Archive for Menu Ideas

Easter Menu Ideas

Easter is just around the corner. As we have done for previous holidays, we are going to bring you both of our Easter menus in one post. You can get all of the ideas in one place, and hopefully enjoy a laugh or two as you will see, yet again, how two very different people with unique cooking styles can both serve an amazing holiday meal! 

Melissa’s Easter Menu:

Well, I still don’t know how many I am serving for Easter yet but I just created my menu! Last year’s Easter dinner was fantastic and it was hard not to just make that entire menu again! But, I write for a food blog so I better try something different.

Since Denise won’t cook a poor wittle lamby, I will! So delicious! This is also one of those things that when you ate it as a kid and when you eat it now, it is completely different. I adore just about all cuts of lamb, but for Easter, we will make a roasted leg of lamb.

I’m also going to make some deviled eggs because everyone loves deviled eggs!! Right?! I’ll give them an Easter twist by coloring the cooked egg whites. The kids can have fun with that (I got the idea from a Pinterest photo).

For those who don’t like deviled eggs, I’ll make a traditional caprese salad with some of the best buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever eaten! Yum!!

To enjoy a taste of spring, I’m going to mix snow peas, sugar snap peas and green peas together with some bacon and some kind of vinaigrette. I was inspired by a Food Network recipe of these three veggies together in a cream sauce, but I’m going to nix the cream sauce part. Don’t get me wrong, nothing bad about a cream sauce, just trying to balance my menu so it’s not toooooo heavy.

How to Prepare Sugar Snap Peas

Next up, potatoes! Gotta have potatoes on Easter. I think there is a reference to it in the Gospels somewhere. Well, maybe not, but I’m going to do it anyway. I bought a giant bag of Yukon Gold’s this week for food I took to a friend so I need to finish those up. I’m thinking roasted garlic mashed potatoes made with ALL the cream and butter they deserve (see, that’s why I’m not doing the veggies in cream too!).

For dessert, I think we’ll keep it simple with apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  Gotta love apple pie!

apple pie with crumble topping


When you ate it as a kid? See…that explains it all. You developed a more sophisticated palate at a very early age. ~Denise

Yes, I was fortunate to be introduced to a lot of foods very early, but canned asparagus I detested!! Still do! It should be banned from stores. ~Melissa

Denise’s Easter Menu

So when Melissa told me over the phone about her “wittle lamby” crack, I told her that for Easter I was going to shove a beer can up a chicken’s butt and pop it on the grill to make Drunk Chicken. 1) I wanted to see what kind of reaction I would get out of her 2) I actually wasn’t kidding.

drunken chicken

We are having 12 people over for Easter and it’s very casual. Along with the drunk chicken, I am also making my ribs!!

BBQ Ribs

Amazing BBQ Ribs

I normally wouldn’t make Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers for Easter, but they are a favorite of some of our guests, so I couldn’t resist.

Jalapeños with cream cheese and bacon

Friends are bringing a couple different appetizers (deviled eggs are a definite…and these are with bacon) and I’m going to round it out with Roasted Chickpeas and a small charcuterie tray with marinated artichokes and hearts of palm.

The Gospel tells Melissa to make potatoes for Easter. It tells me to make the most amazing rice dish known to mankind. It’s an old family recipe (and yes…unsharable) that is only made on special occasions. At most, I had it twice a year growing up. Now it’s maybe once a year. It’s not the healthiest dish around, but it does fall under the category of “Last Meal Requests!”. Thanks to a good friend who shared an Epicurious email with me this week, I am also making snow peas with toasted almonds, which should be delicious with the meats and the rice. A friend is also bringing some sort of salad to round out the meal. 

As usual…I’ve got someone bringing dessert.

I wasn’t counting on you actually writing that you were shoving the beer can where the sun doesn’t shine! And you feel bad for my wittle lamby?! Oh, and I am going to have to talk to your family, aka the Syrian Mafia. What’s up with the no share policy?!? ~Melissa

I can just see the huge smile on your face as you cook that poor little lamb and probably wish you were the one taking it to the slaughter house. Syrian Mafia? No. Think of it similar to “Ancient Chinese Secret” ~ Denise

Here are some other great Easter Menu Ideas:

Scalloped Potatoes

Peas and Asparagus

Asparagus with Vinaigrette

Dijon Roasted Potatoes

Grilled Green Tomato Caprese

Whole Beef Tenderloin

Pork Loin with Mango Chutney

Roasted Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese

Lemonade Pie 

Menu for Special Dietary Needs : Interfaith Group of 66

Menu for special dietary needs

About a month ago, I was approached by the director of an interfaith group called World Pilgrims to see if McNack’s was interested in catering a dinner for their group. Although we don’t typically cater, the group was so interesting, we decided to make an exception. See, this organization brings together folks from many different religions so that they may work together to better understand each other’s religious views and go on joint pilgrimages together. The group consists of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and more.

With this combination of religions came a fairly long list of special dietary needs. Certainly no beef or pork. About a dozen in the group kept Kosher. A few vegans also. Oh, and one allergic to garlic!

Denise and I put our heads together and came up with this great meal. We served 66 delightfully appreciative pilgrims without dairy, beef, pork, fish (they had that at their last meeting), or garlic! And it still tasted good!! How about that?!

Menu for special dietary needs:

dietary restrictions Denise in the kitchen[/caption]

Meat and Potatoes Menu Idea – Comfort Food

meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts

Just a couple of days ago, it was supposed to be Spring already but the weather was just not cooperating. On yet another too cold and too wet day here in Atlanta, I needed something comforting. Meat and potatoes go together like Tweedledee and Tweedledum and they make me happy.

So, dinner consisted of me deciding to eat a couple of Denise’s recipes because we don’t get to try each others food very often and serve it with some deliciously creamy mashed potatoes.

If you are still somewhere cold, this may be just the meal for you tonight because it just doesn’t taste the same when it is 83 and sunny (the weather today in Atlanta).

meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts

Meatloaf  (without the bacon since I was adding prosciutto to the sprouts)

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto – because if I’m going to have a green veggie with my meat and potatoes menu then it needs to have some pork!

Mashed Potatoes (I wanted something more comforting so I made them with cream and butter and milk instead of Greek yogurt and chicken stock like I usually do…sometimes you just need the fat to warm you up!)

Ahhh. This was just what the doctor ordered. I’ll hit the gym extra hard tomorrow!!

Entire Meal on the Grill: Beef tenderloin, corn and green vegetable – One Dish, Two Ways

We were excited to have a new ‘battle’ this week to highlight our different cooking styles and have some opportunities to jab at each other for your enjoyment! So here is this week’s challenge…

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One Dish, Two Ways: Beef Tenderloin, Corn on the Cob and Green Vegetable…all on the grill!

This week’s rules: We had to cook beef tenderloin, corn on the cob and a green vegetable of choice with the entire meal on the grill. Other than that, anything goes!

Denise came up with Salt Crusted Beef Tenderloin, Grilled Corn on the Cob, Grilled Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce and Grilled Mushrooms in Butter. She figured that if Melissa can make up her own rules of grilling what was supposed to be a roasted chicken in last week’s challenge, then Denise can make a Hollandaise sauce on the stove for the asparagus and a side of delicious mushrooms!

Melissa decided that if Denise was going to play it so safe, she was going to have to step it up a notch. At least this time Denise didn’t whine about not having any time to cook. Oh, and cooking a chicken in dry heat at high temperature without direct contact with a heating element is called ROASTING, not grilling. But, Melissa digresses….back to the meal.

Melissa went with a Mexcian/Spanish themed meal  ALL on the grill and with nothing instant!! She stuffed the filet mignon with fresh spinach and Manchego cheese, topped it with a roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa and served it with Mexcian street food style grilled corn. Notice, no where in the description did Melissa mention opening a jar of anything or worse, a package of dehydrated dry stuff. Just keep that in mind as you read the recipes.

We would love to know which one of these dishes you would ACTUALLY make at home…Denise’s or Melissa’s. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two!!!

All the recipes will be posted in the next few days and be sure to read through them for more fun and antics!

Previous One Dish, Two Ways: Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Kale

Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Kale – One Dish, Two Ways

This is our official inaugural “One Dish, Two Ways” post! People love our varying cooking styles and love a good laugh of the two of us bantering back and forth. So, here goes….

drum roll please….. (listen for the sound of drums rolling and trumpets announcing, you know what we’re talking about!)

One Dish, Two Ways: Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Kale!

Rules: We had to roast the chicken but we did not give each other any specifics on the preparation of the potatoes or the kale, just that it had to be part of the dish. Here is how it went down…

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Denise was running all over town with work meetings and kid stuff the first week we decided to do this and was pressed on time. Isn’t that life? Since she was only able to “prepare the meal” and leave the actual cooking to her 12 year old daughter, it had to be real simple, yet delicious! She opted for Lemon Pepper Roasted Chicken, Sauteed Kale in Coconut Oil and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Melissa opted to make a roasted beer can chicken with a different kind of spice rub, something less traditional. Accompanying the roasted chicken was a fresh kale salad with apples, feta, broccoli slaw and a poppy seed vinaigrette. (Denise – please note that it was a bottle vinaigrette and bag of broccoli slaw!!! See, I can do it!). In order to keep it ‘different’ from Denise,  the potato side dish was a traditional French preparation of a Potato Galette with a slight twist by adding both white and sweet potatoes.

Ok, so here is how it starts! Denise has ‘no time’ and Melissa makes some kinda French preparation on the potatoes, uses a bunch of back shelf spices on her chicken, uses tools like mandolins and cast iron skillets, and makes chiffonades of kale? Can Denise get a “What? What?”  See what Denise has to put up with?

Now mind you, Melissa has ‘no time’ either but on this day she didn’t have to go to Lacrosse practice across town and then grab the other child and go to basketball either. Most of the time Melissa has her 5-6 time slot blocked out. This may be the story of our lives as working moms but we still got (by the miracle of a 12yr old) two hot, delicious and healthy meals on the table for the families.

When you see the recipes, even if kale is not your thing, read through to the bottom to make sure you see how well we can jab at each other. Please keep in mind, we are not fighting or mad at each other. We’ve been besties for almost 30 years because we love and embrace our differences. Let’s get this party started!!

Chili Garlic Glazed Salmon with Israeli Pearl Couscous, Sauteed Cabbage and Snow Peas

salmon with chili and garlic sauce

Well, isn’t this a walk through healthy but delicious and satisfying at the same time!!! I made this entire meal with about 2T of olive oil as the only fat and (in a rush with my chop on) did the entire meal in about 40 minutes!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Start to end time 40 min – 1 hr 

Ingredients for 4:


4 4-6oz filets of salmon

4T Chili Garlic Sauce

3T low-sodium soy sauce

salt and pepper

Snow Peas:

1 lb snow peas

4T Terriyaki sauce

1/4 cup water


1 head Napa cabbage, chopped

1 leek, sliced into thin rings and rinsed

2T Olive oil

1/2t Anise Seed

1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

2T rice wine vinegar

1T sesame oil

salt and pepper


2 cups Israeli Pearl Couscous

4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Parchment paper for super easy cleanup

How to make chili garlic glazed salmon and all those yummy sides:

Chili Garlic Glazed Salmon:

Place the salmon filets on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the chili garlic sauce with the soy sauce in a small bowl then evenly spoon over the salmon filets and spread all over. Preheat oven to Broil. When the cabbage is done (see below), and the couscous is added to the boiling stock, put the salmon in the oven. Depending on the thickness of the salmon, it will take 5-8 minutes to cook. I like my salmon ‘medium-rare’. Cook it longer and it tastes like canned salmon to me.

Snow Peas:

Prepare snow peas like this . Let them soak in cold water as long as you can (why I started their prep first) and then in the last 5 minutes of total meal cook time (after salmon has been in the oven a couple of minutes), place in skillet with about 1/4 cup of water, turn on high and steam for about 3-4 min then drain remaining water and add your favorite teriyaki sauce, stir and they are ready to serve.


I essentially did something like the link but did add some anise seed, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to just give it a touch of Asia flavor. In order of events, this was my second item to prep and the first to start cooking since it takes the longest and holds the best.

Israeli Pearl Couscous:

The key here is to cook 1 cup of couscous to 1 1/4 cup of CHICKEN STOCK. No butter needed. No salt needed. Don’t use water and you’ll be well rewarded. It takes about 10 minutes to cook once you add it to the boiling stock and you’ll want to drain any remaining liquid when the couscous is done.

salmon with chili and garlic sauce

Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the salmon

Don’t overcook the couscous

Don’t overcook the snow peas

tee hee hee hee

Got Leftovers?:

If I have leftover salmon, I will flake it up, mix with some mayo and Greek yogurt, capers, Dijon, etc and eat it with some crackers or on a salad.

Leftovers Menu Idea: BBQ Pork, Skillet Corn, Sugar Snap Peas and Hasselback Potatoes

I had a rough work day last week that kept me from thinking anything about dinner but too tired to want to get the family back in the car to eat out. So, what to do, what to do! This is what my husband likes to call ‘scrounging’ and I am very thankful for a family that lets me have these kinds of nights every once in a while.

leftovers menu idea

Level of Difficulty: Easy Time Required: Prep Time – 15min; Cook Time – 45 min


BBQ Pork Tenderloin – leftover grilled pork tenderloin, sliced really thin and heated in BBQ sauce Leftover Skillet Corn Sugar Snap Peas with Terriyaki sauce Hasselback potatoes made with some Yukon gold potatoes I had at the house


The recipes have the details, but here are some bigger picture things. The potatoes will take the longest, so get them cut and in the oven. While they cook, you’ll have more than enough time to get everything else heated, the table set and the wine opened. Next up should be the sugar snap peas. You can prep them and have them ready to go for their last minute cook time. Everything else (corn and pork) were leftovers. They only take a few minutes at the end to reheat.

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