Grill Gifts for Dad

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Father’s Day happens to perfectly coincide with grilling season.  What dad doesn’t love grilled meat? If you’re still looking for a Father’s Day gift (or aren’t sure what to make for dinner!), mix up some of these grill rubs.  For dads, just package it up, maybe add a gourmet sauce or some new grill tools and you have a gift he’s sure to love.

“Hugh’s Dry Rub Recipe” (from here):

  • 1 Tbsp & 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. and 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme

BBQ Spice Rub (from here):

  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • < 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Italian Rub Recipe:

  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dry basil
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt (sea salt or kosher salt are best)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
For best results, apply each rub to meat 20 minutes before cooking.
For more ideas, you can also check out my list of great gifts for dads on a bare-bones budget.

White Wine Chicken

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy cooking from America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. Not only do they test every possible aspect of a recipe to make it as delicious as possible, but they also explain anything and everything you’d ever want to know about cooking. For the first couple years I was cooking on my own, I always followed recipes to a tee, but as I’ve used these cookbooks more, I’ve gotten more comfortable experimenting in the kitchen and adapting recipes to serve my family’s tastes and to use what we have on hand.

One of our favorite recipes that has resulted from my experimentation is white wine chicken. It’s based off the red wine sauce from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best 30-Minute Recipe, but (obviously) I’ve changed it a bit.

simple recipes

White Wine Chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled
  • Thyme

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and sauté with olive oil in a skillet.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a plate and cover it loosely with foil.  (This helps the crust on the outside of the chicken from getting soggy and keeps it warm while you make the sauce.)

Add 1/4 tsp salt and the minced onion and garlic to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion softens (about 2 minutes).

Stir in the wine, 1 1/4 cups of broth, and brown sugar, scraping any browned bits off the skillet to mix in with the sauce.

Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes, until it measures about 1 cup.

Whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of broth, then whisk them into the sauce.  Add any juices that have accumulated on the plate where the chicken has been resting. Let the sauce simmer for about 2 minutes more, until the sauce has thickened.

Here’s the best part – Reduce the heat to low and add the cold butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time.  This makes the sauce especially smooth and delicious.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme and pour over the cooked chicken to serve. We like to eat this with rice and broccoli.


If you’re wondering, yes, this recipe really does only take 30 minutes to make! Another of my favorite recipes from the same cookbook is Teriyaki Chicken.


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Bread Salad

I have a weakness for bakery bread. When I’m not dipping it in cheese fondue, I love to eat it plain, smothered in butter (especially Irish butter!), or dipped in olive oil.  So, my sister’s recipe for bread salad is one of my favorite simple recipes. And, since its called “salad”, it’s totally healthy, right? bread salad

This recipe is super easy to throw together. (You’ll want to make it right before serving because the bread will get soggy otherwise.)

Bread Salad:

  • 1 lb. bread – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, 3/4 inch diced
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves or parsley, torn or cut into small pieces

Whisk vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl.

Gently toss in tomatoes and herbs.

Pour over bread and toss to coat.


Chicken Soups

Nothing soothes a sore throat or upset stomach quite like chicken soup and it’s super easy to make at home. I’ve tried quite a few different recipes and landed on two favorites — one more traditional (and probably better for sick days) and one a bit more “gourmet” and just as delicious.

First, the traditional one, adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It – Feasting with your Slow Cooker:

Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup:

  • 5 cups hot water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 46 ounces of chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup thinly chopped carrots
  • Assorted spices – I usually add a little bit of oregano and basil for some extra flavor.  Garlic is yummy too!
  • 4 cups uncooked noodles

Pour all ingredients except the noodles into the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. About 1/2 hour before the timer is done, add noodles and allow them to finish cooking with the rest of the soup.


My other favorite recipe comes from The Simple Wife. I’ve never tried it in the crockpot, but I’m sure the recipe could be adapted. The wine adds a unique flavor and Joanne recommends homemade noodles, which are actually really easy and delicious!

(Side note: If you’re not familiar with The Simple Wife blog, you should check it out. Along with this delicious soup recipe, she has a lot of ideas for simplifying life as mom, wife, and home manager and her faith has been an encouragement to me for years. About 18 months ago, she suffered a major stroke and now the blog shares details of how to pray for her and her family, as well as the beautiful picture of a family loving each other and God in the midst of hardship.)

soup recipes

Joanne’s Chicken Noodle Soup:

  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Italian seasoning (I use basil, oregano, and thyme)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chicken stock (homemade is much better than the packaged type!)
  • Chicken
  • White wine
  • Noodles (Joanne suggests making your own, but I normally just use boxed noodles. They’re not as good, but cut out a couple steps for me.)

Chop the onions, carrots, and celery and saute them in olive oil until they’re browned.  Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and italian spices.  To thicken the broth, add a little flour and stir.

Add broth (preferably homemade) and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken and let it cook. I put whole chicken breasts in raw and let it simmer with the lid on for awhile. The chicken picks up all the yummy flavors as it cooks and when it’s done cooking, I pull it out, chop it up, and then add it back into the pot.

Dump in a full bottle of wine (or pour yourself a glass first… I won’t tell.)

Add the noodles and let them cook for about 10 minutes.

As I mentioned in my post about planning for mom’s sick days, I make extras of these soups and freeze them for when I’m sick later in the season.  Freezer soups are also a great gift to give a friend when she’s sick!

Do you have a favorite soup recipe? We had buffalo chicken soup at a restaurant recently and it was incredible – I’m planning to try my hand at it soon and will share the recipe here if it turns out well!

Teriyaki Chicken Recipe

Teriyaki chicken, broccoli, and rice has been one of our favorite meals lately.  I’d never made my own teriyaki sauce until recently, but it’s surprisingly easy and hands-down the best teriyaki sauce I’ve ever had.  And, it’s much less expensive to make this at home than to get take out.

The recipe originally comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Best 30-Minute Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit our tastes.  Mostly, this means I use chicken breasts instead of thighs (because I don’t like messing with the bone) and I use much more garlic.  In our house, more garlic is always better.  The original recipe also includes 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger, but, oddly enough, Beach Dad and I are both allergic to ginger.

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Chicken Teriyaki: 

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry (you can also use mirin or white wine)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (the original recipe calls for 1. Like I said, more garlic means more delicious.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Broccoli
  • Rice

Slice the chicken breasts into cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chicken.

cooking chicken stirfry

Brown over medium heat, stirring and flipping occasionally until the chicken is cooked through.

Mix the soy sauce, sugar, sherry, garlic, cornstarch, and red pepper to make the sauce. (I mix it all in a measuring cup to save on dishes.)

When the chicken is done cooking, transfer it to a bowl.

Whisk the sauce and pour it all into the (now empty) skillet. Over medium heat, heat the sauce and stir it occasionally, allowing it to thicken a bit.

While the sauce is thickening, lightly steam the broccoli. (I normally just put it in a bowl with some water in the microwave for about 2-4 minutes.)

When the broccoli is done, add both the chicken and broccoli to the frying pan with the sauce and mix it all up.

Serve with rice and enjoy! 

DIY Cheese Fondue

Our favorite cheese fondue recipe

I’ve told y’all before about how Beach Dad and I love to have fondue date night at home after the kids go to bed.  We usually do one course a night and, while Beach Dad prefers to eat meat fondue for dinner, I prefer the cheese fondue.  I’m a sucker for delicious bakery bread and dipping it in cheese just makes it that much more yummy! Here’s our favorite cheese fondue recipe (based off of how the Melting Pot restaurant makes it):

Cheddar Cheese Fondue: 

  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (we like it extra garlic-y)
  • 4 shakes mustard powder
  • 8+ oz. cheese, shredded
  • 3 shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • ground pepper

Pour the beer and minced garlic into the fondue pot and heat it over low temperature until just barely bubbling. Shake in mustard powder and gradually add the shredded cheese, stirring until melted after each addition.  We usually end up adding a little more than 8 oz of cheese to get it the consistency we like.  Once the cheese is all melted, add Worcestershire sauce and ground pepper to taste.

We generally just dip bread, but apples, carrots, and broccoli are also yummy.

You can make this without a fondue pot, but the pot is really helpful to keep the cheese melted and hot while serving it on the table.  We love ours!

I’m sure this isn’t the healthiest meal we could eat, but it sure is a delicious treat after the kids are asleep. They like it too, but something about fondue feels romantic and is more fun for date nights.

Do you have any favorite recipes for date night at home? How about a delicious bakery-style bread recipe I could try? I’d love to make my own, but haven’t found a recipe I like yet, so normally buy from our local bakery.

Just so you know, if you buy the fondue pot through the link above, you’ll be helping to support  As always, I only vouch for products I really love.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

Crockpot Recipes: BBQ Chicken

The hour between 4 and 5 is consistently our hardest time of day.  I feel like I’m watching the clock as I wait for Beach Dad to come home, scramble to prepare dinner, and juggle the girls during what moms often refer to as “The Witching Hour”.  I’ve been in search of ways to make this challenging hour more enjoyable for us all.  The main solution I’ve found so far is to prepare dinner ahead of time.  This way I can play with the girls during their difficult time of day rather than try to cook dinner. I’m planning to make a bunch of make-ahead meals with a friend in a few weeks (I’ll let y’all know how it goes!), but until then, I’m experimenting with my crockpot.  When I can throw the ingredients in the slow cooker before lunch time and let it do its thing to get our dinner ready, our evenings go much more smoothly.  And, it almost feels like someone else has made me dinner – which is always a treat!  Our favorite crockpot recipe is BBQ chicken and I think you’ll enjoy it too:

My recipe is based off of this recipe, but I have combined it with this homemade Italian dressing recipe.  You could prepare the Italian dressing ahead of time (or use 1/4 cup of store-bought), but I prefer to just throw it all in the crockpot at once.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken

  • 6 Chicken breasts
  • 12 oz. BBQ sauce (I use Trader Joe’s All Natural Barbecue Sauce – yum!)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Almost 1/4 cup vinegar (I usually use apple cider vinegar, but any kind will work)
  • Just over 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Shake of black pepper
  • Shake of dried thyme
  • Shake of dried basil
  • 1/4 Tbsp. salt

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Shred the chicken before cooking it for another 10-20 minutes to make sure it’s all nice and saucy. (The easiest way I’ve found to shred it is in the Kitchen Aide for about 30 seconds with the beater attachment.)  Serve on hamburger buns.  Enjoy!

Do you have any favorite crockpot recipes? I’m always in search of good ones!

Linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap.