Category Archives: Dinner 101 Challenge

Dinner 101 Challenge: Night #7: Raspberry Chicken Dinner Salad

Sometimes there is nothing as fresh as a salad. The crispy romaine leaves. The fresh taste as you bit into it and feel the crunch and the purity of flavor…Mmmm! And, to top it off you feel good, not loaded down after you finish it! So for all these reasons is why my Raspberry Chicken Dinner Salad is Night #7! Literally from start to finish it’s 15 minutes to throw together for dinner. I whip this together on super busy nights. For most families, super busy nights normally=fast food; but after eating this you won’t feel stuffed, gross and rushed…only still probably rushed =)

Raspberry Chicken Dinner Salad

Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette ( I prefer the brand Ken’s Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette)
Olive Oil, about 3 tablespoons
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Bag of fresh chopped romaine
4 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3/4 cup Walnuts,chopped
1 cucumber,chopped
1 pint Fresh raspberries
Raspberry walnut vinaigrette

Marinate Chicken Breasts for at least one hour but up to a day in Kens Raspberry Walnut Vinegrette in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Take out of plastic freezer bag with tongs, coat skillet in olive oil and cook chicken breasts on medium heat. 8 minutes on each side.

Build 4 large salads. Just try your best to equally distribute the above remaining ingredients over each plate. Put romain lettuce down on plate. Place chicken breasts which have cooled down a bit and been cut or sliced. Sprinkle a liberal amount of gorgonzola cheese. Put on chopped walnuts, cut up prices of cucumber, and scatter a few fresh raspberries on top!! Dinner is served! Dress salad with desired amount of raspberry vinaigrette.

Dinner 101 Challenge: Night #6: Homemade Mac N Cheese with Bacon

Who doesn’t LOVE comfort food! Mmm! Seriously though after a hard day there’s noting quite like a bowl of this cheesy goodness! We garnish it with lots of fresh bacon crumbles and extra cheese so it not only looks impressive but the taste dances in your mouth! Enjoy my recipe from Night #6!

YUM! Night #6 Challenge...a success!!
YUM! Night #6 Challenge...a success!!

Homemade Mac N Cheese with Bacon
1 lb center cut bacon
3 cups half n half
3 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
salt n pepper
1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
Bake bacon on a rimmed cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
In a saucepan warm half n half, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Let all of the flavors infuse the half n half for about 5-8 minutes.

In another saucepan we are going to start a roux (RUE). This is the thickening agent to create the cheese sauce. Melt 1 stick butter over medium heat, once melted add 5 level tablespoons of flour and whisk until a paste is created. Now take the half n half mixture from the first pan and pour into the roux. Whisk then add 2 cups milk. Continue to stir until sauce thickens then turn to low heat. At this point add in 2 cups of Shredded Cheddar-Jack Cheese and 1 cup mozzarella. Also set aside 1 cup sharp shredded cheddar for the garnish.

Boil 1 lb macaroni noodles al dente. Drain and mix with cheese sauce. Garnish with extra cheddar cheese and chop cooked crispy bacon and put on top of macaroni! Now eat…you deserve it!

Serves approx 6-8

Dinner 101 Challenge: Night #5:Asparagus and Cheese Frittata

Yes! We love breakfast for dinner once in a while! It’s cheap and cheerful and a great quick go to meal for a weeknight! Here is the recipe for what Kimberly made for Night #5 of her challenge! You can be sure awesome video footage of her making this will soon follow, so stay tuned. In the meantime plan to make this Frittata this weekend! YUM!! Oh and FYI: A Frittata is kinda like a quiche but without the fattening pastry crust underneath so you don’t have to feel guilty about having seconds =)

Asparagus and Cheese Frittata

9 eggs
1/2 cup half n half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground mustard
salt and pepper
1 lb asparagus, chopped
1 1/2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim your asparagus and chop into 1 in sections then parboil it in a small pan for 3 minutes so it doesn’t end up crunchy in your frittata, drain and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Add half n half, garlic clove, ground mustard, salt and pepper and continue to mix well. Fold in the chopped asparagus and shredded cheese. Preheat large skillet on med. heat. Butter the skillet and pour in the egg mixture. Cook on the stovetop over medium head for 4-5 minutes until the edges begin to set up a bit. Now transfer skillet to a 350 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes until egg is firm in the center. TIP: You can garnish the top of your frittata with some extra shredded cheese. NOTE: DO NOT use a skillet with a plastic handle…also it”s a great idea to cover your handle in foil to prevent an accidental burn even though you are using oven mitts to get in in and out of the oven.

Homemade Hash-browns

6 potatoes, grated
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
salt and pepper

Peel and wash potatoes. Take to a grater and grate into shreds. Preheat a skillet to medium heat. Coat the skillet in the oil and then add grated potatoes. Press the potatoes down with spatula into a thin layer on the bottom of the pan and season the side up with salt and pepper. Let them cook for 5 minutes. Now, take your potatoes and flip to let the opposite side get brown and crispy as well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes and then serve!

Compare and cry??

Ok, so as you saw from the below confessional video, Night #4 went pretty rough. Luckily I just happened to be making the same thing as Kimberly attempted so I was able to post what the finished product of the recipe is suppose to look like! lol Don’t worry though…I feel a huge comeback coming on for Kimberly tonight…let’s all cheer her on!! Here’s pics to compare of both of our “Burger Melts” from last night. (and I use that name loosely)

Kimberly's Burger Melt
Kimberly's Burger Melt

Jess's Burger Melt
Jess's Burger Melt

Dinner 101 Challenge: Night #4: Burger Melts with Crispy Onion Rings

Ok, so occasionally I love a Frisco Melt from Steak N Shake but oh my word the grease! I wanted to make a bit of a less greasy version at home and so I wrote this recipe! This is what Kimberly is making for dinner tonight…can she pull it off?? We will soon see.

Burger Melts with Crispy Onion Rings

Burger melts

Burger Melts
1 lb ground sirloin *Tip if you want these on the even more healthy side sub out ground sirloin for ground turkey!
8 slices 100% whole wheat bread
butter
salt and pepper
4 slices of provolone cheese
Ketchup
Mayo

Ok you can so do this!

First off, take that ground sirloin out of the fridge to get the chill off. Wash your hands and then form into four patties (thin) Mush mush and flatten. *TIP: if it’s a bit difficult you can use a tablespoon of bread crumbs to bind it so the patty won’t fall apart. Ok, now season both sides of patty with salt and pepper. Preheat a skillet medium high heat and coat bottom with Olive Oil. Place burgers in the pan and DO NOT TOUCH or move them for 3 minutes! The meat needs to carmalize. Ok,after 3 min flip to other side. Leave for 4 minutes on side 2! If the patties were thin enough then they are done by now =)

Ok, set done patties aside and wipe pan out a bit with paper towel.
Butter 4 slices of whole wheat toast liberally. Place in the pan butter side down (like your making grilled cheese). Place finished patties then add 2 slices of your cheese and slices of fresh tomato. Place top slice of bread on then. Cook this on medium heat, check underneath when the butter looks browned then flip to other side. The cheese should start to melt and the tomato get warm =) They are good to eat just like this or you can dip them in a special sauce that is just mayo and ketchup mixed well!

Ok, on to Crispy Onion Rings!!!

Crispy Onion Rings
Crispy Onion Rings

3 cups vegetable oil
2 small red onions, slices very thin
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
salt and pepper

Slice red onion as thin as possible, pull apart rings. If they aren’t perfect do not panic no big deal. Get out a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of vegetable oil to high heat. *TIP: If you have any kind of wooden implement you can place the wooden handle in and if it bubbles around the edge of the handle the oil is ready.

Get your dipping station ready: a bowl of milk and a bowl of all purpose flour. Season flour liberally with salt and pepper.

Smother onions in milk then flour then milk again then back into the flour. Now drop into the oil they only need 30 seconds and they should be golden brown and crispy! Get out of oil with tongs and set on paper towels to dry out and crisp up a bit. Season immediately with salt while still hot.

You can stack these in your sandwich or on the side…enjoy!

Butter 4 slices of whole wheat toast liberally. Place in the pan butter side down (like your making grilled cheese). Place finished patties then add 2 slices of your cheese and slices of fresh tomato. Place top slice of bread on then. Cook this on medium heat, check underneath when the butter looks browned then flip to other side. The cheese should start to melt and the tomato get warm =) They are good to eat just like this or you can dip them in a special sauce that is just mayo and ketchup mixed well!