Friday, January 30, 2015

Chicken and Barley Soup

Would you agree that it is definitely soup season? Brrrrrr-baby it's cold outside; how about some soup? This is super easy and "souper" good.

Olive oil
Pkg of boneless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 t grated lemon zest and wedges for serving

In a soup pot, season the meat with salt and pepper and then brown the thighs quickly in some olive oil over high heat (7-8 minutes). Chicken will not be cooked through yet. Transfer to plate.
Add the carrots, fennel, onion, celery, some and salt and pepper and cook, stirring 6-8 minutes. Add the broth, barley and chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and 1/4 t salt in a small bowl.

After 40 minutes, remove the chicken and shred and return to soup. Serve the soup topped with parsley mixture and with lemon wedges. The lemon in this is really nice-don't skip :-)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Crockpot Eggs? Really?

Sometimes you just have to try a recipe to believe it. I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Kayln's Kitchen and I figured if she thought it tasted ok then I might as well try it. I always make my fritattas in the oven but hey, why not the good old crockpot? It was very tasty and the texture was good-who knew? I like to think I'm a life-long learner--ha! I served this dish with shredded hash browns topped with a bit of sharp cheddar--pretty good Breakfast for Dinner if I do say so myself.

Slow Cooker Frittata with Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Red Pepper, and Feta

(Makes 6 generous servings; recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

I used a (6-Quart) slow cooker to make this frittata, but any large 5-6 quart oval slow cooker will work.

1 can (14 oz.) small artichoke hearts, drained and cut into small pieces
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers. drained and cut into small pieces
8 eggs, beaten well until yolks and whites are completely combined
4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
1 tsp all-purpose seasoning--I used Herby which is made by Frontier
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Pour out artichoke hearts into a colander placed in the sink and let them drain well. While they drain, slice the green onions and crumble the feta. Spray the slow cooker insert well with non-stick spray.

Remove artichoke hearts to the cutting board and pour out the roasted red peppers into the colander to drain. Cut the artichoke hearts into fairly small pieces (quarters, or smaller if they're large) and put them in the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Cut the drained red peppers into pieces about 1/2 inch square and put them into the slow cooker. Add the green onions to the slow cooker.

Beat the eggs until whites and yolks are completely combined and then pour eggs over the vegetables in the slow cooker. Use a fork to gently stir, so the artichoke pieces, red pepper pieces, and sliced green onions are well distributed. Sprinkle the crumbled Feta over the top and season with all purpose Seasoning and freshly-ground black pepper.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours or until the eggs are as firm as you'd like them and the cheese is melted. I cooked mine about 2 hours and 45 minutes and then took the top off the cooker and let it sit about fifteen minutes.

Cut into pieces while the frittata is still in the slow cooker. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped parsley to garnish if desired. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sausage & White Bean Ragu over Buttered Gnocchi

I browse around on various food blogs and am always amazed at the beautiful food and photography that I see. Of course, many of these people are professional food bloggers but still their sites are awesome. One such site is Half Baked Harvest This young woman is not only a great cook, but also a fantastic food photographer. Her recipes always look beautiful and delicious. Recently she posted a slow cooker recipe that I could not resist and I'm here to tell you that it was just that: totally toothsome! I made a few slight adjustments given what I had on hand. The tiny sausage meatballs are just adorable. My pictures are not as gorgeous as hers but we surely did enjoy her recipe!

Crockpot Sausage & White Bean Ragu over Buttered Gnocchi

  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • fresh basil and parmesan cheese, for topping


To a 4-8 quart crockpot, add the two cans of tomatoes. Add the onion, garlic, broth, seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir.
Now grab the sausage and roll it into very tiny, bite size balls, adding the meatballs to the crockpot as you go. The smaller you can roll the balls, the better. Gently stir the sausage into the sauce. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 20 minutes before serving, stir in the kale and white beans. Crank the heat up to high, cover and cook another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions and then toss with 2 tablespoons butter and a little fresh basil + parmesan.
To serve, divide the gnocchi among plates or bowls. Top with the ragu and then garnish with basil and parmesan. Enjoy!
  • Preparation time: 10
  • Cook time: 6-8 HOURS

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fennel, I Think I Like You

For the longest time I haven't really thought that I cared much for fennel. I'm not sure why but tonight I decided to try a dish that I spotted in the THE WEEK magazine and fennel played a pretty large role. I was dubious but willing to give fennel a chance. Wow, this dish was really quite good--if you happen to eat meat. The recipe is for a pork tenderloin cut into thin medallions and dressed with the fennel sauce.

Pork Medallions with Fennel White Wine Sauce

1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh sage
3 T olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin cut into medallions
salt and pepper
1/2 large fennel bulb cut into small dice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup beef or chicken broth

Smash and chop the garlic and combine with the chopped rosemary and sage.

In 12 inch skillet, heat 2 T oil over high heat. Salt and pepper the pork. Add the medallions in one layer and cook undisturbed 1 1/2 minutes and then flip for another 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate.

Add the remaining oil and still over pretty high heat add the fennel and some salt. Cook for a minute, stirring. Add the herb/garlic mixture and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and the broth (and any meat juice from the pork plate) and boil down for a minute.

Serve with pan sauce over the medallions. I served with some quinoa and cooked carrots with honey and lemon. Yummy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sausage & Peppers Sub

Sometimes you just feel like a sub, don't you? This is a nice combo and you can add or delete condiments that appeal to you.

1 lb smoked chicken sausage, cut diagonally
1 green pepper in strips
1 onion in strips
4 garlic cloves, chopped
some olive oil
salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, some red pepper flakes
1/2 can tomato sauce
maybe a 1/4 cup salsa
some shredded cheese
yellow pepper rings
sub buns

In large skillet, brown the sausage pieces well. Remove to plate. Add the pepper and onion and cook for 6 or 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the spices. Add the sausage back to the skillet and add the tomato sauce and salsa--if mixture seems too thick, add some water (1/4 cup). Stir well and then cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.

When ready to serve, ladle mixture into sub bun, sprinkle with cheese and add hot pepper rings (if you wish).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Kale and Quinoa

This dish comes together very quickly once you have the quinoa prepared and the ingredients prepped. You can also make it milder with fewer garlic cloves and less red pepper. It's very tasty and good for you!

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced (or two for milder dish)
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned and peeled
2 cups chopped kale
some salt
1/2 can tomato sauce
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 t of red pepper flakes (or less)
fresh parmesan

Prepare quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well. Bring the water to boil, add the quinoa and bring back to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In large skillet, melt the oil and butter, add the garlic and stir being careful not to burn. Add the kale and stir to wilt, sprinkle on red pepper and a bit of salt. Push the kale to one side and add the shrimp and quickly cook. Stir the greens into the shrimp, add the tomato sauce and the lemon juice and warm through. Serve over the quinoa and top with parmesan if you like. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quick Chicken & Rice

This is really good! It's quick to throw together and can easily be doubled to make for a larger crowd. I used boneless thighs but bone-in would be fine as well. I topped the dish with chopped scallions and chopped pickled jalapeno. I am a devoted fan of the pickled jalapeno. They don't have the heat of the fresh variety. You can also use the juice from the jar to flavor dishes.

4 boneless chicken thighs, salt and peppered
olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup white Basmati rice
2 cups beef broth
1 t smoked paprika (yes, get the smoked-it makes a difference)
1 T jalapeno rings,  chopped
4 scallions chopped

In a large lidded skillet,  brown the things in the olive oil about 3 minutes per side. Remove to plate. Add peppers and onion to the pan and cook 6 or 7 minutes. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and stir around for a minute or so. Add the rice and stir, throw in a little salt and the beef broth. Add the chicken back in and bring all that to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Dish into bowls and top with scallions and jalapenos.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Braised Lamb Shanks

Sometimes when I'm shopping I see an item and just go ahead and buy it figuring that I'll dream up something to do with it! I saw these lamb shanks at Arbor Farms and decided to bring them home with me. I knew I would be simmering them for a while and they'd have a flavorful sauce so I also picked up some polenta. I never make polenta but it really is a nice change from pasta or rice when you have a dish that has a lot of sauce.

2 lamb shanks, salt and pepper well
some olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots peeled and cut in 1/4 rounds
5 garlic cloves minced
a couple T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T dried thyme
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1/2 bottle red wine
polenta, rice or noodles

In a deep pan with lid (dutch oven) heat the olive oil and brown the shanks on all sides about 8-10 minutes. Remove to plate. Add onion and carrots to the pan and cook for 8 minutes, add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the herbs, tomatoes, broth and wine and then put the shanks back in. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for two hours. Then cook another 20 minutes with the lid off. Remove the meat to a dish, cover and put in a warm (200) oven. Bring the sauce up to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.  Serve over browned polenta, rice, or noodles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cod with Roasted Veggies

This is a really good bowl dinner:  tasty roasted veggies topped with blackened cod--what's not to like?

Preheat oven 400

1 lb cod, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled liberally with some creole seasoning and black pepper
a little olive oil

1 bag brussels sprouts, cleaned, stemmed and cut in half
1/2 red onion in chunks
1 yellow pepper in chunks
a couple portobello mushrooms chopped big
some olive oil
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Mix the veggies together with the olive oil and seasoning and spread on parchment-lined jelly roll pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes stirring a bit halfway through.

Heat a cast iron pan and add a T of olive oil. When hot, add fish and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes, then flip for another 3 minutes.

Spoon veggies into bowl, top with fish and add a lemon wedge--enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Turkey Burger!

I don't know about you but I'm actually not that wild about turkey burgers. Often they are rather dry or just not that tasty. I saw this recipe on line and it looked interesting. I made a few changes given the ingredients I had on hand and I have to say, they were quite yummy. So, if  you're trying to eat less red meat and are craving a burger, this might be just the ticket.

1 large portobello mushroom cap
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 
3 tablespoons lightly packed fresh parsley
1 1/4 pounds 85% to 93% lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 whole wheat buns
Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, shredded sharp cheddar and sliced avocado, for topping

Use a spoon to scrape out the gills from the underside of the mushroom cap. Cut the cap into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic and parsley and pulse until chopped.

Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Add the turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; gently mix with your hands until just combined. Divide into 4 balls, then lightly press into 4-inch-wide, 1-inch-thick patties. Put on a large plate, cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat a heavy skillet. Brush the patties with olive oil and cook over high heat 5 minutes. Flip the patties and cook another five minutes. Flip the patties again and cook until cooked through, 6 to 7 more minutes; top each with 2 slices cheese during the last 3 minutes of cooking and cover with a lid to melt.

Spread the buns with mustard and mayonnaise. Serve the patties topped with avocado.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is a fairly easy dish that you can throw together with pantry items. You can use leftover chicken or maybe a rotisserie chicken. I had two chicken breasts that I just quickly cooked in some broth. (for about 25 minutes) I let them cool and then shredded them.

2  cups cooked shredded chicken
1 bottle Trader Joe's Enchilada Sauce
9 corn tortillas
a can refried beans heated with 1/2 cup salsa mixed in
Shredded mozzarella

Drizzle some enchilada sauce in bottom of 8 X 8 baking pan. Save 1/4 cup sauce for topping and mix the rest of the sauce with the shredded chicken. Start with a layer of 3 tortillas (cut to fit your pan), then spread 1/2 the refried beans, sprinkle on some cheese and then a layer of 1/2 the chicken mixture. Repeat. Last layer of 3 tortillas, the reserved sauce and cheese.

Bake 30 minutes at 350.

Let sit about ten minutes before cutting. Garnish with sliced avocado, a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream and a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Picante Tuna Salad

We eat tuna salad about once a week and I try to switch it up a bit so it doesn't get totally boring. Here's a sassy way to spice up your tuna:

2 small cans Wild Planet Tuna packed in water- drained 
1⁄3 C finely chopped onion
1⁄2 C chopped cucumber

1⁄4 C chopped celery
1⁄2 C chopped cilantro  

1 T finely chopped pickled jalapeño rings
1 T lemon juice
1 T capers
1 T caper juice
2 T mayo and a generous pinch cayenne

Place all the finely chopped ingredients in a bowl. Fold in the mayo. Stir. Enjoy. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Quick Coq au Vin Blanc

This dish takes very little time once you get the veggies cleaned and chopped. You can also "doctor" it up more with bacon and chopped parsley, but I didn't have either and it was just fine. I served it over brown rice but it would also work well over any grain or pasta you have on hand.

4 boneless chicken thighs
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
some flour
salt, pepper and garlic powder

2 T tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth

1 large onion chopped in big pieces
1 large carrot diced
1 pkg cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut large ones in half

Preheat oven 350
Melt butter and olive oil in large oven proof skillet (that has a lid).
Add seasoning to flour and dredge the thighs and then sauté in the butter about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken and add the onions and carrots to skillet and cook maybe 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook five minutes more. Add some salt and pepper and 2 T tomato paste. Stir well and then add the white wine. Bring to a boil, stirring. Then add the chicken broth and bring to a boil again. Add the chicken and its juices back into skillet, put a lid on the pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grains and Veggies!

Here's a really good combo of tastes which are a little unlikely but work great together. One dish is farro and mushrooms and the other is good old roasted asparagus but with a twist when you drizzle the dish with a tahini sauce!

1 cup quick cooking farro (Trader Joe)
1 1/2 cups water
some butter
salt and pepper
dried thyme
1 lb baby portobellos, cleaned and cut in half

Brown the farro in some butter, add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile,  melt some butter and olive oil and sauté the mushrooms in skillet. Salt and pepper and add dried thyme (maybe a teaspoon) to the mushrooms.  When farro is cooked add to the skillet and mix together with mushrooms.

Roast Asparagus with Tahini Sauce

Preheat oven 450.

Wash and trim off ends of asparagus. Toss with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread on cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a little food processor, whirl up 1/4 cup well stirred tahini, 2 T lemon juice, some garlic powder, a t of soy sauce and 1/4 cup water. Drizzle this yummy sauce over asparagus. Different pairing and it works!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Butternut Squash Bowl

I just love bowl dinners and here's a great vegetarian one. I was at Costco and saw a package of nice butternut squash cubes. As I was driving home I figured out this yummy non-meat meal. I used a rice mix from Trader Joe's which I love called Brown Rice Medley. You could sub another grain or orzo and it would also taste wonderful I'm sure.

Preheat oven 425

1 pkg of cubed butternut squash
1 cup Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley
some olive oil
2 oz crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 bag spinach chopped

Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out on cookie sheet. Roast 40 minutes. Meanwhile make 1 cup of the Brown Rice Medley. When squash and rice are ready, chop 1/2 bag of spinach into a large bowl, top with hot rice and sprinkle 2 oz of crumbled bleu cheese over that. Drizzle a little olive oil over that and top with roasted squash. Toss and serve.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Instant Soup

If you are in a hurry and want a tasty dish this soup practically makes itself----it's that easy! All you need:

Pkg of tortellini (any flavor)
4 cups chicken broth and 1 cup water
1/2 bag of spinach
salt and pepper
some shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring the broth and water to a boil, add the tortellini and cook 8 minutes (or however long it says on the package). Toward end of cooking time add the spinach to wilt. Add some salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Buffalo Tenders

Do you ever feel like a chicken tender? I honestly have never made chicken tenders but decided sort of out of the blue to make them. This was pretty easy, and I must say mighty tasty.

1 pkg of tenders
Frank's Hot Sauce
a little cayenne
a little garlic powder
Panko bread crumbs

 Preheat oven 400

Put tenders in a bowl. Pour on Frank's to cover--add some cayenne and garlic powder and stir around. In big ziplock bag pour in the Panko crumbs--maybe a cup and 1/2? Throw the tenders in and shake, shake, shake. Put on cookie sheet and bake 25-30 minutes. I served with blue cheese dressing for dipping if you like that sort of thing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Barbecue Pork

A couple weeks ago I made a pork shoulder and we had several good meals from it. I still had a about a cup of nice meat chunks which I wrapped and threw in the freezer. I thawed the meat over night in the fridge and then heated it up with some Sweet Baby Ray's B-cue Sauce and then loaded that onto a sub bun. I LOVE leftovers!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Perfect Chop

Although we do eat beef, I am honestly not a huge fan of steak. I like flank steak but not just a big old hunk of meat like sirloin, filet, ribeye, etc. I actually find pork to be much more flavorful and although we don't indulge in pork chops all that often, they can be mighty good. If you've ever wondered how to make a perfectly done thick pork chop, your prayers have been answered.

2 1-inch thick loin chops, brought to room temp-rubbed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.
1/4 white wine
1/4 chicken broth
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 425

You need a hot skillet and and a hot oven.

Heat an oven proof skillet (cast iron is best) until it starts to smoke (be sure you're exhaust fan is on) lay the chops in the pan and don't disturb for 4 minutes, then flip for 3 minutes. Then pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Bring the chops out and remove to a plate and cover with foil. To the pan, add the wine and the broth and cook a bit ( the chops should "rest" for 5-7 minutes) which allows you the time to make this yummy quick sauce. Add 2 T butter to the wine and broth mixture--stir and spoon over the chops.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cumin Carrots

I really like cooked carrots. I had about half a can of mandarin oranges in the fridge and decided to zip up good old steamed carrots.

Two large carrots, peeled and sliced and then steamed for about 15 minutes.

1/2 can mandarin oranges
1 t cumin
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 T butter
some chopped chives

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the cumin and stir. Add the oranges and the butter, stir. Add the steamed carrots and stir well. Top with chives and enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Stuffed Spud!

Who doesn't like a stuffed potato? I made chocolate chili  the other day and we had some leftover so I figured this was a perfect time to bake some huge Idaho potatoes and stuff them with chili, cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt and chives!

No recipe here. The picture says it all.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Minis

Here's a quick and tasty idea for brunch: Egg Muffins! These are so easy and taste great.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a six-cup muffin tin/holder

4 eggs whisked with 1/4 cup heavy cream
Fold in 2 oz crumbled goat cheese, a handful of chopped chives and 3 oz chopped smoked salmon

Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20 minutes--Let them stand about five minutes to cool a bit.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Easy Soup and Salad

I was determined to rustle up dinner from ingredients I had in the pantry and the fridge with no trip to the grocery store--just feeling really lazy I guess. I had this idea for a super easy cheat for French onion soup but knew that wouldn't be enough on its own for dinner. Then, I thought how about a hearty sort of Greek inspired shrimp salad and boom- dinner was planned!

French Onion Soup Cheat

2 cans Progresso onion soup, heated
a couple of pieces of baguette, toasted--stale bread works great here :-)
I had shredded mozzarella--gruyere would have been so much better, but actually given that I was using (horrors) canned soup, the mozzarella was probably just fine.

Preheat broiler
Ladle the soup into oven proof bowls
Top with bread and heap on the cheese
Broil maybe a minute or two-watch so this doesn't burn.

Next, the salad:  this is really easy too and actually tastes quite good.

10 thawed shrimp, peeled
mixed greens
1 yellow pepper sliced
1/2 onion sliced
Italian seasoning
Feta cheese
Newman's vinaigrette
diced Kalamata olives

Sauté the yellow pepper and onion in some olive oil, add salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Add the shrimp and stir for a few minutes until cooked. Add the pepper/shrimp mixture to the greens. Pour on dressing, chopped olives and feta cheese.