Every week, I have the same issue: what do I make for lunches this week?
I would love to have dinner leftovers to take to work with us every day, but that doesn’t always work out. And when both of us need lunches during the week, sandwiches get old pretty quickly….and then, if I don’t try to plan a head a little bit, we’re left with no choices at all.
Most weeks, I try to either make something that Nick would like and something for me to have for lunches thru the week, and then we take dinner leftovers when we have them. And that works – usually.
Plus, doing this every week means our lunches get repeated….a lot. So I’m always looking for new recipes to make or new ideas for lunches for us to keep us from being bored by the same chicken salad every other week.
A few weeks ago, the folks at Heluva Good! Dip asked me to join in their blogger recipe contests and it was perfect timing! I was looking for something new to use for lunches, and this gave me the perfect excuse to use a rainy afternoon to mix it up and make something out of the norm for us.
And as soon as I picked up the dip, I knew what I had to make: a good, old fashioned casserole. Nick loves casseroles. I should make them more. They’re so easy! But if I don’t already have cooked chicken or grains in the fridge, they can take a while to put together, so planning ahead is key. I had some cooked chicken ready to use in the fridge, and – I totally took the cop out here – I used those microwave packets of rice. I love those. Total weeknight meal savers.
The french onion dip is mixed with milk and some extra seasonings and used as the liquid/binder for this casserole, which is full of diced chicken, rice, and fried onions on top for even more onion flavor and some crunch.
Want to see the other recipes and help me out with a vote? You can check out the recipe contest here – I can’t wait to try the rest!
French Onion Chicken and Rice Casserole
Makes: 6 servings
- 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 cup Heluva Good! French Onion Dip
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 and 1/4 cups fried onions, half crushed, half kept in pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a 3 quart / medium casserole dish, mix the cooked chicken and the rice together.
- Put the dip in a medium bowl and stir up a little bit with a spoon to break it up and smooth it out a little. Add the milk to the dip and stir together, gently, until the dip is mixed in with the milk. Add the garlic powder, pepper, and paprika to the milk and dip.
- Pour the dip mixture over the chicken and rice and fold everything together.
- Crush half of the fried onions and sprinkle the crushed onions and the bigger pieces over the casserole dish. Sprinkle more paprika, if you want, over the top.
- Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until the casserole is heated through and the onions are toasted.
Heluva Good! provided me with coupons to get the dip – all recipes and opinions are my own.
So….I’ve been hoarding this recipe for 8 months.
I didn’t mean to, I promise. I just kept waiting for the right time or for inspiration to hit me on what to write about it or maybe for lightening to strike to make me finally post about this dish, which is one my favorite things I’ve made in the past year.
I’m sure the waiting-8-months to post this doesn’t give you any kind of clue about how much of a procrastinator I am. Someone please give me a deadline for all the backlogged posts I have waiting.
This dish is one I made just after I got back from my trip to Memphis last fall to visit my sister and her husband. Instead of a regular dinner, we made our own little food tour around the city – drinks and appetizers at one bar, shared burger and sides at another restaurant, and finished with a few more appetizers and sides at another place in town.
If you want to do the same “tour” we did in Memphis, this is what you’ll need:
- A beer and meatballs from Bar Dog
- Local beer, deviled eggs, and the burger with bacon from The Local
- Fried avocado with olive tapenade and the duck confit fried rice with egg from SOB (plus – they bring popcorn to your table. genius).
I’m pretty sure I need to do a mini food tour like this in every city I visit – it was the best way to sample lots of restaurants and different foods while not spending all of my money on one huge dinner AND we weren’t stuffed at the end of the night. Just enough food. Lots of bites of the best things at each place. And walking in between. Best idea ever.
And while everything I had in Memphis has stuck with me (I still dream about those barbeque nachos), the one dish that really stood out was the duck fried rice at SOB.
First, it was duck fried rice. Perfectly cooked. And I actually saw SOB on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives just before the trip so I knew one secret ingredient in the rice.
Allspice! Allspice is the secret in this dish – it’s what makes it, totally. The flavor is incredible – a mix of sweet and savory, salty and tangy, and covered with rich egg yolk when you slice into the top to dig in.
Anytime I’ve made fried rice at home, I have never thought to put allspice in the mix, but it’s been in every version that I’ve made since that trip. And this first batch was definitely my favorite.
It may not be duck confit, but the flavor from the allspice brought me right back to Memphis.
Also, for fried rice, it’s best to use cold, already cooked rice – the texture is better and it absorbs more of the flavors of the dish that way. But, if you don’t have cooked rice leftover, you can definitely make some rice before you start on the beef and veggie part and have it set aside to cool a little before mixing it in.
Spiced Beef and Leek Fried Rice
Makes: 4 – 6 servings
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 leeks
- 6 scallions
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3/4 tsp allspice
- 2 cups cold, cooked brown rice (or any rice you have)
- eggs, for topping
- Pour the olive oil into a large skillet or wok and place over medium heat.
- Halve and slice the leeks, then toss them into a bowl of cold water and swish around to remove the dirt. Let the leeks sit in the water for a minute while you slice the scallions.
- Remove the leeks from the water and add to the oil in the pan. Stir in the scallions and let them cook in the oil for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened.
- With your spoon, move the leeks and scallions to the edges of the pan and crumble the ground beef into the middle of the pan.
- Cook the beef, breaking it up with your spoon, until it’s full browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Toss the garlic and ginger to the pan and stir everything together. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, allspice, and rice to the pan and gently mix everything together. Let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until the rice is heated through and everything is combined.
- While the rice mixture is cooking together, cook your eggs in a separate pan, on low heat until they’re how you like them (I’ll be doing a post soon on how I cook my sunny side up eggs!).
- Divide the rice between your plates and top each serving with an egg. Serve warm.
uh….can I still call this a weekend wrap-up if it’s happening on Thursday?
I’m a few days ( plus a week! ) behind on these finds, but I just had to share before my list gets too long.
How’s your week going?
Good? Drenching? That’s a good word for ours. It’s been raining – no, downpouring – since Sunday night, and I don’t know if I can handle it anymore. I know it’s great for the garden and our strawberries and blah blah blah….but the gray days are just too much when you have 4+ in a row.
So here’s what’s been keeping me from going stir crazy this week.
1. Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) break dancing. I can’t stop watching this. It’s Ron Swanson….break dancing. And, with his dancing name as tik-tok, i have to ask – doesn’t he resemble tik-tok from Return to Oz? Just a little?
2. 26 Reasons Kids are Pretty Much Just Tiny Drunk Adults. Truth. These reasons (and the pictures) are hilarious. I’ve definitely seen a few of these things in person with my nephews, and I love it. And why can’t I just take a nap wherever and whenever I want to? That should be perfectly okay for adults to do, too.
3. 33 Dogs that Cannot Even Handle It Right Now. Do you like dogs? You’ll love this. Do you not like dogs? (Is that even possible?) Even if you don’t, these pictures people somehow got of their dogs making these faces will have you crying by the end. I just can’t even….I wish I could catch Maggie doing this sometime, but she moves too fast for me.
4. Did you enter the Dole cookoff yet? I can’t wait to find out if my recipes made it!! I’m really excited about the one with jalapenos I made last week.
5. Shovels & Rope. Have you found them yet? I hope so. I can’t stop listening to them, especially with the album in the car and this set playing constantly.
6. And the most exciting thing. One of my friends is an insanely talented banjo maker and I’m officially having him make me my own custom, one of a kind banjo. This is just one of his (it’s actually one he just made for Scott Avett!) and I can’t wait to try to decide what I want on mine. I’m the worst decision maker ever, so it should be fun.
I grew up eating the best macaroni and cheese ever made. Maybe if you put it up against something full of fancy cheeses and truffle oil, it wouldn’t win, but it was – and still is – my favorite macaroni and cheese.
And this life-changing cheesy pasta is made by my mom’s best friend, Jill, who I’ve known all my life. She’s also the same Jill that makes the molasses cookies, and my family has spent almost as much time in their house as our own.
Anytime I see a macaroni and cheese recipe, I think to myself “does this sound like it would be as good as Jill’s”? Any most of the time, the answer is no. So I never try them. Because, if it doesn’t have a shot at being at least as good (if not better – which would be hard to do), it’s not worth the time to me.
I honestly don’t know what it is that makes hers so perfect. It might be the crispy, baked topping or maybe her pasta is always cooked perfectly or it may be a combo of all of that and the good memories I have of eating it when I was a kid.
I mean, you can’t really beat an afternoon of macaroni and cheese, fort building, and Cinderella watching (only the Rogers and Hammerstein 1965 version, please and thank you!).
All I know is that when I was making and updating this recipe a few weeks ago, I thought, for just a second, that I was back in their kitchen, scooping out a second helping of Jill’s macaroni and cheese. And all I wanted was to be back there, with my bad bangs and crimped hair, playing with my friends, and eating my favorite food in the whole world.
Jill’s will always be the best, but this one is pretty darn close. Now all I need is a day to have a few helpings of this and watch Cinderella.
Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese
Makes: 8 servings
- 2 cups dried whole wheat macaroni noodles (or regular is fine, too)
- 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups evaporated fat free milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons Dixie Crystals Light Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Paprika, for top
- Cook macaroni in large amount of boiling, salted water until tender but not mushy. Drain.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar, dry mustard, and some black pepper.
- Stir the cheese and milk into the hot pasta and mix together. When thoroughly combined, add the egg mixture to the pasta.
- Pour into a casserole sprayed with vegetable spray. Press down to smooth the top. Sprinkle with more black pepper and paprika.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. All recipes and opinions are my own, as always.
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It’s What’s for Dinner.
It’s what I wish was for dinner tomorrow.
It’s one of the quickest and most delicious things I’ve ever made at home…and you probably wouldn’t think so when you look at it.
Maybe you’re the opposite of me and you have your life together.
Maybe…you don’t get into pajamas as soon as you get home from work. Maybe your kitchen is clean when you walk in the door and not full of cereal bowls that need to be washed and a sink of juice glasses and coffee mugs. Maybe you have hours to spend on dinner every night and you wear an apron so you don’t mess up your clothes.
I wish all that was me, but it’s not. After a 40 minute drive home from work every day, the last thing I want to do is wash dishes. And the next last thing I want to do is work on dinner for 2 hours and then wash more dishes. I really just want to sit and be lazy for a few minutes, an hour even. Maybe take a nap.
But since most of my nights are kind of mix of those 2 things (usually the sitting for a few minutes, minus the nap, plus all the washing of the dishes and definitely the pjs as soon as possible), quick dinners win out during the week.
I love having a long, relaxing meal just as much as anyone else, but it’s not always possible after a long day of work when we’ve still got stuff to do around the house and no one else here to do it for me.
So – quick and easy it is! And if all my quick meals tasted like this one, I would have no problem getting everything done at night.
Thanks to buying a cow with our families this year, we are stocked with beef right now. Our freezer has over 50 pounds of ground beef so you might be seeing a lot of recipes soon. I’ve been trying to not only post beef recipes, but it’s bound to happen when we’ve got this much.
But one can only eat so many burgers, meatballs, and pasta dishes in a row. Enter Sweet and Spicy Beef. This is my homemade trial at making something close to what I had at a korean restaurant, and it turned out just how I wanted: a little sweet, a little spicy, a rich flavor in the beef punched up a little with some fresh lime juice.
if you find yourself in your pjs, looking for something to make for dinner tonight….I think this might be it.
Sweet and Spicy Beef
Makes: 6 servings
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 and 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Dixie Crystals brown sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- cooked rice, for serving (about 6 cups cooked)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown the ground beef with the garlic in the sesame oil.
- Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Squeeze the juice from one of the limes into the beef and stir in half of the sliced green onions.
- Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions and another squirt of lime juice.
i have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. All recipes and opinions are my own.
Well, this is just killing me.
I want to share this recipe with you guys soooooo much, but I’m using it as my entry into the Dole Cookoff! I’m also still working on the presentation, but the ingredients together? Spot. on.
Okay, I’ll at least spill that info. Pound cake. Grilled pineapple. Bananas. Jalapenos. Coconut. Stacked and whipped and simmered together before putting them all in one ridiculous dessert.
Ooh, I can’t wait to share this.
In the meantime, have you entered?! The grand prize is $25,000! I could finally pay off my school loans with that if I was being responsible….and if not, we could take the best vacation ever.
They’re taking entries through May 15th, so you’ve still got some time!
Have you ever made a sweet + spicy dessert? They’re kind of my new favorite thing, I think.