handful of veggie options I can put on their plates. {Hallelujah!}

 

SPINACH & FETA STUFFED CHICKEN

 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat

 

Stuffing:

10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed & wrung out

6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. olive oil

 

Sauce:

15 oz. can tomato sauce

2 mangos, peeled and diced (I use frozen)

Salt & pepper, to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375˚.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all stuffing ingredients together. Spoon ¼ of the mixture onto each chicken breast. Wrap the chicken, being sure get it around all the stuffing. Place seam side down on sprayed baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

 

While the chicken is baking, combine sauce ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low simmer, stirring occasionally.

 

To serve, spoon sauce over each stuffed chicken piece.

Crab Étouffée

This may not be a dish kids will eat if they are not adventurous with their food. My kids certainly will not touch this with a ten-foot pole. But, that’s okay. Make it regardless. Reality is, with kids, in order for the grown ups to have food that is a bit more delightful then the normal eats on our tables, every once in a while it is fine for the kids to eat something different.

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This dish is delectable and spicy without being hot. As it simmers, the aroma is so incredible that I want to stand over the pot and inhale the whole time. I may or may not have thought of wearing it as a perfume once or twice.

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If you are unable to find crab, or do not want to pay the price {it’s pretty spendy!}, small shrimp would be fine too. It would not compromise the flavor. I know people have recipes out there for a crawfish version of étouffée as well.

I categorize this under “Sunday Dinners”, but if you have time to chopped the veggies and herbs ahead of time, this can come together quickly as a “Weeknight Favorite”.

 

Crab Étouffée 

 

1 stick ( ½ cup) butter

2 cups onions, diced

½ cup celery (with the leaves), diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup red bell pepper, diced

3 Tb. flour

½ white wine

salt & pepper, to taste

1 Tb. tomato paste

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes

4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tb. Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)

1 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tb. fresh chives, chopped

12-16 oz. lump crab meat (small shrimp or crawfish works too)

4 cups cooked white rice

 

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions and celery, about 7 minutes. Next, add the garlic and peppers, stir in and sauté for 7 more minutes. Add flour; stir to coat and cook off about 1 minute. Add the wine, salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add in the tomato paste, broth, water, tomatoes, Worcestershire and Creole seasoning. Stir well, bring to slow boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

 

About 5 minutes before serving, add the crab, parsley and chives. (You do not want to cook your crab any longer then that) Stir gently as to not break up the crab pieces.

 

Ladle it into a bowl and top with a scoop of the rice.

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BAKED ZITI

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I have tried so many {too many} Baked Ziti recipes over the years and have never found one that was delicious. They were all so dry and bland. I would sit and wonder why Baked Ziti is such a popular family meal. Then I came upon this recipe, tweaked it a bit and it is just {so} perfect.

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It is a great meal for families with picky eaters because it is simple ingredients with great flavor. Serve with a salad and it is a perfectly balanced meal.

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I normally make this on a Sunday, but if you have time during the week, it is a nice dinner to sit down at the table with anytime.

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I gave the boys just a simple salad that they like, but I made a delicious Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing for my husband and I to kick it up a notch. Now, if your kids are still not at a stage of eating salads {let’s face it, most aren’t}, just serve raw veggies on the side for them that they like – carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas.

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BAKED ZITI

 

16 oz. cottage cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese (separated)

Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

16 oz. ziti pasta

32 oz. jarred marinara sauce (usually 1 ½ regular sized jars)

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream (half & half works well too)

8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a medium bowl, whisk cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup parmesan cheese together; set aside. In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. At boiling, add 1 Tb. salt to water, then add pasta. Stirring occasionally, cook pasta until just short of cooked through. Drain pasta and leave in colander; DO NOT rinse. Take pot directly back to stove top.

 

In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into the heavy cream; transfer to now empty large pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened; stirring often, 4-5 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 ½ cups of marinara, basil and ¾ of the mozzarella cheese; stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat completely.

 

Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray; then pour in pasta mixture. Cover with remaining marinara sauce evenly. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Take a sheet of foil and spray with cooking spray; spray side down, cover dish of ziti. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes; until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown a bit. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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SPINACH SALAD WITH WARM BACON DRESSING

 

3 oz. fresh spinach (mixed greens work too)

1 red onion, sliced and sautéed to soft and light brown

1 apple, diced (wait until serving to dice)

8 slices of bacon, chopped and cooked (reserve the bacon grease)

2 Tb. pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 Tb. balsamic vinegar

1 Tb. white vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. brown sugar

¼ cup water

Ground black pepper

 

To make the dressing: In a sauté pan, warm up 3 Tb. of your reserved bacon grease and add grated garlic; cook until lightly translucent. Add the vinegars, Dijon, brown sugar and water; whisk to smooth consistency. Season with pepper to your taste. Once it is smooth and warmed through, add the bacon.

 

In your salad bowl, toss the greens with warm dressing. Then, top with onions, apples and pine nuts.

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*Feel free to switch up any ingredients in this salad. If you like almonds, great. I made it with apple because it is apple season, but feel free to switch it up for fresh mushrooms and hard boiled eggs. I even thought it would be good to dice the onion and sauté it in with the warm bacon dressing. Play around with it and make it your own.

SUNDAY DINNER

I am all about the Sunday Dinner. To have a nice day of lounging about while something is cooking away in the kitchen making the whole house smell amazing. That is…well, dreamy.

I have always dreamt of having family over every Sunday for dinner, everyone sitting around the table enjoying food & time together. {You know, like on TV!} But my reality is that it does not happen as often as I would like. Our weekends get busy and also, my siblings both live out of state. We do get to spend some Sundays with my parents & we do get an occasional big gathering with loved ones. When these rare occasions do come about, my heart is full! But even if it is just the 4 of us here, I still love to take the time & cook up something special.

 

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My Sunday Dinners may take half the day to prepare & cook, but they are always simple. Never too complicated.

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My Roasted Chicken with Lemons & Herbs is such a delicious example of simple. I served it with Asparagus & Roasted Potatoes. This Pan Asparagus is so simple, it’s crazy. My husband and I have tried making fresh asparagus different ways – this is {hands down} the best.

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The other thing I love about this chicken recipe is that you can use any fresh herb combo you like or what you have on hand. Sometimes I make it with just rosemary, other times I use parsley & chives. You could use any herb combination you love. The leftover’s make an easy lunch for the week ahead.


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ROASTED CHICKEN WITH LEMON AND HERBS

1 whole chicken

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 lemons, zested then quartered

¼ cup fresh herbs, chopped

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

4 cloves garlic, peeled & whole

Preheat your oven to 400˚. Line a large baking sheet with foil & spray with a non-stick spray. Take the chicken out of the package & pat dry with paper towel. Place on the sprayed baking sheet breast side up.

In a medium bowl, blend the butter with lemon zest, herbs, salt & pepper.

Take some of the butter mixture in your hands, gently get in between the skin & the meat of the chicken, and smear it all around. Then, take some more butter mixture and smear it all over the skin of the chicken, get into all the crooks. Then, take the halved lemons & garlic and stuff the chicken with them.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, then add potatoes [recipe follows].

ROASTED POTATOES

6 medium red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 Tb. fresh herbs, chopped

1 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thick

1/8 cup olive oil

Place cut potatoes into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss together until well coated. After the chicken has been baking for about 30 minutes, spread potato mixture around chicken in a single layer.

Continue baking for 1 hour or until chicken is done [180˚ between breast & thigh].

PAN ASPARAGUS 

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed off

1 lemon, zested & halved

Salt & pepper, to taste

1/8 cup olive oil

Heat olive oil in medium pan at med-hi heat & place asparagus spears in as flat as you can. Then, sprinkle the lemon zest on top along with the salt & pepper.

Toss with a tongs & sauté for about 10 minutes; until just a bit soft. You still want a crunch to it. Then, hit it with the juice from the lemon halves. Toss one last time & serve with your Roasted Chicken & Potatoes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does & that it brings you around the table with your loved ones one Sunday soon.

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