Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Best Dinners of the Week

I am no Food Network star.  Don't get me wrong -- I love to cook, but anything I make isn't gourmet by any means, and often is semi-homemade.  The biggest issue I face with cooking, however, is that by the end of a long work day, making dinner is last thing I feel like doing.  So we often choose carry out or whatever's easiest from there.

That's why I began sharing recipes on this DIY blog, calling them Dinners of the Week.  They are truly simple, 30-minute or less recipes that are easy enough for a busy weeknight and can feed a small army or serve as great next-day leftovers.  I've compiled a list of my favorite 10 Dinners of the Week from 2013.  The full recipes are contained in the hyperlinks below.  I hope that you love them as much as we do!

Ready for the list?  Here you go!

#10 Creole Chicken

Here's a perfectly healthy, Cajun-inspired meal ready in less than a half hour.  The chicken is perfectly spiced with a variety of Bayou seasonings and served with the holy trinity of tender bell peppers, onion, and celery, all topped on a bed of freshly-prepared brown rice.  Control the heat levels based on your wants and needs, and you will be sure to please a hungry crowd.


#9 Black Bean and Cilantro Skillet Burritos

I am obsessed with Mexican food, and could eat it every day.  These skillet burritos are healthy, low budget, can be mixed with any items you may have on hand, and taste as if you ordered them from a Mexican restaurant.  These cilantro, brown rice, and black bean burritos are savory on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  Love them.


#8 Beer-Marinated Flank Steak, Baked Potatoes, and Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

The evening before, toss the flank steak into a Ziploc bag with a bottle of beer and a variety of spices, then enjoy a perfectly tender, juicy meal served with two easy sides at the end of the next workday. My favorite part about these baked potatoes are their crunchy skins, made possible with a combination of Kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and olive oil.  The roasted parmesan green beans are fantastic, and carry just a hint of citrus with them.


#7 New England Clam Chowder

I discovered soups this year, and how easy they are to make.  This clam chowder recipe tastes as though it's been simmering on the stove all day long, but in reality, takes a half hour at most.  The tender celery, potatoes, and clams are served in a mouthwatering and wholesome cream sauce.  I've had a lot of clam chowder over the years, and this is just as good as the real New England deal.


#6 Buffalo Chicken Pizza

My family's favorite pizza is buffalo chicken, and it's hard to make one that'll meet their high expectations.  This recipe is easy to make with a refrigerated pizza dough crust, and then topped with a spicy buffalo sauce, variety of bleu and mozzarella cheeses, and perfectly-spiced and tender chicken chunks.  Grab at least two slices right off the bat, or you won't get seconds.


#5 Ham and Broccoli Twice-Baked Potatoes

I make a lot of twice-baked potatoes.  They are easy, taste wonderful, and you can stuff them with whatever you have on hand.  My favorite from this year were these ham and broccoli ones.  They were light, fluffy, and filling enough to serve as an entire meal.  I made a whole batch of these, and they were gone within minutes.


#4 Spicy Honey Chicken

Man, does this chicken pack a punch.  First, you make a supremely spicy rub out of chipotle chile powder, garlic powder, freshly black pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika.  Pat the tenderloins with the rub and drizzle on a honey and apple cider vinegar mixture over top.  Bake in the oven for a few minutes, and out come these perfectly juicy, piping hot chicken tenderloins. I'd imagine that the same rub and honey mixture would work great with grilled chicken, too.


#3 Cheesy Bacon Potato Soup

I made this soup for my family this fall, and I lost count of how many times my sister-in-law said, "this is awesome."  She's right.  In about a half hour, you can have a perfectly cheesy and creamy potato soup, served with crumbled bacon over top.  It makes for even better leftovers.


#2 Shrimp and Crab Bisque

I ranked this bisque so high on our list because of how decadent it is, yet it'll take you less than 20 minutes to make.  By the time you've finished, you'll say, "that's it?"  That's it.  This is a creamy, rich soup made with fresh shrimp and lump crabmeat.  It's perfect for special occasions, dinner parties, holiday feasts, and even just a fancy Tuesday night meal.


#1 Mini Deep Dish Margherita Pizzas

My absolute favorite meal this year, and one we make the most often, are these Mini Deep Dish Margherita Pizzas.  They are made from simple ingredients -- refrigerated pizza dough, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, cheese, and basil, all stuffed into muffin tins.  Evan and I love these gooey, bite-sized pizzas and have served them as appetizers to large BBQs and tailgates, for lunch with a group of friends, to a quick dinner on a hectic weeknight.  Mix and match the toppings all you want, and you will be sure to please a hungry crowd.




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I can't wait to experiment with additional easy recipes in 2014, and am looking forward to sharing my favorites with you as future Dinners of the Week.  Stay tuned for more, and Happy New Year!

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