Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Here is a quick one for you.  Great for potlucks, picnics, or week day lunches.  This is really a no-fuss side that if you can boil water, you should have NO problems giving a try!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
1 lb rotini pasta, al dente (or your favorite pasta salad pasta)
1 16 oz sundried tomato vinaigrette (I used Kraft)
1 8 oz jar of sundried tomatos in oil, drained, rinced, and chopped
1 14.5 oz can of artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small  red onion, diced
8 oz of feta cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl or tupper ware and that’s it. 

Store in the fridge.

*This pasta salad tastes better if you make the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator.  It tastes even better 2 days later!

Easy Meat, Veggies, and Potatoes

Adapted from: Saving Makes Cents

This is a recipe that has been floating around Pinterest and I’ve been meaning to try for almost a year.  I thought it looked too simple to be true, but it’s not…it is as simple as it sounds!  And my goodness, flavorful.  I added a few ingredients of my own to give it a little something special so feel free to play around with this dish!  What’s also great about this recipe is you can change up the veggies depending on what’s in season or whatever you have a taste for.  And don’t tell Nate, but I definitely tasted a whole spoonful of the sauce…three times.  I know…so bad.



Easy Meat, Veggies, and Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife



Ingredients
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw
Green beans (any veggie like broccoli, asparagus, or brussel sprouts)
New, Red, or Baby Potatoes, cubed
1 packet of italian dressing mix
1 stick of butter, melted
salt
pepper

Add ons
capers
fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions
-Preheat over to 350 degrees F
-Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper
-Arrange the meat, potatoes, and vegetables in a 9×13 casserole dish
-Sprinkle the packet of italian dressing mix over the whole dish
-Spoon butter over the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables
-Add Ons – I added capers and lemon juice to the green beans, and sprinkled some brown sugar over the chicken.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (recipe says to cover with foil, but I skipped that and the dish turned out fine!)

Crock Pot Corn on the Cob

Source: Practical Stewardship

Crock pot corn?  Yea you heard me.  This is my new favorite way to prepare corn on the cob.  I can’t wait to experiment with the seasonings to go with it!  The corn turned out tender and juicy, and was a sinch to make.  And unwrapping the corn from the foil was like opening up a present! Ahh, this is making me crave more corn.
Crock Pot Corn on the Cob - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
-6 corn on the cob, shucked
-4 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 tablespoon garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon italian seasoning
-6 sheets of foil

Directions
-Shuck the corn.

-Mix butter, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

-Place each ear of corn on a sheet of foil and fold the sides up so when to pour the butter mixture over, it doesn’t spill out.

-Drizzle a spoonful of the butter mixture over each ear of corn.

-Wrap the foil around the corn so that the juices won’t run out and place each in the crock pot.

-Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

Zesty Italian Potatoes

Another Pinterest find.  But I can not find the original source, so if someone knows it, please email it to me so I can give credit where credit is due!  Ever since having a baby, cooking has been a challenge.  Just getting to the grocery store takes some serious determination, and this has only happened once with baby in tow.  So I have been forced to get back to basics and find even simpler recipes to get us back in the groove with our new way of life with a  baby.  Oh, and living on one paycheck for 3 months has also made CHEAP a new MUST when trying a new recipe.

These potatoes flip the bill…cheap and easy.  And yes, of course, yummy…but that should be a given right?  I’ve found myself using zesty italian and regular italian dressing mixes on so many meals now.  Whenever I see it on sale I buy a ton of them to keep on hand!  It goes great with most veggies and meats…with the help of some melted butter.

Zesty Italian Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

   

Zesty Italian Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife



Ingredients
-1 bag baby potatoes (or cube up some red potatoes)
-1 package zesty Italian dressing mix
-extra virgin olive oil
-minced onion
-salt
-pepper
-grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Place potatoes in large bowl
-Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle entire package of zesty Italian dressing mix, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 2 pinches of minced onion.
-Stir to coat evenly
-Spread potatoes on baking sheet
-Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until fork tender.
-Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Enjoy!


Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Roasted Vegetables - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Roasted Vegetables - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Roasted vegetables, to me, is the easiest side dish in the world.  Just chop up a bunch of veggies, mix together with a marinade (optional!), spread onto a baking pan, and bake.  You can have a lot of creative fun with the ingredients that you choose to enhance the vegetables.  Like using different fresh herbs, different vinegars, or instead of vinegar try lemon juice, add fresh garlic, add different spices, etc.  Another part of the fun is, I never measure out the ingredients.  I just dash, pinch, or drizzle what seems right to me, and it has always worked out.  It is super simple to make a huge batch of roasted vegetables to eat throughout the week.  And don’t forget how HEALTHY roasted vegetables are for you to eat!

Ingredients
Chopped Vegetables
Olive Oil
A pinch of Salt
A pinch of Pepper
A pinch of garlic powder
Red Wine or Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions
Mix all ingredients, except the potatoes, in a large bowl.  Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove bowl from fridge and add the potatoes.  Stir together. 

Cover a baking pan in foil, dump the bowl of vegetables onto the pan, and spread to an even layer.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and stir every 15 minutes.  You are looking for the vegetables to be fork tender, starting to brown, or caramelize.  We also go by smell…if your house smells delicious then your vegetables will probably taste delicious!

*Experiment, have fun, check the oven often if it’s your first time!

PW’s Green Bean Casserole

Adapted from:  The Pioneer Woman

One of the sides being served at the restaurant’s Thanksgiving lunch was a classic green bean casserole.  If there is one thing you should know about cooking for a chef, it’s that they do NOT want to eat anything close to what they cook/serve at the restaurant.  It may have been their favorite food in the world before they started working at that particular restaurant, but I’ve got news for you, they aren’t touching it now!  And if they try, they deserve a cookie.

So what do you do when YOU want something that is served the the RESTAURANT that your CHEF won’t touch?  Find a recipe that is completely different from the classic recipe, and that changes up the flavors.  Pioneer Woman’s green bean casserole did just that.  It was just as comfort-food-esque as all the other recipes, but the flavors were very different from any I’d tasted before.  At the end of the Thanksgiving meal, Nate and his friend both commented that I had managed to cook food that tasted nothing like the food at the restaurant, and for that they were very thankful!

An extra tidbit of information for you, the sauce you make for this dish is known as a Mornay sauce.   Adding shredded cheese to the sauce makes it a Mornay sauce and not just a Bechamel sauce.  A Mornay sauce can be used in lots of dishes with pasta, vegetables, meat, and fish.  Chalk it up to the French for this classic, building block sauce, and refer to yourself as “chef” when making this dish!

PW Green Bean Casserole - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
PW Green Bean Casserole - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
PW Green Bean Casserole - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

*I tried to cut a corner by using frozen green beans.  While it tasted fine, I can always tell the difference between fresh/frozen/canned.  So I would recommend you use fresh green beans whenever possible, but you won’t be disappointed if you use frozen.

Ingredients
2 pounds fresh green beans, ends cut off (cut in half if you like smaller pieces)
4 slices bacon, slice into 1/4″ pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half & half
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4 oz jar pimentos, drained
1 cup breadcrumbs (original recipe calls for panko, I used Italian breadcrumbs)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If using fresh green beans:  Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and add to a 9 x 13 baking dish.

If using frozen green beans: let thaw out completely and add to a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Cook bacon for two minutes in a skillet over medium heat, then add onions and garlic. Cook until bacon is done (not crispy) and onions are golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue whisking constantly, while sauce thickens (about 2 minutes). 

Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and the cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.

Add pimentos, bacon & onion mixture to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine.  Top casserole with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden.

Company Potatoes

Company Potatoes.  Have you ever heard of them?  Nate never had, until Thanksgiving.  Speaking of Thanksgiving, hope everyone had a great Turkey Day!  Nate ended up having to work at the restaurants first Thanksgiving feast.  Even though we weren’t able to go home and be with our families, we made the best of it.  I had lunch at the restaurant with another restaurant’s wife and their daughter.  And what makes it more fun, is that she’s pregnant too 🙂  So we had LOTS to talk about!  Then I ran home and put together all of the Thanksgiving side dishes and sauces, and went to visit a good friend and her family.  I visited and ate with them until I got the call from Nate that he was off of work.  He and his good friend headed to our house with the turkey (fresh from Missouri) and we finally got to eat our Thanksgiving feast at 9:00pm.  And for the next 4 days.

Company Potatoes are exactly what they sound like.  It’s a potato casserole you make for when company comes over.  They please everyone and the recipe makes enough to feed a crowd.  My family has been making these potatoes for holidays since before I can remember, and it is by far one of my favorite recipes.  What’s convenient is, you can put the casserole together the day before minus the corn flake topping, and dress/bake the next day when you’re ready.  

Company Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Company Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Company Potatoes - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Fresh Turkey - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Check out that freshness!

Ingredients
2 lb bag regular hash browns (thaw at least 30 min)
1 pint sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion (you may want to saute the onions a bit or microwave for 45 seconds, but I like crunchy onions!)
1 stick butter (melted & divided)
2 cups crushed corn flakes

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Use an oblong or rectangular 3 qt casserole dish.
Combine 4 tablespoons butter & all other ingredients, except corn flakes.  And add to the casserole dish.
Mix remaining 4 tablespoons butter with corn flakes & spread on top.
Bake for 45 min or until bubbly & corn flakes are lightly browned.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Source:  All My Great Ideas Are Really From Pinterest

Nate accuses me of being a sauce hoarder.  I love sauce, so sue me!  He also pointed out that we had 2 half bottles of Franks Hot Wing Sauce in the fridge, and asked me to explain.  I told him I was already a step ahead of him and had a recipe I was making THAT night to use them both up.  See what I did there? Girls ARE smarter than boys.

So I went to Pinterest and found a quick recipe for buffalo chicken something, and came across this gem.  There is really nothing too it.  And you could do it with any favorite sauce, for all you other sauce hoarders.  You could make a large batch of the chicken to use for wraps, buffalo enchiladas, buffalo mac n cheese, etc.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Buffalo Chicken Wrap - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
3 lbs chicken breasts
1 12 oz bottle of wing sauce
1 packet of Ranch Dip Seasoning
tortillas (used whole grain tortillas for health factor)

Optional Ingredients:
shredded cheese
leafy greens
sour cream
tomatoes
salsa
jalapenos
cilantro
ranch or blue cheese

Directions
Put the chicken in the crock pot and pour wing sauce over the top.  Sprinkle the ranch dip mix over the top.

Cook on high for 4 hours.  Open the crock pot and shred chicken with a fork.  Stir the shredded chicken around in the sauce and cook on low for at least another hour.

Then assemble your wraps how you please!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

What is it about cloudy, cold, and rainy weekends that makes you want to lay around and veg-out?  The list of things I ate this weekend would include salt and vinegar chips, chips and salsa, ice cream, pretzels, baked potato with plenty of yummy toppings, and an apple just to make myself not feel like a failure.  So what did I cook for dinner? Uhh, nothing that could be considered dinner food!  A pie dish full of spinach and artichoke dip.  Thank goodness, Nate was in the snacking-mood too!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip - #TheNotSoDesperateChefWife

Spinach and Artichoke Dip - #TheNotSoDesperateChefWife

Ingredients
1 10 oz box of frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded 
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lowry’s)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less for desired kick)
1/2 a teaspoon garlic powder
More shredded Parmesan cheese for topping
– Optional – a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

Directions
-preheat oven to 375 degrees

-add spinach and artichoke hearts to a medium-sized pot with just enough water to boil for 3-4 minutes.  You just want the veggies to be more tender and cook out some of the frozen/canned flavor.  Then drain in a colander.

-mix all of the ingredients and add to a baking dish

-sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top

-bake for 30-45 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and starting to brown

-Chow down!

**We mixed some of the dip with our baked potatoes.  Just imagine, a spinach and artichoke dip, double-stuffed potato! DEE-licious.
***Everything tastes better fresh.  Of course, artichoke hearts are definitely worth getting canned and the frozen spinach is a time-saver.  But if you’d like to saute fresh spinach, you want to end up with a cup of spinach.

Pasta Salad

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet.  My sisters and I ate this ALL the time growing up.  Still do actually.  No one else’s pasta salad has ever come close to this one because it is the best!  It is the perfect dish to bring along to a cook out or potluck, or make a batch of it to eat throughout the week.  The salad takes almost no time to throw together, so when I’m in a pinch to make something this is my go-to side dish. 
Ingredients
1 lb box of tri-color spiral pasta
1 16 oz bottle Zesty Italian Salad Dressing (I use Kraft)
1/2 a 2.26 oz bottle of Salad Supreme Seasoning (I use McCormick)

Add whatever veggies you like or have on hand, chopped up of course. 
Suggestions:
Carrots
Green onion
Red Onion
Bell pepper
Celery
Broccoli
Colliflower

Directions
-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Add all chopped vegetables, dressing, seasoning, and cooked pasta to a bowl or a food storage container.  Stir to combine.  
-Cover and refrigerate.  Eat once it is cool but flavors will develop more overnight.
*If mixed in a food storage container, it is fun to put the lid on and just shake it!  Fun job for the kiddos.

A Greek version:
Use Greek dressing instead of Zesty Italian
Add fresh basil or dried oregano instead of salad supreme
Add cherry tomatoes, olives, sweet peppers, feta cheese.

Yum!