Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas

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Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.

And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
(from Parade)
Serves 2

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
2 rolls

Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste.  Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.

Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.


Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs

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I really, really adore grilling weather. Now that it’s warm enough to grill, I get super annoyed when we have rainy weeks. It’s like, c’mon Mother Nature! We’ve only got limited time to begin with!

I’m also feeling a bit of a time crunch because I don’t know how cooking will go once baby boy arrives. I don’t want to set too many expectations for things to do after – so I’m trying to tackle some of my must-make recipes now. Of course, kabobs always seem to top the list.

These were another huge hit. Unlike some of the other kabobs I’ve made, these are flavored with spices instead of sauce which makes them a bit healthier. We loaded the skewers with veggies and served them with rice for a full meal.

Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs
(from Allrecipes.com)
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. oilve oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 lime, juice
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Veggies – we used two bell peppers and a zucchini

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and spices. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Chop veggies into bite-sized peices.

Preheat the grill for medium-high heat.  Thread chicken and veggies onto skewers.

Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through, until the juices run clear.


Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

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We got a sneak peak of grilling weather the week before last – a few days of temps in the 70s. After this brutally cold winter, it was such a nice, welcome change. Of course, things are back to a more seasonal low-60s, with the evenings just a little too chilly to comfortably grill.

During our sneak peak, though, I happily busted out some recipes I had bookmarked last year and didn’t get around to trying. These kabobs were by far the favorite of the week, so I wanted to share them for those of you lucky enough to live in a slightly warmer climate. Seriously, if you don’t already have dinner plans for tonight, this is what you should be making. The chicken is good by itself, but the avocado sauce really seals the deal here. I could have eaten it with a spoon. (And, may have finished off the extra that way…)

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 4

Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 chipotle chili in adobo
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into uniform chunks

for the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, split and pitted
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil, salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, brown sugar and chipotle. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – I left mine overnight and it turned out fantastic.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook, turning once or twice until all sides are slightly browned and chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

To make the avocado cream sauce, add the avocado, Greek yogurt, garlic and lime juice to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with kabobs for dipping.


Honey BBQ Chicken Wraps with Broccoli Slaw

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One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out I’m expecting is, “Do you have any cravings or food aversions?” For the most part, the answer has been no. I’ve been lucky enough to continue eating fairly normally throughout the whole pregnancy (albeit, with lots more cooking help from Mark).

My one hang up? Chicken. For some reason, I just could not do a chicken we cooked here until about halfway through the pregnancy. Chicken at a restaurant? Fine. Pre-cooked, store-bought chicken? Fine. Any sort of home preparation? Blech.

Rather than trying to force the issue, I just worked around it as much as possible – which is where sandwiches like these came in. These are super minimal effort and time (fifteen minutes, tops), but still made me feel like I was making dinner. And coupled with the sauce and broccoli slaw, it didn’t feel like a straight-out-of-the-freezer section meal either.

I’m sure this is a dish I’ll revisit once baby boy is here and we need quick meals.

 

Honey BBQ Chicken Wraps with Broccoli Slaw
(very slightly adapted from I Should Be Mopping the Floor)
Serves 4

4-8 (depending on size) Honey BBQ chicken strips (I bought Tyson brand – you could make these at home pretty easily too)
4 burrito-sized wraps

For the slaw:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
3 cups broccoli slaw

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Bake the chicken according to package directions.

While the chicken bakes, mix together the ingredients for the slaw, tossing to coat the broccoli slaw evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside until chicken is done cooking.

Once the chicken is done, spread 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the sauce on each wrap. Divide chicken between wraps. Top chicken with broccoli slaw. Wrap up burrito style and cut in half to serve.


Taco Bread Twist

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I realize it’s only mid-August, but I’m mentally preparing myself for fall. Fall is always a weird season for me. I love so much about it: apple everything, pumpkin picking, Halloween, Thanksgiving, changing leaves, football. The end of Fall is always disappointing. I hate winter so I try to stretch out fall as long as possible. Which means even though it’s only preseason, I’m in full football mode. And that I’m making fun Sunday dinners while watching the game.

This easy dish could be either dinner or a fun appetizer. It was also a lot easier and quicker than I was expecting. It’s basically all the goodness of a taco, shoved inside a bread. The recipe relies on pre-made dough, but you could use your own favorite French bread recipe.

Taco Bread Twist
(from Bev Cooks)
Serves 4

1 lb. ground chicken
2 T. taco seasoning
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 chipotle peppers, diced
3 t. adobo sauce
1/3 c. black beans
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
2 (11 oz.) tubes refrigerated French bread
1 c. cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 t. Mexican oregano

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.

In a large pan, brown the ground chicken. Stir in the taco seasoning, red bell pepper, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, black beans, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook another 3 – 5 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat.

On a clean and lightly oiled counter, place the French breads side by side. Using a serrated knife, lightly cut into each loaf from tip to tip. Using your fingers, spread the dough until you get a 4-inch well in the center.

Sprinkle the cheese along each well. Divide the chicken mixture between the wells. Using your fingers, pinch the dough tightly, closing the mixture inside the bread.

Transfer each loaf to a lined baking sheet, placing them seam side down. Twist each loaf around each other.

Lightly brush the twist with the egg wash. Using a small knife, lightly score little slits across the top of the twist, allowing for ventilation.Sprinkle the Mexican oregano on top of the twist.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bread is cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.


Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

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I can’t remember the last time I bought tater tots, but they went on the shopping list as soon as I saw this recipe. And then I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Usually, recipes sit on my to-make list for a while before I get to them – this one got made the next week.

The tater tots sort of soak up the buffalo sauce and turn into these delicious pillows of buffalo goodness. The casserole is pretty much buffalo wings you can eat with a spoon. Comfort food at it’s finest.

Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
(from The Black Peppercorn)
Serves 4

1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, diced
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. hot sauce
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
1 package tater tots
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/3 c. diced celery

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the hot sauce, garlic and salt. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes and then remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Toss half of the buffalo sauce with the cooked chicken and spread in the bottom of an 8×8 casserole dish. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the chicken, then layer with enough tater tots to make one layer.

Drizzle the remaining buffalo sauce over the top and sprinkle evenly with the cheddar cheese. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes and then sprinkle with diced celery before serving.


Chicken Caesar Burgers

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We’ve had really weird weather so far this summer. It started out super rainy and then we got a crazy heat wave. Needless to say, we haven’t been grilling as much as we usually do during this time of the year. At some point, I decided that we were drilling, weather be damned.

I ended up making these during the heat wave (hubby graciously did the grilling) and these were great. The fresh toppings made these feel like the perfect dinner, despite the heat. If you’re a fan of Caesar salad, you’d like these!

Chicken Caesar Burgers
(from Cooking with LT)
Makes 4

1 lb. ground chicken
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c. plain breadcrumbs
3 T. light Caesar dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
Burger buns, lettuce, red onion, additional Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing, for serving

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients expect buns/toppings and mix well. Divide the mixture into four balls and form them into burger patties.  Refrigerate the patties for about 30 minutes.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes per side.

Serve on buns with lettuce, red onion and additional Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing.

 


Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

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I’ve made a few quinoa dishes before, and I’ve never loved them. They were ok, but nothing I’d make again. I started wondering if all the hype about quinoa was just that – hype – and it really wasn’t as good as everyone was making it out to be. And then I made this and took it all back.

This was delicious. I actually loved the veggies in the hot sauce dressing more than the chicken – I think next time I make it, it’ll be a vegetarian version to take for lunches. And even though this was buffalo, it didn’t seem that hot to me. Even if you’re not into very spicy, I think this is worth trying.

The recipe makes 2-3 large servings, but it reheats like a dream so doubling it is a fantastic idea.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 2-3

for the salad:
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. hot sauce
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

for the dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. hot sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired (I used about half) and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.

Slow CookerChicken Gyros

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Most people don’t think of slow cooker meals as a summer thing, but there are plenty of great, summery recipes for the slow cooker. This one is particularly good – fresh lemon juices and herbs make up the marinade for the chicken. Pair the cooked chicken with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes and cool tzatziki sauce for a great summer meal.

This also freezes well – before or after cooking – making it a great option to stock the freezer during the warm months!

Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros
(from Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 onion, diced
1/4 c. water
1 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. allspice
1 t. lemon pepper
Tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and pitas, for serving

Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Shred and serve in pitas with tzatziki sauce and sliced tomatoes.


Baked Chicken Mole Enchiladas

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I was really excited when I got this dish in our latest swap – which was Mexican themed – but it almost didn’t get made.

I recently shared another Chicken Mole Enchilada recipe. We liked it, but it relied on store-bought mole and I told myself next time I’d make my own mole sauce. I didn’t realize I’d get the chance so soon! I added this one to the meal plan, went grocery shopping… and then couldn’t find the chilies needed for the sauce. Like, anywhere.

I have no idea why these were so hard to find, but we ended up going store to store bound and determined to make this mole ourselves. I may have done a little happy dance when we finally got a hold of them.

If you can track down the chilies, it’s totally worth making the sauce from scratch. These enchiladas are great - and quite different from the ones I made previously – but I’m sure I’ll be using the sauce in other dishes too!

Baked Chicken Mole Enchiladas
(adapted from Cheese Curd in Paradise)
Serves 6-8

For the mole:
5 dried pasilla or ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
1 1/2 c. hot water
Handful of tortilla chips
2 T. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 c. chicken stock
3 T. smooth peanut butter
1 T. sugar
1 t. dried oregano
3 oz. Mexican chocolate, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the enchiladas:
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
3/4 cup Mexican blend cheese
To make the mole:  Soak the dried chiles in 1 1/2 cups hot water for 15 minutes to reconstitute them, then drain and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, season with salt and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant. Reserve 1/4 of the onion mixture and set aside.
Transfer the remaining onion and garlic mixture to a blender. Add in remaining mole ingredients except for the chocolate and blend until very smooth. Return the sauce to the saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in the chocolate until thoroughly melted. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.
To make the enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken and reserved onion mixture. Stir in half of the mole sauce until well combined. Take 1/2 cup of mole sauce and spread it in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan.
Divide chicken mixture between tortillas. Roll up and place seam-side down in the prepared baking pan. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
You can check out the other Mexican swap dishes below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!

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