Stuffed Flank Steak

Got some people coming over for dinner that you want to impress? Maybe a special occasion for a special person? Or just want to feel like a badass in the kitchen with minimal effort? This is the recipe you will want to keep on hand. Play with the stuffing and marinade to match your tastes or what's in season. I guarantee everyone at your dining room table will fall a little more in love with you after you make this!

 

BBQ Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce

While cruising the grocery aisle after work one day, my eye caught a sale on ground grassfed lamb. I am a huge fan of lamb (as long as I don't think too hard about it) and it is such a great protein to add to your rotation of recipes. The cool thing about this dish is many of the ingredients are used twice: in the burgers AND in the sauce. I made a double batch and came up with 7 huge burgers. The barbecued burgers and cool yogurt sauce were a big hit on a warm night.

 

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with Capers and Fried Shallots

This is a tasty and impressive appetizer to bring to a brunch, serve at a BBQ or make for girl's nights. While it seems so very fancy, it is incredibly easy to whip up.

Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This is one of the most genius ideas I have had in the duration of my lifetime.These are super filling and taste just like summer, so fresh. I served mine with some grilled Italian chicken sausage and it was the perfect weeknight dinner after a long day at work... even better the next couple days for lunch.



 

Shrimp Tostadas with Chipotle Yogurt and Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Maybe the long name sounds fancy, but these tostadas couldn't be easier. You could use all the same ingredients in whatever tortillas you have laying around and call it a taco as well. Or just throw it in a bowl and call it a salad. Delicious either way.

There are 3 components to this dish to make, then you just assemble it all on top of a crispy tostada. The first component being the Pineapple Avocado Salsa. The sweet, tropical flavor of the pineapple lends a nice balance to the creamy avocado and sharp onion. The salsa as a whole gives a great acidic balance to the entire dish.

Sushi Bowls

A couple months ago, I talked about how intimidated by polenta I was, until I tried it. Speaking of intimidating, here is a fast and easy spin on the most intimidating at home dish of all: sushi! My husband and I love to go out for sushi, it is usually our go to when we decide to eat out. While craving it one day, I thought how could I get these same flavors at home? It was actually very simple and there are endless variations to what you can do.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Caramelized Leeks and Bacon

 OK, yes, I HATED brussel sprouts growing up. HATED. THEM. I was pretty picky (so weird considering I love to try new things now) but that was, like, top of the list. I had no idea why anyone would ever choose to eat those things. Well, one day in recent years, I just decided to try them again. I had never had them roasted, only steamed, which could have been the problem. I am not a big fan of steamed veggies period. I LOVE them raw, grilled and roasted, but spare me on the mushy steamed version.

 Anyway, I LOVED these little guys roasted. I came up with this recipe for Thanksgiving a couple years ago and it was a big hit.

Marinated Skirt Steak and Chimichurri Sauce

Like most of the recipes here at McMillen Kitchen... yea it sounds fancy. Is it difficult to pull off? Not at all. This recipe is a summer favorite. A simple marinade and a quick sauce that makes for a vibrant and delicious meal, trust me when I say you will want to make enough for leftovers!


Creamy Garlic and Parmesan Polenta

To me, polenta was always this fancy, daunting, impossible dish. It seemed like it was a ton of work, easy to screw up and honestly, I was intimidated. For the sake of my ego, I decided to show polenta who is boss. Things worked out well for me and everyone who ate dinner at our house that night. Not only is this the perfect side dish to just about anything, it really is EXTREMELY easy and insanely inexpensive. This makes a huge batch... you could easily cut it in half for 2-4 people.

 

Crispy Garlic and Herb Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are easy and inexpensive enough to throw together on a weeknight, but juicy and tender enough to be the star of the show at a dinner party. This is a recipe I have come up with after ending up with rubbery baked chicken FAR too many times. These go great with my parmesan polenta, a simple green salad or whatever veggies you have in the fridge.
 

Italian Pressed Sandwhiches

This one is definitely a splurge but an easy and delicious way to feed a lot of people. I've made these on two different occasions to bring along wine tasting in Napa. After the 4th winery, these little guys probably saved some lives. I love that they are compact and not too messy, great to bring to potlucks, BBQs, picnics and parties. I have yet to meet someone who didn't love them... although that could be the wine.

 

Easy Oven Tri Tip with Roasted Garlic and Gorgonzola Butter

This was a HUGE hit with my husband. The idea for this recipe came to me because I had a beautiful tri tip that needed to be cooked and had not been marinated. I love big flavor and thought what can I do to add flavor to this? I also did not want to BBQ the tri tip because it was an unusually cold and windy day. I did a little research and thanks to a leftover hunk of a really amazing Gorgonzola cheese from, where else, Trader Joe's... and all the garlic I always have in my pantry... a star was born.

Crockpot Pork Carnitas

Honestly, I am not a huge pork fan ... unless it's bacon because, duh. I will give you a little background of why I decided to make carnitas. There is a cafĂ© on the California delta... right on the water... that my husband and I go to regularly. It's like our version of Cheers. My husband proposed to me there, we had our rehearsal dinner there, and we are there at least a few times a month for breakfast. Even more if it's summer! It feels like home and is very near and dear to my heart. Anyway, my husband would always order the "carnitas scramble" for breakfast... for years! And it never, ever sounded good to me. One day about a year ago I finally decided to try it and I was hooked. It is an egg scramble with carnitas, grilled onion and jalapenos, served with beans, home fries and tortillas. SO GOOD, especially with a bloody mary during a hangover. After a while, I thought I should try my hand at carnitas. I found a few different recipes then just made one up based on what I had and what I like. During my research phase, I found out the traditional way carnitas is made is basically braised in lard. That was not happening in my crockpot. So I assume my version is a little healthier. Don't be afraid to play around with the seasoning and spices.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries (they're not as hard as you think)

These are seriously easy. It's so hard to screw them up! This really is the only dessert I've ever cared to make because one: it's easy and 2: soooo delicious! You can use any kind of chocolate you prefer, and of course just fresh whole strawberries! I love a good dark chocolate, so that's what I used. I bought a double pack of strawberries and a pound of dark chocolate (I only used half the bar).


Spicy Quinoa

This is one of my husband's favorites (although he will tell you everything I cook is good, bless is heart). It is chock full of protein and lots of the "good stuff" and, as with almost ALL of my recipes, you can adjust everything to match your taste buds! This is basically a recipe I have made up incorporating Southwest, Mexican and Puerto Rican flavors. I usually make a big pot and then pack away into tupperware for lunches that following week. This may sound weird, but I sometimes add green olives because that is what my husband's Puerto Rican Grandmother does with her "pink rice" and it is always my favorite part! Sometimes I don't have the taco seasoning or Sazon (a latin seasoning blend with saffron) around, or I want to make it a little lower in sodium, so I just dump in different things I have in the cupboard (garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika and chipotle peppers).

Quick and Easy Tzatziki

Greek yogurt is something I ALWAYS have in the house. I use it for everything, mostly as a substitute for anything that normally calls for sour cream or mayonnaise. Why no one thought to do this decades ago will always baffle me. Driving home from work one day, I knew I had some chicken that had been marinated in Italian dressing, some veggies and a tub of Greek yogurt that needed to be used. That inspired a Mediterranean dinner, the star of which was a quick homemade tzatziki sauce that turned out PERFECT. Remember, these are all rough measurements. You like garlic? Add more. Hate onion? Leave that sucker out.

What you need:

1 large English cucumber, finely chopped
A quarter of a red onion, finely chopped
About a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill (not dried)
About a teaspoon of chopped fresh mint
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (depends on how much you love garlic and how big they are)
Juice of 1 lemon
About 1 cup and a half of Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat, use whatever you like!)

All you do is mix all ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste, and let it chill for about an hour for all the flavors to mix in. What you are left with is a refreshing and garlicky sauce that is SO good with any kind of protein or veggie and ESPECIALLY a good naan or lavash bread. Enjoy!

"Street" Tacos

It's no secret there are tons of really great Mexican restaurants and taco trucks here in California. One of my favorite things to order are the small street tacos. You know, the ones that come on two small corn tortillas, loaded with chicken or carne asada, chopped white onion and cilantro. Yum! However, one thing I DON'T love is all the grease and calories that come with these guys. I make my own version at home and it is SO simple and much healthier.

What you need:
1 package corn tortillas
1 package taco seasoning (or make your own! Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cumin are the main components)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
1 yellow or white onion
1 bunch cilantro
1 bottle "green" taco sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
Cojita cheese (optional)

Heat a large sautee pan on medium heat with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown chicken, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Turn heat to medium low. Add package of taco seasoning and about 1 cup of water (I just fill up the foil taco seasoning packet with water and dump that in). Simmer and stir occasionally until liquid reduces.




Meanwhile, chop cilantro and onion. Heat your tortillas, top with chicken, followed by onion and cilantro. 




Finish with green sauce and cojita cheese (a salty, dry Mexican cheese ... I forgot to get it at the store so it's missing in these pics). That's IT! I serve with a side of homemade guacamole and chips OR a tomato and avocado salad.


Baked Eggplant Fries

I LOVE love love eggplant. But it IS kind of hard to make correctly - sometimes it is mushy, sometimes soggy, sometimes undercooked. I usually grill it, but I tried these (a version of my zucchini chips) and they were WONDERFUL. Super easy and turned out great. Even if you don't like eggplant, I think you might love these.

Here is what you need:
1 eggplant
2 eggs
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (we've talked about this - it has to be REAL parmesan!)

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with oil. Add the eggs, yogurt, garlic powder, vinegar and some salt and pepper to a gallon size zip lock bag. Shake around until everything is mixed up.
I find the yogurt helps make a coating that I just don't get with eggs alone. Next, add the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese to a shallow dish and mix. Cut your eggplant into "fries" and add those to the bag with the egg mixture. Mix around until all fries are coated. 
A few at a time, transfer the fries to the breadcrumb mixture and coat before laying on the baking sheet. 
Lightly spray with oil and pop in the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, flip them over, and cook for another 5. They should be crispy and golden brown on the outside. 
These are awesome dipped in your favorite salad dressing or marinara. Enjoy!

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs and Blue Cheese Yogurt Sauce

Trust me when I say you need to try these. They are so easy, cheap, healthy and delicious! Sometimes I omit the breadcrumbs to make this lower in carbs, but either way it's a great filling source of protein to have on the menu that everyone will love... from football games to weeknights. I suggest making the blue cheese sauce first so it has an hour or so to sit in the fridge.

Remember: these are rough measurements, do what feels right!
Meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce (you can use whatever you prefer, I just think Frank's tastes the most like your traditional buffalo wing!)
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Mix all ingredients plus half the hot sauce together with your hands.




Form into meatballs by rolling a spoon full in between your palms. Place meatballs onto a greased baking sheet (foil lined for me of course, less clean up)! 


Pop in the oven for 20 ish minutes until cooked through and starting to brown on the outside. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the rest of the hot sauce. 




Serve with Greek yogurt blue cheese sauce!

Blue Cheese sauce:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste. Thin with a little bit of water or milk until desired consistency is attained. Allow time to sit in the fridge for flavors to mix before serving with buffalo chicken meatballs.








Cumin Lime Fish Tacos with Cabbage Radish Slaw

This may sound fancy, but it's sooo quick and easy with help from a few shortcuts. I threw this together for a weeknight dinner with an avocado pico de gallo and it was so delicious! Here is what you need:

1 bag peeled, de veined, tail off shrimp. I use Argentinian red shrimp from Trader Joes. 
1/3 bag of prepared cabbage cole slaw mix
2-3 large radishes 
Cumin/lime seasoning (Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime is PERFECT, you can also you taco seasoning and some lime juice)
Corn tortillas
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
4 scallions

Pre-heat oven to 425. Rinse and drain shrimp. Toss with olive oil and a few shakes of seasoning on a foil lined baking sheet. 





Pop in the oven for about 6 minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, mix the cabbage mix, julienned radishes, chopped scallions, yogurt and a few dashes of seasoning plus salt to taste. This is your "slaw". 







Remove shrimp from oven. 



Heat corn tortillas. Top with shrimp, slaw and whatever else you want (avocado pico de gallo pictured). Enjoy! 


Roasted Garlicky Mushrooms

I am ALWAYS looking for new veggie side dish recipes to change things up. These were a quick, easy, hearty and delicious addition to a healthy and light meal.

What you need:

About a lb of whole crimini mushrooms (use any kind you want, I love these little guys and I think they have a better taste than the usual white button mushrooms)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee (you can also use regular butter)

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil (easy clean up!). Clean the mushrooms, dry and add to the baking sheet.
 
In a small pan, heat olive oil and ghee. Add garlic and immediately remove from heat. Add salt and pepper and stir, then pour over mushrooms and toss. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Easy! And these are sooo tasty. Enjoy!
 

Simple Honey Dijon Chicken

This has to be one of the EASIEST recipes to make on a busy night. Just a few ingredients and everyone loves it.

What you need:
1 lb thawed chicken breast tenders
Greek yogurt
Worcestshire sauce
Dijon mustard
Honey
Garlic powder
3-4 strips of bacon
1 lb of your favorite mushrooms.

First, slice your mushrooms and chop your bacon. Set aside. Mix together about a cup of greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, a liberal amount of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a hot pan, start to sautee your chopped bacon. About half way through, add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are done, remove and set aside to drain. Add your chicken to the pan and sear on all sides. Add the mushroom and bacon mixture back in with the chicken as well as the mustard mixture. Simmer all of this together for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. This pairs great with a green salad and some garlic bread!