Chicken Parmesan Nuggets

Hi everybody! I hope you’re having a wonderful week! I am; we are doing Secret Santa at work this week. I think I may have mentioned that I am the (unofficial) staff event planner (or, as I like to call myself, the Ambassador of Fun.) I started up Secret Santa about two years ago, and added a Christmas in July edition. We do 5 days of gift giving, with the big reveal on Friday. You get to spend $1 on Monday, and then you add a dollar a day for the rest of the week. It’s so much fun! I can’t divulge any information about who I’m buying for (in case she’s trolling around my blog), but I can say that the person who has me, nailed it! She’s combined two of my loves, cupcakes and “Once Upon a Time.” Each day, I get a different OUAT-inspired cupcake recipe, and then something to go along with it. Today, I got a “Rumplestiltskin’s 24 Karrot Cake Cupcake” recipe, and gold sprinkles and other toppings for the cupcakes. I smell some baking in the near future…

Now, this is going to sound silly, but I’m incredibly self-conscious about my cooking. Incredibly. I think every single time I have my friends, Elizabeth and Tyler, over for dinner, I tell them we can order pizza if my meal sucks. Everytime I post a recipe, I stress about people liking it. It’s silly. But it’s what I do. This recipe, I am not nervous to share at all. This recipe, I would go on a date with…and probably marry. Trust me. 

Chicken Parmesan Nuggets

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What I’m Listening to: Pharrell radio on Pandora

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

-5 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

-1/4 cup of flour

-2 eggs, lightly beaten

-1/2 cup of Italian-seasoned bread crumbs

-1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

-Marinara sauce (I used Bertolli 5 Cheese…so good!)

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the flour and eggs in two separate bowls. In a third, mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan. Take 2-3 pieces of chicken at a time and coat them in the flour, then the egg, and finally, roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Lay the chicken pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until nuggets are golden brown and cooked through. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping. I also recommend coucous for a delicious side. 

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Mini Nutella S’Mores Cheesecakes

It’s almost the weekend! Woot woot! It’s been a good week here; work has been great and I’ve been productive, the weather has been beautiful (60’s and 70’s in July…no complaints here!), one of my sisters visited for a few days, and I got to do a little shopping and get Teavana. It’s been a good week. 

So…my first dessert on the blog. I’m a little nervous…I hope you all like it! This dessert is a combination of my Aunt Sarah’s cheesecake crust, a Nutella cheesecake filling from My Baking Addiction, and my own crazy ideas. But, I must warn you…it makes 12. You are going to want to eat every single one. Every. Single. One. 

Mini Nutella S’Mores Cheesecakes

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What I’m Listening to: my sister, Mal, and I skyping with Kaylee, my other sister

Ingredients (makes 12)

-1 package of graham crackers

-1/2 stick of butter, melted

-1/8 tsp of sugar

-1/4 tsp of cinnamon

-1 jar of marshmallow creme

-8 oz. cream cheese

-3/4 cup of Nutella

-3/4 container of Cool Whip

-1 tsp vanilla

 

Line a muffin pan with foil liners and set aside. Place the graham crackers in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and squeeze out all the air. Crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin, until they are crumbs. Mix the crumbs, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Spoon the crust mixture into the foil liners, gently pressing down with the back of the spoon. 

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Top each crust with a big spoonful of marshmallow creme. 

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In a large mixing bowl, whip together the cream cheese and Nutella. When all the streaks are gone, add in the vanilla. Gently beat in the Cool Whip. 

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Spoon the cheesecake filling over the marshmallow creme. 

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Chill for 15-20 minutes. Serve with Cool Whip or marshmallow creme on top! Mmmm.

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Steak, Rice, and Veggie Quesadillas

I’ve taken up walking recently. I mean, I’ve always walked places, but I’m making it a more official thing. Three to four times a week, I have a date with VanderVeer, the park down the street. I clear my mind, walk, and sweat. It’s awesome. I love it. But the best part? The best part is all the friends I make when I’m walking. Nothing seems to bring people together like burning in the sun and sweating your ass off. Anyway, every time I walk, I get a thumbs-up, or a smile, or a “great job!” …from people I don’t know! Today, I made friends with an older guy who made sure to say something to  me every time we passed each other…which was 6 times. I don’t know that there’s a better way to start the day than with encouragement from strangers!

So, have you all seen Taco Bell’s newest menu addition? The “Quesarito?” It’s supposed to be a cheesy quesadilla-burrito hybrid. It must be a thing now, because I’ve seen increasingly more combo recipes in the past few weeks, including something called a “Burritodilla.” Yikes. Anyway, I decided to give my own hybrid a try. I have a quesadilla maker that I got in college, so I dusted it off, and gave these a shot! I was surprised with how filling they were! They tasted very fresh and are a great, easy weeknight dinner, perfect for just you or some company.

 Steak, Rice, and Veggie Quesadillas

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What I’m Listening to: The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” album

Ingredients (makes 3-4 quesadillas)

-two 6 oz. steaks

-1 cup of brown rice, cooked

-1 can of corn, or a 1/2 bag of frozen corn

-1 can of black beans, rinsed

-Shredded Monterrey Cheddar cheese

-4 burrito sized tortillas (I used regular flour tortillas this time, but have used tomato-basil before. Yum.) If you don’t have those on hand, you can use smaller ones, one for the top and one for the bottom.

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Place the steaks in a large skillet. Lightly season both sides with garlic powder and Lawry’s seasoned salt. Cook on med-high heat, flipping every few minutes until cooked through. Remove from the skillet and place on a paper-towel lined plate.

Cook the corn and beans separately until hot. Season the corn with salt and pepper. I like to season the black beans with a little cumin and cayenne pepper. 

Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice on half of a tortilla. Top with the corn, black beans, and steak. Top with shredded cheese, and fold over the tortilla. Place on a greased quesadilla grill and close the top. (If you don’t have a quesadilla grill or sandwich press, you can use a frying pan.) Allow both sides to brown. Remove from the heat and serve with fresh salsa or guacamole. (I recommend my guacamole recipe here.)

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Zesty Pizza Casserole

Does anyone else get sucked into bad Lifetime movies? I’m talking bad acting, bad accents, awful storyline…it’s happening to me as we speak. Some movie with Teri Polo (who I love) as a mom with a drug problem. (?) Or a dead child? It’s a little unclear…I really have no idea what’s going on. And yet, I can’t turn it off. Oh snap, and now she’s being abducted! This is getting good…

I found this recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything blog, which is one of my go-to sites for easy and delicious meal ideas. I decided to take a slightly different approach to it, and make the base more like pizza. I went with sausage and pepperoni with some veggies, but you could really add anything to the sauce! I think it would be yummy with canadian bacon, too. Mmmmm bon appetit!

Zesty Pizza Casserole

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What I’m Listening to: “Classic” by MKTO (so catchy!), “Pompeii” by Bastille, and “Sing” by Ed Sheeran

 Ingredients (makes one 11×7 pan)

-1 lb. ground italian sausage

-1/2 a green pepper, diced

-1/4 of a white onion, diced

-Red pepper flakes

-10-12 pepperonis

-One 26 oz jar of spaghetti sauce

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 small container of Greek Yogurt

-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

-1 Pillsbury Recipe Creations

-1/2 cup shredded parmesan

-3 tbsp butter, melted

 

In a large skillet, cook the onion, green pepper, and sausage until the sausage is browned.

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Sprinkle lightly with red pepper flakes and add the pepperonis. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

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Slowly add the spaghetti sauce. Start with a half jar and mix. You can add more as needed. I used 3/4 of a jar. You don’t want it to be too saucey.

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Let the sauce mixture simmer for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the mozzarella and Greek Yogurt.

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Pour the sauce mixture into a greased 11×7 pan. Top with the mozzarella mixture and spread it evenly.

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Unroll the Recipe Creation and place it on top. You may need to double it over, or tear some off to make it fit in the pan. 

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In a small bowl, melt the butter. Mix the parmesan cheese in and spoon over the top of the crust. Bake at 375 for 18-25 minutes. When the crust is golden brown, it’s all done! 

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Holy Guacamole!

…see what I did there?

It’s Mexican night at my house. I love, love, love Mexican food. For a long time, I wasn’t willing to make it myself because I was terrified I’d mess it up. I’m that way with everything; pizza, Thai food, cupcakes. Anyway, I’m (slowly) moving past that, and have started tackling dishes that scare me. Up first, guacamole. I’ve had excellent guacamole, and I’ve had terrible, horrible, “I need to go throw up now” guacamole. My first few attempts fell into the latter category, until the heavens opened up and the stars aligned, and this guacamole was born. Your welcome.

Guacamole

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What I’m Listening to: my friend, Tyler, talking (the more the merrier when I’m making Mexican)

Ingredients

-2 ripe avocados

-1/2 of a small red onion, diced

-Lemon juice

-1 serrano pepper, diced

-1 clove (or 1/2 tsp) of garlic

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp pepper

Cut the avocados in half. (If you’re new to avocados, a ripe avocado will be soft when you squeeze it. Trust me, you want a soft avocado or this recipe is going to be tricky.) Scoop out the pit and scrape the insides into a bowl. Mash them up a little bit. Add the red onion, serrano pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and a big squirt of lemon juice. Typically, most recipes call for lime juice, but I wanted to spice things up.

Mix well and serve immediately. Refrigerate any remaining guacamole in an air tight container, so it doesn’t turn brown.

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Creamy Tomato Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Oh my gosh. What. A. Week. It started with me being a bridesmaid in the Chicago suburbs, and now, I’m curled up on the couch, battling the cold, rainy April July weather and enjoying the company of three sleeping cats. This week, I’ve experienced an 18 hour power outage, water in my basement, my two kitties trying to kill each other, one of my family’s cats coming to stay with me while they’re on vacation, and got to meet my friend’s 5 week old baby. I’m exhausted. I literally don’t know how I’m even awake right now. But, despite all the crazy, I’ve gotten some time to cook and experiment this week, which has been great! And, I finally got around to this post, which I’ve been promising for…forever. Now, you have to promise me something. You can’t judge this recipe by the picture. Because it’s ugly. Super ugly. But, it tastes fantastic, and that’s really all that matters, right? Right. I’m not a big fan of quinoa, but I could eat this all day long. If you don’t like quinoa, check out the original recipe here. I changed this up a bit from the noodle version, adding more cheese and tomato soup. I was very happy with the results. A big cheesy, creamy bowl of yum!

Creamy Tomato Quinoa Mac and Cheese

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 What I’m Listening to: Coldplay Live

Ingredients (makes 2-3 servings)

-1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa

-1 cup of water

-1/3 cup of low-fat ricotta

-2/3 can of tomato soup

-2/3 cup of milk

-4 oz of aged cheddar, shredded

-1 large clove (or 1/2 tsp) of minced garlic

-1/4 tsp of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. I used white quinoa, but feel free to use red or rainbow. Heat until boiling; reduce the heat to med-low and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, ricotta, soup, milk, 3/4 of the cheddar, garlic, and pepper. Stir until combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 22 minutes. Top with the remaining cheddar and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. The sauce will be very soupy when you first remove it from the oven, but it thickens as it stands. Serve alone or with warm, crusty bread.

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