Dinners week 7: Inspiration from Restaurants: The Green Jacket, Cowboy Ciao, and Macaroni Grill

Parmesan Chicken: (recipe from CovCom Cooks!)
4 Chicken breasts, whole or cut into strips (I cut mine into strips)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2T parsley
1tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
2T lemon juice

Combine bread crumbs, cheese, salt, and parsley in pie plate or shallow bowl.  Combine butter and lemon juice in another pie plate.  Dip chicken into butter mixture and then coat with bread crumb mixture.  Place in baking dish and top with remaining bread crumbs and pour extra butter mixture over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

SERVE WITH: Edamame (aka poppers!) for the kids...for our date night in:
 Angel Hair Pasta With Lemon Butter Sauce:
Cook Angel Hair Pasta according to package directions, top with chicken and pour lemon butter sauce over top
Recipe for Macaroni Grill inspired Lemon Butter Sauce

Green Jacket House Salad: (recipe from Food for the Body and Soul)
4 cups lettuce (I used Romaine)
1 T parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
Pita chips
4 to 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber (optional,) sliced (I omitted this)
Parmesan cheese

3 T oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T seasoned salt (I would cut this in half next time)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 T Accent (MSG???  no, did not use this!)
1 T coarse black pepper

Mix all ingredients for dressing and marinate cucumbers and tomatoes in it.  Combine lettuce, onions, and parsley.  Add to dressing when ready to serve.  Toss to coat lettuce.  Put in serving dish.  Add Pita chips and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

NOTES:  This is a totally indulgent meal, but that's okay when it's made for a date night in :)  Much better for us than going out and eating a similar meal.  I went ahead and breaded the chicken in the morning and had it ready to throw in the oven for the kids while I made the simplest side in the world: frozen, steamable edamame...the kids LOVE these!  I covered the rest of the chicken with tin foil to keep it warm so that we could enjoy our dinner after the kids went to bed.  I also made the salad dressing in the morning and let the tomatoes marinate all day.  I threw together the salad and cooked the noodles and sauce while George put the kids down.  This dinner has A LOT of butter in.  I would recommend cutting the butter for the chicken in half at least and cutting recipe for the lemon butter sauce in half and inviting some friends over :)  You really only need a tablespoon or two for each person because it's so heavy.  I froze the leftover sauce, but I have a feeling it won't work very well because it will separate and turn basically back into butter.  Time will tell!  For the salad,  use no salt Pita chips, or make your own and cut down on the seasoned salt (I cut it in half.)  This salad was famous at a restaurant in Augusta called the Green Jacket that was right across the street from the Augusta National.  The restaurant has since closed, but the fame of the Green Jacket House Salad lives on.  This meal was so fun and totally indulgently delicious.  A great alternative to a date night when you're in need of one but can't make it happen for whatever reason!!

Black  Bean Burritos: (recipe from my friend, Liz Todd, who always helps me to keep my sanity and is an amazing cook!)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. veg. oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
 1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 2/3 cup canned black beans
2 tsp minced jalapeno
8tbsp grated Monterrey jack cheese
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp chopped cilantro
4 flour tortillas (burrito size)
4 sheets of tin foil
preheat oven to 350 degrees
combine onion and oil in a large nonstick skillet.
stir over med. heat until onion is golden.
add cumin and chili powder, stir 20 sec.
add bell pepper, saute until almost tender.
add beans (drained and rinsed)
add jalapeno
bring to a simmer
place tortillas on foil sheets
spoon bean filling down center, top each with 2 tbsp cheese.
fold sides of tortillas over filling and wrap with foil.
place in over for 15-20 minutes
garnish with sour cream and cilantro

SERVE WITH: Cole Slaw:  Combine Angel Hair Cole Slaw with 1/2 cup mayo, a couple of Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper,  a dash of sugar, chopped Roma tomatoes, and chopped cucumbers.  I learned this recipe for Cole Slaw from my friend, Whitney's mama, Nancy (who happens to be my mama's best friend!.)  She made it at the beach this summer, and it is more like a salad than a slaw...it is delicious! 

NOTES:  When I make these burritos, I want to yell out, "Welcome to Moe's!."  (I may or may not have actually done that this week.  These are so fast to pull together and super yummy.  I generally make the filling in the morning, fill the burritos, wrap them in the tin foil, and save them for when I'm ready for dinner in the evening...that way, dinner is literally ready in 20 minutes with no fuss.  If you want to cut your prep even more, you can always buy the precut onions and peppers in the freezer section of the grocery store.

Flank Steak Salad with Stetson Salad Dressing:  (Flank Steak recipe from CovCom Cooks!, dressing recipe from CovCom Cooks! and inspired by Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, AZ.)    
Flank Steak:
1 freezer bag *don't gasp too loudly, David Byars!
1 flank steak 
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 T white vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T green onions, chopped
Poke holes in steak.  Add each of the listed ingredients to freezer bag and add flank steak.  remove air and either refrigerate or freeze.  If frozen, the night before you plan to serve, place in the fridge to thaw.  Grill meat until desired level of doneness.  (Suggestion is to make 3 at a time, cook one, and put 2 in freezer.)

Stetson Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup basil pesto**
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 cup Aioli (see NOTE)
1 cup buttermilk
Fresh lemon to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate.  The longer it sits, the thicker it will become.
**  You can make your own pesto by blending 8 cups packed basil leaves, 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, 2-4 garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp salt in the food processor until smooth.  At the end, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
NOTE:  For Aioli, combine 1-2 finely minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 1/2 cup mayonnaise.  Whisk together and set aside. 

SERVE WITH:  I served the flank steak over a baby spring mix, sliced strawberries, fresh goat cheese (crumbled,) and pecans and topped with the Stetson dressing.  

NOTES:  I always make my own Aioli for the dressing because it's so easy, but I usually buy premade pesto and drain the oil off the top.  I like to make the dressing the day before so that the flavors have time to meld together, and I like to marinate the meat for at least 24 hours as it's a tough cut of beef.  After you grill the flank steak, cut against the grain to maximize tenderness.  Flank steak is a great cut of meat to serve to a crowd.  It goes a long way!
*Plug for my brother and Bag It The Movie...this is something everyone should watch to learn about how and why to cut down on plastic usage...eye opening and easy to implement!

Healthy, Baked Chicken Nuggets:  (recipe from Skinnytaste, found HERE)

SERVE WITH: Fresh fruit and:
Squash Muffin Cups:
1 can regular flaky bisquits (10 count)
4 eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups grated squash

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and add 1/2 of each biscuit to the bottom of each muffin cup.  Combine the eggs, cheese, and squash and spoon over biscuits...fill about 3/4 full...I use about 1/2 of an ice cream scoop full for each muffin cup.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

NOTES:  I was introduced to this chicken nugget recipe this summer by a friend at the beach.  These nuggets are SO easy and SO much healthier than frozen nuggets.  I make the nuggets in the morning and put them in the fridge until I'm ready to cook them.  The squash muffin cups were inspired by the Kappa Muffins aka Sausauge, Egg, and Cheese Muffins that I wrote about in Week 3's dinners.  These taste like squash casserole in a muffin!!!  I think I may have to break these out at Thanksgiving this year.  So yummy and super easy.  The only thing I did ahead of time was grate the squash.  This was our date night OUT, so I wanted something easy and yummy for the kids that didn't take too much time to cook or clean up.

Happy Cooking!!!

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