Tag Archives: main dish

Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo sausage, fresh mozzarella pearls, spicy marinara: all stuffed into an eggplant shell and topped with melted Parmesan. Perfect on its own, or served with a side of pasta.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 2

Be sure to use medium sized eggplant. The skin on large eggplant is too thick to eat unless cooked for much longer than this recipe.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 3

I love  chorizo sausage in this, but you could also use a mild or spicy Italian sausage. I also use a spicy marinara sauce (like Arrabiata), but you can use whatever your family prefers.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

3 medium eggplant (do NOT use large eggplant)
2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy variety, like Arrabiata)
Olive oil cooking spray
salt & pepper
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
8 oz fresh mini mozzarella pearls (or ½” cubes)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to hollow out centers of eggplant halves (don’t discard eggplant insides). Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish. Place eggplant halves in the baking pan. Spray the eggplant halves with olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop eggplant insides and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until browned; drain grease (place chorizo in a paper towel lined bowl to remove excess grease). Return chorizo to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, onion, and garlic. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until eggplant is soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Add the mozzarella pearls to the sausage mixture in the skillet and stir gently. Quickly (before the cheese melts) spoon mixture evenly into the 6 eggplant halves. Top the filled eggplant boats with remaining marinara sauce.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 1

Fresh tuna steaks are a fast and delicious dinner that even fish-haters around here approve of. Fresh tuna steaks are coated in sesame seeds, quickly seared, and served with a spicy Asian dipping sauce. Tuna steaks are best served rare, so be sure you have all of your sides ready before starting to cook the fish.

The main ingredients in the dipping sauce are soy sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. The strong flavors pair well with the mild fish. You can adjust the spice level to the taste of your family.

Preparing the tuna steaks is super simple. Mix together some white and black toasted sesame seeds, and generously coat all sides of the tuna steaks. Cook for 2 minutes in a hot cast iron skillet, and you are done. Be sure and serve immediately, so that the tuna steaks don’t dry out.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 3

The best place to buy sesame seeds is an Asian market. You can buy large bags of white or black seeds relatively inexpensively.

In addition to the dipping sauce, I served the tuna steaks with a Thai Cucumber Salad and Green Chili Cilantro Rice.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 2

Recipes:

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 1

4  fresh ahi tuna steaks, about 1” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup each black and white toasted sesame seeds
4 Tbs oil

Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs brown sugar)
2 tsp ground chili paste (adjust to taste)
2 Tbs chopped cilantro

Prepare dipping sauce: Stir together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Pat tuna steaks dry. Season both sides of the tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Place sesame seeds in a wide bowl and dip tuna steaks in seeds, pressing seeds onto all sides of the tuna steaks.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot. Add tuna steaks to hot pan. Do not crowd pan; cook in batches if necessary.  Cook for 1 minute on each side. (Adjust cooking time if steaks are thicker, or if you want them cooked more than rare). Remove to serving platter. Cut tuna steaks diagonally into slices and serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Thai Cucumber Salad

4-6 small pickling cucumbers, sliced
½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar, unsweetened
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs sugar)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes

Mix sliced cucumbers, onion and cilantro in a bowl. Stir together remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumbers.

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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Instant Pot Chicken Stock/Bone Broth

Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth

Making your own Chicken Stock or Bone Broth is simple and inexpensive using an electric pressure cooker, or Instant Pot.

You can start with raw or cooked chicken carcasses. I usually serve 2 rotisserie baked chickens (Yes-the precooked ones from Costco) to my family for dinner one night, and then use the 2 carcasses to make bone broth the next day.

If you are using a raw chicken with all of the meat still on the bones, cook for 60 minutes, then remove chicken from bones and set meat aside. Return bones to Instant Pot and cook again for another 60 minutes.

I freeze the bone broth in 1 or 2 cup containers to use in recipes later.

What’s the difference between chicken stock and chicken bone broth? In terms of preparation and cooking: just time cooked. In terms of taste and nutrition: bone broth is deliciously rich with all of the nutritional benefits of bone marrow. When refrigerated, the bone broth will become slightly gelatinous. I always go for the extra time and make bone broth.

Up Next: Chicken Noodle Soup made from homemade bone broth:

Chicken Noodle Soup 2

RECIPE:

Instant Pot Chicken Stock/Bone Broth

  • Servings: Makes about 12 cups
  • Print

Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth

1-2 chicken carcasses, cut up **(See Note)
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into quarters
1 stalk celery, with leaves, cut into quarters
4 whole cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley, sage, etc.)
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
Approximately 12 cups of water

Place cut chicken into pot of the Instant Pot. Add vegetables, herbs, seasonings, and vinegar. Fill with water to 1” below the Max line (in my Instant Pot, this is the 4L line).

Place lid on Instant Pot and close valve. Cook on High Pressure:
-Cook on high pressure for 60 minutes for chicken stock
-Cook on high pressure for 120 minutes for bone broth

Allow pressure to release naturally (NPR) for at least 30-60 minutes.

Cool slightly, and then strain bones and seasonings from broth. Divide into containers and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Note on chicken: You can use raw or cooked chicken carcasses. I usually serve 2 rotisserie baked chickens to my family for dinner one night, and then use the 2 carcasses to make bone broth the next day. If you are using a raw chicken with all of the meat still on the bones, cook for 60 minutes, then remove chicken from bones and set meat aside. Return bones to Instant Pot and cook again for another 60 minutes.

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Lemon Chicken Piccata Stir-Fry

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This simple chicken stir-fry is perfect for a last minute meal. You can easily have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. Flavored with fresh lemon slices and tarragon this is a wonderfully light meal that can be served over rice or a bed of steamed vegetables.

A traditional lemon chicken piccata is made with a similar sauce, but the chicken is kept whole, usually pounded thin. This recipe preserves those flavors, but with quick-cooking thin sliced chicken.

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In full disclosure, this meal is not enjoyed by everyone in our family. Five of us absolutely love it, but two don’t really like it  (and one of those is my husband). They are not fans of “fruity” main dishes, even lemon, which I don’t understand because the lemon adds no sweetness. Since my husband isn’t a big fan, I usually wait until he is out of town or has another dinner commitment to make it. The other kids love it so much, though, that they will start asking when Dad is going out of town again so that we can eat Chicken Piccata.

RECIPE:

Lemon Chicken Piccata Stir-Fry

2018-04-07 17.52.01

4 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
¼ cup butter
2 Tbs flour
2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 lemon, sliced (remove seeds)
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

Hot cooked rice or steamed vegetables, for serving

Melt butter in a hot skillet. Add chicken slices. Sprinkle with flour, tarragon, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced lemon. Cook until lemon starts to slightly wilt and chicken is cooked through. Stir in chicken broth, stirring to loosen browned bits. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened and lemons have leeched most of their juice. Stir in parsley.

Remove lemon slices and serve chicken piccata over hot steamed rice or steamed vegetables.

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Hearty Beef Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup 1

As a polar vortex takes hold of the country, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hearty beef minestrone soup and warm homemade bread.

Chock-full of tender ground beef, vegetables, beans, and pasta, this soup is very filling and is especially good topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Minestrone Soup 3

Some of us here are avoiding pasta these days, so I sometimes cook the pasta separately and let people add it to their soup when they dish it up.

This soup also freezes wonderfully. So make a big crock-pot full and set some aside to eat another day. The one thing you need to do when freezing this soup is to freeze the soup WITHOUT the pasta stirred in. Freeze the cooked pasta separately and add the pasta when you reheat the soup. If you freeze the pasta in the soup, it will be mushy when you reheat it.

Minestrone Soup 4

For a delicious bread to serve with your soup, try one of these recipes:

Whole Wheat Bread, or Rolls:

Whole Wheat Bread

Crescent Dinner Rolls:

Crescent Rolls 2

 

RECIPE:

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup 3

2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 lb ground beef (use 2 lb for a thick soup)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 can white beans, drained
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet or beef bouillon base
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup small pasta shapes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a large pot, brown ground beef in olive oil; drain excess fat. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add broth, beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, and cabbage. Bring to a boil; simmer 30 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook about 10 minutes, just until pasta is tender. Add additional water if soup is too thick. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

To cook in crock pot: Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic as above. Place in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients (except for Parmesan) and cook on low for about 8 hours. Turn to high heat, add pasta, and cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

To freeze soup: Prepare as above, but do not add pasta. Place in freezer containers and freeze. Cook pasta separately in water. Drain, cool, and freeze pasta separately. Add cooked pasta to soup after thawing and reheating.

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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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