What’s for Dinner? Week of December 15, 2013


It’s still prime holiday season with people bustling around to shop for that perfect gift.  I luckily have most of my shopping done and about half of my wrapping done.  There are still a few things left on the list; a present to buy, cards to send out and the last few ornaments to hang on the tree.  I try hard not to let it stress me out too much, and really instead try to enjoy the spirit of the holiday.  I’m excited for another excuse to get together with friends and family and eat and drink and just have a good time.  Try to enjoy the holiday this year!  Take a deep breath (and maybe a sip of wine) and think about all the things in your life you are lucky to have.  I’m lucky to have my amazing husband, my cuddly lab, and a beautiful home to call our own.

While you are taking time to enjoy the holidays this year, take time to enjoy a nice family dinner.  Some of the meals this week are quick and easy (Apricot Chicken and Beef and Broccoli) and perfect for those late nights shopping at the mall.  While other meals this week are comfort foods to the max (Eggplant Parmesan and Jambalaya), they can be made with the help of your family to take time again to appreciate the important things in your life.  All meals this week come from this very blog and are yours to create, share and make your own.  Recipes are only guidelines, so don’t be afraid to tweak them to your own tastes and likes.  So write down those ingredients that you don’t have on hand, head to the grocery store that one time this week and enjoy dinners for a week.  A little planning goes a long way.  Make the first bite count!



MondayEggplant Parmesan | Italian Bread (Make the First Bite Count)

TuesdayApricot Chicken | Roasted Asparagus (Make the First Bite Count)

WednesdayBeef and Broccoli (Make the First Bite Count)

ThursdayJambalaya (Make the First Bite Count)

Friday – Grilled Chicken | Twice Baked Potatoes with Broccoli (Make the First Bite Count)




My husband loves Jambalaya, and in the past 5 years we have been married I have not once made it for him. Such a bad wife, I know, but I guess never having made it before and not really knowing what it even was intimidated me a bit. But my good friend, Christian, and his girlfriend, Kim, came up with this great recipe. I attempted, using the guidance from them, and it was well worth it. It came out delicious. Everything is homemade and the seasoning, especially, was amazing. I thought it had just enough kick (I don’t like things too spicy) and my husband loved it too. It passed the test, so on behalf of Christian and Kim, I pass along this great Jambalaya recipe to you. Make the first bite count!

Total Time: 75-90 minutes
Servings: 6-8

2 tablespoons creole seasoning, divided (we used Cajun’s Choice Creole Seasoning)
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped (bite-size pieces)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 package sausage (Andouille sausage is best)
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper, optional (for desired spiciness)

1. Season the shrimp in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon creole seasoning and let sit in the refrigerator until needed.

2. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Rub 1 Tablespoon creole seasoning on chicken and sausage. Place in hot skillet and cook until about 3/4 of the way done (it will finish cooking later). Chicken will take about 3-4 minutes per side and sausage may take 6-7 minutes per side. Remove from pan and tent with foil.

3. In a large pot (about 8 quart), heat the remaining olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and both green and red bell peppers and cook until slightly tender. Add garlic, can of tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Heat through for 3-4 minutes. While these things are cooking, cut the chicken and sausage up into bite size pieces.

4. Stir in rice and slowly add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low. Cover and cook until about half the broth is gone, about 15-20 minutes, then add cooked chicken and sausage. Continue to cook on low (covered) until almost all liquid has been absorbed (about another 20-30 minutes). This will take some time as it is a large pot of food. Be patient, have a glass a wine, it will be worth it 🙂

5. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, add seasoned, chopped shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink, about an additional 5-6 minutes. Rice should be tender and there shouldn’t be any broth left. Season to taste with salt, pepper, additional Creole seasoning, and crushed red pepper (for desired spiciness).

What’s for Dinner? Week of December 9, 2013


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Holiday season is bustling with people shopping, wrapping, baking and decorating. I love this time of year, but I do admit it can be a bit overwhelming. Planning home-cooked dinners for the week is sometimes that last thing on our minds, but in the long run it is healthier and will save you money :). Something I know I wouldn’t mind doing this time of year. For dinners this week I reached back and picked some classics that I know are easy to prepare and taste great. On Monday, I tried a Pinterest recipe from Budget Bytes, Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas, and they were delicious. A little bit of chopping then throw it all in the oven. Comes out delicious and just like the restaurants. Tuesday, I made a comfort food classic, Turkey Chili. Warm and satisfying, your family won’t even know you used turkey. This chili is great for leftovers, too, like on the Nachos for dinner on Friday. On Wednesday I grilled up some steaks and made some of the deliciously creamy bacon stuffed mushrooms and for Thursday we went a little healthier with our Grilled Chicken Caesar Salads. So, don’t let the stress of the holidays overwhelm you into grabbing take out every night. Make a list and a quick stop at the grocery store, and make delicious home-cooked dinners all week long. (Your wallet will thank you too) Make the first bite count!


MondayOven Baked Chicken Fajitas (Budget Bytes)

TuesdayTurkey Chili   (Make the First Bite Count)

Wednesday – Grilled Steak | Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms   (Make the First Bite Count)

ThursdayChicken Caesar Salads   (Make the First Bite Count)

FridayNacho Night   (Make the First Bite Count)

Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


My family has a great stuffed mushroom recipe using bread crumbs, the mushroom stems and Italian dressing. And, don’t get me wrong, those are delicious and I look forward to them every holiday. However, sometimes a little change is good. Made with a cream cheese base, these mushrooms are creamy and have so much flavor. With essentially all the same flavors of a loaded baked potato (cheddar cheese, bacon, chives) just stuffed in a mushroom. A little more low carb, though, if you will. My husband and his family approved of the recipe, so I now share it with you :). Make the first bite count!




Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

1 pound fresh white mushrooms
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Use a damp paper towel and brush any excess dirt off mushrooms. Remove the stems and discard. Place the caps on a small baking sheet.

3. Place cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for about 15-20 seconds just to soften and make it easier to mix. Add the cheddar cheese, bacon, parmesan cheese, chives and some pepper and stir to combine.

4. Place about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of cream cheese filling in each mushroom. It’s better to go on the lighter side, as you can always add more if you have extra. Also, if you overstuff the mushrooms, the filling will melt out in the oven.

5. Bake for 20 minutes and serve.

What’s for Dinner? Week of December 1, 2013


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! My husband and I were traveling like crazy to see family, but it was so worth it. Our Thanksgiving was full of food, family, wine and catch phrase. It was a blast. We even took time this weekend to cut down our Christmas tree and start to decorate for the holidays. Christmas is so close so I feel like there is a time crunch, but we always keep our decorations up for a little bit after Christmas (does anyone else do this?) so I figured if we get a late start it’s not so bad. This is one of my favorite times of year. I can’t wait to finish decorating, bake cookies, wrap presents and, of course, cook for my family. I have lots of ideas of meals and appetizers, so stay tuned over the next few weeks to get ideas for your own family holiday meal.

But I’m back and ready to post a dinner menu for the week.  If you notice, there is no night for leftovers.  I will try to avoid this night now as my husband is starting to take lunch to work.  He loves leftovers, so they get all used up for his lunches.  But no big deal, just gives a chance to post another delicious recipe.  The last 3 recipes (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) all come from my blog.  The salad with a tangy poppy seed dressing, the garlicky roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwiches, and the chicken marsala all come from previous posts on this very site.  All delicious, too, by the way 🙂  The white chicken chili comes from Cooking Classy (link below) and it was delicious.  It was creamy and filling and there was plenty to take for lunch the next day.  We even froze some to use for a future dinner.  The chicken and broccoli noodle casserole comes from Skinny Taste (link also below) and is a recipe I have made a few times already.  It is low in fat and calories and is a perfect meal; leftovers are even better the next day.  So take a peek at the recipes, write down your ingredients and make that one stop shop for the week.  Save time, save money and enjoy delicious dinners for the week.  Make the first bite count!


MondayWhite Chicken Chili   (Cooking Classy)

TuesdayChicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole   (Skinny Taste)

WednesdaySweet and Tangy Chicken Salads   (Make the First Bite Count)

ThursdayRoast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches   (Make the First Bite Count)

FridayChicken Marsala with pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli   (Make the First Bite Count)