Jason had a game last night in Florida so I invited his parents over for dinner along with my parents to watch the game. We ended up only being able to listen to the game, and I have since come to the conclusion that my favorite phrase of all time is "save made by Kasdorf". Seriously puts a smile on my face every single time I hear it. I miss him like crazy and can't wait to try all of these recipes on him! He's the reason I learned and love to cook - even if he made it difficult in the beginning by not liking vegetables (my main food group).
In general when I am having people over I like to start prepping early in the afternoon, because I am type A and like to be prepared for anything (like realizing you are out of something you need for a recipe). I don't like feeling rushed and I like being in the kitchen so making a day of it is fun for me! Anyways, since having a baby I am realizing you have to give yourself like 2 extra hours than normal! Between feeding her a few times, wearing her in the baby bjorn if she's fussy (which makes doing anything on the stove like impossible) and playing with her for a bit, everything takes twice as long - and I only have one kid! If you have more than one kid just skip to the end of this post and I will leave a number for a good caterer.
Okay on to the food! I was trying to decide whether to post the recipes individually or together like this as a "meal". I decided on posting them together because I know one of the hardest parts about making a menu is figuring out what will all go together. I usually find one recipe I want to make and then always wonder, "what would go good with this?". Seriously hours wasted down the Pinterest hole. SO with the hope of saving you guys some time, here is a complete dinner menu for you. Quinoa & Wild Rice Pilaf, Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad, Cranberry Balsamic Chicken and Banana Pudding Parfaits! The best part is almost everything can be prepared ahead of time. You can add an app if you need/want or a loaf of bread to make it more substantial. Hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!
Quinoa & Wild Rice Pilaf
Everyone LOVED this recipe...except me. I mean I liked it, but it definitely wasn't my favorite. Something about the flavor. I am going to try making it again in the future and make a few adjustments. That being said everyone else loved it, so I'm sharing it because you will probably love it as well! The original recipe is from Cotter Crunch here. How I did it below.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook Time: 3 hours
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced (called for golden beets but I couldn't find any)
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup wild rice
1 1/4 cup quinoa
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (no salt added)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tbs dry herb seasoning (I used a salmon seasoning blend I found in the cupboard)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Clean and cut all of your veggies.
Add them to the slow cooker along with cranberries, wild rice, quinoa, seasonings, broth and orange juice. Stir until combined, pop the lid on and cook for 3 hours on high. Check on it occasionally to make sure it isn't drying out. Every slow cooker is different and it may need more liquid. Quinoa should be fluffy and all of the liquid absorbed when finished.
Transfer to a serving plate and add feta cheese, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. You can also garnish with fresh basil or thyme.
Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
The best part of this salad is agreeably the dressing! It is so light and fresh and I feel like you could use it on other salads as well.
Prep Time: 15 min
1 bunch kale
1 lb Brussels sprouts
1 Granny Smith apple
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Rinse and finely chop kale. Add to a big bowl.
Cut ends off of Brussels sprouts and shred using a food processor or blender. I used the small ninja attachment and just did small batches and then added them to the bowl with the kale.
Peel the apple and then grate it and add to the bowl along with the raisins.
Add ingredients from olive oil - salt & pepper to a food processor and blend. You can also whisk them all together but I didn't want chunks of garlic.
Pour dressing over entire salad, add Parmesan and mix until well coated. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to absorb the dressing.
Cranberry Balsamic Chicken
Original recipe also from Cotter Crunch here. I am in love with her blog an recipes, you should go check her out! She used chicken thighs with skin on, but I prefer skinless. If you want to see the preparation with skin on go check out her site!
Prep Time: 35 min
Cook Time: 28 min
Blend all marinade ingredients together.
Place chicken thighs in a roasting dish (I used 8x12) and pour marinade over them to coat. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add thyme and cranberries to marinated chicken thighs. Bake for ~28 min.
Remove from oven and spoon sauce over the thighs. Garnish with more fresh thyme.
Banana Pudding Parfaits
I have been making these for years! They're easy, look really pretty and I sub in some healthier options so they are a little guilt free. If you want to indulge you can use whipped cream in place of the yogurt and regular pudding powder.
Prep Time: 10 min
2 small bananas
10 graham crackers (cinnamon flavored if you can find)
1 box of fat free sugar free vanilla pudding powder
2 cups of milk
~ 1 1/2 cups fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
Make the pudding according to instructions on the box and let set up in the fridge.
Get 4 small glass parfait cups (any glass cup will do) and slice your two bananas into rounds.
Crush one graham cracker in the bottom of each cup (sprinkle with cinnamon if using original graham crackers).
Next add two spoonfuls of vanilla Greek yogurt to each cup.
Top the yogurt with 4 banana slices.
Then add two spoonfuls of vanilla pudding to each cup.
Repeat all layers until cup is full. Garnish with a few graham crumbs, a banana slice and cinnamon.
All of the recipes were a hit with my parents and in-laws. If you try any of these recipes leave a comment below or take a picture and tag me on Instagram!