Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

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We were both surprised at delicious this tasted tonight! Neither of us are crazy about fresh tomatoes usually, but we both devoured this dish!

Tomato Bruschetta

-about 12-15 grape tomatoes

-1 garlic clove

-parmesan cheese

-olive oil

-black pepper

-Italian seasoning

-fresh basil

-Pepperidge Farms frozen garlic bread

Dice the tomatoes, chop garlic, and basil. Blend together in a bowl with olive oil. Add parmesan, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Make sure it’s all blended well and chill in the fridge for at least 15-30 minutes. It can be chilled longer if necessary. Bake bread according to the directions. (My husband has me beat on baking this bread, he gets it perfect every time!) Once the bread is toasted and ready, spread the chilled bruschetta over the top and enjoy!

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Rosemary Chicken

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I decided to use the rest of my rosemary before it completely died, so I started brainstorming. I decided to try it with some chicken and it turned out pretty good. I think we’ll have this again, once I get some more rosemary.

Rosemary Chicken

-butter

-fresh rosemary

-frozen chicken strips

-black pepper

-minced dried garlic

-Mrs. Dash

Melt the butter in a skillet and begin browning the chicken. Add in some chopped rosemary, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and garlic. Cook thoroughly and serve. We ate this with the summer squash recipe. I added parmesan and garlic to the squash which pumped up the flavor. It was so good!

Cilantro Fries

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I’m catching up on my posts… I’ve gotten behind on a few, so I apologize.

This was another Pinterest recipe that I found. You can find the original recipe here. I followed the recipe almost exactly. I didn’t have fresh cilantro at the time and I found that I need to split the potatoes onto two cookie sheets to give the potatoes enough room to spread out and cook evenly. But by the time they were done, they were SO good and they smelled amazing as they were cooking! I could’ve eaten a whole plate of these by myself. So good!

Fresh Home

We recently moved to a new apartment and as much as I love my big new kitchen, I am not a fan of our sink. No matter how much we’ve cleaned and run the disposal, there is still a weird smell we can’t seem to get rid of. So, I saw this on Pinterest (I know…what’s new?) and thought I’d try it. It’s pretty simple and made the whole house smell simply lovely and fresh! Then, once it had filled the house and the lemons were boiled through, we poured the remaining liquid (including lemon rinds) down the sink and ran the disposal. The smell was gone! I think we’ll be doing this more often, if I can get my rosemary to grow…

To make this lovely brew, all you need is fresh rosemary, a sliced lemon, and a few drops of vanilla extract in boiling water. Let it simmer on the stove, adding water periodically so it doesn’t boil dry.

Menu Board

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Since moving into our new place, I’ve gotten out of the habit of menu planning, sadly. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is unfortunately true for me. So, to get back into the habit and get ahead this week, I decided to make a simplified meal planner featuring only the meal we eat together and at home: Dinner. I had a blackboard that I wasn’t using and some sticky (but also removable) hooks around the house. I mounted the hooks on the refrigerator (in plain sight so I’d remember to use it) and wrote up our dinner plans for this week. Tada! Our dinner menu board is complete! Hopefully, this will help now…

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Balsamic & Basil Chicken with Tomatoes

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I’ve loved getting to use my fresh basil lately! I decided to try another basil and chicken recipe. I was thinking about making this dish while I was at work and the ingredients finished coming together on the stove.

Ingredients:
-Frozen Chicken strips
-Butter
-Fresh basil
-Cherry tomatoes
-Minced dried garlic
-Italian seasoning
-Balsamic vinegar
-Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add about 2 pads of butter. Let melt.

Once butter is melted add frozen chicken. Let chicken cook until tender.

Add minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and fresh basil to chicken, stir well.

Add cherry tomatoes. I didn’t slice them, but if you want to have more of the tomato flavor throughout the dish, slicing the tomatoes in half is best.

Pour balsamic vinegar over chicken and tomatoes. I didn’t measure, but I poured enough to taste. The vinegar will sizzle, so be careful when adding to the dish.

Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the chicken and tomatoes, and stir into mixture.

Once the chicken is browned and the tomato skins begin to crinkle slightly, serve and top with more parmesan cheese and a sprig of basil.

We ate this dish with a side of russet potatoes in a butter sauce (from a bag heated on the skillet, otherwise I’d post the recipe) and it was really good, however I want to try it next time with pasta!

 

Mason Jar Herb Garden

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Since we live in an apartment, there’s not much space for an herb garden. I saw a space saving idea from Pinterest using mason jars to grow fresh herbs at home. I love using fresh basil our cooking, but usually only get to use a few springs before it wilts. So far my little basil plant is growing well. I’m still learning how much to water it, but hopefully this little project will help save money, flavor our food, and improve my green thumb!

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Tortellini Primavera & Basil Chicken

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We finally got moved in to our new place and I’ve started to get back to cooking! I saw a photo on Pinterest of a tortellini primavera recipe, but I didn’t have all the ingredients so I decided to make up my own recipe! My husband loved it, so it will probably be a repeat.

Tortellini Primavera

-Cheese tortellini (I didn’t measure, but I’m guessing about 3-4 cups – we like pasta!)

-Frozen mixed veggies (I found a good Mediterranean Blend by Archer Farms, but as long as you have a good variety of color and no sauces/seasoning, it will work)

-Olive oil

-Parmesan cheese

-Italian Seasoning

-Dried minced garlic

-Fresh basil

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in the tortellini and frozen veggies. Once they are tender and the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and veggies. Pour pasta and vegetables back into the pot and add olive oil, parmesan, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, and torn fresh basil. Blend all together and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan.

 

Basil Chicken

-Frozen chicken strips

-Butter

-Fresh basil

-Dried minced garlic

-Italian seasoning

-Parmesan

Heat a skillet over medium high. Add in about 2 pats of butter or enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Once butter is melted, add in the chicken, turn to evenly cook all the way through. Add in torn pieces of fresh basil, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic. Once chicken is browned, serve topped with some parmesan cheese.

Venison Roast

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So this was a new one for me, since it’s not that easy to find wild game recipes. My husband and my dad went hunting over the holiday season and my husband came home with a doe weighing about 110-120ish pounds. We ended up getting about 60 pounds of meat after everything was processed. So, I’ve now learned one way to cook venison, but since we still have at least another several pounds to go, I will have plenty of opportunity to learn more ways to prepare it.

This time, I decided to try a roast for our New Years Eve party. This both concluded 2011 and our Lord of the Rings Trilogy that we had started in October. It was an epic way to end a rather epic year for us!

You can cook venison the same way you cook beef, however you want to keep it moist. Also, if there’s not a touch of pink still in the meat, you’ve overcooked it and it will be tough. Here’s how I cooked mine and it turned out just right (thankfully!):

-3 lb. venison roast

-a dab of olive oil

-Rene Junot red wine (it’s a dry table wine that the nice liquor store owner recommended)

-Swanson’s chicken broth

-baby carrots

-pearl onions

-water

I thawed the roast overnight in the fridge and then rinsed it well. (Actually, my husband rinsed it for me, since I’m still squeamish about touching raw meat and it was pretty heavy!) *When rinsing the venison, it may start to turn brown in spots, this is completely normal, it’s just the meat acclimating to the exposure to air.

Heat a skillet pan on the stove over med-high heat. Pat dry the meat with paper towels.

Add a dab of olive oil to the hot pan and begin browning the roast on all sides. I used a pair of tongs to help lift and turn the meat over to evenly brown.

Place browned meat on a roasting rack in a large crockpot. Pour about half the bottle of wine and half a container of broth with about a cup of water over the roast once in crockpot.

Set the crockpot to High for 1 hour. After the first hour, set the crockpot to Low for 8 more hours. Check on the roast periodically and with a large spoon or ladle, drizzle some of the wine and both mixture over the roast to help keep it moist.

When you have about 2 hours left on the roast, add in the baby carrots and pearl onions. I used the pre washed and ready to eat baby carrots. I boiled the pearl onions for about 3 minutes to remove the skins and added them to the crockpot.

Continue to check the roast and make sure it stays moist.

Once the time is up, you can transfer the roast to a pan or serving dish to make it easier to carve. I used a rectangle deep glass pan and was able to pour some of the au jus over the roast and veggies. It was tender and juicy all the way through! The flavor of the wine added to the natural flavor of the meat for a rich main course. My sister made her famous green beans and I added homemade mashed potatoes with Texas toast for sides! YUM!

Magic Cookie Bars

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This has long been a favorite in my family. In fact, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until my mom makes a batch! So yummy!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 pkg (1/3 of a box) graham crackers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for glass dish).
In 13 x19 inch baking pan, melt butter in oven. (I do this as the oven is preheating b/c I’m impatient)
Crush graham crackers; sprinkle crumbs into melted butter, press.
Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb crust.
Sprinkle chocolate chips, then coconut, then nuts; press down firmly.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly toasted brown. Let cool.
Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temp.

Enjoy!

P.S. I plan on trying to make these this year with parchment paper lining the pan. They tend to stick to the corners and sides pretty well without a lot of cooking spray, butter, or parchment paper. Plus, I’ve heard it’s easier to remove from the pan and cut into bars with the paper.