6 Perfectly Seasonal Fall Dinners To Make In October (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

Fall is in full swing, and I’m here for some warm, hearty dinners!

As the air gets more and more chilly, I start craving things like stews, braises and casseroles. Give me half a chance to put squash in something and I’ll run with it!

To accommodate seasonally changing palates, here are some tasty things you should make this month:

1. Slow-Cooker Texas Chili

Who can resist tender hunks of brisket slow-cooked with Tex Mex flavors? Not I! If you want to go against tradition, you can add red or black beans and/or corn — but don’t tell anyone I told you that.

2. Fricassee of Chanterelles

Thick, wide, chewy pappardelle noodles get a major umami kick from Chanterelle mushrooms. If you don’t have access to that variety, you can swap them out for porcinis, morels or even your standard grocery store fare like creminis, though the flavor will be a bit different and less delicately earthy.

3. Butternut Squash Skillet Lasagna

The rich, slightly sweet butternut squash just adds that much more creamy cheesiness to the classic dish, which gets an extra pep from brown butter and fresh sage. Yum!

4. Deviled Chicken Lollipops

These crunchy baked drumsticks are great fun as appetizers at a Halloween party or for dinner — maybe served alongside some homemade sweet potato fries?

5. Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine Sauce)

This flavorful, rich dish is as easy to make as it is delicious to eat. You can totally make it in the slow cooker, too: Just brown your chicken (sear each batch for four to six minutes per side) and then braise everything in the slow cooker for four to five hours on low, until the chicken is tender and fully cooked.

6. Butternut Squash Pizza with Hazelnut Dough

This is as seasonal as they come! This recipe is cheese-free, so it’s really excellent for those looking to cut back on dairy or calories. If you want, you can save a little time by using canned pumpkin instead of squash slices — just spread the puree on your dough as you would with pizza sauce.

Featured Image: Ernesto Andrade/Flickr

Tags: dinner recipes, fall dinners, October dinners, slow cooker meals, weeknight dinner recipe
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14 Decadent Dinners For The Carbonara-Obsessed (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

Addicted to pasta carbonara? Welcome to the club. It’s not hard to become obsessed with the silky, creamy sauce, peppered with bits of bacon, sprinkled with Parmesan and finished with black pepper. Since you can’t eat spaghetti every night (or, at least, you shouldn’t), here are 14 dishes that allow you to enjoy the flavors of carbonara in excitingly fresh ways. Buon appetito!

1. Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

I know I said “fresh ways,” but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Spaghetti is tossed in the fat of crispy pancetta, covered in a rich mixture of egg yolks and Parmesan cheese, and made glossy with the hero of this classic dish: salted water from the cooked pasta. A generous helping of pepper adds a hint of spice to this fantastically rich and satisfying Roman meal.

2. Carbonara Pizza

In this recipe, the ingredients of carbonara are placed atop perhaps the only thing more addictive than pasta: pizza. Soft yet crispy crust wears a beautiful crown of bacon, garlic-and-herb cheese, mozzarella, runny eggs and black pepper.

3. Spaghetti Carbonara Pie

Something very awesome happens to pasta when it’s baked into a pie: It stays soft yet al dente in the middle, and its edges get a delicate golden brown crust. This version of carbonara is brightened up with chopped broccoli rabe; but don’t worry, it still has plenty of pancetta and cheese.

4. Quick Creamy Gnocchi Carbonara

Have you ever seen such a beautiful sight? It gets even prettier when you realize it comes together in minutes with pre-made gnocchi and a luscious sauce of cream cheese, Parmesan and bacon bits.

5. Creamy Parmesan Carbonara Chicken

This chicken dinner is free of pasta and eggs, but it satisfies any craving for carbonara with its ultra-creamy sauce, served over crispy chicken breasts. You’ll want to drizzle extra spoonfuls on your serving, making sure you don’t skimp on the bacon pieces.

6. Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Carbonara gets a low-carb twist when it’s made with soft strands of spaghetti squash. That’s code for: you don’t have to feel guilty when you go back for a second plate.

7. Carbonara Arancini

Arancini are a crave-worthy Italian street snack of fried rice balls. They often feature tomato and mozzarella, but you should definitely make yours alla carbonara: with pancetta, pecorino, eggs and parsley.

8. Carbonara Mac ‘n’ Cheese Souffle

Beneath that golden brown, parsley-flecked crust lies the world’s gooeyist, most decadent, outrageously comforting mac and cheese. It’s oozing with white cheddar and Gruyere cheeses, speckled with bits of crispy bacon and flavored with just a hint of nutmeg. Sure, you could serve it with a side salad, but why waste your stomach real estate on greens when you have this thing of beauty?

9. Butternut Squash Carbonara with Fried Sage and Caramelized Onions

Need an autumnal dish? You’ve got one with this fettuccine carbonara, coated in a silky sauce of blended butternut squash and heavy cream. The pasta is tossed with pancetta, which cooks with onions to give them a salty, caramelized finish, and is finished with crispy fried sage leaves. No, you’re not the only one drooling.

10. Carbonara-Stuffed Potatoes with Crispy Pancetta

Carbonara has had enough time in the spotlight in this post, so let’s allow it to be a talented backup dancer for a moment. Flanking an Italian-inspired entree like steak or veal, it makes an appearance in baked potatoes with Parmesan, pancetta, scallions and runny eggs. 

11. Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemon

If you’re well accustomed to the bacon-and-eggy flavors of carbonara and want something with a little more complexity, look to leeks and lemon for pizazz. Golden brown leeks, cooked in bacon fat, offer an onion-like savory touch, and lemon adds brightness to the creamy sauce. 

12. Sweet Potato Carbonara with Spinach and Mushrooms

Decadent carbonara usually sends you straight to the couch for a post-meal nap, but it “achieves superfood status” when it’s made with spiralized sweet potatoes, spinach and mushrooms. Try this lightened-up version for the days you crave carbonara but need the energy level of a personal trainer.

13. Chicken Carbonara Soup

Warm even the most shriveled of souls with this cozy carbonara soup — thickened with milk, chicken stock, onion and flour, freshened with sun-dried tomato, and made hearty with bacon and penne pasta.

14. Carbonara au Gratin

A bacon-and-fontina crust adorns this creamy baked carbonara, made extra exciting with twirly corkscrew pasta that any kid would love.

Featured Image: Pixabay

Tags: bacon, carbonara, dinner recipes, eggs, Italian Food, pasta
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5 Exciting, Summery Ways To Mix Up Your Weeknight Dinners (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

Look, I get it. You need a quick bite for dinner, but you’re just so dang tired of the same old thing, over and over again. Chicken, veggies, rice. Spaghetti. Frozen burritos. Takeout.

While there are so many delicious iterations of these meals, you might just want a few nights off from your tried-and-true staples, whatever they may be. 

Here are some great ways to break the monotony during the week:

1. Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Chops With Polenta and Tomatoes

If pork chops sound bland and dry, then you aren’t cooking them right! With smoked cheese and a bit of anchovy paste, you get a seriously savory kick of flavor that goes beautifully with the bright, acidic tomatoes. Want to make them even more tender? Ditch the broiler and use the slow-cooker instead like so.

2. Charred and Raw Corn with Chile and Cheese

With lime, cilantro, chile rings and fresh Cotija cheese, you might just get addicted to this summer staple. If you want to make things a little more filling, consider serving this alongside Grilled Tequila Garlic Lime Flank Steak. P.S. The same marinade goes great with tofu, too!

3. BBQ Eggplant Sandwiches With Provolone and Mushrooms

This recipe suggests broiling your eggplant, but you can also get fabulous results on the grill for a more summer-friendly version. Here’s how to do that.

4. Healthy-ish Cheesy Vegan Nachos

I don’t know about you, but I could eat nachos every single day if I could get away with it. This healthier veggie-packed version allows you to enjoy nachos way more often while still feeling great afterward too!

5. Crustless Spinach Quiche

Toss in some crumbled breakfast sausage, bacon, leftover chicken and/or some cooked veggies like broccoli, red peppers or asparagus if you’d like to make it even more filling.

Featured Image: Max Pixel

Tags: dinner recipes, easy recipe, summer dinners, weeknight dinner, weeknight recipes
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14 ‘Chopped’-Inspired Recipes You Should Make For Dinner


By Cooking Panda

If you’ve seen the fast-paced, high-energy Food Network cooking competition, “Chopped,” you know the show’s basket ingredients sound gross and sometimes downright terrifying on their own — but can end up producing some surprisingly elegant and delicious dishes.

You won’t find canned chicken or Spam on this recipe list, compiled from Food Network’s “Chopped”-inspired recipes, granted, but read on to see how ingredients like pickle juice and almond butter can give you delightfully unique dinners. Here is a list of some chopped recipes.

1. Steak and Black Bean Chalupas

Have a steak feast on the cheap with these cube steak chalupas, crispy and filled to the bursting with spicy seasoned meat, soft and flavorful black beans, and refreshingly sweet chili-lime mango.

2. Camembert and Ham Bread Pudding

This soothing bread pudding packs all the flavors of a sophisticated cheese plate — a baguette, ham, camembert cheese, apple and even white wine — into convenient little ramekins.

3. Almond Chicken Satay

Extra rich and textured almond butter replaces the classic peanut flavor in this quick and easy dish. Chicken is bathed in a creamy sauce of almond butter, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, snap peas and more — and the mixture is thrown over a generous plate of vermicelli noodles.

4. Spaghetti with Sauteed Collards and Bacon

Collard greens are an essential ingredient in this pasta dish, complete with crispy pancetta, garlic, red pepper flakes and plenty of olive oil and Parmesan.

5. Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Plums with Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce

A creamy, tangy sauce of goat cheese and Greek yogurt mingles pleasantly with sweet grilled plums and juicy pork tenderloin. The elements marry on a bed of perfectly bitter arugula.

6. Butter Roasted Chicken with Grit Waffles

Chicken and waffles gets a gourmet makeover with buttery, peppery, oven-roasted chicken thighs and drumsticks, placed over golden grits-based waffles and drizzled with chipotle-infused maple syrup.

7. Grapefruit and Honey Salmon

This sweet and citrusy salmon makes a healthy meal in a pinch. It comes together with salmon fillets, grapefruit and just five other ingredients you probably already have in the pantry.

8. Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole

Creamy, comforting chicken pot pie is made even more scrumptious with a crispy tater-tot crust. Pulse store-bought tots in a food processor with thyme, sprinkle the mixture over the casserole, and enjoy the mingling of the crumbly crust with bubbling filling. You’ll never go back to plain pie crust again.

9. Pickled Shrimp and Fried Tomatoes

Leftover pickle juice is reborn in this uniquely delicious dish of pickled shrimp, fried tomatoes and creamy dill pickle dressing. The tangy, briny ingredients work marvelously with versatile shrimp and the tomatoes’ cornmeal coating.

10. Caesar T-Bone Steak with Stout Pan Sauce

This steak-and-potato dinner will help you finally understand what the heck the “umami” flavor craze is all about. Rubbed with garlic-anchovy paste and served with a sauce of stout beer and Worcestershire, the steak will taste different (in a good way, of course) from anything you’ve ever had before.

11. Carbonara Stuffed Potatoes with Crispy Pancetta

Want to enjoy the flavor of carbonara — eggy, cheesy, bacony goodness — but aren’t in the mood for pasta? Try it in these hearty baked potatoes, perfect for brunch or as a generous side to an Italian meat dish.

12. Chestnut Ravioli with Browned Butter and Thyme

Pureed canned chestnuts (yes, canned, apparently) and ricotta make a smooth filling for these wonton ravioli, swimming in a browned butter sauce with garlic and thyme and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

13. Curried Pot Pies

This filling and warming vegetarian dish gets flavor from coconut milk and butter, ginger, curry powder, lime and jalapeno. The sauce coats cubed zucchini and tofu, and it’s all topped off with a crown of panko breadcrumbs.

14. Banana Chip Crusted Jerk Pork Chops

Slightly sweet banana chips coat these spicy jerk pork chops, served over cooling white rice and black beans for a complete Jamaican-inspired meal.

Source: Food Network / Featured photo credit: PixabayTags: Chopped, chopped recipes, dinner recipes, food network, unique dinner, unique ingredients
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7 Exciting Ways To Eat Chickpeas For Meatless Monday (Recipes)


By Cooking Panda

It’s Meatless Monday!

Going meat-free once a week can help save tons of water and fossil fuels, and it might also reduce the risk of certain health conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Of course, there’s no denying that you know what’s best for your body and your diet, so if you can’t or don’t want to cut out meat entirely, you’re more than welcome to observe Sustainable Mondays (with locally sourced meat and veggies) or Less-Meat Mondays.

Either way, if you’re looking for an affordable meatless main or side that’s packed with enough protein to actually fill you up, consider the delightfully underrated chickpea aka garbanzo bean. This versatile, savory legume is cheap, easy to get your hands on and simple to cook with.

Here are some of the best things you can do to chickpeas:

1. Soy-Free Vegan Benedict

From the creamy cashew hollandaise sauce to the spiced chickpea patties, this filling dish is absolutely magical, especially when it sits atop a toasted English muffin, a thick tomato slice and some completely spellbinding shiitake bacon (or pork/turkey/soy if you’d rather). Serve with some veggies on the side and you have a perfectly rounded meal.

2. One Bite Falafel Kebabs

These are super fresh, healthy and adorable. Perfect party bites. If you want your patties to be a little crispier, you can fry them on medium high in an oil-coated pan.

3. Baked Broccoli Burgers 

This might sound weird, but broccoli, chickpeas, couscous and onions combine to make a really delicious and hearty vegan veggie patty with a perfectly textured bite and tons of nutrition. Top with tahini dressing and you’ll be head over heels in love with this meatless burger. Serve with:

4. Chickpea Fries with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

All right, this might not be the most rounded meal, but these crispy on the outside, soft on the inside protein-packed fries are absolutely irresistible dipped in the yogurt mint sauce, and they’ll go great with the veggie burger.

5. Stuffed Falafel Balls

If for some strange reason you find falafel to be boring, go stuff them with tons of cheese and roasted peppers and then come back and we’ll talk.

6. Spicy Chickpea and Sour Tomato Curry with Noodles

Do try and find tamarind, but if you can’t, you can substitute equal parts lime juice and brown sugar. On that note, if the tamarind is a little too sour for you, add a pinch of sugar to balance out the taste.

7. Falafel Wraps with Grilled Veggies and Salsa

Look, you don’t need to eat your falafel patties in pita pockets every darn time. Get a little variety in your life and taco-fy this lovely food.

Featured Photo Credit: Jules/Flickr

Tags: affordable dinner, chickpea recipe, dinner recipes, Meatless Monday, vegetarian recipes
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You Absolutely Must Make These 7 Exciting Dinners


By Cooking Panda

We don’t ever want you to stress when pondering the age old question, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” Dinner should always be a source of excitement, and we’re here to make it easy for you. As a sign of our undying friendship, we rounded up seven solid recipes that, yes, you should absolutely make for dinner this week. You’re welcome.

1. Avocado Stuffed with Spicy Shrimp

Want a super quick dinner? Stuff an avocado half with shrimp and mango. It’s that simple! If you want to go a little more elaborate, you can totally bake or grill the avocado half first for next-level deliciousness.

2. Chickpea, Barley and Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Mint and Feta

A quick vegetarian meal that is super healthy but tastes incredibly decadent.

3. Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks are affordable and so tender and delicious when braised. But traditional braising methods can require a lot of time and attention, so keep it simple and use a slow cooker instead.

4. Steak in Whiskey Mushroom Sauce

Got some inexpensive whiskey that you just haven’t been able to finish? Turn it into an excellent steak sauce. If you’re on a budget or steak isn’t your thing, you can swap it out for ground beef patties, chicken, tofu… whatever you’re in the mood for. This is a pretty versatile sauce.

5. Ramen Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Peas

This is not a drill, and we’re not joking. This recipe is not only cheap and way easier to make than traditional gnocchi, but it’s also adapted from world-renowned chef David Chang. The ramen noodles give it that extra classy zing, and the vegetables will make you feel like you aren’t dying on the inside when you eat this. But forget about all that, because it’s super delicious.

6. Vietnamese Loaded Fries

Ok, this isn’t exactly the healthiest of dinners either, but it’s totally worth it. If you need more veggies to justify eating (delicious) loaded fries as a meal, dump some shredded cabbage and quick pickled carrots and daikon on top. There. Better?

7. Wild Arugula Salad with Pears

If you’re going to have a salad for dinner (perhaps to atone for the ramen gnocchi or Vietnamese fries?), you might as well make it with arugula, hazelnuts and pears. If you need more protein, top it with any kind of sliced pork, chicken or your veggie protein of choice. Use leftovers, or cook your protein in this tangy, savory raspberry sauce.

Featured Photo Credit: Steamy Kitchen

Tags: dinner recipes, one pot dinner, quick dinner, recipe list, weeknight dinner
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7 Satisfying Dinners You Can Make This Week


By Cooking Panda

1. One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake

If you can’t make up your mind whether you want French onion soup or pasta, look no further. This savory, creamy dish will definitely satisfy you.

2. Grilled Mango Chicken with Strawberry Mango Salsa

This healthy, sweet-savory dish is perfect for the coming spring and summer months.

3. Bacon and Brussels Sprout “Pizzas”

Sourdough bread takes the place of pizza crust for a super easy but flavorful and delicious way to eat your vegetables.

4. Skillet Mac and Cheese (Pizza Style)

Pizza and mac and cheese in one dish is the ultimate comfort food. Kids and adults alike will go crazy for this.

5. Blackened Salmon Burgers With Herbed Cream Cheese

Make these any time you need a quick meal that will impress. They are seriously delicious but take less than 30 minutes to make.

6. Thai Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce

As the weather heats up, you might find yourself craving fresh, light and healthy food. If you don’t have cashew butter lying around, you can never go wrong with peanut butter. Add a couple drops of fish sauce to your dipping mixture for a major umami boost.

7. Hawaiian Chicken Fajitas

Make these ahead and you’ll really score – not only will the fajitas marinate longer for a huge flavor punch, but you’ll be able to cook them in no time on a busy night.

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

Tags: dinner recipes, easy recipes for the week, one pot dinner, recipes, what to make for dinner
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