Greek Dressing

Who says simple is boring? This quick and easy greek dressing takes just a few minutes and a few ingredients but is so good that you’ll never want to buy bottled dressing again!

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

 

Greek salad has been my LIFE recently. I’ve eaten a huge bowl for lunch everyday the past couple weeks, and think that’s going to happen again soon. [But I need more tomatoes!] My philosophy is… a big salad for lunch means dinner can be whatever I want. Even mac & cheese from Panera. That stuff is so good and I’d never ordered it myself until last Wednesday, much to Ben’s relief [on Panera dates before I'd always steal like half his bowl]. Because salad for lunch = indulgence for dinner. Or something like that. Right?!?

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

Anyways, salad. And this dressing. I just can’t get enough! It’s creamy and tangy and so so fresh. I know my Greek salad isn’t exactly authentic and this dressing isn’t either, but it’s close enough. It’s full of flavor–all garlicky and lemony and herby! Just perfect. Some salad dressings are a little too oily without enough vinegar and acid to balance things out, but this half and half combo is just how I like it. I adapted a grandma recipe [not my grandma, but Laurie's] so that’s why it must be so good! :)

Greek Dressing | thepajamachef.com #simple #healthy #salad

I use this dressing to top off a simple Greek salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, and feta. Heavy on the chickpeas and feta for me, please! If you like, you can add olives or chicken or whatever else sounds good. Apparantly the dressing is also a killer chicken marinade. Filing that bit ‘o info away for next time! BTW this dressing keeps for about a week in the fridge, so feel free to make a double batch. You’ll need it!

three years ago: Cinnamon Bacon Carbonara
four years ago: Lime Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Greek Dressing

  • Servings: 8 ounces
  • Time: 5 minutes
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adapted from Simply Scratch
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oregano, loosely packed [or 1 teaspoon dried oregano]
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • to serve with a simple salad: torn romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, feta

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. I love my immersion blender for this! Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if necessary.

You can also finely chop the oregano and mince the garlic and shake all ingredients together.

Store in a jar, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

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Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

These baked chicken nuggets and homemade honey mustard sauce are an easy way to satisfy fast food cravings at home!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Even though I love salads, vegetables, and all sorts of healthy goodness, as well as eating at local restaurants, sometimes fast food just sounds SO good. Do you know what I mean? I rarely indulge, except on road trips or nights that I really really have no desire to cook and we have no leftovers. [This is super rare.] To be completely honest, the health aspect is only part of the reason I don’t indulge that often. It’s the cost. It just seems ridiculous to me to spend $7+ on a “good” fast food meal… especially keeping in mind what fast food is really made of. So what to do, what to do. Make my own fast food, of course! Chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are my absolute fave. Always have been, always will be.

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

True, it takes longer. And it’s not exactly like what you’d get at a fast food place. But seriously… if it’s just the crunch of chicken and the endless vats of dipping sauce that you desire, this will be well worth it! I’m not going to lie; these chicken nuggets aren’t healthy. They’re baked, not fried, so there is some redeeming qualities to them, but healthy they are not. Their breading is held on by an unexpected blend of balsamic vinegar and honey, a combination that’s sweet and savory all at once!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Though you can dip these chicken nuggets in whatever sauce you like–ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard… might I suggest this homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce? Before seeing this recipe I didn’t realize that Chick-Fil-A had their own special sauce besides their honey mustard, so I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe. I can speak for the taste though–it’s amazingly, utterly, wonderfully delicious! So next time you have a craving for fast food, why not make some at home? I bet you have most of these ingredients in your pantry and fridge right now! I know I do. :) Enjoy!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
two years ago: Pesto Potato Salad
three years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce
four years ago:  Summer Mexican Soup

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 45 minutes
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from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:

for chicken nuggets

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, Panko if possible – if regular bread crumbs you may want to toast in a dry skillet for a few minutes until golden brown
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

for Chick-Fil-A sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Directions:

Line a large sheet pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Roll chicken in honey then dip in bread crumbs, being sure to coat each side. Place on prepared pan and repeat until all chicken is used. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

After chicken is in the oven, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate while chicken cooks, about 30 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.

Serve chicken nuggets with sauce, ketchup, etc. Extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

These French Dip Sandwiches cook all day in your crockpot, making a delicious dinner with almost no work! 

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com

I almost hate to admit that I made these yummy sandwiches in March, for Ben’s birthday. And I’m just now getting around to sharing them. #whoops! Sorry guys, sometimes I just blog about what I made recently… what sounds good… and forget about what’s been sitting in iPhoto for ages. What will be really bad is when I start blogging about recipes that I made when we lived in Indiana–more than 9 months ago! Oh wait, that’s happened already. #whoopstimestwo

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com

Anyways, back to these sandwiches. As it often goes in our house, the only time I cook “big hunks ‘o meat” are for special occasions or on the weekends. The rest of the time it’s vegetarian fare or meat on the side sort of meals. Obviously, Ben’s birthday qualifies as a special occasion, and he chose French Dip Sandwiches. I know alot of people eat them at restaurants all the time, but I’m not sure I’d ever had one before. Now I’m hooked! I loved how tender and flavorful the beef is in this dish, but my favorite bites included all the extras: a little bit of  meat, some soft, meaty onions, and a big hunk of chewy baguette. I used these cute mini baguettes for extra crust on each sandwich. :) Deeeeeelish! I need to make this meal again soon. You can add cheese to the sandwiches if you like too, but it’s flavorful enough as is so we left it off. Enjoy!

one year ago: Kale Pesto Pasta
two years ago: Fresh Tomato & Mozzarella Crostini 

Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 6-8 hours
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Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches | thepajamachef.comfrom What Megan’s Making
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large baguette—cut into 4 pieces, split horizontally or 4 mini baguettes
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese, optional

Directions:

Add broth, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and flour in the bottom of a large crockpot. Whisk to combine. Season the brisket with a generous amount of pepper, then place in the crockpot. Turn to coat with broth, then cover and cook until very tender, approximately 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. I cooked mine on low for about 7 hours.

Ten minutes before serving, place brisket on a cutting board and thinly slice against the grain. Alternatively, you can gently shred meat with two forks [this is what I did]. If desired, strain the cooking liquid and reserve onions, then bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook about 5-7 minutes until reduced. [I didn't do this.]

If using cheese, place cheese on bread and toast at a low broil for a couple minutes, watching carefully. Serve brisket on bread with onions, and serve cooking liquid as au jus on side for dipping.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame

Spicy peanut sauce, noodles, kale, and edamame meet in an addictive, easy pseudo-takeout meal that can be enjoyed hot or cold–what’s not to love?!

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

This spring/summer Ben and I have been eating sesame or peanut noodles all. the. time. [Side note: is there an actual difference between them? I'm sure there is. The librarian part of me is itching to google this up and see what I find out, but I'll restrain myself.] They have replaced our easy mac & cheese from a box dinners. I have a hard time telling you what recipe I’ve used because a) I have many pinned on Pinterest and b) don’t really measure ingredients for sauces like this because I’ve never taken the time to take a few pictures to share the recipe here! But this time I did. Measure and photograph. :) And this time I didn’t use any recipe except what sounded/looked/tasted good to me. It’s a good thing I did, because my noodles were utterly amazing.

Inspired by the lovely Amy of fearless homemaker and HER spicy peanut & sesame noodles, I added mix-ins to my noodles for the first time ever. What a good choice! Adding some kale and edamame made the textures of everything just pop and look pretty. Dontcha just love all that green?! :)

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Ben walked in the door just as I was mixing everything together and was like, “what in the world is that fabulous smell?! You must be the best wife ever for cooking such an incredible dinner.” Okay, maybe his words didn’t come out exactly like that, but the sentiment was there. I know it. But seriously–these noodles DO smell fabulous. The sauce is the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, and fresh flavors. I used ground ginger in the sauce but if I had had fresh ginger… oh man. Use that if you can.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Though I served these noodles as a vegetarian main course, this is a great base recipe to add some meat. I think grilled chicken or thinly sliced steak would be great. Or even shrimp or tofu. This could even be a side dish if you like. We loved every last one of these yummy noodles, and like all good Asian-ish recipes…you can enjoy them hot or cold. They’re great both ways. In the recipe below I included notes about how to prepare them to be more picnic friendly, but no matter how you make them, I’m sure you’ll love ‘em! Enjoy!

one year ago: Ginger Banana Waffles
two years ago: Minty Asian Slaw
three years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 20min
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Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces thin spaghetti noodles [any sort of thin noodle would work--Asian of any type, linguini, etc.]
  • 3 cups kale, tightly packed & thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Thai basil, loosely packed & chopped
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled & room temperature
  • green onions, sliced, for garnish

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • juice of half a lime [roughly 2 tablespoons]
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger [use 1 inch grated fresh ginger if you have it]
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ~1/2 cup pasta water, to thin sauce

Directions:

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Be sure to reserve about half a cup of pasta’s cooking water to thin the sauce.

While noodles are cooking, whisk together all ingredients for sauce except for the pasta water.

When pasta is ready, drain, and return to pot [or a large bowl]. Add kale, basil, and edamame and toss. Thin dressing with 3 tablespoons of pasta water, whisk, and the pour over noodles and vegetables. Toss well to coat. If necessary, add additional pasta water to thin sauce further, up to a full half cup.

Serve noodles with green onions for garnish.

Note:

Can be enjoyed warm or cold, but the dressing does really absorb into the noodles after refrigeration [which doesn't bother me but does affect presentation] so if you’re making these noodles for an event and want to serve them cold, be sure to rinse well after draining to get rid of starch, toss with a bit of sesame oil, and then refrigerate separately from the sauce and veggies. Toss together before serving. I haven’t tried this technique with this recipe, but I have done similar things for other dishes so I assume it’d work well! Using rice noodles [that you don't boil to cook, thus, they stay cold] might be a good option too.

 

BBQ Baked Spaghetti

This baked spaghetti is jazzed up with BBQ sauce, ground beef or turkey, and vegetables. It’s as cheesy and delicious as it sounds!

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

Ben and I are HUGE baked pasta people. If we ate baked pasta as much as we wanted to, we would probably be huge. Haha! :) Anyways… this BBQ Baked Spaghetti is awesome and I wish I had some to enjoy right now!

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

I got the recipe from one of the first food blogs I ever started reading–Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Everything I make from her blog is just delicious, family friendly, and wonderful. This baked pasta dish is no exception. It’s cheesy pasta goodness that no one can resist, even though BBQ and spaghetti may not be the first food combination that you would think of when brainstorming for dinner. It’s a unique dinner that you’ll want to make again and again.

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

Like I do with a lot of baked pasta dishes, I made this dinner a day or so before I wanted to eat it. If you cover it and stick it in the fridge, it’s an easy homemade convenience dinner for later in the week! This pasta dish kind of reminded me of the ubiquitous BBQ burgers I see all over Nashville–except a more carblicious rendering of that.

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

If you like baked spaghetti and you like BBQ, you’ll love this dinner! Enjoy!

one year ago: Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea
two years ago: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
three years ago: Spiced Waffles

BBQ Baked Spaghetti

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 60mins
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from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups bbq sauce [I like Sweet Baby Ray's]
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and then cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Meanwhile, brown ground beef or turkey in a large skillet set over medium heat. While meat is browning, add green pepper and onion. Cook until tender, then drain grease if necessary. Return pan to heat and add garlic powder, bbq sauce, and tomato sauce. Cook over medium heat until hot.

Combine spaghetti with sauce mixture. Stir in half the cheese, then spread into prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes until hot and cheese is bubbly.