Author: sofiyababinov

How To Make Taco’s

9D925FF1-FDEB-42E1-AD4B-CE0849B00DF6Yesterday was Taco Tuesday at our house. Yum!!! Even my picky son, who hardly ever eats anything, ate 4 taco’s yesterday evening for dinner! I was surprised but so thrilled. Upon going to bed, he told me that this was the best dinner ever and that’s something this momma was so glad to hear! I think we may make Taco Tuesdays a weekly thing at our house now since it proved to be such a hit with my family. The best part about a taco dinner is how easy and fast everything is to prepare so it is perfect for a weeknight dinner. I think the fun part is everyone making their own perfect taco so this is also a great dinner to make if you have company coming over. This is not really a recipe because everyone knows pretty much what a taco consists of, this is just my step by step tutorial for those that reached out to me asking about how I make the meat filling and stuff. I hope you make next Tuesday a taco Tuesday too! 😉

How To Make Taco’s {Serves 6-8 people}

Ingredients:

  • 2 LB Ground Beef
  • 2 (1.25 oz) Packets (Ortega Brand) Taco Seasoning Mix (I use the 40% Less Sodium)
  • Taco Sauce (Mild) (Optional, to top)
  • 2 Boxes of Taco Shells (13-15 Count) *I like the stand & stuff shells, so much easier
  • 1 Large tomatoe
  • Romaine Lettuce (Or regular lettuce)
  • 1 (8oz) Block Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Shredded)
  • 1 Container Sour Cream (Optional, to top)
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil (For Sauté)

9CEEC5C6-CF37-48C2-A86F-6B8066A6C96FDirections:

1) Do all the prep work first. Wash and chop up the Romain lettuce, set aside in a plate. Wash and finely chop up the tomato, set aside in a plate. Shredd the block of Cheddar Cheese, set aside in a plate.

2) In a saucepan on Med-High heat add 2 TBS Olive Oil. When the oil heats up, add the ground beef, break it into pieces using a spatula.

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3) Add the packets of Taco Seasoning. You need 1 packet of seasoning for 1 pound of ground beef. I use Ortega brand 40% less sodium packets bc I don’t like my meat to be too salty and using regular packets of seasoning in my opinion make it too salty. Mix thoroughly and cook until the meat has browned and is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile bake the taco shells on 350 degrees in the oven for 5-7 mins until hot (be careful not to burn them).

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4) Set up a “taco station” on the table with all the toppings in plates, the meat, the taco shells, taco sauce, and sour cream.

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Everyone creates their own perfect taco! Yum!!!

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Herb & Olive Oil Rack Of Lamb

IMG_0464I don’t know if it’s an international thing or what, but I love lamb! It is my meat of preference lately and I was excited to finally have an easy and great recipe for a rack of lamb. This is actually my husband Michael’s recipe and he get’s all the credit for this one. The good news is he loves lamb just as much as I do! Cooking the perfect rack of lamb can seem intimidating so here is an easy, step by step recipe for you guys. Keep in mind that you will need to marinate the rack of lamb for at least 1 night, 3-4 nights is even better. I just posted a recipe for Mediterranean style jasmine rice and it pairs perfectly with this rack of lamb for a delicious, restaurant quality, Mediterranean style dinner!

Herb & Olive Oil Rack Of Lamb {Serves 2}:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Rack Of Lamb (About 1 or 1.25 LB)
  • 1/2 Fresh Bunch of Rosemary
  • 1/2 Fresh Bunch of Thyme
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (pressed)
  • Olive Oil (About 1/4 Cup)
  • Salt
  • Steak Seasoning

Directions:

1) Marinate the rack of lamb overnight or preferably for 3-4 nights for best flavor. To marinate the rack of lamb; wash and pat dry the rack of lamb and put it in a big bowl. Season the lamb by sprinkling salt and steak seasoning on the top of it. Add the bunches of rosemary and thyme. Add pressed garlic cloves. Pour olive oil all over the rack of lamb. Rub everything into the lamb, cover and refrigerate overnight or preferably longer for 3-4 days. *The longer you marinate the lamb, the tastier it will be because the spices, herbs, and oil marinate into the meat giving it a delicious taste and also the lamb tastes less “gamey”.

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2) When ready to cook the lamb; Preheat the over to 450 Degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the rack of lamb on the baking sheet and then cover the lamb with another sheet of foil on top of it.

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3) Bake on 450 Degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 Degrees and Cook an additional 20 minutes.

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4) Take the foil cover off the rack of lamb and place it back in the oven, uncovered, on 350 Degrees for another 10-20 minutes depending on how well done you like to eat your meat. I did just 10 minutes because I love a good medium cooked, kinda pink inside,rack of lamb. Yum!

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Cut lamb evenly by the rack bones.

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This rack of lamb pairs great with my Mediterranean style jasmine rice!

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Mediterranean Style Jasmine Rice

IMG_0463This Mediterranean style jasmine rice is literally the BEST rice I have ever tried! I don’t throw the word best around lightly you now. I tried it at a Mediterranean restaurant once and got hooked so I knew I had to recreate the recipe at home and I did just that. This rice pairs perfectly with any kind of meat, but especially with a yummy rack of lamb. Stay tuned for that recipe next and you will have the perfect Mediterranean style dinner!

Mediterranean Style Jasmine Rice {Yields 6 Cups rice abt 4 Servings}:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Uncooked, Long Grain, Jasmine Rice
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth (I used the Better The Bouillon Paste and it worked great!)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (Unsalted)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin Spice

1) Wash the rice thoroughly and set aside. If using Better Then Bouillon chicken paste instead of Chicken Broth, in a small sauce pan boil 3 cups of water. When the water comes to a boil, add the Better Then Bouillon paste (3 teaspoons) and mix well, to make a hearty chicken broth and set aside.

2) In a medium sized pot, add the butter, garlic, cumin, and turmeric. Sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the garlic has softened and spices give off a yummy fragrance.

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3) Add the dry rice to the pot and stir to combine for about 3 minutes to slightly toast the rice.

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4) Add the chicken broth (or Better Then Bouillon broth) and 1 bay leaf to the pot. Mix well. Bring to a rolling boil.IMG_0461

5) Cover with lid and simmer on LOW heat for about 15 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. I opened the pot and mixed the rice 2-3 times to keep it from sticking to the pot.

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6) Fluff with a fork and your rice is ready to serve! This rice reheats well. IMG_0463

 

The Best Home Made Salsa

IMG_0441This is a recipe for the best home made salsa! I found the basic recipe on google and just changed a few things up to my liking. Not only is this the best tasting home made salsa, it is also the easiest to make and yields a big batch! So it is perfect for entertaining or bringing to an event. I made a batch for a cook out a few weeks ago and for a party recently, both times it was a big hit! Nearly all of it was gone. Keep in mind you will need 2 bags of tortilla chips for this much salsa. I like to get the scoop tortilla chips because they are so fun to dunk and fill up! Once you try this delicious home made salsa, you will never go back to store bought salsa again!

The Best Home Made Salsa {Yields about 12 Cups Salsa}:

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28 oz) Can peeled tomatoes
  • 2 (oz) can Rotel Brand Tomatoes and Green Chilies (Mild)
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Small Onion (or 1/2 of a big onion)
  • Juice from 1/2 Lime (1 whole lime, if a smaller lime)
  • 1/2 Jalapeño Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin

IMG_0438Directions: 

1) Do all the prep work first. Open the can of tomatoes and tomatoes with green chilies. Wash and finely cut the cilantro leaves. Chop and desead the jalapeño pepper. Chop the onion. Finely mince garlic clove.

2) In 2 parts blend or purée everything in a food processor. Puree the can of tomatoes, can of Rotel tomatoes & chilies, cilantro, garlic, onion, and jalapeño pepper. You can do this in a food processor or blender. I used a blender, and pulsed each batch 7 times for a quick second but feel free to make yours a chunkier consistancy if you’d like.

3) Pour puréed mixture into a big bowl (with a lid). Add the lime juice, salt, sugar, and cumin spice. Mix and refrigerate for at least a few hours for best taste!

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Serve with your favorite tortilla chips!

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Easy Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

IMG_0436I know it’s still mid August, but I am already transitioning to fall time lol. The weather is finally cooling down, the leaves are starting to change color, my son starts school in a week, and everything is beginning to feel like fall. To me, nothing says fall more then a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte… so this beautiful Saturday morning, I decided to make these for my hubby and I to enjoy. It was super easy, and instead of paying $5/cup it will cost you about that much to buy everything you need to make these all season long. Of course, the taste is way more superior too! I have tried making this drink before and couldn’t get the right proportion of ingredients but today it literally turned out perfect! Even my 5 year old liked it and he doesn’t like coffee beverages. My hubby said he couldn’t tell the difference between this pumpkin spice latte or the ones we get at Starbucks (Score! Lol) and like me, he was excited to get to enjoy this beverage now since it’s seasonal and Starbucks doesn’t even have these yet! The best part about this home made, pumpkin spice latte is that I use simple ingredients that you can find anywhere and you don’t need any fancy espresso/coffee machines.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Brewed Coffee (I used Starbucks, Blonde roast)
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Purée (Or Can of 100% pure pumpkin, for a pie filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (And more to sprinkle on top of latte)
  • Whipped Cream (Optional, to top)

IMG_0433Directions: 

1) Brew fresh coffee. Any coffee would work, but I used Starbucks blonde roast.

2) In a small container, mix together the pumpkin purée, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice until well blended together.

3) In a small sauce pan, combine cold milk, coffee, and pumpkin purée mixture. Mix well and set on Medium heat, occasionally stirring until it almost boils and comes to a simmer.

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4) When it starts to simmer, turn stove off but keep on the burner until ready to serve so it stays hot. Then pour into individual cups. Optionally add whipped cream on top and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice to decorate. Enjoy!!!

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Note: I made 3 times as much because my hubby and I both had big mugs. I couldn’t get enough of this deliciousness!!!

Summer Squash Soup

IMG_0416Nothing tastes more like summer then this summer squash soup! I got the idea for this recipe after trying this soup at Dean & Deluca restaurant and getting absolutely hooked to this soup so I knew I had to recreate this yummy recipe at home! To my surprise, this soup tastes better on the second day because all the yummy flavors get to blend overnight. For a vegan version or less calories, you can omit the heavy cream but I highly suggest adding it because it gives the soup an extra creamy flavor. This recipe is perfect for busy summer days because it’s the easiest squash soup recipe ever, yet the most delicious so it’s a win win!

Summer Squash Soup {Serves 8}

Ingredients:

  • 2.5-3 LB Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon 21 Seasoning, Mrs.Dash, or any Salt-Free seasoning

IMG_0415Instructions:

1) Do the prep work first. Wash  all the veggies. Peel the squash, chop it into large cubes. Chop the bell pepper into cubes. Chop the celery and onion into cubes. Peel the garlic cloves and chop in halves.

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2) In a medium pot, add all the cut veggies, sugar and salt. Mix and add enough filtered water to cover all the veggies. (About 6 Cups water). Bring to a boil on high heat.

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3) Once the water boils, put the lid on the pot, and let is simmer on the Low setting for about 35-40 minutes, until all the veggies are tender.

4) Once the veggies cook through, add the veggies and water to a blender and pure to a smooth consistency. I had to divide the soup into 3 batches to blend it all. If you have a hand held immersion blender, that would be much easier.

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5) Transfer the soup pure to a big pot. Add the heavy cream, seasoning, and mix.

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6) Laddle the soup into bowls and enjoy! If you’d like to warm the soup up more, just heat it up on medium heat. Tastes just as great, if not better, on the second day!

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Potato & Squash Steamed Dumplings (Monti)

IMG_0396These vegan steamed dumplings (or Monti, as European’s refer to them) are super delicious! Easy and fast to make and very simple ingredients. I was happy to come up with a good, meat-less recipe for steamed dumplings which are usually made with meat. To be honest with you, I liked these even more then the meat filled, steamed dumplings! I made a big batch of the potatoe, onion, and squash filling so that I can steam another fresh batch of these the next day as they do taste best steamed fresh! You can even make the filling 1 day in advance if you season it and add the olive oil to it. I made a big batch so we had these for dinner yesterday, and I have enough filling for another fresh batch of these for dinner again tonight!

Potato & Squash Steamed Dumplings (Monti) {Yields 38 Dumplings 6-8 Servings}

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 LB Yukon Gold Potatoes, Finely cubed
  • 1/2 Lareg Squash, Finely cubed
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Packs of “Nasoya” Brand Egg Roll dough sheets (1 pack makes 19, which is how much I use for one batch. 2 packs will yield 38 dumplings total)
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Mrs.Dash or another, Salt-Free seasoning
  • 3 TBS Olive Oil, for filling
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil, to spread on each steam pot layer & to dip each dumpling with

IMG_0398Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Peel the potatoes, cut them into small cubes, put into a bowl of cold water. Then rinse and change the water. When ready to use, drain out all the water. *This is just to keep your potatoes from turning brown. Cut the squash in half. Wash and peel that half. Then cut it also into small cubes (same size  as your diced potatoes) and set aside in seperate plate. Peel and finely dice the onions and set aside in separate plate.

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2) Put all the filling ingredients in a big bowl. Drained potatoes, squash, and onions. Add 3 tsp Salt, 1/2 tsp Pepper. 1 tsp Mrs. Dash or another Salt-free seasoning. Add 3 TBS Olive Oil and mix thoroughly!

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3) Set up a dumpling making station. I do this by setting up a sheet of foil, the egg roll sheets, a small cup with water and a brush.

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4) Add 2 heaping TBS of filling to each egg roll sheet. Using the brush, wet the outlines of each egg roll dough sheet with water.

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5) Bring the opposite corners together and stick them together in the middle. Repeat with the other opposite corners. Seal together tightly!

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6) Using another brush, brush olive oil onto each pot layer. I used 2 steampot layers and fit 10 dumplings on one steam pot layer, 9 dumplings on the other. *1 egg roll dough pack makes 19 dumplings. I made 19 at a time for dinner and it was enough for 3-4 servings.

 

7) Dip the bottom of each dumpling into a plate of olive oil and put them into the steam pot layers. *Don’t put them too close to each other or the dough will stick together.

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8) Bring the bottom pot, filled 1/2 way with water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, put the steam pot layers with dumplings onto the pot. Reduce heat to Medium-High, cover with the lid on top, and cook for 30 minutes.

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9) After 30 minutes, turn heat off, and let them steam for another 5 minutes. These are best served hot, fresh off the steam pot! However leftovers can be microwaved.

*I covered the rest of the filling with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so I could make a fresh batch of 19 more the next day for dinner. But if you have a bigger crowd then make all of them. Trust me!

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Lasagna Soup

IMG_0380This lasagna soup is a new family favorite! I got the recipe from my friend, Liz, who I met through social media and now we talk on a weekly basis. We just have a cool friendship, and I can’t wait to meet her in real life one day soon lol! Liz got the recipe from Pinterest years ago, and I tweaked it a bit. This was my first time making Lasagna soup and it was super delicious!!! After the first spoonfull I was wondering where this soup has been all my life lol. I was surprised at how easy and quick this recipe was. Hope your family will enjoy it too!

Lasagna Soup {Serves 4-6} 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 LB Mild Italian Sausage, ground meat
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil, for sauté
  • 1 Onion (finely diced)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Depending on how Spicy you like it)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 1/2 TBS Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 tsp Basil
  • 1 can Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 8 1/2 Cups Chciken stock OR 8 1/2 Cups water, boiled and mixed with the Better Then Bouillon paste (That’s what I did)
  • 2 Cups (1/2 box) Rotini Pasta
  • Mozzarella Cheese (1 block) To garnish
  • Parmesan Cheese (1 block) To garnish
  • Sour Cream, To garnish, *Optional

IMG_0373Directions:

1) Fill a medium pot with 8 1/2 cups filtered water and bring it to a boil. When it boils, turn burner off and add 8 1/2 tsp of Better Then Bouillon paste. Mix well and set aside for now.

2) In a large frying pan, heat up 2 TBS olive oil. Add the ground Mild Italian Sausage meat  and cook, mixing, for about 5 minutes. Then add the finely chopped onion and cook another 3-5 minutes until onion is soft and sausage meat is well cooked through and browned.

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3) Add 4 minced garlic cloves to the pan. Then add 1 tsp Salt, sprinkle some pepper, and about 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it, I did 1/4 tsp). Add 2 1/2 TBS Tomato Paste. Mix everything thoroughly. Then add the can of roasted tomatoes. Turn burner off and let it simmer for a few minutes as you mix.

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4) Transfer everything from the frying pan to the pot of chicken bouillon water (or Chicken Stock) and bring to a boil. Add 2 bay leaves. Then turn the heat down to Low, and let it simmer, covered for 30 minutes.

5) After 30 minutes turn the heat up to Medium, Add the basil. Then add the pasta to the soup pot, and let it cook until the pasta is soft and cooked through about 10-15 minutes. Do not over cook the pasta will be too mushy!

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6) Garnish each bowl of soup with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and sour cream (optional) I liked only cheese in my soup.

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7) To reheat, simmer on Medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

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Important note: After a few hours, the pasta in the soup expands and soaks in some of the broth so it is much thicker! Still tasted great, it just becomes a chunkier, thicker soup!

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The BEST Steak Marinade Recipe

IMG_0361Grilling… The best thing about summer time. So many things you can grill. One of our favorites is steak! We prefer T-bone, or Top Sirloin cuts for grilling. The grilling part is easy but finding a good marinade recipe can be hard. I have tried SO MANY different steak marinade recipes and sauces and have finally found THE BEST marinade recipe for steak. I got this amazing recipe from my friend Irina, and she got the recipe from her brother in law. This recipe has been handed down, tried and tested from person to person and for good reason! The ingredients are so simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried this marinade recipe before. Keep in mind that you want to let the steak marinate for at least 4-8 hours so marinate it either the night before or the morning of the day that you plan to grill. Try marinating your steak this way next time you grill. You will love it!!! The recipe for the Veggie Kabobs (pictured above) was posted previously and it’s great to pair with steak.

The BEST Steak Marinade Recipe {I marinated 6 steaks; 1 steak per person}

Ingredients:

  • 2.50-3 LB Steak (T-Bone, Top Sirloin, or your choice)
  • Steak Seasoning
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (pressed)
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce (Low Sodium, which is usually abt 40% Less Sodium)

Directions:

1) Wash your steaks and pat them dry with paper towels.

2) Season each steak, individually, on both sides with steak seasoning. Don’t go crazy with this seasoning as it contains a lot of salt and you don’t want to overdo it. *You do not need to add any additional salt at all since steak seasoning already contains salt, and because you will be adding soy sauce so the salt from that will also absorb into the meat and give you flavorful steak!

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4) Put all seasoned steak into a big bowl (with a lid). Add the soy sauce and pressed garlic cloves to the steak. Mix together to combine flavors. You will see the steak start to absorb all the soy sauce, that’s exactly what you want to happen. *If you feel it’s not enough soy sauce, add a few more spoons. Or if you are marinating more steaks, add enough soy sauce accordingly.

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5) Let steak stand and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I usually marinate the night before grilling or the morning that I grill. It is best to give it at least4-8 hrs to marinate.

6) Grill steak on the grill as you normally would. You can also cook it on a skillet with butter but grilled steak is definitely best!

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

IMG_0355Summer is finally here!!! And with it comes grilling! We love to grill and have friends over for cook outs, especially at the pool. Some of our favorite things to grill are burgers, chicken wings, chicken thighs, steaks and of course these veggie kabobs! Stay tuned for the next recipe on the best steak marinade ever! I got the recipe for these veggie kabobs from my friend Irina, who is an awesome cook and always gives me amazing recipes and idea’s. These grilled veggie kabobs are great to pair with grilled steak. Super easy to prepare and of course absolutely delicious! You can get the ingredients anywhere, but I found all these fresh and yummy veggies at Aldi! Buying the packs of veggies in Aldi like I did, will give you enough to make this great recipe twice (you will only need to add 1onion, 1 pack mushrooms, 1 eggplant to make it the second time) and it will save you money. I promise you, these grilled veggie kabobs will be your new favorite thing to grill with meats this summer so give them a try! 🙂

Grilled Veggie Kabobs {Yields about 14-16 Veggie Kabob Sticks}

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small Eggplant
  • 1 Bell Pepper (Orange, Red, or Yellow)
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • 3 Zucchini
  • 1 Package White Mushrooms
  • 6 TBS Mayonnaise
  • 3 TBS Barbecue Sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp “Mrs.Dash” or any other Salt Free seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

IMG_0359Directions:

1) Do all the prep work first. Wash and cut all of your veggies into kebab sized chunks.

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2) In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and spices together until it it the consistency and look of a sauce.

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3) Mix the veggies with the marinade sauce and let stand to marinate for at least 4 hours. I usually marinate the morning of the day we grill them.

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4) 30 minutes before you grill, put the veggies on wooden skewer sticks. No particular order but I like to have a variety of all veggies on each stick for a pretty color combination and to get a taste of each veggie on each stick.

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5) Grill the veggie skewers on the grill along with meat or steak or anything else you are grilling. They take about 30 minutes to grill to perfection. You can just lay them down on the grill, or get a grill basket and grill the veggie kebabs in the grill basket. I have tried both ways and both work just fine.

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6) These are especially delicious with steak!

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