Category Archives: Main Dishes

I’m Not Irish

It’s true. I’m not Irish. But you can still kiss me. ūüėČ And you may want to when you see how easy and fuss-free it is to make a hearty Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner for your family. I have talked to at least 4 people in the last week who have either never had corned beef and/or never made it. So, this is for everyone out there who has never made corned beef, especially if you have never made it because you are intimidated by the task. This will make the top 5 list of “least intimidating recipes” I will ever share with you, I’m sure!

IMAG1320Here are your ingredients:

Corned Beef

Red Potatoes

Carrots

Green Cabbage

Water

 

This is a recipe where you will be so happy you own a slow cooker. It’s what makes this such an easy meal to make. Are you ready? Get your knife out and let’s COOK!

  1.  Prepare carrots in the manner you prefer. (Either peel and cut into 1-2 inch pieces, or wash them and leave them whole, with our without the peel. I prefer unpeeled, whole carrots, myself.) Place carrots in bottom of slow cooker crock.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place on top of carrots.
  3. Open the corned beef and rinse well. (Keep that little packet of spices. You’ll need it!)¬†Place the corned beef on top of the potatoes in your slow cooker, fat side up.
  4. Pour about 1/2 cup water into the slow cooker.
  5. Now back to that packet of spices. You can take your pick of methods on this one, too. Personally, I don’t like the little bits of spice seeds, but the flavor is amazing and necessary for the roast, so I do use it. If you don’t mind the seeds, open up the packet and sprinkle over the top of your roast. OR, you can put some holes in the packet with a small knife and toss the whole thing into your slow cooker.
  6. Put the lid on your slow cooker, turn it on low, and walk away. In about 6-7 hours, the corned beef will be cooked and vegetables will be tender. (You can use the high setting as well, if you want it to cook faster. Same results!)
  7. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the cabbage! Cut the cabbage into wedges. Now, if your slow cooker is large enough and there is room to put the cabbage on top of the corned beef, add it to the top 1-2 hours before dinner. If you don’t have room for it, remove the meat and move it to a platter in a warm oven (COVERED, and maybe add a little of the juice from cooking to keep it moist), and then add the cabbage for cooking.

That’s it! Your dinner is done and it will taste as if you slaved over it all day. Your secret is safe with me, if that’s what you want your family to believe.

In our home, we serve this with bread (and fresh butter of course!) and put some butter and sour cream out for the potatoes, and vinegar and/or lemon for the cabbage, along with mustard and/or horseradish for the corned beef.

There you have it! Enjoy. You may now kiss the Cook Girl. ūüėČ

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Filed under Main Dishes, Recipes, Slow Cooker

Crowd Pleasing Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara

I love to cook for people. Have I ever mentioned that before? I recently met some new people to cook for, and at our first meeting, I kinda bragged about being an amazing cook. I even brought some of my Homemade Bagels to share. I think they liked them (either that or they’re great at faking it.lol) So of course, when the invitation came for me to bring my kids out to their house and cook dinner, I was all-too-happy to plan a meal that would be both simple enough to cook while visiting and something my hostess would be able to easily recreate on her own, but also a crowd pleaser and a “wow” kinda meal. I do believe I picked a near-perfect meal to do the trick. I have only 1 picture to share with you, and the credit for that goes to Carri who brought out her phone to snap a picture before we dished up. I was too busy enjoying cooking in a big kitchen and visiting and dancing while doing so to think about taking pictures. (I know, shocking, right?)

Our hosts spent a good amount of time that day showing me and my kids around and introducing us to all their animals, even putting my girl child on a horse to ride around for a bit (the boy child had no interest). They shot a bow and arrow, enjoyed the company of children other than each other, and generally just had a nice, fun, relaxing day/evening. And I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with adults outside of work, something I don’t get to do enough of lately.

I am not a perfect cook, to which I have admitted many times. I do make some really great food, most of the time, but I do have my mishaps… In planning the menu, I decided I wanted to make dessert as well, which I was going to prepare at home and bring along. I decided on my old “signature” dessert of cream puffs…but they didn’t puff, and my work schedule was so hectic there was no way I would have time to re-make them. Seeing my sadness (I was near tears…probably more because of my hectic schedule and trying to do too much and overwhelming myself than having not had success with the puffs, though…) at not having success with this, my girl child (15 years old now, by the way! How did THAT happen?!) offered to give them a try while I was at work. When I saw her facebook status update declaring “I WIN”, I knew she had had success and it was for sure a proud mommy moment.

So, what did we share with this family of new friends? Having bragged about being an amazing cook, it had to be something amazing, of course… Well, the cream puffs, of course, thanks to the girl child. I also made Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara (the recipe is below, but to be honest, I didn’t really follow it too closely, and had only made it once before this night, so threw it together from memory, but it seemed to turn out quite well… also, this recipe is a combination of several I found on the www with my own little twists added to it) and a big green salad with lemon salad dressing. Yeah, that’s it. But it was plenty!

Thanks again for letting me come out to your house and mess up your kitchen!

 

Garlicky Spaghetti Carbonara

This is a dish that can be complete in less than 20 minutes if you gather all your ingredients before you start. It’s simple, with simple ingredients, and a crowd-pleaser!

When I told my kids one night that we were having Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, they both cried out “YUM!!!!” But they had no idea what it was. They just liked the sound of the name. When I told them it had bacon in it, I thought they would both faint from excitement. I love these simple meals that impress. ūüôā


Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3/4 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
    Here’s What to do:

    1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Smash about 8 cloves of garlic (or more) and add them to the water (I do this instead of salt) along with the pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the largest skillet you have over medium to medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Chop the remaining garlic cloves, and slice the green onion (green and white parts), reserving a bit for garnish. Add these to the bacon and grease in the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Chop tomato into cubes and cut lemon in half during this cooking time.

    3. In a bowl, beat yolks and add 1/2 cup of the water from the pasta. This keeps the eggs from scrambling when added to the pasta.

    4. Drain pasta and add it directly to the skillet with the bacon mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Working quickly, toss to coat the pasta, adding more water to make a creamy texture, maybe a ladel or 2 full. Remove from heat and add a large handful of cheese, about 1/2 cup or so, and chopped tomatoes. Continue to toss the pasta until it thickens. Garnish with reserved green onion and extra grated Parmesan.

    5. Serve in pasta bowls or on plates with large sides to hold the yummy goodness in!

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Filed under Entertainment, Main Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Recipes

Roasted Pork Chops and Vegetables

With this recipe, I am just going to jump straight to the pictures for you. A mouthwateringly simple dinner, from simple ingredients to simple preparation. Enjoy!

The simple list of ingredients: Pork Chops (thick cut, 1 per person), Red Onion, Asparagus, 2 Carrots, 1.5 Pounds Small Red Potatoes, Tomato, Spices (I used a good quality Garlic Powder, fresh ground Black Pepper, and Italian Seasoning, plus some Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

 

Cut potatoes in half or quarters depending on size, asparagus into 1" pieces, slice the carrots (I like to leave the peel on, but you don't have to), wedge the red onion. Toss all of these in a bowl with some Olive Oil.

Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with your seasonings and place them around the edges of the pan (I use a large bar pan/jelly roll). Pour vegetable mixture into the center of your pan. Bake in 425*F oven for 45 minutes. Don't touch it during this time. It's not necessary. You can use this time to clean up the kitchen, set the table, and enjoy a cup of tea while you visit with your family.

After 45 minutes it should look kinda like this. Turn the pork chops over and stir the vegetables.

Cut the tomato into wedges (in this case, I also had some grape tomatoes to add to the mix). Place on top of the vegetables on the pan, and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

Serve up a pork chop and a generous helping of the vegetables for each person. Serve with salad or on its own. A nice big glass of cold milk is a perfect drink of choice for this simple dinner.

This is one of those dinners that I like to use when I have an abundance of produce. You can use whatever vegetables you happen to have on-hand, so don’t avoid making it because you don’t like my vegetable choices. Use what you like and make it your own. Cooking is creative! Find your imagination and watch the smiles as you serve this simple dinner that looks and tastes like it took you all day to prepare!

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Filed under Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes, Vegetables

Evolution of a Recipe

As a young Cook starting out in the kitchen, I was given a recipe from Mom that has stayed with me ever since. We made it together once, and she wrote it down for me. The original recipe she wrote out was not exactly what we cooked together. I think this must have been the beginning of the end of following recipes “to the letter” for me.

Over the years this recipe has served me well as a quick, “throw it together at the last minute” meal, and it is also a “company worthy” meal, especially if paired with a nice salad. What started in my kitchen as simply “Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli”, has evolved into something that I still call “Chicken & Broccoli”, and yet, it is a rare occassion that broccoli is the only vegetable in the pan/on the plate.

Tonight’s version included nearly 2 heads of garlic (much more than the 6 small cloves called for in the original recipe), carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, and angel hair pasta. Amounts? You got me! I have no idea, except that all of it together more than filled my very large Stir Fry Skillet and will provide leftovers for dinners and lunches this week.

 RECIPE EVOLUTION:

 ~Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli~

¬Ĺ lb. spaghetti

¬ľ c. safflower oil

6 sm. cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches broccoli, cut into small pieces (3 cups)

3 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned, halved and cut into strips (1 ¬Ĺ lb.)

¬ĺ c. chopped fresh parsley

Black pepper

 Boil spaghetti until AL DENTE; drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add broccoli and sauté for 2 minutes, then transfer to a heated dish. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Toss pasta with broccoli and chicken. Garnish with parsley, sprinkle with pepper and serve.

 Serves 6

 cal. 421                        chol. 57mg

carbo. 37g                   sod. 79mg

prot. 28g                      pot. 802mg

t fat 18g                      fiber 2g

sat fat 3g                     calc 159mg

                                    iron 3.5mg

Mom’s notes:

When I made this, I sautéed the garlic along with the broccoli and sprinkled with lemon-pepper. If you use a salt-free lemon pepper, the sodium count from above stays the same. One with salt adds to the sodium content of the dish. I also sprinkled some lemon-pepper on the chicken as it cooked and skipped adding the pepper at the end of the recipe. Most times, my broccoli took longer than the 2 minutes to cook properly, too.

/end Mom’s recipe

For years I have posted online with a group of women. We are bonded together by our love of cooking, but our relationships have grown to be so much more than that. This is where the above recipe was in it’s evolution stage when I was still pretty new to online groups, and this is how I shared my recipe at that time.

Chicken And Broccoli With Pasta Recipe

broccoli flowerettes (approx 1 pound)
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (approx 1 pound)
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I probably use more than that, b/c we like garlic)
angel hair pasta

In a large skillett cook broccoli until crisp-tender, chicken until done. cook each with as much garlic as you like (we use A LOT!!) cook pasta, toss all together. I sometimes add a little parsley, and lemon pepper. it’s fast and easy, total of about 15-20 minutes. I put soy sauce and parmesan cheese on the table, and everyone picks their own topping.

Serve with Garlic Toast (or Garlic Cheese Bread) and salad.

Fully grown now, and this is the first time I’ve looked at this recipe in, well, I don’t know how long. I wasn’t even sure I’d still have the original copy from Mom. And tonight, I made my much-loved “Chicken & Broccoli”. It was really just my way of using up the vegetables in the fridge that were in need of cooking and taking up my valuable fridge space. Yes, tonight, it was as my recipe above states, except that I used nearly 2 heads of garlic, and added to the pan a head of cauliflower and several carrots. I have been known to include mushrooms and/or zucchini, and any other stray vegetables that may be laying around, just wanting to be added to a sizzling pan of oil and garlic and tossed with pasta.

I have discovered that freshly grated/shredded parmesan is better than the powdery stuff from a can. (Although, I do prefer the powdery stuff from a can when making my garlic toast. A little garlicky butter spread on french bread, and sprinkled with that and then broiled until brown… it’s like a slice of heaven that reminds me of spaghetti dinners from my childhood!) I have served this up to many people, and everyone tops it differently. For a friend who likes spicy food, he would add chili paste to his portion. My kids eat it just as it is, no toppings. I like fresh parmesan *and* soy sauce sprinkled on mine.

My Notes:

If you start the water for pasta at the same time you start the cutting and slicing and dicing, you should be eating dinner by the time the pasta is finished cooking, if you’re using angel hair pasta, that is. I definitely prefer this with angel hair pasta!

I cook this now with extra virgin olive oil, and the pasta gets coated with a generous amount of same to keep it from sticking together in one big clump.

As I said, this is an easy way to use up whatever veggies are on hand. I’ve put just about any veggie you can think of into the pan, and always love how it turns out. I mean, really… it’s cooked in garlic! Everything tastes great cooked in a little (or a lot of) garlic, am I right? ūüėČ

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Filed under Chicken, Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Mom’s Stuffed Green Peppers

4 med. Green Peppers
1 # Ground Beef
1/3 c chopped onion
salt
pepper
1 # can tomatoes
1/2 c water
1/2 c uncooked long grain rice (not the minute rice)
1 tsp worcestershire (I tend to use a lot more than that!)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membrane. Precook green pepper cups in boiling salted water about 5 minutes; drain. (for crisper peppers, omit precooking)

Cook ground beef and onion till meat is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes, water, rice & worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer till rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cheese, shredded (about 1 c) Stuff peppers; stand upright in baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350¬įF for 20-25 minutes.

I love this dinner! I like to add baked potatoes and a salad to finish it off, and some fresh baked bread! If you know the next day is going to be busy and you may not have time to get dinner together, this is a great one to do. Make it up the night before and put it in the fridge. Add just a couple extra minutes onto the cooking time!

***Notes

  • Mom has renamed her recipe to “Hidden Pepper” and uses only 1 pepper these days. She puts the single pepper in the middle of the pan, fills it with¬†the mix¬†and surrounds it with the remaining mix. I mostly do it this way, also, except that I use 2 peppers, but I usually double the meat mix, and it’s a great lunch the next day. ūüôā
  • I often make life easier for myself and cook up a large amount of rice on a weekend for use throughout the week. Then I’ll just use a few big scoops of the already cooked rice, omitting the extra water in the recipe. I’ve also been known to skip the canned tomatoes and chop up the tomatoes that are sitting on the counter, begging to be used.
  • Admittedly, I don’t follow this (or most) recipe exactly. I add things all the time, or change it here and there. But this is the basic recipe and a good starting point for budding cooks.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Recipes

Jerk Chicken Salad

I am just back from a wonderfully relaxing weekend at the beach with some of my favorite people! While there, I made dinner one night for everyone (Does that surprise you? I’m at the beach and I wanted to cook for my friends…) So… one of my favorite summer meals is Jerk Chicken Salad. It is simple and versatile.¬† The recipe is from The Pampered Chef and calls for serving with romaine lettuce. You’ll see in the Cook’s Tips at the end of the recipe that you can serve with pasta instead, which is what I prefer. On this occasion, however, we had a friend with a wheat allergy, so stuck with the lettuce version. When I do this at home, I like to use whole wheat rotini (corkscrew) pasta and then the leftovers are quite good served cold for lunch the next day.

And now, ON TO THE RECIPE!!! (As requested by some of the ladies this weekend…)

The Pampered Chef ¬ģ
Jerk Chicken Salad
Recipe
 1 tablespoon  Garlic Oil or olive oil 
 1 tablespoon  Jamaican Jerk Rub 
 1 pound chicken tenders 
 1 medium pineapple 
 1 red bell pepper 
 3 green onions (white and light green parts only) 
 2 heads romaine lettuce 
 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained 
 6 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled 
Dressing
 2 limes 
 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise 
 2 tablespoons pineapple preserves 
  1. In Classic Batter Bowl, whisk together oil and jerk rub with Stainless Whisk. Add chicken tenders; mix well to coat and set aside. Peel pineapple and cut in half lengthwise with Santoku Knife; reserve half for another use. Cut remaining pineapple in half lengthwise and remove core. Slice crosswise into ¬ľ-inch slices. Heat Grill Pan over medium heat 5 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3-5 minutes on each side, turning once. Remove from pan. Add pineapple to pan. Cook 1 minute on each side, turning once; remove from pan. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces using Utility Knife; set chicken and pineapple aside.
  2. Thinly slice bell pepper and green onions on Cutting Board with Measure Cups using Santoku Knife. Arrange 12 large lettuce leaves around Simple Additions¬ģ Large Round Platter. Chop remaining lettuce; set vegetables aside. Drain and rinse beans using Strainer; set aside.
  3. For dressing, zest one lime using Microplane¬ģ Adjustable Grater. Juice both limes into Small Batter Bowl using Citrus Press. Add lime zest, mayonnaise and pineapple preserves to batter bowl; mix well.
  4. Layer chopped lettuce, beans, bell pepper, chicken, pineapple, bacon and green onions over each lettuce leaf. Drizzle dressing over salad.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 320, Total Fat 16 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 60 mg, Carbohydrate 24 g, Protein 24 g, Sodium 580 mg, Fiber 5 g
Cook’s Tip: If desired, 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips, can be substituted for the chicken tenders. To microwave bacon, line Medium Bar Pan with sheet of Parchment Paper. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer on bar pan; cover with another sheet of Parchment Paper. Microwave on HIGH 4-6 minutes, checking after each 30-second interval and turning once with Bamboo Tongs. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate to drain. For a kid-friendly version of this recipe, prepare recipe as directed, omitting lettuce. Cook 1 pound rotini pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add remaining ingredients; drizzle with dressing and toss gently.
© The Pampered Chef, Ltd., 2001

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Filed under Cooking With Love, Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads

What’s in the Freezer?

I’m in “stop spend” mode right now. I go through these cycles of buying too much food… and when I realize I can no longer fit anything else into the pantry and/or freezer (and often refrigerator), I put the family on “stop spend” and then we take stock of our food and create our menus using only what we have in the house, going to the grocery store for only milk, bread and possibly some fresh produce.

So… what does a “stop spend” menu look like, and is it really possible to create a full week of meals without going to the store?! Keep reading this week to see what we create from our “stock on-hand”. For those of you that did not follow my previous blog, you may be wondering if it’s really possible to have that much food in the house, and really not need to go shopping for¬†a whole week. Let me tell ya… I’ve done this challenge in the past for 2 weeks and longer! It’s an awful, wonderful thing, my love of all things food!

On to tonight’s “stop spend” dinner: Creamy Pasta with Roasted Vegetables! This dinner required nothing from the store, because I had it from last week’s shopping trip (or from previous trips…that pantry is pretty full!)

  • Whole Wheat Pasta (pantry)
  • Shrimp & Scallops (freezer) cooked in butter & garlic (fridge & fresh garlic keeper)
  • Asparagus, Zucchini, Mushrooms (fridge), drizzled with Olive Oil & tossed with garlic (pantry & fresh garlic keeper)– roasted on stoneware bar pan at 425F for about 25 minutes
  • Whipping Cream (fridge)– simmered on low to thicken
  • Fresh Basil (snipped from my window container of herbs… but you can use dried also, just simmer it in with the cream)
  • Tomatoes (sitting on the counter–did you know tomatoes lose much of their flavor and they have a different texture when stored in the refrigerator?)
  • Fresh Parmesan (fridge)

Toss all this together for creamy goodness! Serve with a salad and/or garlic toast, if desired. I like this with whatever vegetables I happen to have on-hand, and usually don’t add any kind of meat. I compromised with the family and added the shrimp & scallops this time… but next time, it will be a perfect “Meatless Monday” kinda meal!

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Filed under Eating What we Have, Main Dishes, Menus, Recipes