Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Go-To Food

I have ‘go-to’ food.  Meals or sides that I almost always have the stuff to make and that are pretty quick and easy and people-pleasing.  If anyone has eaten at my house, you’ve probably had my garlic herb roasted potatoes or Jake’s Aunt Marti’s corn.  I tend to make Mindi Ross’s pasta salad recipe a LOT.  And any time it’s just Jake & I and I don’t feel like really cooking, I can make salsa chicken.  It used to not be Jake’s favorite dish, but he’s come to like it all right.  Probably just from sheer over exposure.  In the summer, a good BLT with fresh garden tomatoes and precooked bacon strips that I just have to microwave are staples for us.  To be honest, the “L” is usually left out, as Jake & I don’t feel a great need for the lettuce.  And the bread MUST be toasted (that way it’s not as gross) and swiped with Miracle Whip (NOT mayo for our BLTs).  And fresh tomatoes with chicken salad works great as a regular meal for us too.  I love Italian marinated chicken on the grill, so thanks to my good friend Emily Cooper who introduced me to the most flavorful & easy way to make that happen (goes great with either the aforementioned garlic herb roasted potatoes & Aunt Marti’s corn or the pasta salad, too).  As for desserts, chocolate chip granola bars, Funfetti cookies, devil’s food cake w/ Penuche frosting and Rice Krispie treats are definitely ‘go-tos’ for me.  Recently, I’ve added oven s’mores to that list as well.  (They are a revelation!)

Do you have ‘go-to’ food?   Please share!

Here are the recipes for my ‘go-tos’ listed above.

Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes

1 envelope Lipton Savory Herb & Garlic Soup Mix   
¼ C olive or vegetable oil
2 lbs potatoes, washed & cubed (red potatoes work the best)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, add all ingredients and toss until potatoes are evenly coated.  Spread potatoes in a shallow baking pan.  Bake 40 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring once midway through.  Serves approx. 8 as a side dish.

Aunt Marti’s Corn

1 large bag frozen corn                                             
½ stick butter / marg.
1 T sugar                                                                    
1 tsp thyme

Heat butter and corn in pan; sprinkle with sugar and time and heat through, stirring occasionally. 

Pasta Salad

1/3 C oil                                                                     
1/3 C vinegar
little less than 1/3 C sugar                                         
pepperoni, cut into bite-size pieces
baby carrots, sliced                                                    
onion flakes, to taste
pepper, garlic pwdr, onion pwder, salt, to taste       
cooked pasta (I prefer Gemelli)

Mix oil, vinegar, sugar and spices.  Add pepperoni, carrots, onion flakes; mix well.  (You can add anything else you normally like in a pasta salad such as broccoli, olives, tomatoes, etc.)  Drain pasta and toss with dressing.  Chill until serving.  Be sure to mix again before serving, as dressing can settle on bottom.

Salsa Chicken

2-4 chicken breasts, cubed                                        
12 – 16 oz jar salsa
2-4 T sour cream                                                       
hot cooked rice

Spray skillet with cooking spray.  Cook chicken over medium heat until no longer pink.  Add salsa; heat through.  Add sour cream.  Serve over rice.  Serves 2-4.

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes

1 large can chicken breast meat, flaked                   
Mayonnaise, as desired
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped or jicama, peeled & chopped
Tastefully Simple’s Bacon Bacon or bacon bits, garlic powder, salt, as desired

Mix all ingredients.  Quarter fresh tomatoes and serve chicken salad in center of tomato pieces.

Italian Marinated Chicken

1 bottle of Italian dressing, preferably not fat free (higher fat content increases marinade absorption into chicken)           
2-6 frozen chicken breasts

Put chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag.  Add entire bottle of Italian dressing.  Place in refrigerator for at least 2 days, turning occasionally.  When ready to fix, drain off marinade.  Grill, broil or bake chicken breasts as desired. 

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

1 C brown sugar                                                         
¼ C honey
¾ C butter / marg                                                      
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 C oatmeal (quick oats work the best in my experience)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter/marg in microwave, then stir in brown sugar.  Add remaining ingredients, chocolate chips last to prevent melting.  Stir well until evenly coated.  Press firmly in an even layer in 9x13 or slightly smaller bar pan.  Bake for 25-30 min. until golden brown.  Cool for 30 min. and cut into bars.  Makes 24 bars. 

Funfetti Cookies

1 box Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix                               
1/3 C oil
2 eggs                                                                         
1 can Pillsbury Funfetti frosting

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil & eggs.  Stir until thoroughly moistened.  Using cooking scoop, place cookie dough on ungreased cookie sheet.  With flat bottom of glass dipped in sugar, flatten dough to ¼ inch thickness.  Bake for 6-8 min.  Cool 1 minute before removing cookie from baking sheet to cooling rack.  Frost cookies and enjoy.  (This recipe works with any cake mix, but Funfetti is my fave.)

Devil’s Food Cake with Penuche (caramel) Frosting

Make devil’s food cake from cake mix as directed in a 9x13 pan.  Let cool.  Make frosting as directed below and frost cake.  I usually make the night before to let set.
6 T butter / marg.
¾ C brown sugar
1/8 C plus 1 T milk
¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp vanilla
1 ½ - 2 C powdered sugar

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat & simmer for 2 min, stirring constantly.  Add milk & bring to boil again, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat & pour into a mixing bowl.  Let cool.  (This takes awhile, so sometimes I put it in the freezer to speed the process but you have to watch it – I’ve ruined it by letting it get too cold before.) Add salt & vanilla; gradually beat in powdered sugar (I use a hand whisk but you can use a mixer).  Beat until the frosting is creamy & the right consistency for spreading. (This frosting can get thick awfully fast, so if that happens, just use a knife dipped in warm water to easy in spreading.)  **This recipe works for a 9x13 cake; double the recipe for a layered cake.

Rice Krispie Treats

10.5 oz bag of mini marshmallows                           
3 T butter / marg
6 C Rice Krispies cereal

Melt margarine / butter & marshmallows in a large pan on the stove, stirring occasionally.  When melted & smooth, remove from heat & stir in cereal until well coated.  Spread into a greased 9x13 pan; use greased hands to press into place.  Let cool & cut into bars.  Makes 24 bars.  (Optional: for thicker treats, use a 9x9 pan.)

Oven S’mores

large marshmallows                                                  
graham crackers
large, thick chocolate bar(s), chilled in fridge

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place graham crackers in pan.  Top with desired amount of chocolate and one large marshmallow.  Set oven to broil.  Place baking sheet in oven for short amount of time, just long enough to start turning the tops of the marshmallows brown (less than 2 min usually).  Remove baking sheet and place another graham cracker on top of each s’more.  Serve with plenty of napkins and enjoy the gooey, drippy treats.  **Note: I did not know this until recently but you do not have to let your oven “heat up” to a broiling temp.  It will reach it almost immediately (somehow).  That makes this easy treat even faster!


  1. Another easy chicken "Go-to": Garlic and Herb Chicken.

    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1 pkg Good Seasons Garlic and Herb Dressing Mix
    1 c. parmesan cheese.

    Preheat oven to 375. Cut chicken breasts in halves or 3 sections. Mix parm and seasoning together. Coat both sides of chicken in seasoning. Put coated chicken in greased 9x13 pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and golden colored on the outside.

    This one impresses people (like they think you must've worked hard to make it!)

  2. Oh oven smores...I still remember Jake saying, "I've never had this many options before" when it came to the doneness of the marshmallows....

  3. Chicken marinated in Italian dressing is a staple for us. We grill a bunch of chicken breasts and save some for salads or quesadillas. I did try low fat Italian last month-NOT GOOD.
    In my favorite quesadilla I put chicken, cheddar-or monteray jack cheese, green onions and barbeque sauce. Then we dip it in ranch. yummy!
    Cari, I LOVE BLT's, I am anxiously waiting for my tomatoes to come up in thegarden. But I use Real MAYO, lots of lettuce and whole wheat bread-not toasted.
    Oh yeah...and THE BEST summer salad:
    Baby greens
    Marinated chicken
    Feta cheese
    Tortilla strips
    and Poppyseed dressing

  4. Love the recipes!! Keep 'em coming!

  5. Just linked on my blog and added my own recipes

    And on the marshmallow front: have you seen the jumbo marshmallows? They're like the size of 3 large marshmallows. Our local grocery store has them.