amy fischer dinner plate

Dinner plate of creamy chicken, past and broccoli

No doubt your family has favorites. A favorite meal that everyone enjoys, a favorite snack or pantry item, or a particular restaurant that ranks at the top of the list. Maybe it’s a food custom or tradition. Heinz 57 sauce (or maybe mayonnaise) with French fries. Burger King but not McDonald’s. At my house, for example, we tend to generously sprinkle Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on most of our vegetables, from baked potatoes and squash to corn on the cob and sliced onions. We love Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Lay’s potato chips, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. At mealtime, we enjoy any dish that involves chicken and cheese, and broccoli and pasta are common side items. Whatever your family’s taste preferences might be, plan a meal around those foods, and, if you find that you are cooking more than you expected to, then freeze the leftovers for serving at later time. Your family members will appreciate the extra effort you put into preparing their favorites.

Mini Farfalle Pasta

Prepare 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions.

To serve, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Chicken in Cream Sauce

4 large boneless chicken breasts, about 3 lbs.

2-2 ½ TBSP. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. garlic, minced

½ tsp. onion powder

¾ cup heavy cream

1-2 TBSP. salted butter

½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)

¾ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup baby spinach, chopped

Dash of paprika

Cut the chicken breasts horizontally all the way through and then slice into strips. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder. Use an electric skillet or large sauté pan to heat the olive oil on medium-high heat; cook the chicken until each side is golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes on each side. Add more oil to the pan if cooking the chicken in two batches. Remove the cooked chicken and keep warm. To the pan, add the heavy cream, butter, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese and stir well over medium heat. When the sauce has thickened, turn the heat to low, add the chopped spinach and paprika and simmer until the spinach has wilted. If the sauce gets too thick, add a tablespoon of the pasta water.

Zesty Broccoli

12 oz. bag of fresh broccoli florets

1 ½ TBSP. water

1 TBSP. olive or vegetable oil

1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. minced garlic

¼ tsp. Creole seasoning

Place broccoli and water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and cook on high for 5-7 minutes. Combine the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.

Coconut-Caramel Squares

This dessert will need to be refrigerated for one hour before serving, so prepare it first!

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick salted butter, melted

½ TBSP. sugar

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (7 oz.) package sweetened flaked coconut

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (can use a combination of chips with a chopped semisweet chocolate bar)

½ cup butterscotch morsels

Caramel topping/sauce

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Stir together the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, chocolate chips, and butterscotch morsels; spread the mixture over the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and drizzle 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce over the top. Refrigerate for one hour before cutting into squares.

Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at

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