Vanessa's Recipes

Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

“Uh, Mom?  Why are you taking pictures of the chicken?” asked my son. 

“I thought I’d blog how I make chicken,” I responded, “so people can see.”

“Then you’ll be doing them a favor, because then everyone will be able to make chicken as awesome as you.”

Isn’t he the sweetest boy?  I should tell you about all the times he was little, and he’d walk past the kitchen and cry out, “EWW!  What smells so bad in here?!” with absolute horror.  So, you know, balance.  Open-mouthed smile

Anyway, this is my son’s favorite “mom-made” chicken dish. 

Start with ordinary chicken.  You can use whatever kind of chicken floats your boat – white meat, dark meat, skinless, skin on, boneless, bone-in – doesn’t matter.  I have about 4 pounds all together in this photo.


Then, the tweaking.  I think, many years ago, I saw a recipe from Kraft for parmesan chicken, and decided to play with it.  What I love about this recipe is that it’s so versatile.  There are so many different kinds of marinade sauces out there and you have so many options!  So, you can have chicken on a regular basis but have a different chicken dinner every time simply by changing out the one sauce. 


I confess, I don’t measure.  For roughly 4 lbs of chicken I use 4 blobs of the Miracle Whip.  It’s at least half a cup, I’m sure.


Then I add about a quarter bottle of the marinade sauce.  Perhaps 3-4 oz.


Lastly, I dump in about a quarter cup of parmesan.

I should add, at this point, you could put in whatever herbs and spices your heart desires, if you wanted.  Heck, you could skip the marinade all together and just use the Miracle Whip and the parmesan and add all kinds of  different flavorings – let your imagination run!  Use cayenne for a southwest flavor, or maybe some mustard and honey for a spicy sweet taste – I’ve used mustard instead of the marinade and it turns out really well, too.  I like Gulden’s for that.  A dijon would be cool.  Ooh, even crushed pineapple for a Hawaiian flair!  I hadn’t thought of that before.


Mix it up and glop it on the chicken.  It will be thick, like a paste, so I just use the back of the spoon to kind of smooth it over the pieces. 


As a finishing touch and to help aid browning, I sprinkle some more parmesan over everything, and when I have them on hand, I also sprinkle some sesame seeds over the whole thing too.  Those don’t show up in this image.


But you can see them here!  Golden brown and delicious.  You could also add some chopped nuts, maybe sunflower seeds, almost any kind of herb – rosemary, parsley, lemon or orange zest.


This is great with rice, potatoes, even noodles would go really well with this.  Add a nice salad or vegetable and you’ve got dinner. 

This takes about 10 minutes to slap together, and I bake it at 350 for 2 hours, or 375 for 90 min, you could go 325 for 2 and a half hours, too – it will work with pretty much whatever time you need it to. 

It’s easy, fast, versatile, and budget friendly for the win. 


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> cross posted on my regular blog, Vanessence <


My friend Angie, over on Family Life Is More, was talking about food the other day, and “make ahead” meals for families on the go.  Check it out!  You too can make 50 burritos and find true (frozen) love. #food #blog | Family Life Is More

Well, my family really isn’t “on the go,” and I don’t have a freezer big enough to hold 50 burritos, just a tiny apartment one, but I do like to have stuff prepped ahead of time.  For my husband’s lunch, I really like having things ready so that I can just pop it into a bag for him.  Who wants to deal with lunch prep at 6AM?  Not me!  Not him either, lol.

On Sunday nights, I try to put together all the individual sized portions of the things he’ll be taking in his lunch for the week.  That way, I can just grab a baggie of cheese, or nuts, or whatever, and toss them into his lunch bag.  I make his lunch the night before.  If I’ve done my prep work right, I can put his lunch together in like 10 or 15 seconds.

One of the things I like to add to his lunch are these little mini-meatloaves I make.  I call them meatloaffins, since I make them in my muffin tin.  Yes, I do like to make up my own words!  Open-mouthed smile  I get 2 dozen out of this recipe, and just grab a couple out of the freezer when I want to add them to his lunch.

The nice thing about this recipe is it’s versatility.  You could use any kind of ground meat.  I like beef, chicken, and turkey.  I don’t use ground pork because, well, I don’t really care for it, but I’m sure it would be good in this recipe if you wanted to use it.  Plus, this has become kind of a hit at church and most of our congregants don’t eat pork, so it’s easier for me to skip it.  I bet a ground sausage would be good in this, too.  Your 3 favorite ground meats will be perfect.  Smile




1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground chicken
1 lb ground turkey
1 box Lipton Onion Soup Mix.  Yes, both envelopes in the box.
½ cup bread crumbs.  I forgot the bread crumbs for the picture!
3 eggs (1 for each pound)
Splash of milk to moisten.


24 servings @ 2oz ea

Protein = 12g
Fat = 8g
Carbs = 3g

Total calories = 132 per 2oz serving

You could add a teaspoon or two of garlic powder and that would be good.  Or other herbs and spices if you prefer.  The recipe is great on its own, or with things added, so feel free to tweak it to your taste.


For me, it’s just easier to grab the old-fashioned potato masher to mix this up.  No loud mixer, only 1 utensil to wash, and it handles the job pretty fast.  I had this stuff mixed and portioned in the time it took me to preheat the oven.  It will be a bit on the wet side, but that’s fine because that makes it easier to portion.

I don’t use muffin liners for this.  I didn’t want to make my husband have to deal with peeling them off at work.  I don’t see why you couldn’t use them if you wanted.  For me, I am quite liberal with the non-stick spray and that works really well.  Clean-up is pretty easy too, just a couple swipes with the S.O.S pad and then pop it into the dishwasher.

Before cooking …


After cooking!  As you can see, they lost a little volume but not very much.  (I use a high fat ground beef since we’re on a Ketogenic diet.)  They come out to be roughly 2 oz per “loaffin,” maybe just a bit under.  They heat up from frozen in the microwave pretty fast, maybe a minute per 2 “loaffins”, depending on your microwave.

This particular batch I baked at 400° for about 40-45 min.  I’ve also cooked them at 325° for about 90 min.  So, it’s flexible.  Smile


These are great for when you want something to eat, fast.  I hope you like them!

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Chicken Chili

Sort of like chili. 


I was experimenting again!  I had some leftover chicken from my Roast Chicken* and was trying to think of something to do with it, that was also low-carb / Atkins friendly. 

Scrounging around in the fridge, I found:

Most of a jar of green taco sauce;
Some sandwich peppers left in the jar, that my husband won’t be eating since he doesn’t take sandwiches in his lunch anymore;
A  bag of frozen mixed vegetables;
A partial bag of frozen yellow squash.

I threw it all together in a skillet, but realized it still needed something.  After my husband got home, we figured that some tomatoes would help.  So I bagged up dinner, stuck it in the fridge and a couple of days later we made it to the store.

I grabbed:

A large can of diced tomatoes;
A medium can of tomato paste;
A package of pre-sliced mushrooms;
A bunch of cilantro.

I tossed everything in my crock pot, and let it simmer overnight.  It actually turned out pretty good!  We had it on low-carb tortillas, but I put it over rice for the kids.  I think it would also go really well over any kind of noodle – spaghetti, macaroni, etc.  I also topped it with some shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese combo we found at the store. 

So, no beans and no chili sauce or powder, but it still had a chili sort of flavor.  According to my husbandSmile   I got a few leftovers cleared out of the fridge in the process too. 

*Actually, you can use any leftover chicken, or fresh chicken cooked, and cut into small pieces.  Just be sure to remove any remaining skin. 

Pot Roast

I just read an article the other day that said that younger woman today don’t know how to cook a roast.  If that’s true for you, I have something you might like to read.  Smile

Roast can seem intimidating but it really isn’t.  Here’s what you’ll need:

A decent chuck roast, preferably boneless, around 3lbs.  Should run you less than $15 if you’re shopping at Walmart.  It’s one of the cheaper cuts, which is why you use it in a roast.

A roasting pan.  You can get one of those cheap splatterware ones, they’re awesome.  Mine’s the medium size I think.  About $10, will last you forever.  You don’t need one of the super expensive ones.

Broth.  Swanson’s reduced sodium is the best.  Get 1 beef broth, and 1 chicken broth, the 32oz size.  As liquid cooks down, the salt becomes more concentrated, that’s why you want a low sodium broth.

Worcestershire sauce.


Now, toss the roast in the pan.  Douse it with some Worcestershire sauce, go ahead, be liberal.  Not like half a cup liberal, but make sure the top has a nice layer.

Pour in half of each kind of broth – 2 cups beef, 2 cups chicken, and add 2 cups water to the mix*.  The liquid should be roughly level with the top of the roast.

Put the lid on the roasting pan.

Put it in the oven at 325° for about 5 hours.


See how easy that was?

Now, want an easy peasy gravy to go with it?

Get a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Put it in a microwave safe bowl, along with about a third of a soup can of milk or cream, and maybe a couple big spoonfuls of roast drippings.  Mix.  Microwave it for about 90 secs to 2 min.

You are going to be in beefy roast heaven.  Smile

Keep your unused broth in the fridge, but use it within a couple of weeks.  Trust me, you’ll want another roast.  Smile

*(Alternatively, you can use the 14.5 oz cans of broth instead, and not have any left over.  Still use the 2c water though!)

Tomato Chicken

So, there I stood in the kitchen, staring at the chicken breasts I’d thawed a couple of days ago.  What to do, what to do?

I found: tomatoes that needed to be used soon; a little can of tomato paste; a jar of mayo that needed that last bit used up; and some mozzarella cheese that wasn’t so great for snacking but would be good for cooking.

This is what I came up with.


I mixed the tomato paste with some mayo, roughly equal parts, maybe more mayo than tomato paste.  Added some cream, just a splash to make mixing easier.  To that I added a hint of garlic, some parsley, and some basil.  I spooned that over the  chicken, put slices of tomato on top, topped that with slices of mozzarella, and then generously topped the whole thing off with parmesan. 

It turned out pretty well.  I think you could substitute the mayo with cottage cheese, ricotta, even sour cream.  I just happened to have mayo on hand.  And certainly you could add more herbs if you wanted a stronger Italian flavor.

Plus, it’s Atkins (low carb) friendly.  Smile


Smoky Honey Mustard Chicken

I picked up one of those 5 lb packages of chicken thighs on sale.  Already on hand was a big jug of honey – the economy size from Walmart.  It never goes bad! 

After I washed and patted the thighs dry, I put them in a 9×13 glass baking dish.  In a medium bowl I mixed about  1/3 to 1/2 cup of honey, roughly a 1/4 cup of mustard, and approximately half a cup of soft butter spread.  I use Country Crock because it’s pretty soft and still has a decent buttery flavor.  And it doesn’t burn as quickly as real butter.  Things are already dicey with the honey, right? 

So I mixed those things up in a bowl, and then I added about a tablespoon of cumin.  The mix looked almost like yellow curdled milk.  I poured that over the chicken, making sure each piece was covered.  I baked it at 325 for about 90 min, but if you’re not sure with the honey in there, you could probably bake it at 300 for 2 hours. 

The chicken was tender, and there was a nice smoky and sweet flavor to it and the mustard added some depth, but no heat.  Even my son, the super picky one, liked it.  🙂

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