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Menu Inspiration

March 8, 2018

Menu Inspiration

By Angie Sutton, momsapronstrings.com


The kids are heading back to school and Friday night football games will soon be the gathering place in many communities. We sat down as a family to make a list of several meals we enjoy and created a menu we could all contribute to.


Chipotle Chicken

We use this as the base protein for walking tacos or burrito bowls. I like to season the chicken the night before to enhance the flavors.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. chipotle chili powder

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix seasoning together in a small bowl. Drizzle olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle seasoning mix on both sides.
2. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken.

Apron Strings Tips: I like to use the chicken breast tenderloins because more of the chicken is covered with seasoning and the cooking time is shortened. I often double the recipe and freeze half to use in chicken tortilla soup.


Rigatoni and Italian Sausage Skillet

The star of this show is definitely the roasted red peppers! The store-bought version is a time saver and tastes great. Serve with a fresh green salad tossed with light dressing.


1 lb. mild Italian sausage

1/2 c. yellow onion, diced

1 (32-oz.) container chicken broth

1/2 c. roasted red bell peppers, diced

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 lb. rigatoni pasta

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded


1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks. If the sausage begins to stick, add a tablespoon of olive oil. When almost completely browned, toss in the diced onions.

2. After sausage is cooked, stir in chicken broth, roasted red bell peppers, Italian seasoning and then add in the uncooked pasta. Use the entire box of pasta if you want to stretch the meal and add about half if you prefer less pasta. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue to cook up to 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.

3. Stir in heavy whipping cream and continue to cook 5 more minutes.

4. Remove skillet from heat and evenly sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese. Place lid back on skillet until ready to serve.

Apron Strings Tips: If your store does not have ground mild Italian sausage, you can use sausage links and remove the casings prior to cooking. I like to use the fancy shredded mozzarella cheese because it melts quickly and is a bit lighter on this pasta-heavy dish.


Cast Iron Skillet Steak Tips with Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Cast Iron Skillet Steak Tips

Using the cast iron skillet gives these steak tips a nice flavor on the outside with the inside remaining juicy and tender. I always choose ribeye but other cuts of steak will work for this recipe.


2 lbs. steak, cut into bite-size chunks

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 (6-to-8-oz.) container mushrooms, sliced


1/3 c. honey

1/4 c. light brown sugar

1/3 c. bourbon

1/4 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. garlic powder


1. In a bowl, mix together marinade ingredients until combined. Place steak into a large resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over it. Seal and shake until steak is covered. Refrigerate at least three hours then drain and discard marinade.

2. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Toss in steak tips and sear all sides. Cook until desired level of doneness and remove from pan.

3. Scrape bits of steak from skillet and add a splash more olive oil if needed. Cook mushrooms over low heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Serve with steak tips.


Crispy Roasted Potatoes


1 russet potato for each person

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Kosher salt


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

2. Wash potatoes and wipe dry. Slice the potatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices and not cutting completely through leaving about 1/4-inch on the bottom to connect the pieces. Rub the potatoes with olive oil making sure to get some between the slices. Place on the baking sheet and slightly fan the potatoes open. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.

3. Bake for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Apron Strings Tips: Add your favorite seasonings such as thyme or rosemary or any seasoned salt to the olive oil. If you like the potatoes more tender, drizzle melted butter over the tops before baking. If you like cheese, toss some on the tops and pop back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Instant Pot Roast and Veggies

This is a super simple and fast meal. We slice bananas and mix a container of strawberry yogurt to serve with it.


2 lb. chuck roast

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 carrots, diced

4 russet potatoes, diced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 c. beef broth

1 c. red wine

2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

3 Tbsp. steak sauce


1. Select saute on your Instant Pot and heat olive oil. Brown the roast on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove roast and set aside.

2. Place carrots, potatoes and celery on the bottom of the pot and put onions and garlic on top. Pour wine and beef broth over the vegetables.

3. Set roast on top of vegetable stack and pour steak sauce over it. Sprinkle seasoning over the top and close lid. Turn to manual setting, high pressure and cook for 35 minutes. Do a natural release.


Ranch Pork Chops with Baby Potatoes and Carrots

Sheet pan dinners are very trendy right now and this one is a winner! The kids chose this as their favorite menu item for the week.


6 pork chops

2 lbs. baby potatoes

1 lb. carrots, sliced

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 oz. ranch seasoning mix

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and give it a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray.

2. Wash and dry the potatoes. If you have larger potatoes, cut them in quarters. Rub carrots and potatoes with olive oil and drizzle olive oil over pork chops using a brush to cover all of the meat. Line chops on one side of the pan and potatoes and carrots on the other side.

3. In a small bowl, stir together seasonings. Rub the pork chops and potatoes with the seasoning.

4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked through and potatoes are fork tender.

Apron Strings Tips: The size of the chops will determine your cook time. I like the bone-in chops so it takes the full 40 minutes and sometimes a bit more. Make sure they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F on your meat thermometer. If you use smaller chops such as breakfast chops, pop the potatoes into the microwave for four minutes to give them a head start and then transfer them to the sheet pan.

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