Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chicken & peppers

My new culinary obsession? Peppadew peppers. Sweet, a little kick, vinegary goodness. Here's what I'm doing with them tonight.

2 bone in/skin on chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 each red, green, yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
3-4 cloves garlic, rough chop
8-10 peppadew peppers, rough chop
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Grape tomatoes, halved (30 or so? About half or more of one of those plastic containers)
1/2 small bag of mixed baby potatoes (red, purple and yellow) halved or quartered, depending on size
2 glasses Pinot Gris or other dry, white wine (1 for you, 1 for the pot)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a big dutch oven, over med high heat, sear the chicken 3-4 min each side until golden/crispy. Set aside.

While the pan is still hot, sauté the onions for a minute or so. Once they're translucent and the pan has cooled slightly, toss in the peppers & garlic (you wanna cool off the pan because burnt garlic is bitter and awful). Sauté together for about 5 minutes. Add the baby potatoes and cook another 10 min. Then add the peppadews, thyme and tomatoes cooking just until heated through. Add in a glass of wine (and pour a new one for yourself). Bring to a boil, add a bit of water if the veggies are not mostly submerged. Snuggle the chicken atop the veggies and cover tightly. Cook at 400 for 25 minutes (check the chicken for doneness with a meat thermometer... Big pieces take longer).

When done, set the chicken on a board to cool, use a slotted spoon to pull out the veggies and place the broth over high heat. Reduce it until about a cup of liquid is left. You can thicken with a roux if needed. Bone the chicken and stir everything back together. if you have it, my husband wants you to throw in some chopped up grilled Italian sausage at this point. Some leftover ham is a nice, salty touch too.

Serve in shallow bowls with some crusty French bread. Sweet, spicy, rich and so colorful. I am totally obsessed with this meal.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pork tenderloin with pineapple mango salsa

My family went so crazy for this that I'm hauling myself out of a cold medicine stupor to post about it.
1 pork tenderloin (you could use chops or a loin too - just adjust the cooking time)
BBQ rub (I had some leftover but any purchased spice mix would be good)
Coat pork with rub, drizzle with olive oil and grill. Set aside to rest.

Into a medium bowl combine:
1 large, ripe mango, peeled, chopped
1 small can chopped pineapple (drained - this juice is a hot item at my house with husband & kid doing tricks to see who gets it)
Juice of one half lime
1 bunch fresh cilantro, clean & chop (you could use less but my family freaking loves cilantro)
Stir together and set aside until dinner time. Easy!

Make some white rice (I added in the zest of the lime along with the juice of the other half lime). Done

Serve the pork sliced atop the rice and then mound the salsa over it (if I'd had a jalapeño handy, I would've chopped and tossed in there..... Woulda been awesome).

My 7 yr old ate thirds. Thirds. Nicely done me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick Tuscan Style

Pork chops:
4 thin cut, bone in pork chops. Season with salt, pepper, spices (we used a rub for chicken tonight)

Grill. Done.

Tuscan White Beans:
2 cans canellini beans, rinse/drain
1 can diced tomatoes (including the juice)
Garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, thyme
Combine in sauce pan. Bring to simmer. Turn off heat, serve warm.

Sautéed spinach:
1 pig baby spinach
Olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper
Heat oil, garlic in pan. Add spinach and toss until wilted. Remove from heat. Serve.

Easiest dinner ever. Especially if your husband makes it, like mine did tonight. Thanks babe!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crazy Fusilli

Turns out there were no beet greens to be had at my grocery store (apparently I live in a culinary backwater).
So here is how you make it

1 pound fusilli (follow directions on package)
8 oz goat cheese, crumble & set aside

1 eggplant, sliced into slabs & grilled, then chop into bite sized pieces
1 zucChini, sliced, grilled then cut into bite sized pieces.

Sauté together:
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed & minced
1 red pepper, seeded, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained

I had some leftover sausages from lunch and a few kalamata olives so I tossed those in as well.

When the pasta is done, pull about a half cup of the water out and set aside.

Toss the pasta back into the pot with everything above and toss to combine. If it's too thick, add a bit of the pasta water and toss over the heat until it's all nice & creamy.

I love when I just wing it and it turns out yummy.

I'm baaaaaaack!

After a long, incredibly hot summer of salads, grilling out and vacations filled with corn-on-the-cob, bacon and ice cream I am back to the routine and ready for some cooler weather.

School has started and activities are in full swing so I may be calling an audible from time to time but here is the plan for this week. Happy first day of football to my wonderful husband. I know this is second only to Christmas for him.

Sunday: grilled Italian sausages, baked Caprese salad (okay... That was football snacks) and Fusilli with goat cheese tossed with grilled eggplant, peppers, zucchini and roasted tomatoes. Mmmmmm

Monday: grilled pork chops, baked sweet potato fries and sautéed spinach

Tuesday: karate night - eating out

Wednesday: chicken ranch salad

Thursday: BBQ turkey burgers

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Menu

Sunday: Cobb Nicoise Salad
Yeah - I totally confused these two salads in my head and came up with my own version. 

Monday: BLT & Egg Salad "Sandwich Bar"
A DIY Sandwich Bar with leftovers from Easter. 

Tuesday: David Sedaris & Dinner Out
Super excited to go see David Sedaris (Author of "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and others) so we'll be eating out.

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Broccoli & Sweet Potato Fries
Rain in the forecast all week (we need it, so I'm not complaining) so this may get pushed back or get made indoors.

Thursday: Taco Night
Who doesn't love Taco Night?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken Ranch Salad

The most exciting thing about this staple tonight was that all the cilantro and a tiny bit of the lettuce came from my garden.  I wasn't this proud when I gave birth!

1-2 Cups of chopped, cooked chicken (we used a leftover boneless/skinless breast we cooked on Monday)
BBQ Sauce (to taste)
Chop the chicken and pop in microwave with sauce for 30 seconds jut to take off the chill.

1 Bag salad greens (and a little bit of homegrown lettuce... I'm beyond excited about this gardening thing)
1 avocado, peeled/diced
1 can black beans, rinsed & well drained
1 can corn niblets well drained
Ranch Dressing
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro - chopped

That is it.  Simple Simon and everybody finishes it up.  Great with a tortilla but it's not necessary.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pork Stir Fry

A staple at our house. 

1 pkg boneless/thin-cut Pork Loin Chops

2-3 small zucchini, cut into half-moons
1 each red & yellow pepper, cut into small strips
1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons

1 tsp crushed garlic (2-3 cloves minced)
1 tsp crushed ginger
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB brown sugar
a few drops Asian Fish Sauce (don't spill it on anything - stinks like you would NOT believe!)
2 tsp rice vinegar

Cooked rice for serving.

In a large skillet, heat 2 TB Peanut Oil until shimmering & hot.  Add the pork and saute for about 2-3 minutes (until all pink is gone).  You can do this in a couple of batches if needed.  You don't want to crowd the pan because it will cool down and you'll wind up boiling the meat.  Gross.  When the meat is just done (and it doesn't have to be totally done - it's going back in the pan), pull it out and set aside.

Reheat the pan and add a bit more oil if needed.  Add the onion, cook for 1 min then add the peppers and cook one more minute and then add the zucchini.  Saute another 3-4 min (depending on how big you cut it, maybe a minute or so longer).  Add back in the pork and get everything hot then pour in the sauce mix.  Cook about 2 min then add the thickener if desired.  It will come together really fast so just pull it off the heat and serve over rice. 

** Put about 1 tsp corn starch into 1 tsp cold water and use to thicken at the end - if desired **

We serve this alongside some sriracha (rooster sauce) and sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds.

The color is off on my Blackberry so I may need to figure out a new way to take my photos... but here you go:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sausage & Peppers Pasta

The weather has a few stormy days possible this week so we took advantage of a nice (albeit HOT) evening to grill out tonight in case we can't do it later in the week.

This is my husbands invention and couldn't be easier - especially if you have someone else manning the grill!

2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts (use 1 tonight, save the other for a salad later in the week)
2 links Italian Sausage (we do 1 hot and 1 mild to appease the kid - your choice)
1/2 Yellow Onion, sliced in half moons
1 Yellow Pepper, cut into strips
1 Green Pepper, cut into strips
2 cans diced tomatoes (don't drain) - we like the fire roasted
2 cloves of garlic - peel/smash but don't chop (EASY!)
Oregano, Basil & Thyme to taste (I grabbed it out of our garden - but a 1/2 tsp each of dried would be good)
Parmesan Cheese - to taste

Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt & pepper then grill it alongside the sausage until each is just cooked through. 

Cook the pasta (we used penne) to package directions.

In a disposable aluminium pan combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and peppers.  Set this on the grill next to the meat and allow to cook the whole time.

When the chicken & sausage are cooked, slice them and toss into the sauce and cook another 5 minutes to combine the flavors.  Toss with the drained pasta (I do this right in the pot I cooked the pasta in - so it's still hot, and the pasta will soak up the juice/sauce).   If using fresh herbs, toss them in now along with a generous amount of parmesan cheese. 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree

This was recommended to my by my friend Dorea and I LOVE it.  It's a Giada De Laurentis recipe and it's incredibly simple.  This, to me, tastes like Spring.  The only difference from the way she does it is that we grill the fish because I hate the way fish makes my house smell and because, frankly, it's beautiful out, grilled tastes great AND that means my husband does it so it's less work for me.  Win.  Win.  Win.  (I'm like Charlie freakin' Sheen here today! )

Here's the link to Giada's recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/salmon-in-lemon-brodetto-with-pea-puree-recipe/index.html

I really hope you will try this.  It's so good and much easier than the name makes you think.

The Menu

Sunday: Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree
This one sounds weird and complicated but is actually simple, tastes amazing and looks SO fancy you will not believe it. 

Monday: Pork Stir Fry
Easy, standard to kick off a long week.  You could sub in chicken or tofu

Tuesday:  Chicken & Sausage Pepper Pasta
Bob made a variant of this last week and liked it so much he wanted me to try it. 

Wednesday: Asian Turkey Burgers
My whole family just LOVES these burgers.

Thursday: Chicken Ranch Salad
Another standby - Using the extra chicken from Tuesday means this is on the table in about 10 minutes.  Woot!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Greek Turkey Burgers

These were inspired by my cousin Whitney's comment about some Greek themed turkey burgers she had.  I felt inspired ... so here we go... THANKS WHIT!

1 pkg Ground Turkey Breast
1 Egg
2 TB bread crumbs
1 6 oz pkg fat free crumbled feta
1/4 tsp Thyme, Oregano, Salt & Pepper (or to taste)
Mix all together, mold into patties, spray with PAM and grill until juice runs clear (about 6 min/side).  Don't overcook or it'll get really dry.

1 English cucumber, washed and sliced as thin as you can do it
1/4 of a red onion, sliced super thin
1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 TB sugar
2 sprigs of fresh dill, if you have it.
Mix all together in a ziploc bag and set aside for 20 or so minutes. 

1/3 C Fat Free Greek Yogurt
1/4 C sundried tomatoes (julienne cut means you don't have to chop)
1/4 C Kalamata Olives - rough chop (just to ensure no pits - my husband ALWAYS finds a pit!)
1/2 tsp each thyme, oregano (use more if fresh - I happen to have these growing in my garden and fresh is really nice)
Mix all together and serve as a condiment on the burgers.

Serve on thin whole wheat buns (Like Deli Flats - We love the Orowheat ones) .

Spread the sauce over the bun, top with the burger and the put a BUNCH of pickles on top. 

NOTE: the pickles are pretty intense and are not to be eaten alone - they'll make you cough! - but they're really good with the rest of it - adding moisture to the burgers and cutting the yogurt sauce.   I thought these were super tasty and they have all those Greek flavors that we love. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicken Poblano Tacos

There are a few steps to this so it kinda seems like a lot - but you can skip whatever you like and make it your own.  This is how we do it:

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Cover liberally with rub and set aside for a half hour or so while you do other stuff. 
1/2 tsp each: chile powder, garlic, paprika, salt
1/4 tsp each: coriander, cumin, pepper

When the grill is hot, roast the two poblanos until black & blistered all over.  Put them into a paper bag, seal it up and wait 10 min.  Then peel off the charred skin and slice the soft peppers into strips.  Set aside.

1 can refried beans
Heat these up on top of the stove with about a TB of bacon grease.  It's worth it.  Really.

1/2 Cup Chopped tomatoes
Sour Cream (stir in some chili powder & lime juice if you want to "fancy it up")
Other terrific toppings:
Roasted corn (grill it then slice it off the cob)

Fill your tortillas & enjoy. 

The Menu

Sunday:  Chicken Poblano Tacos
Kind of like fajitas at home.  Grilled/sliced chicken breasts, roasted poblano peppers, guacamole and sour cream

Monday:  Greek Turkey Burgers
Got this idea from my cousin Whitney.  Ground Turkey with feta, olives and a red wine vinegar "pickle"

Tuesday:  Dinner Out
My daughter is in her "Spring Program" on Tuesday night so we'll be eating out after the late performance

Wednesday: Italian Sausages with peppers/onions and pasta
Sausages cooked on the grill then sliced and tossed with peppers/onions/tomatoes and pasta. 

Thursday:  Breakfast for Dinner
Soccer practice and Mommy out of town.... I"ll be lucky if they don't just go to Red Robin!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cajun Fried Rice

You can use leftover rice or you can make fresh - it'll work with anywhere from a cup or two to more -- very flexible recipe.

Cooked Rice (1-3 cups)
Chicken (leftover grilled or 1-2 boneless/skinless cut into bite sized pieces)
Ham - chopped (I use deli slices and cut them into ribbons)
1 red pepper cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 green onions, cut into little bits (white/green parts)
Paprika - 1 TB
Cayenne - a dash or to taste
Cajun seasoning - to taste

In a large skillet, over med-high heat saute the chicken/pepper in a pan (bacon fat is tasty but olive oil is healthier.. your call).  Add the green onions and cook for 1 min.  Then add the spices - if you're doing it right you'll probably cough a bit - the spices may smoke a bit.  Just cook it for maybe a minute then add in the chicken/ham and rice and stir until well combined.  Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. 

Terrific with some Cholula hot sauce sprinkled over top with the rest of the green onion. 

OH - you could add in some shrimp or sausage if you like.  Again - it's SUPER easy...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pepper Jelly Glazed Chicken Salad

You could probably use a firm tofu to make this vegetarian or shrimp if you're so inclined.  But I glazed boneless skinless chicken breasts with a mixture of red wine vinegar and red jalapeno pepper jelly.  This produces a smoky/spicy/sweet glaze.   I am totally ripping this idea off of Kent Rathbun a chef here in Dallas whom I absolutely ADORE.   My salad is decidedly less fancy but has that same zingy, fun flavor.  My husband and daughter both asked for seconds.

Glaze & Dressing:
1/3 Cup Pepper Jelly
1/3 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

Save 1/2 of this for the dressing.  Put the other half in a separate bowl and use that for the glaze.  The dressing is just the glaze whisked with about 1/4 C olive oil.

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

Salt & pepper the chicken and grill it until almost done then coat liberally with the glaze.  This is a sticky mess on the grill and makes a bit of smoke.  But I don't man the grill so that's kind of "not my problem"  ;)

The salad:
1 pkg of baby spinach, washed & crisped in the fridge
1 handful golden raisins or Craisins
1 8 oz pkg of Goat Cheese (or blue or feta - whatever is handy)
1/2 C Kalamata olives
1 apple, sliced into matchsticks

The dressing is similar to the glaze from the chicken but I whisk in about 1/4 C olive oil to cut the intensity.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Menu

Sunday: Bacon wrapped filet, Grilled Asparagus & Rosemary PotatoesIt's my husbands birthday week so he gets a bit spoiled with his favorite dinner on Sunday.

Monday:  Jungle SaladCooked an extra steak on Sunday for use in Monday's salad

Tuesday: Pepper Jelly Glazed Chicken Salad
Using jalapeno jelly to glaze chicken before we grill it then topping a yummy salad with it. 

Wednesday: Bob's Dirty Rice
I don't think this is anything to do with "real" dirty rice.  But it's a Cajun themed fried rice with chicken, red peppers and leftover rice. 

Thursday:  Grilled Pork Chops, Sweet Potato Fries, Grilled Zucchini
Super basic for late in a long week

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Sunday:  Crispy Chicken, Argula Caprese Salad
Panko crusted chicken served on a bed of spicy arugula with a salsa of caprese

Monday: Chicken Pita
Rotiserie chicken, tomatoes, olives, feta in a vinaigrette served with pita & a cucumber raita

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Scrambled eggs, toast, OJ... what's not to love?

Wednesday: Southwest Turkey Burgers
Had a "senior moment" last week and thought I'd bought the turkey but I forgot and didn't realize until I tried to make 'em... so it's not *really* a repeat

Thursday:  on your own
I've got a work dinner, so you're on your own for Thursday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Southwest Turkey Burgers

1 # ground turkey
1/2 C smashed tortilla chips (I use plain Tostito's - not flavored ones)
1 Egg
1 jalapeno, seeded/minced
1/2 tsp Cholula sauce (bottled hot sauce - not as hot as Tabasco and, in my opinion, better flavor)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Mix all together and form patties.  It will be sticky.

Grill the burgers until cooked through (rare is not an option - cook them until they are done).   Place a strip (or two) of cooked bacon over each and top with a slice of pepper jack cheese.  just keep over the heat until melted. 

We serve these on Orowheat Sandwich Thins (in whole wheat) - the burgers are really filling and it's a healthier option.

Top each burger with any combination of the following:

As a side, we do a salad of:
1 can black beans, drain/rinse
1 can corn, drained
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 bunch Cilantro, rinsed & chopped
1 TB minced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded/minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice of one lime

An easy dinner for a weeknight and actually (well, if you skip the bacon) pretty healthy.

Hope you like it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Menu

It's been crazy and I haven't been good about updating the blog.  But it's not going to get any less crazy, so I'm working at being better about organization.

Sunday: Grilled Chicken with bacon, avocado & cheese Good lord but I'm happy to have the grill back out!  Grill boneless/skinless breasts.  Top with bacon, avocado & pepper jack cheese.  Serve with a side of fruit.  Yummers! 

Monday: Greek Salad
A bag of salad, olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumber and a balsamic vinaigrette.  What's not to love?

Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs
We've got to eat this before it gets too hot out and my husbands meatballs are AMAZING.

Wednesday: Southwest Turkey Burgers
Mmm... Topped with avocado & cheese, black bean salsa on the side.  Family favorite!

Thursday: Potato Pie
Hash browns reinvented into a crust filled with sauteed veggies, ham & cheese.  Yum.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken Ranch Salad

1 Bag Salad Greens (I like the butter lettuce blend)
Leftover cooked Chicken, chopped
1 Avocado
Black Beans (1 15 oz can, rinse/drain)
Corn (1 can, drained)
1 Lime (juice of 1/2, cut the rest into wedges)
Cilantro, 1 bunch, rough chop
BBQ sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray's)
Ranch Dressing (Hidden Valley Ranch packet, make your own - it's so worth it)

Chop the chicken and toss with BBQ sauce until it's all nicely coated but not drippy.

I do the salads in individual bowls so everyone can tweak it to their tastes.  Here's the basic layout:
In a bowl toss the salad greens, avocado, beans, corn & cilantro with the Ranch dressing.  Then top with chicken, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. 

If you aren't worried about calorie counts, some Tostitos would be good with this.  Also some bacon bits and mexican cheese would be good.  But I promise - you won't miss them.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Steaks & Mushroom Risotto

Brush steaks with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Grill until desired tenderness.  Leave one steak more rare than you'd normally eat.  Set it aside for the salad later in the week.


1 Shallot - minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TB butter
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Cup Arborio rice
1 lg box chicken stock (pour it into a large glass measuring cup and heat in microwave until simmering then add bit by bit)
1 Cup grated Parmegianno-Reggiano cheese
Fresh cracked pepper
Sauteed Musrooms

Saute the shallot & garlic in the butter & oil until translucent and tender.  Add in rice and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in chicken broth about 1/4 C at a time and stir until absorbed.  Should take about 30 min for all the chicken broth to be absorbed.  You'll be stirring it a lot (don't leave the kitchen) but you can setp away to do other stuff. 

When the rice is cooked but still has some structure left (al dente but not crunchy), remove from heat, stir in the cheese, pepper and mushrooms (if using) and serve. 

For the mushrooms:
I honestly cannot tell the difference between the Cremini (Baby Bella) and plain old white mushrooms once they've been sauteed.  So I refuse to pay the extra $2 for the fancy ones.  But you can, if you want...
I brush them (don't wash them in water - mushrooms are little sponges and they'll soak up the water & get slimy - ick), then slice them thin. 
In a large saute pan melt about 1 TB butter and 1 TB olive oil until it stops bubbling (you can add in a bit of garlic if you like - yummy!) then add the mushrooms.  They will soak up ALL the liquid right away.  Don't freak out - just leave them be -- the moisture will come back out... keep letting them cook, stirring occasionally, until they've reduced and are done enough to your taste. 

When the risotto is done, just stir in all but a handful of the mushrooms.  Then serve with the rest of the mushrooms on top.  Yummy.

I do a really simple green salad (greens, cucumber, tomato & a sliced red pepper with a vinaigrette) alongside the risotto and then slice the steak thin (goes furture, looks pretty and helps establish healthy portions) and serve it fanned out next to the mushroom risotto.

There will be steak left over for the salad on Wednesday.

This weeks menu

This week has soccer, business travel and other demands on time so we'll be doing meals that are quick, not too much for just two of us and, hopefully, a little bit healthy.

Sunday: Steaks, Mushroom Risotto and a simple green salad
  My husband is travelling this week so he's grilling up extra steak (and some chicken) to save me time during the week. 

Monday: Chicken Ranch Salad
  A family favorite!  "Homemade" ranch dressing makes a HUGE difference

Tuesday: Chicken Quesadillas
  We have a soccer game so these are terrific because I use leftover chicken, canned corn & beans and they're ready in a flash.

Wednesday: Jungle Salad
  Leftover steak, avocado, peppers and a bit of Thai peanut sauce go together to make an amazing salad

Thursday:  Pork Milanese
  My family never seems to get tired of this and it's SO fast (use boneless, thin cut pork cutlets and then pound them thin - they're cooked in about 3 min per side). 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pork Milanese

Mommy has been on vacation and it was great to have MY mommy cook for me!  It was also great to have several days of fantastic skiing in Tahoe on TONS of fresh, fluffy new powder!

But now... back to reality.  And, this week, that means EASY.  Last night I did a quick pasta tossed with bacon, roasted butternut squash and shallots (I've done it before and can point you to the recipe if you're interested). 

Tonight, it's thin cut boneless pork loin chops, coated in panko, sauteed quickly in olive oil and then served atop a bed of spinach that's been quickly sauteed in the pan (after the pork comes out to rest) with a little garlic.  While that's cooking, in a medium pot, toss together a can of diced tomatoes with two cans of rinsed/drained cannelini & some garlic.  Serve with some wedged lemons and a big glass of wine... smile the week is almost over. 

I've made Pork Milanese about a hundred times so I'm sure you can look through the archives for the recipe. 

Happy eating... I'll be having wine while I cook tonight.  Just saying...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

White Bean & Corn Soup

I did something really similar to this a couple of weeks ago (from Family Circle Magazine) but made a few changes and my husband could not get enough of this tonight.  Hello EASY! 

1 Onion, chopped fine
2 Peppers (1 green, 1 red), chopped fine
1 sm can Chopped Green Chiles
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1 can Rotel (don't drain)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 box or small bag frozen corn
2 15 oz cans Cannelini Beans, (rinse/drain)
1 15 oz can chicken (or vegetable) broth

Top with (all optional):
Shredded Cheese (we used white Mexican but cheddar would work too)
Sour Cream
Lime wedges
Fresh chopped cilantro

In a large pot saute the onion & peppers in Olive Oil until translucent.  Add chiles, Cumin, Coriander & Chili Powder and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes, Rotel and broth and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken (if using) and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.  Add the corn & cannelini and bring back to a simmer.  Remove from the heat, squeeze in the lime and add the cilantro (if using).  Serve topped with the cheese & sour cream and some Fritos on the side.  Yummmmmmers.  And - totally ready in about 20 minutes.  Love it.

NOTE: You could absolutely skip the chicken in this recipe and no one would notice.  VERY easy conversion to vegetarian.

Quick Chicken Curry

This is from yesterday (SORRY! Busy week here) but it was quite good.   Again, it's the second one from Robin Miller on Food Network and I really liked it and the family actually ate it too -- always a good thing with curries.

Make rice - I don't care if it's quick or brown or whatever - just make up some rice.

The Curry:
In a large saucepan, heat:
 the rest of the roasted veggies (leftover from prep on Sunday)
1-2 Cups chopped chooked chicken (leftovers or rotisserie is good too)
1 can Chick Peas, rinse/drain
1 cup fat free, plain yogurt (I used Greek and it was good)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TB Mango Chutney (optional)
1/4 C chicken broth or cream (Or whatever - I just thought it needed some moisture) - optional
Heat it all together, take it off the heat and add 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro.  Serve over the rice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Stew & Moroccan Couscous

This is from Robin Miller on Food Network.  She does a cool thing where she does a bunch of prep on Sunday and then uses that to create meals throughout the week.  It fits in really well with what I do. AND it's vegetarian so I'm sticking with my "Meatless Monday's" thing.  Yay me!

So - the day before (although you could totally do this and then toss it all together at the same time), just chop the vegetables and then roast in oven at 450 for about 20-25 minutes (starting to soften & caramelize on the edges but not mushy).

1 Eggplant
1 sm Zucchini
1 sm Yellow Squash
1 Onion
3 Carrots
2 Red Peppers

Toss with Olive Oil, salt & pepper and roast.  When finished, pop into a storage container.  You'll use 1/2 for this stew and the other half with the Chicken Curry later in the week. 

1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
2-3 Cups Vegetable Stock (or beef or chicken)
1 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp Cumin
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro - chopped

In a large saucepan, heat stock, tomatoes, thyme & cumin and add in 1/2 of the roasted vegetables.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes.  If it's too thick you can add additional stock.  Remove from heat, stir in cilantro. 

1 C Couscous
1/2 C chopped Dried Apricots
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Meanwhile, prepare couscous to package directions (I think it tastes better if you do it with stock instead of water).  Add Apricots and Cinnamon as it's cooking.  

Serve in wide, shallow bowls.  Put couscous in bottom of bowl and top with the stew.  Sprinkle a little cilantro on top if you like.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Menu

Sunday:  Bob's Meatball Sammies
O.M.G.  My husband makes the best meatballs ever.  Our Superbowl dinner will be crusty Italian bread, hollowed out, toasted & rubbed with fresh garlic.  Then filled with meatballs, sauce & provolone cheese and the broiled until they're bubbly and delicious.  Lord I love that man. 

Monday: Roasted Vegetable Stew with Couscous
This is from Robin Miller on Food Network.   I'll roast the veggies during the big game, then have them handy to toss together two meals during the week.

Tuesday: Meatball Sammies
Tuesdays are my toughest day at work each week.  This will be ample reward.  These meatballs only get better as they mellow in the sauce for a couple of days.

Wednesday: Curry Chicken with Rice
The second of the Robin Miller recipes this week.  Adding chicken & chickpeas to the veggies and serving along with some rice. 

Thursday:  Chicken Corn Chili
I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was so good, I'm coming back again!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sour Cream Chicken Tacos with Avocado & Mango Salsa

I have had it up to HERE with ice, windchill and snow days.  So tonight, whether reality is with me or not, it's SUMMERTIME!

I'm winging this one... but it's all good stuff so I think it'll be awesome.  Just in case though... I'm making some refried beans and cilantro rice. 

The tacos will be topped with an avocado & mango salsa.  Here's how you make it:

1 ripe mango, peeled/diced
1-2 ripe avocados, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (use less if you're not a fan but we eat a LOT of cilantro here)
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1-2 limes, juiced (depends on how juicy - if one is enough, great)
salt to taste
mix the above together & set aside.  Easy, no?

Other toppings will be shredded monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and sour cream.   The chicken is boneless/skinless & sauteed & tossed with taco seasoning. 

I'll be wrapping them in a combo of hard & soft shelled tortillas to see which we like better. 

I'll post & let ya know.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

This came from Family Circle Magazine this month.  I didn't take a photo because, and let's be honest here, pot roast isn't ever pretty.  It tastes amazing but it's not pretty.  Okay, Annie might know how to make a pot roast pretty.  But I don't.  So no pic... just trust me - this is the goods.

Into the Crock Pot (in this order):

1 Beef Chuck Roast (3-4 #)
Salt & Pepper to taste
4-5 Carrots, peeled then cut into 3" lengths, then quarter
4-5 Parsnips, same as carrots
1 Onion, chopped
2 Rutabagas, peeled/chopped (I added this but it was GOOD)
1 14 oz can beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 bay leave

Pop the lid on and cook on LOW for 10 hours. 

After 10 hours, remove the meat & veggies to a covered spot to keep warm (you can shred the meat a bit and get rid of any icky bits).

3 TB butter
3 TB flour
Mix together the flour/butter and whisk into the broth.  Then pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil (whisk it lots to keep it from scorching).  Serve over the meat & veggies.

This is sooooo not vegetarian but your house will smell like home and you'll be willing to pay the debt to karma for food this comforting.  This felt like cooking from my dad & grandma and eating it felt like a big hug.  I'm sure a therapist somewhere has something to say about that but I'll just slip into my glass of wine and be okay with that. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chickpea Stew with Polenta

This is from the Cooking Light "Quick & Easy Soups" cookbook.  I got this from my stepmom for Christmas and I LOVE it!!  Several recipes on the way from this book.

4 Cups Water
1 Cup Instant Dry Polenta
1 TB Butter
- Make polenta per package instructions & set aside.  It'll hold it's heat for the 15 minutes it takes to do the rest.

1 TB Olive Oil
1 sm Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 tsp bottled, minced garlic
1/4 C lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
1 tsp ground Cumin
Black Pepper - to taste
2 (15 oz) cans ChickPeas (rinse/drain)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (do NOT drain)

Saute the onions/garlic in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes.

chopped green onions (I added some chopped cilantro instead and it was good - but onions would be great too)
Sour Cream (low fat)

In a low/shallow bowl, spread the polenta and then top with a ladle of the stew.  Put a dollop of sour cream over each bowl and sprinkle with the onions.

This was really good.  Vegetarian too (MICHELLE!) :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Sunday: Jambalaya
  Bob is doing his first practice for Becca's soccer team so I'm making (one of) his favorite meals.
 This is Emeril's recipe for "Kicked Up Jambalaya" available on foodNetwork.com -- good stuff!

Monday: Chickpea Stew scented with Lemon & Cumin
 Sounds fancy but it's actually quick & easy and it's vegetarian. 

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast
 Crazy day requires easy dinner.  This one is from this month's Family Circle Magazine (I gotta admit - I love that magazine)

Wednesday: Taco Night
 Who doesn't love tacos?  These will be chicken tacos with a sour cream based sauce and a mango/avocado salsa. 

Thursday: Restaurant Night
 There are going to be leftovers so they've gotta be gone...  Mommy doesn't cook on Thursday this week.  Yay.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eggplant and/or Chicken Parmesan

1 Med Eggplant, peeled, sliced 1/3" thick
2 Chicken Breasts - Boneless/Skinless and pounded 1/3" thick
1/3 Cup Flour (season liberally with salt & pepper)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cup breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese - grated
1 tsp each: thyme, oregano, basil

Spaghetti (or Spaghetti Squash) - prepared to directions
Spaghetti Sauce - heated in pan on stove
Mozzarella Cheese

Lay out three wide, shallow bowls and put them in this order:
1.) Flour with more salt & pepper than you think advisable
2.) 2 Eggs, beaten
3.) Breadcrumbs, Parmesan & Herbs

Dredge the chicken/eggplant in the bowls, in order, making sure that each piece is coated smoothly.

Lay your chicken/eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes.  Carefully turn each piece over and cook another 10 minutes. (They should not be touching) 

Remove pan from oven and put approx 1/4 Cup of spaghetti sauce on each piece then top with the mozzarella and put back in oven for about 7-10 minutes.  Remove when melted and you cannot stand how awesome your house is smelling. 

This is 100% my own invention.  I love the flavor of really good eggplant parmesan but most restaurants fry it and then bake it with tons of cheese.  It's greasy and rich and fantastic.  But this version has all the same wonderful flavors but is MUCH lighter than the fried versions.  I've also been trying to feed less meat to my family.  The idea of doing a little bit of chicken and "filling" in with the eggplant worked out great.  My six year old LOVED it and had no idea she was eating eggplant until we told her.  The spaghetti squash was less successful but she did get a few bites down.  My husband actually liked both.  Yay for veggies!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Sunday: Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan
Yum.  Warm, rich, indulgent (but I bake it so not too indulgent).  What's not to love?

Monday: Cheezit Chicken
Except for Kari's family, everyone loves this because it's easy & normal people love it (suck it Markhams!).

Tuesday: Minestrone
Putting the crockpot to use on my busiest day of the week.

Wednesday: Pork Milanese
Crispy pork, lemons & sauteed spinach and a side of Tuscan white beans. 

Thursday:  Chicken Ranch Salad
An excuse to finish off the Ranch dressing from Monday and it's super yummy. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jungle Salad (Thai style salad with beef)

This is kind of a hybrid between the stuff I put in my Beef Summer Rolls (more on that when I've got an afternoon free) and the Jungle Salad they serve at Houston's.  I have just improvised this a bunch of times and I love it SO much.  My 6 yr old eats until she could pop... it's really good.  Want a kid to eat a salad - make this one!

1 bag salad greens
Leftover steak (rare, sliced thin - or just grill it rare & slice it super thin)
Peanut Dressing (recipe below)
Green Onions
Red bell pepper
Water chestnuts
Carrot (matchsticks)
Mandarin Oranges
Fresh Mint & Cilantro (we use TONS, but whatever works for you)
Sliced Almonds
Toss it all together and top with peanut dressing and serve.

In a saucepan heat the first 5 ingredients just until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and the whole thing is smooth. 
2 TB Peanut Butter
1 TB Soy Sauce
1 TB Honey (or brown sugar)
1 tsp crushed garlic (jarred is good)
1 tsp crushed ginger (jarred is great)
3 TB Rice Vinegar
Fish sauce - if you have it, a few drops - but don't buy it special or anything.
LIGHT Coconut Milk - about 1/2 cup

let the peanut mixture cool a bit then put in the vinegar & coconut milk until it's a nice taste (tip of the finger tasting totally works here!) and then use it to dress the salad.  Yum!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Weeks Menu

I'm travelling for work this week so Mommy isn't cooking much.  My sainted husband, however, will be holding down the fort this week. 

Sunday:  Chicken & Corn Chili
A recipe from Family Circle Magazine but it looks very vibrant & fresh.  It's a chilly, drizzly day so it sounds perfect!

Monday: Jungle Chop Salad
There's a salad with this name at Houston's restaurant but I'm not sure how much they have in common anymore, besides steak & mango.  This is a bunch of my favorite Asian style ingredients, chopped into bite sized pieces and then dressed with a peanut/ginger/soy dressing.  I love this meal. 

Tuesday: Pork, Sweet Potato Fries and steamed Broccoli
Easy, weeknight fare.  Yummy.

Wednesday: Italian Sausage & Peppers
This is Bob's thing so I hope he tells you how to do it.  I'm no fan of sausage so they indulge when I'm out of town.

Thursday: Take Out Chili Bar
Becca's school is doing a fundraiser and selling Chili for $5/bowl.   Gotta support the kiddos....  that it makes it easier on the hubs when I'm out of town is a BIG plus too!

Chicken & Corn Chili

Found this in Family Circle Magazine this month and it looks yummy & warm for a c-c-c-c-cold, drizzly day.

Chicken & Corn Chili
2 TB Olive Oil
1 Large Onion , chopped small
1 Green Pepper, Chopped small
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 14oz can chicken soup
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 box frozen corn
2 cans Cannellini beans (rinse/drain)
Shredded cheddar for the top

Saute the onion & pepper until soft/translucent then add in spices and cook one minute.  Add the broth & tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add the chicken and simmer 10 min or until the chicken is cooked through.  stir in the corn & beans and heat through.

I may put some avocado, sour cream & salsa on top with that cheese.  And maybe some Tortilla chips if we have some handy. 

Sounds so warming & yummy today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Greek Salad

Okay, it was SUPPOSED to be in the 60's today but it's still in the 30's and I am not at all happy about having a salad for dinner when it's this cold out.  However, I'm a bit of a stickler for not wasting food so unless I come up with some brilliant idea for how to serve this warm... it's what we're having.

1 bag of salad greens, rinsed & crisp
1 English cucumber, sliced into half moons
4 oz julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
1 C leftover grilled chicken, chopped
1 can black olives, drained

Brianna's New American Vinaigrette (or whatever dressing you prefer)

Toasted/warmed Pita (optional but really nice on a chillier than expected day)

Toss the greens with the dressing, top with the rest of the ingredients and then drizzle with just a bit more dressing. 

Dinner... in 5 minutes flat.  Gotta love that!!

If you have some hummus handy, just cut red/green peppers into sticks, don't use the whole cucumber and cut some into 3" sticks and have that on the side as well.  Yummy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage, Pork Chops and Mashed Cauliflower

I'll admit up front that this is a bit ambitious for a weeknight.  But when you have a craving you have to find a way to fix it.

Here's what I've got on-hand and will pull this together. 
1 head red/purple cabbage
Cinnamon Stick
Cloves (whole)
Brown Sugar
White Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar - I dunno yet)
1 Apple, sliced thin
1 Bay Leaf
1 Onion
2-3 thick, boneless pork chops
1 head cauliflower

Heat oven to 350
** Make sure you have two racks - one close to the bottom with enough room to fit your saute pan with the pork chops and then one above it where the Dutch Oven will sit with your cabbage. **

Start with the cabbage - just slice it thin and then rough chop it in the other direction so you get smallish pieces. 
In a Dutch Oven over med/high heat, saute the onion until soft & translucent.  Add the cabbage and cook for about 10 min until it's starting to soften.  Add in the Bay Leaf, 8-10 Whole Cloves (you could pop those into a cheesecloth sachet if you're so inclined - but I'll just pick 'em out later), Cinnamon Stick and the sliced apple and allow them to all heat through and get hot.  Then add the vinegar (about 1/3 cup) and about 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  If that's not enough liquid to keep the cabbage sitting in about 3/4' of liquid add in some apple juice (or chicken broth or water - I just happen to have a 6 yr old so I have apple juice).  Pop the lid on and stick the whole thing in the oven.  It should cook at least 30 minutes but could conceivably cook for hours and only get better.  (hmmm - note to self, try this in a crockpot some time!!)

Take a moment to clean your cauliflower and chop it into florets that will be easy to mash.  Looks don't matter.  You'll steam it to fork tender and then mash it when the pork is in the oven. 

Now to the pork: trim any fat, make sure the surfaces are dry then sprinkle each side with salt & pepper then drizzle with olive oil.   In a HOT (oven proof!) saute pan, sear the first side until it's brown and pulling back from the pan.  Flip the chops and then put in a meat thermometer and pop the whole thing into the oven.   (NOTE:  You could TOTALLY sear the second side and then add the pork & any accumulated drippings to the cabbage.  It would taste terrific but my family doesn't love this meal the way I do and they'd prefer to not have their pork turn purple.)

While the pork is cooking, steam the cauliflower until fork tender.  Remove from heat and put the cauliflower into a food processor with about 1 TB of butter and LOTS of salt & pepper.  Pulse it until it looks like mashed potatoes (you may have to scrape down the sides a couple of times).   If you like you could add some milk (or cream or sour cream or cream cheese) for texture & richness. 

By this point, about 30 or so minutes should have passed.  You can set aside the cauliflower (or put it into a casserole dish and keep it warm in the oven) if you're off on time (I sometimes guess wrong at these things). 

When the meat hits the right temp, just pull it out and allow to rest about 5 min before you slice it.  I serve the sliced pork on a bed of cauliflower with a bowl of the cabbage.  But you could totally put the pork right with the cabbage & it'd be great. 

mmmm.... cannot wait for dinner. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Tuesdays are why I need wine.  Just saying....

So tonight is fast & easy but I also want to give a word of parenting advice for anyone who has kids who claim to not like vegetables.  Please keep in mind a couple of things:
1.) Much of India is vegetarian.  They also eat highly spiced foods.  Their kids must be eating something, right?  
2.) When they're hungry, EVERYTHING tastes better.
3.) Tastebuds mature.  I hated cauliflower until I was 30.  I wish someone had shown me you could do more to cauliflower than drown it in cheese sauce, I might have discovered it sooner. 

So when you make a meal with unusual spices or veggies your kid "hates" - keep at it.  Tastebuds change (inform your kids of this so they'll keep trying - they're always trying to be more "grown up" - here's a way that will please both of you). 

If you know you're serving something that they're going to cringe at, don't give them any snacks before dinner.  Hunger is the best seasoning.

Don't shoot yourself in the foot.  If you believe that "kids hate vegetables" then your kid will hate them.  But obviously there are lots of kids who don't eat meat and they must be living on something.  So keep an open mind, don't give your kids any indication of what you expect them to think of dinner.  I've found my daughter more likely to balk at stuff when I insist that she will LOVE it... so now I just shut up and let her figure it out on her own. 

That said, tonight is an easy win.  Frittata...

6 eggs, well beaten with 1 TB water or milk
5 slices Canadian Bacon, diced
1 sm bunch Asparagus, chopped
2 TB minced onion
1 red pepper, chopped small
3 wedges Laughing Cow light cheese
LOTS of freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 400

Over Med-High heat a non-stick/oven proof pan with olive oil and saute the onions, peppers for 2 minutes then add the asparagus until it just turns bright green.  Toss in the Canadian Bacon and get that heated through.  Mound the fillings towards the center - not in a pile but just sort of concentrated at the middle.  When you pour in the eggs, the filling will flow to the the edges.   Gently lift the edges of the eggs and allow the raw to flow under.  Wiggle the pan and try to keep the entire thing in one piece but evenly distributed. 

Once it's getting mostly set, plop on chunks of the cheese and put the whole thing into the oven until puffy and set to your taste. 

Slide out onto a board and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

White Chicken Chili ...again

This is such a favorite in my house that you can count on it at least once a month until it's too warm to think about (pretty soon, here in Texas).

1# Dried Great Northern Beans - soaked overnight
1 lg box Chicken Broth
1 white onion, diced small
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 TB Oregano
1 TB Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves (don't skip this - it's really good)
1-2 Cups leftover cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 can Rotel Tomatoes/Chilis - Drained

Put everything but the chicken & Rotel into the Crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours.  When you get home, put it on high and toss in the chicken and drained Rotel.  Allow it about a half hour or so to get hot again.

We're trying to be very light in my house right now, so we served this with 2% Colby/Jack cheese shreds, diced fresh avocado and fat free sour cream.  Fritos are a really, really yummy addition...

I've posted this before (and will again).  The only change this time was the Rotel (I could SWEAR I bought diced green chiles but couldn't find them anywhere in my dang pantry... probably rolling around in the back of my car right now....)   The Rotel was nice but not a giant improvement. 

Very nice to come home to on a cold, icy winters evening. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This Weeks Menu

Brrrrrrr!!   I am SO looking forward to this evenings dinner of "Ranchers Pie" after a day of selling Girl Scout Cookies in a snowstorm!!

Sunday:  "Ranchers Pie"
Found this on "Gluten Free Goddess" and I am super excited about it.  She uses beef instead of lamb and tops it with mashed sweet potatoes.  Squeee!  Here's the link: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/09/sweet-potato-shepherds-pie-ranchers.html

Monday: White Chicken Chili
A great crockpot meal and all-time favorite of my wonderful husband. 

Tuesday: Frittata
Quick & easy - basically this is breakfast for dinner but with a snazzy name

Wednesday:  Pork Chops, Red Cabbage & Cauliflower
I was inspired by my friend Annie's culinary school version of this last week and have had a craving ever since.  This is the easy button version!

Thursday:  Greek Salad
It'll be warm outside by the end of the week and this is a terrific, easy salad that really feels like you ate dinner.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chicken & Peppers

Plans this week got all wonky when I used the side items from my chicken meal with the steak (although it turned out great!).

So a quick stop at the grocery store for:
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green)
Piquillo Peppers (they're the roundish, red ones - sweet/spicy.  But any moderately spicy pepper would do)
I had everything else in the pantry so here's what you do:

Chicken & Peppers  and Roasted Curried Cauliflower
1 pkg boneless/skinless chicken breasts
½ onion, thinly sliced half moons
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced (you can used the jarred stuff)
1 pkg grape tomatoes – halved
4 Piquillo peppers – drained/chop (skip the seeds if you want it less spicy)
½ tsp Thyme
2 C chicken broth (or white wine if you have it handy)
2 slices ham – small strips
(for the cauliflower: cauliflower, olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp crushed ginger, 1/2 tsp (or to taste) of curry powder)

Preheat Oven to 400

In a Dutch Oven, over med-high heat, heat canola oil until shimmering.

Sauté the chicken until just brown, pull out and set aside.

Add the onion, bell peppers & garlic to the pan and cook until softened.  Add the tomatoes, jarred peppers and thyme.  Once hot, pour in the chicken broth, get it back up to a boil and then add the chicken, put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into 1/2" slabs, toss with olive oil, curry, ginger & garlic.  Put it on the rimmed baking sheet and cook on the lowest level in the oven about 20 min (handy – just put it in at same time as chicken) and turn it halfway thru. The cauliflower should be golden, caramelized and fork tender.

At the 20 min mark, pull out the chicken and check to confirm it’s done.  If so, pull out the chicken and veggies and set aside (pop it in a bowl and set a plate on top to keep in the heat), put the pan over med-high heat and cook the juices for 1-2 min to reduce a bit, add the ham to the sauce and heat through.  Pour over the chicken and serve.

Hmm… I might slice that chicken after it’s rested a bit and then toss it all together.

Serve alongside the roasted curry cauliflower. 

Big, robust flavors will trick you into thinking this is a big, heavy meal but it's actually incredibly light with low carbs, low fat and high in fiber.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steak Florentine

Slight change of plans on the menu this week.  Had this idea driving home yesterday!

1 large (enough to feed everyone) Sirloin, T-Bone or other lean steak
Canola (or other flavorless oil that handles high heat - not olive) Oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Meanwhile (back at the ranch...)

Heat an oven proof pan (cast iron is fantastic for this) over high/med-high heat until the oil is shimmering.  Season your steak(s) with salt & pepper and sear the first side of the steak (just a minute or two) as soon as it's caramelizing and pulls free from the pan, flip it over and pop the whole thing in the oven.  Insert a meat thermometer and cook it until it reaches the desired temp.  About 145 should be fairly rare.  This is a flavorful steak but not very tender so don't try this if you like your meat anything more than med-rare. 

While the steak is in the oven (should take about 10-15 min), slice up 2-3 mushrooms, smash a couple of cloves of garlic and open a bag of spinach.  Have them handy next to your stove and then get started on the Tuscan beans.

Tuscan White Beans:
In a medium saucepan, saute a clove of minced garlic in olive oil then add 2 cans of drained cannelini and a can of diced tomatoes (don't drain the tomatoes - and the flavored ones are good).  Simmer until the steak comes out of the oven.  Add a pinch each of thyme & oregano or Italian Seasoning.

When the steak is done, set it on a board to rest for 5 min and then thinly slice.  While the steak is resting, put the hot pan back on the stove over med-high heat and toss the mushrooms into the accumulated juices in the pan and cook for 1 min then add the garlic for one more minute and then toss in the spinach and toss until it's all wilted and covered in yummy steak juice.

Serve the beans in a small bowl for each person, plate the spinach/mushrooms and the slices of steak (pour any extra steak juice over the meat - YUM!).

A nice Chianti or other Italian red table wine would be fantastic with this meal. 

With a little thinking ahead, this whole meal can be on the table in about 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pork Stir Fry

Steam some brown rice with this if you like.

FIrst, chop your meat & veggies.

1 pkg thin cut, boneless pork chops, trimmed of all fat and cut into tiny strips
2 sm zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 cup snow pea pods
2 cups coleslaw mix (especially helpful if you're skipping rice)
1 red pepper, cut into small strips

Then make the sauce.  You can tweak this and go with what you have.  All amounts are approximate - just taste as you go and do what feels right for you.

2 TB soy sauce
1 TB brown sugar (or white or honey)
2 TB rice venegar (or 1 TB cider or white vinegar)
garlic/ginger - 1 tsp each if you used the stuff in the jar (not dried)
-other stuff you can toss in if you have it handy: a dash of fish sauce, Thai red chili paste or Hoisin sauce.
You could also use the bottled sauces they sell at the store.

In a hot skillet get some canola oil shimmering and brown the meat, in batches if necessary.  Just don't over crowd the pan because you want to get a nice caramelization going and if it's too much meat, it boils and that's just gross.

Once your meat is nicely browned set it aside in a small bowl and start the onions.  Give them about a minute (you may need to add additional oil to the pan) then add in the rest of your veggies.  I sometimes dump it all in but I do think it works better if you do it a bit at a time so you can cook it all evenly. 

Once the vegetables are just barely cooked, toss your meat back in along with the sauce and cook until the moisture is reduced.  If you want a thicker sauce you can mix about a TB of corn starch with COLD water and stir that in.  But watch out - it thickens FAST.

Hope you like it. 

Serve over steamed rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds (if you've got some handy).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ratatouille & Chicken

This is easy and, if you take a little time to prep, it's super fast!  This is basically the same thing as my Ratatouille Pasta... just without the pasta.  We served some bread (for the kiddo) and a nice spinach salad.

This part can be done the night before:
1 Zucchini, chopped
1 White Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, chopped
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
1 Eggplant, peeled & chopped into 1" pieces

Drizzle a pan with olive oil and saute each vegetable, in order (order doesn't matter except leave the eggplant for last because it can kind of gunk up your pan).

The reason I do one after the other is that I can be cooking the zucchini while I'm chopping the onion, get it?  It also helps to do it in batches because the things cook really well (nice caramelization) instead of just wilting/steaming the way they do if you crowd the pan.

Into each veggie, throw a pinch of Thyme, some smashed garlic and some salt/pepper.  A little crushed red pepper is nice too, if you can sneak it past your kids.

If you're doing this as prep for later, pop it into a container and toss it in the fridge.  It'll be fine for a few days.   If you're doing it now, just set it aside for a sec and start on the stuff below.

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Goat Cheese (1 sm log)
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 can sliced black olives (drained)

Chop the chicken into 1" chunks and toss onto a rimmed baking sheet with plenty of olive oil, salt & pepper.  Roast at 400 for 10 minutes.  Add all the sauteed veggies along with everything EXCEPT the goat cheese.

Roast the whole thing at 400 for 30 minutes but pull it out and toss it all around every 10 minutes.  The moisture will all evaporate and it'll all get yummy & caramelized. 

Serve in shallow bowls with a good knob of the goat cheese plopped on top.  If you want to class it up, a sprig of fresh thyme is lovely. 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Weeks Menu

While I don't believe in dieting or New Years Resolutions - I DO believe that I'm going skiing next month and I will need to fit in my ski pants!  I'm also pretty sure that my body needs to detox after the holiday food-fest.  So this week I'm doing very veggie intensive, low fat and very lean.  I've found that I tend to feel bloated and gross when I eat pasta & other refined carbs  (bread, potatoes) so I'm working to avoid them for a few weeks until I kick this sugar habit I've developed....

Sunday: going out with a bang and eating up ALL the leftover yummies we've got around here (Reuben Dip, Ham Balls, Black Eyed Peas, Cranberry Pudding and Linzer Torte)

Monday: Ratatouille with Chicken
I'll do most of the prep for this on Sunday (check the recipe page for the Ratatouille recipe).  The on Monday I'll just chop up the chicken, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and then roast it in the oven with the ratatouille.  This will be served in shallow bowls with a knob of goat cheese on top. 

Tuesday:  Pork Stir Fry
Cutting the pork up into little matchsticks and sauteeing it with ginger and garlic.  Set it aside then saute zucchini, peapods, onion & red pepper in a simple sauce of soy, ginger/garlic, honey and rice venegar.  Add in a little Thai chili/garlic paste to the grownup bowls.  An Edamame salad on the side and if you want you can make rice but we'll skip that this week

Wednesday:  Broiled Steak, Curried Roasted Cauliflower & Sauteed Spinach
A simple meal with big, bold flavors.  The steak is seared then broiled for lots of flavor.  The cauliflower is tossed with olive oil, garlic, ginger and curry power and then roasted until caramelized and delicious.  THe spinach is sauteed in the pan the steak came out of (while the steak rests) for more flavor.

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan & Tuscan White Beans
Again, going very light this week, the chicken will be pounded thin and coated with egg & a little parmesan cheese then baked at 400, topped with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella until melted and yummy.  On the side will be Tuscan style Cannelini beans with garlic & diced tomatoes

I'll also be doing some little mini crustless quiches to take to work during the week.  Let me know if you need the recipe (SIMPLE!).

Hope you like it!  Sounds like a yummy week to me.

Ham Balls (really - give this a shot)

All those people raving about their Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes and other such nonsense need to come around to the totally retro Ham Ball.  Don Draper would be a happy man to come across these at a cocktail party.  Your family will be thrilled to have these for Sunday dinner.  It is a bit of work so it's not an every day option but, when you get down to it, it's candied meat... and that should be a little extra work and you definitely should NOT eat this every day.  That being said - WOW.  It's just so good.

This recipe is courtesy of my dear friend, Renee Doba.

1 Pound Ham - Hormel, nothing fancy but get the nice, lean stuff.  This needs to be ground - I'll explain later
2 Pounds Ground Pork
1 Cup cracker crumbs (Club Crackers is the norm but I think Ritz would be fine - as long as it's a sweet/buttery cracker)
1 Cup milk
2 eggs - beaten

2 Cups  Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Vinegar
2 tsp Dry Mustard

You won't find ground ham in your grocery store and my butcher gave me some bogus song & dance about eColi and the Feds saying he can only grind beef.  If you can get them to do it, super.  If not, use a home meat grinder (Haha -- if you have one, you're WAY cooler than me!) or just mince it and then put it into your food processor (in small batches) and grind it into tiny bits.  Don't go so far that it's pasty.  Just to where it's kind of "fluffy" but holds together when you pinch it.

In the same food processor (no need to clean it, it's all going together anyway) grind up your crackers into crumbs.  (Oddly, this step also makes it WAY easier to clean your food processor.  You're welcome.)

In a large bowl, mix your meats with the cracker crumbs. 
In a big liquid measuring cup, meaure in your milk then add the eggs and beat the whole thing together.  Pour into your ham mixture and work it all together.  The mix will be VERY soft.  That's okay.

If you have a wire rack that you can rest over a rimmed baking sheet, that's best.  Spray EVERYTHING with cooking spray.   I lined the pan with foil as well (Reynolds makes non-stick foil and it is nothing short of a miracle).   Roll the ham into golf ball sized balls and space evenly on the wire rack.  Give them a bit of space but not too much because they'll shrink.

Bake at 350 for 60 to 90 minutes (depends on how much they cool down when you do your basting). 
Here's the thing though - you're going to baste these little beauties EVERY 15 MINUTES!  Don't skip it - it's what makes them amazing. 

I took them out after the first 15 minutes for their first baste and they'd firmed up enough that I flipped them over.  Turns out that they'd actually gotten a bit flat on the bottoms so when I flipped them they had a nice way of holding onto the glaze.  SO --- give that a try.

Baste every 15 minutes until they smell divine and are at about 170 degrees internally.  Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. 

These are SO good.  Really.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reuben Dip and Black Eyed Pea Dip

I don't believe in New Year resolutions and I'm not superstitious but I sure do enjoy having an excuse to eat yummy snacks!!

Here's my version of a Reuben Dip:

1 pound Corned Beef, chop it into little pieces.
2 Cups shredded Swiss Cheese (keep back about 1/4 Cup to sprinkle over the top)
1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
1 Cup Thousand Island Dressing
1 lg bottle sauerkraut, drained

Mix all together and bake for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with rye toasts (if you want to go all out, brush them with a little olive and toast)

Black Eyed Pea Dip
1 Can Black Eyed Peas, drain & mash with a fork, leaving a few whole
1 Jalapeno, seeded & minced
2 TB finely minced onion
1/3 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup Picante sauce
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Mix all together, spread into a pie plate, top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min or until cheese is bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Happy New Year!!