Category Archives: Main Dishes

Fried Rice

2017-04-22 10.29.29

The best fried rice starts with cold rice. Hot, steamy rice will lead to more sticky and gummy fried rice.

Starting with cold rice makes this a quick and easy meal when you have leftover rice in the refrigerator. And it is always a kid pleaser.

I like to cook the eggs omelet-style and then cut them into thin strips when I make fried rice, but you can also cook them like regular scrambled eggs.

RECIPE:

Fried Rice

2017-04-22 10.29.29

6 cups cold cooked rice (about 2 cups uncooked rice, cooked and chilled)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 Tbs olive oil or butter
2 cups chopped raw vegetables (assorted): celery, broccoli, carrots, snow or snap
peas, mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers
1-2 cups chopped cooked ham, bacon, or chicken
Sliced green onions to garnish

Sauce:
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp minced fresh ginger
½ tsp chili paste
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs sesame oil

 

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp of oil or butter in a small non-stick skillet. Cook eggs (in 3 batches) omelet style. Cut each omelet into thin strips. Set aside. **See Note Below for alternate egg cooking method**

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs olive oil or butter. Sauté vegetables until crisp tender. Stir in cooked ham or chicken and heat through. Stir in cooked rice. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in sauce and cook for about 5 minutes or until rice is heated through and sauce is absorbed. Stir in egg strips. Garnish with sliced green onions.

**Alternate cooking method for eggs: If you want scrambled eggs and not egg strips in the fried rice: After adding the meat to the skillet, push the vegetables and meat over to one side of the skillet. Add the beaten eggs to the other side of the large skillet and stir gently until cooked through. Stir in rice and sauce, as directed above.

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Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Summer is in full swing, which means it is prime zucchini season. Pair this quiche with a salad for a perfect summer meal that can be eaten hot or cold.

For a perfectly browned crust, bake the quiche with a pie crust shield. It is easy to Make Your Own:

Pie Crust Shield

For a low carb version, just bake this quiche without a crust in an 8-inch square baking dish.

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 1

Some ideas for salads to serve alongside this quiche:

Chopped Caprese Salad
Greek Summer Salad
Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad
Thai Cucumber Salad

RECIPE:

Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Single pastry crust for 9” pie plate
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne or Ancho chile pepper
1 Tbs butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped cooked ham
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, or  Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Prepare pastry crust and place in 9” pie plate (deep dish, if possible).

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Heat butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add diced zucchini and cook until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Place vegetables in a mixing bowl and stir in diced ham. Cool slightly. Stir in shredded cheese. Spread filling evenly into unbaked crust. Pour egg mixture over filling. Use a spatula or fork to remove any large air pockets.

If desired, cover the crust of the quiche with a pie crust shield. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to set at room temperature 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

This chicken dish is healthy, delicious, and quick to put together for a weeknight meal. And since I just planted our garden, we have lots of fresh basil ready to use. I love cooking with fresh summer herbs and vegetables.

The chicken is quickly browned and then topped with Parmesan, chopped artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 3

Bake for about 30 minutes and then top with fresh mozzarella and broil until melted. More fresh basil takes this from ordinary to amazing. (Ignore the one corner of this photo with no cheese: the child this piece of chicken will serve is very inconsistent with her likes/dislikes)

Artichoke Basil Chicken 4

We eat this on its own, but you could also serve pasta on the side to soak up some of the amazing juices.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 2

I use these artichokes almost exclusively when a recipe calls for artichokes. They are just the best part of the artichoke: all heart, no leaves. You get 7-9 hearts in each can. I love that there are no tough leaves. (They recently changed the can label: Left=old; Right=new)

Artichoke Bottoms

 

RECIPE:

Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

2 Tbs olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
Greek seasoning mix (or Italian seasoning)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs white wine
1 can artichoke bottoms, cut into ½” chunks
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3 Tbs fresh basil, sliced
4 Tbs grated fresh Parmesan
4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 Tbs fresh basil, sliced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sprinkle generously with Greek seasoning. Brown chicken on both sides (2-3 minutes per side; chicken should not be cooked through). Remove chicken from skillet and place in baking dish.

Add garlic to skillet and cook 1-2 minutes, or until browned. Stir in wine and chopped artichokes. Cook and deglaze pan until wine has reduced by about half. Add tomatoes to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until hot. Stir in 3 Tbs fresh basil.

Top each chicken breast in the baking dish with 1 Tbs Parmesan cheese. Spoon artichoke mixture evenly over chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Top with fresh mozzarella slices and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Sprinkle with additional 4Tbs fresh basil and serve immediately.

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

Chicken fajitas are always a kid favorite. Roasting the chicken and vegetables in a sheet pan makes for a quick and easy clean-up. Now everyone’s happy.

Great for eating traditionally in warm flour tortillas, topping a crispy corn tortilla, or on a bed of lettuce for those watching their carb intake.

Chicken Fajitas 2

I serve these Fajitas with Instant Pot Chipotle Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice (recipe below).

Chipotle Black Beans 2

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

RECIPES:

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

2-3 lb boneless, skinless chicken, diced
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Italian salad dressing
1 Tbs chili powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 red/yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced or minced

Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Guacamole
Sour cream
Tomatoes, chopped
Lettuce, chopped

In a Ziploc bag, combine chicken, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, Italian dressing, chili powder, garlic and 2 Tbs cilantro. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil; spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Drain excess marinade from the chicken and spread into an even layer in prepared pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to the pan. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Pour off any liquid in the pan. Set oven to broil and cook until chicken and peppers just begin to char. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas and desired condiments.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.

This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

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Cheesesteak Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 2

Whether you are eating low-carb, or gluten-free, or just want a delicious dinner that the whole family will love, this recipe fits the bill. The only ingredient some of my family object to is the mushrooms, but if I chop them finely enough, they don’t even know they’re there.

And if you buy pre-sliced beef, you can have this on the table in under an hour.

Shaved Beef Steak

I like to serve this with Chipotle Black Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice.

Chipotle Black Beans 2  Green Chili Cilantro Rice

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Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 4

RECIPE:

Cheesesteak Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 2

2 Tbs butter
1 large onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, finely diced
2 lb thinly sliced beef
2-3 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
4 large poblano peppers
Provolone cheese and/or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 9×13” baking dish with olive oil spray.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, garlic, and jalapenos to the skillet and sauté until softened. Add beef to skillet and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through. Stir in steak seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Cut poblano peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and place in baking dish. Sprinkle peppers lightly with salt. Place a slice of cheese, or small amount of shredded cheese, in each pepper. Spoon cooked beef mixture into the peppers. Top each pepper with additional cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

Always a family favorite, this stir-fry comes together quickly for a last minute dinner.

Because the dried peppers are left whole in this recipe, it is not spicy. If you like a little more heat, simply cut up the peppers on your plate and eat them along with the stir-fry.

Szechuan peppercorns and Chinese black vinegar can be found in Asian markets or online. The peppercorns usually come whole. You can use any pepper mill/grinder to crush them. You can also use a small coffee grinder to grind the peppercorns.

RECIPE:

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

3 chicken breasts, diced
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sherry
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns

2 Tbs oil
8-10 dried small red chilis (Arbols)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
½ cup roasted peanuts
1 bunch green onions, sliced diagonally into 1 ½” pieces

Sauce:
1/3 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sherry
1 Tbs Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
1 ½ Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs sesame oil

Combine chicken with 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs sherry, ginger, garlic, and ground peppercorns. Marinate 1 hour.

Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. Add whole dried chilis to hot oil and cook until they just begin to blacken. Remove chilis from oil and place in serving dish. Add vegetables to the hot oil in pan and cook over high heat until crisp-tender. Remove from pan and place in serving dish. Add additional 1 Tbs oil to pan. Add chicken to pan and cook over high heat until chicken is cooked through. Reduce heat to medium, add sauce to pan, and cook until thickened (2-3 mins). Stir in peanuts, green onions, vegetables and chilis. Heat for 1 minute.

Serve over rice.

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Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 2

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

Looking for something to serve with your Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw? This blackened cod is perfect. And quick and easy on a warm summer night when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

If you are making the coleslaw as well, there will probably be enough extra dressing from that recipe to use for drizzling onto the cooked fish. Recipe for Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

I like to serve this meal with Cotija cheese. Cotija is a firm mild cheese with a texture similar to feta, but without the saltiness. It crumbles easily with your fingers.

Blackened Cod 1

This recipe also makes great Fish Tacos.

RECIPE: 

Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

4 cod fish fillets (you could also use halibut or snapper)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 Tbs oil

Creamy Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
Cotija cheese, crumbled
1 can black beans, drained and mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice
Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Prepare Creamy Cilantro Dressing and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Remove fish from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Mix dry spices in a small bowl. Pat fish fillets dry and rub spices onto both sides of fish fillets.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place fish fillets in the hot skillet and sear until cooked through (do not crowd pan; cook in 2 batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness and variety of fish, it should take about 3 minutes per side. Check for doneness with a fork: fish should flake easily, but not fall apart. Remove from pan and let fish rest for 2-3 minutes.

Drizzle fish with some of the Creamy Cilantro Dressing and top with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve fish with coleslaw, black beans, and additional cilantro dressing.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for one hour before serving

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Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken is an easy and delicious way to grill chicken. You can also broil it in the oven if summer storms roll in just as you are getting the grill ready.

I like to use boneless chicken thighs when I make this. They are moist and tender and less likely to dry out when grilled.

RECIPE:

Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

6-8 boneless chicken thighs or 4 boneless chicken breasts

Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs sherry (or rice vinegar)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh ground ginger
½ tsp cornstarch + 2 Tbs water

Combine all sauce ingredients, except for cornstarch/water mixture, in a Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute, or until sugar completely dissolves. Cool.

Place chicken in a Ziploc bag. Add about 1/3 cup of the sauce to the bag and let chicken marinate for 1 hour to overnight. Grill or broil chicken until cooked through.

Stir cornstarch/water mixture into remaining sauce and mix well. Heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth.

Brush cooked chicken with glaze and serve with rice.

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Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

After spending the month of February with temperatures in the 70s, we are having a brief cold snap. Perfect weather for a bowl of hot Thai Green Curry. Although around here, any temperature is good weather for a delicious curry.

Curry pastes vary widely in their spiciness. My favorite green curry paste is this variety from Maesri. It is, however, extremely spicy. As you are adding your curry paste to the broth, add in small amounts,  tasting before adding additional paste, until you reach your desired spice tolerance.

Green Curry Paste

RECIPE:

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

about 3 Tbs coconut oil, divided
3-4 Thai eggplant, cubed (or 1 medium zucchini, cubed)
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup diagonally sliced asparagus
3-4 Tbs green curry paste (divided)
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water (or Swanson Thai ginger broth)
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 red chilies, thinly sliced
1 package firm tofu, cubed
¼ cup Thai basil leaves, sliced
Lime wedges
Hot cooked rice

Heat 1 Tbs coconut oil in a large pot. Add eggplant to hot oil and cook for 3 minutes (eggplant will not be completely cooked). Remove eggplant from pan and set aside. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon of oil to the pot and cook mushrooms and asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Set aside in a separate bowl from the eggplant. Add 1 Tbs coconut oil and 1 Tbs curry paste to the pot. Cook until fragrant. Add chicken to pot and cook until outside is no longer pink, but chicken is not completely cooked.

Add coconut milk and water to the pot with the chicken and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in partially cooked eggplant, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, red chilies and tofu. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until chicken and eggplant are cooked through.  (If using zucchini, instead of eggplant, do not return to the curry until just before serving).

Add additional curry paste until desired level of spiciness is reached (add in small amounts and taste after each addition). Return asparagus and mushrooms to the curry. Add additional water if curry is too thick.

Stir in sliced basil leaves just before serving. Serve with lime wedges over hot rice, if desired.

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