Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Menu 10/15: From the *To Try* File

Does your “to try” recipe file look like mine? Withered newspaper and magazine clippings or a “Recipe” folder in your email overflowing with those recipe chain emails that go around sometimes? I put my foot down recently and decided to clear out some recipes. Fortunately for all of you, only some of the good ones made the cut below. 

Bonus! Two of them, the Raspberry Balsamic Glazed Chicken and the Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin, were unexpectedly 5 ingredient recipes which makes them easy to whip up because so few non-pantry staple ingredients are needed.

My offer still stands: do you have a recipe you’ve been meaning to try forever? If it’s one that’s a good fit for busy women like us, I’ll take on the challenge by trying it for you and sharing the results. Bring it! Send me a link or recipe name in comments below or send me an email, or post it to the Easier Simpler Better Facebook page.

 Raspberry Balsamic Glazed Chicken

5 ingredient dinner: Raspberry Balsamic Chicken

Dare I say it – new family favorite! Looks pretty, tastes fabulous. I’ve said it before, but be sure to cut your chicken breasts to deck-of-cards size. The bigger breasts that are usually sold will take forever to cook and will thus dry out.

Sides: Wilted spinach and pearl couscous (see couscous recipe with the chicken dish in this previous Weekly Menu)

Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine seasonings in a small bowl and set aside for later
  • Chop onion and refrigerate for later
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes.
  • Combine thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over chicken. Add chicken to skillet; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, preserves, vinegar, and pepper, stirring constantly until the preserves melt. Spoon raspberry sauce over chicken.
Recipe from Cooking Light

Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples

Fall Flavors: Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples


Many people avoid pork because it turns out dry. The trick is to let it rest for several minutes after cooking and make sure it’s a bit pink inside – that’s when it’s juicy. Don’t take my word for it; see what the USDA had to say.


  • Buy pre-cut, peeled apples
  • Use frozen oven fries, such as Alexia brand
Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine mustard, syrup, rosemary, S&P ahead and refrigerate for later
  • Peel and cut apples and submerge in a bowl of water with two squeezes of fresh lemon juice to prevent browning; drain and refrigerate for later
  • 2 (1/2-pound) pork tenderloins  
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples, each peeled and cut into 16 wedges (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Trim fat from pork. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Combine mustard, 2 tablespoons syrup, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; brush over pork. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of pork. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until thermometer registers 145° (slightly pink).
  • While pork is baking, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add apples, and sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to low, and add 4 tablespoons maple syrup. Simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Cut pork crosswise into slices; spoon cooked apples over pork.
Recipe adapted from CookingLight

Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta

One dish dinner: Creamy Chicken and Spinach Pasta

I served this to my kids without the spinach because they don’t care for it. I just put the spinach in a shallow bowl with a couple teaspoons of water, covered tightly and microwaved for 30-45 seconds until wilted, then added it to the "grown up" bowls.

Side: Garlic bread

  • Use rotisserie chicken bought from the store instead of grilling your own chicken
  • Use chopped, jarred garlic
  • Buy quality, pre-grated Parmesan from the deli section
  • 2 (6-ounce) bone-in chicken breasts, skinned
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 8 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 10 minutes. Carve chicken off bones, and thinly slice.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well; keep warm.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add flour and garlic; cook until garlic is browned (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly. Add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk; bring to a simmer, and cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and spinach; stir until spinach wilts. Add pasta and chicken; toss to combine.
Recipe from MyRecipes

Extra Credit: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Healthy side dish or afternoon snack: oven sweet potato fries

This was in my "to try file" too and I think roasted sweet potato fries are so versatile - great for a dinner side dish or an after-school snack. I used the garam masala seasoning because I had it on hand and was looking for a reason to use it up, and it was fragrant and yummy.






  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large ones
  • 1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp spice or spice combination of your choice: chipotle powder, smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, pumpkin pie spice, garam masala, Cajun seasoning, etc.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. (For more crispiness, preheat your oven to 500°F.) Recommendation: Preheat the baking sheet before adding the potatoes to help achieve crispiness.
  •  Peel the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then, if they are very long, in half crosswise. Cut each piece into wedges.
  • Put the potatoes in a large bowl and add the oil. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and spices of your choice. Use your hands to mix well, so all pieces are coated with oil and spices.
  • Spread the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet; the oil they are coated with should keep them from sticking to the pan. Bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn over all of the sweet potato pieces. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are well browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe from Simply Recipes

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