Steak on a Charcoal Grill – You can do this!

Fillet mignon on grill

I love to grill, but I admit that I’ve never really used charcoal to do it.  I’ve watched others grill over charcoal, but it intimidated me a little.

Then Kingsford Charcoal contacted me and asked if I would try their Kingsford Professional Charcoal to grill steak.  Perfect timing!  This is shaping up to be a tasty summer of outdoor grilling.  I’m hooked!

My first step was ordering a new charcoal grill.  I went with the Weber Kettle.

Next up – shop for steaks.  Costco had a pack of fillet mignon that looked wonderful.  Again, I was a little nervous to grill expensive steak.  What if I ruined it?  Shouldn’t I start with hot dogs?

The steak turned out to be so easy to grill.  The whole process takes about an hour, but it is easy to do.

The longest part of the process is waiting on the coals to get hot enough to cook over.  I use a chimney to light the charcoal.  You’ll need a few sheets of newspaper to roll up and place under the chimney.  True confession – I had to buy a Sunday paper for this, because we don’t take the newspaper anymore.  Pour the Kingsford Professional Briquets into the chimney, then light the newspaper at the bottom.  The flames will spread up through the chimney, catching all the charcoal on fire.

Kingsford Professional chimney starter

After about 45 minutes, the coals will become gray.  That signals the time to pour the burning coals into the grill.  Use grill gloves for this step so you don’t get burned.

Kingsford Professional

While the charcoal is getting hot, pull your steaks from the fridge and let them rest at room temperature.  You don’t want to put cold steaks on the hot grill.

I kept the seasonings simple so that they flavor of the meat could shine through.  I sprinkled each cut with kosher salt and pepper.  That’s it.

When the coals are ready, place the steaks on the hot grill.  Steak needs to sear and cook over high heat. Kingsford Professional Briquets are designed to achieve very hot temps. Since the fillets were very thick, I cooked them about 5-6 minutes per side, only flipping them once.  An instant read thermometer would be handy at this point, but I don’t own one yet.

Remove the steaks from the grill when they’ve reached the desired doneness.  Keep in mind they will continue to cook even after you’ve taken them off the heat.

fillet mignon finished with butter

Top each steak with a pat of butter and let them rest for several minutes before serving.  This is a good time to call everyone to the table, finish up side dishes, etc.

fillet mignon grilled done

Get out there and grill!

You can find Kingsford on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kingsford. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti or pasta is a favorite weeknight go-to dinner for many families.  It is for us too.

I used to reach for a jar of prepared pasta sauce, but once I figured out that homemade pasta sauce didn’t have to take all day to make, I rarely grab the jar.

Instead, I use some version of this recipe.  It starts with a can of Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes.  Well, actually I started this version with the Italian sausage, but the crushed tomatoes are the main ingredient.

The sauce comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.  It’s so easy!  Homemade is so much better than store-bought and it’s just about as easy as opening a jar.

Italian sausage and plenty of herbs spice up the good tomato flavor.  It’s fantastic over any type of pasta.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches

Slow cooker cilantro lime chicken sandwiches

Slow cooker sandwiches are one of my favorite meals.  They work so well for several scenarios:

  • They can handle a long cook time.
  • They are perfect for feeding people in shifts.
  • The leftovers make great lunches or dinners.
  • Sandwiches don’t require complicated side dishes – also great for shift eating.

For these Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches, I used a new Hidden Valley® Ranch Dressing flavor. Hidden Valley® has four new flavors :

  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Buffalo dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Honey BBQ dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Sriracha dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing

Any of the flavors will work in this recipe, but we really liked the taste of the Cilantro Lime dressing.  It added a brightness to the chicken with the fresh taste of cilantro and the citric splash of lime.

The dish starts with chicken and seasonings.  Creamy dressing is added near the end of cooking and served with the sandwiches too.

I picked up my ingredients from Walmart.  It’s so easy to run into Walmart and grab everything I need at once.  There’s a coupon for Hidden Valley® you can download here that will save you $0.75 on a 12oz or 16oz bottle.

In addition to the Hidden Valley® Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing, I used quite a few spices to season chicken tenders.

spices for cilantro lime chicken sandwiches

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 - 2.5 lbs. boneless chicken or chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ½ - 1 cup Hidden Valley Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing
  • 8 sandwich buns
  • lettuce and tomato for serving, optional
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle spices over chicken, tossing to coat chicken with spices.
  3. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  4. Shred chicken.
  5. Stir dressing into chicken, using enough to make it as creamy as you'd like.
  6. Serve on sandwich buns, topped with lettuce and tomato if desired.


Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwich

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf ofHidden Valley® Ranch. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Cheesy Corn and Potato Chowder with Bacon

Cheesy Corn Chowder with Bacon

This recipe came about by accident, but it was a happy accident.  I intended to make potato soup for dinner, but the bag of potatoes that I thought was mostly full was only about half way full.  I knew I needed to add something to the potatoes or we wouldn’t have enough soup.

Adding corn, cheese and bacon seemed like a good solution.  We loved the result!

I didn’t take an ingredient photo, but these are all very common ingredients.  The homemade soup is quick to make and perfect for a winter (or cool, spring) day.

Cheesy Corn and Potato Chowder with Bacon

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can cream corn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in chicken broth in a large pot till potatoes are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt the butter.
  3. Stir flour into butter and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Whisk milk into the skillet till smooth.
  5. Continue heating over medium heat till sauce begins to bubble and thicken.
  6. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese.
  7. Once potatoes are tender, add frozen and creamed corn to the soup pot.
  8. Stir in the cheese sauce.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Heat over medium heat till soup is hot, being careful not to let it boil.
  11. Serve in bowls, topped with crumbled bacon.

 

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Tomato, Pesto Chicken Quesadillas with Alfredo Dipping Sauce

Tomato Pesto Chicken Quesadillas with Alfredo Dipping Sauce

Chicken Quesadillas are one of our favorite easy meals.  I decided to give them a different spin by swapping out the Mexican flavors for Italian instead.  Since it’s March Madness time, I’m even more motivated to keep the food simple and fun.

We spent part of last weekend watching UK win the SEC tournament.  And tomorrow, the NCAA tournament starts.  We’re hoping to see UK go far in this one!

These are very fast to make.  In fact, if it weren’t for whipping up the easy, homemade Alfredo sauce, these would be a 15 minute recipe.  Even with the sauce, they are really fast to fix.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Tomato Pesto Chicken Quesadillas ingr

You can’t see the chicken in the back of this photo, but there is a bag of cooked chicken there.  I really like to keep rotisserie chicken in the freezer for quick recipes like this.  You can use leftover chicken instead though.  I also think this would be good with Italian sausage instead of chicken.

I used Red Gold diced tomatoes.  They are Non GMO and have a Non-BPA liner in the can.  I was fortunate to visit the Red Gold facilities last September during the tomato harvest.  From the family who owns Red Gold to the people who work there to the process they use for canning the tomatoes – everything was so impressive.  You can see my post about the quality of Red Gold tomatoes here.

Back to the quesadillas.  This recipe is easy to tweak and make it your own.  I used chicken, pesto, Red Gold tomatoes and mozzarella cheese to stuff the tortillas.  Feel free to alter the amounts of these to your own taste.

Tomato, Pesto Chicken Quesadillas with Alfredo Dipping Sauce

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients
For the Alfredo Dipping Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the Quesadillas
  • 2-3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1 can Red Gold diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3-4 Tbs. pesto sauce
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6-8 flour tortillas
  • cooking spray or oil
Instructions
For the Alfredo Dipping Sauce
  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in milk till smooth.
  4. Stir in Parmesan and melt over medium heat, stirring often. Be careful not to let sauce boil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
For Quesadillas
  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, tomatoes, pesto and mozzarella.
  2. Spread chicken mixture on half of tortilla and place in a skillet or griddle that has been oiled or sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Fold tortilla over the filling. Cook over medium heat till brown.
  4. Flip tortilla to brown the other side.
  5. Remove from skillet and cut in wedges.
  6. Serve with Alfredo sauce.

You’re going to want to give these Tomato, Pesto Chicken Quesadillas a try no matter which team you’re cheering for during March Madness.  Or even if basketball isn’t your thing, find a time to give these a try.

Disclosure: This recipe was created for Red Gold.  I have been compensated for my time, however all opinions are my own.

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Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry has become one of my favorite weeknight dinner recipes.  Rachael first shared the recipe on Eat at Home a few years ago.  I’ve made it so many times since then.

One reason this recipe is perfect is that it is so simple.  I have it memorized, which makes it even faster – no need to go searching for the recipe.  Four ingredients go into the slow cooker, with one ingredient added just before serving.  So easy!

We love this served over rice with baked sweet potatoes along side.  You can also make it paleo/low-carb by serving it over cauliflower instead of rice.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry ingr

You can use any cut of boneless chicken – breasts, thighs or tenders.  Control the heat by using mild salsa, or hot salsa if you like it spicy.  I use mild and the dish isn’t spicy at all.  Mild curry powder also keeps it from tasting too hot.

Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  3. minutes before serving remove chicken from slow cooker.
  4. Add coconut milk to slow cooker. Stir into sauce.
  5. Return chicken to pot.
  6. Serve over cooked rice.

One easy way to remember the ingredients is this:

3 ingredients go in – chicken, salsa, onion.  Then 3 Tbs. curry powder.  Three (ingredients) before three (tablespoons).  Finish with the coconut milk.

 

 

 

 

 

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Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti

This is one of those classic recipes that gets passed around because it is so good.  There are a million different variations.

I like this crockpot version.  The chicken and veggies cook in the crockpot and the spaghetti and cheese get added later.  It splits the meal prep into two easy parts and makes dinner fit into your day.

The next time I make this, I’m planning to add a can of diced green chilies and a can of drained, diced tomatoes.  Or maybe just a can of tomatoes and green chilies.  I kept it simple this time, and it’s good either way.  Change it up to suit your family and what you have on hand in the pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Brie, Bacon and Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Brie, bacon and chicken baked potatoes

This is a case where an inspiration ingredient turned into an amazing meal.

I bought the block of brie at Trader Joe’s the other night.  It caught my eye, and even though I didn’t know what I’d do with it, the brie had to go home with me.

On Sunday I decided that the brie needed to be tucked into hot, baked potatoes.  Oh my!  Brie was made for potatoes.  My son-in-law said brie is like cheese trying to be butter.  Perfect!

My oven has a delayed bake setting on it, so the potatoes went into the oven while we were at church.  Once we were home, I pulled together a quick topping of chicken (I used rotisserie chicken), onions, French herbs in chicken broth.

We nestled slices of brie into the split potatoes, spooned the chicken and onions over the top and crumbled bacon over it all.

It was easy, quick and amazing!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Maple Balsamic Roast Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

 

Maple Balsamic Roast Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

I’ve been loving sheet pan dinners.  They’re easy to make, healthy and there’s an endless variety of flavors you can bring.  It’s also a great way to eat lots of veggies.

For this Maple Balsamic Chicken dinner, I used bone-in chicken thighs that I got on sale.  I’d love to try this again with boneless, skinless chicken.  Chicken thighs aren’t my favorite cut, but it was such a great sale, I couldn’t pass them up.  This recipe will work equally well with any cut of chicken or even pork.

Maple Balsamic Chicken assembled

I added brussels sprouts and butternut squash to the pan.  I seasoned the squash similar to my favorite Butternut Squash Skillet recipe.  The squash is added to the pan along with the chicken.  The brussels sprouts, don’t need to cook as long, so they get added later.  I seasoned them with a generous shake of salt and pepper.

Maple Balsamic Chicken ingr

Maple syrup is one of my favorite Costco purchases.  I use it for a lot more than pancakes and waffles.  If you don’t have real maple syrup, you can use honey in this recipe.

Maple Balsamic Roast Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 lbs. chicken, any cut is fine
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 bag brussels sprouts, cut in half
Instructions
  1. Mix 1 Tbs. olive oil with vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour over chicken and toss to coat.
  3. Place chicken on large sheet pan that's been brushed with olive oil.
  4. Toss butternut squash cubes with drizzle of olive oil, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour onto sheet pan next to chicken. (You may need to use more than one sheet pan if you don't have one big enough.)
  6. Place in oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, toss brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  8. Pull pan from the oven and add brussels sprouts. Continue roasting for 10-15 minutes more or until chicken is done.

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We include lots of easy meals like Maple Balsamic Roast Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner in our Weekly Meal Plans.  Find out more about how we do the planning so you’re cooking is simple.

 

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Making do with what you’ve got – Humble Chicken Soup

Humble Chicken Soup

Twenty seven years ago, Jim and I were newlyweds.  We were also broke.  We lived in a suburb of Philadelphia in an apartment that cost 40% of our income.  Our place was on the top floor of a building that had been abandoned so long, the people in the neighborhood didn’t think anyone lived there at all.

We were both students – Jim was working on his MBA and I was finishing my bachelor’s degree.  Our budget for groceries was only $25 a week.  That didn’t go far.  If I had known how to cook, I probably could have stretched things a bit further, but I was still learning.

A few weeks after Thanksgiving that year, we were moving into finals week and our money had run out.  The cupboard was bare.  But Jim’s parents came to visit and they brought a bag of potatoes and a 3 lb. Country Crock container filled with frozen, leftover turkey.  There may have been other things (probably corn, chicken broth and carrots), but that’s what I remember most.  The bag of potatoes seemed so large that I wasn’t sure how we’d ever use it all.

It turned out that we lived on those ingredients for about two weeks.  I would  chip off some of the turkey from that brown, plastic tub and add it to boiling broth along with potatoes, carrots, onion and a can of corn.  A small pone of cornbread baked in our smallest iron skillet went along with the soup on most nights.

Lunch.  Dinner.  Dinner.  Lunch.  We ate that soup for just about every meal because we didn’t have any money to buy different ingredients.  We got a little tired of it, but at the same time, it was hot and good and nourishing.  It’s one of our fondest early marriage memories.

Recently, I made the soup for our dinner.  I told the kids the story.  And when Jim got home from work I asked if he recognized the recipe.  It took him a few minutes, but he remembered.

There’s not much of a recipe to share here.  Add peeled potatoes, carrots and onion to a pot of broth.  Boil it until the potatoes are tender.  Add leftover turkey or chicken and a can of corn. Season with salt and pepper.

Share a bowl with people you love.  And count your blessings.

Do you have a meal that reminds you of a lean time, that turned out to be full of goodness?

 

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