February 14, 2011

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies

Jamison and Alexis are big fans of pasta, lasagna and spaghetti to be exact, and to be honest while I like both, I get bored with eating the same thing over and over and over and over....Well you get the idea! So sometimes when they are eating one of those two I go out on a limb myself and make some sort of pasta. It's easy to make a vegetable topping to go with any kind of pasta and it's so much better than you standard fare!

The fun thing about this dish is that there are no wrong answers. You can add whatever appeals to you, you can switch around the herbs, you can use fresh vegetables, or even frozen, you can use egg noodles, spaghetti, penne, bow ties, etc. Did I mention there are no wrong answers with this? It's the ultimate mix and match sort of dish!

Another fun thing about this is that you control what goes in to the dish even more than mentioned above. You don't have to worry about preservatives, or weird chemicals that sometimes are present in prepared sauces. It's a win, win all around!

What You'll Need:
1/2 a package of egg noodles, cooked according to package directions and set aside
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1-2 cups of zucchini
1-2 cups of yellow squash
1 cup of baby Portabella or button mushrooms, sliced
1 onion chopped
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
A generous pinch of sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1/4 a cup of heavy cream or half and half

Cook your egg noodles, drain and set aside:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Egg Noodles

While your egg noodles are cooking begin preparing your vegetables. I like to cut/chop the vegetables all at the same time and put them in a bowl.

First slice your tomatoes in half:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Tomatoes

Next chop your zucchini and squash and add them to the tomatoes:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Zucchini and Squash

Then slice your mushrooms and add them to the veggie mixture:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Mushrooms

And finally chop your onion and add to the bowl:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Onions

Once all the veggies are chopped get ready to add everything to a large pan:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Veggies, Herbs, Sea Salt and Pepper Ready to Go in the Pan

Add a thin layer of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat.

Then add the vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Veggies Beginning to Cook

Cook the mixture, stirring often, until tomatoes start to fall apart and vegetables are just tender:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Ready for Cream

Next add heavy cream or half and half and cook for an additional five minutes:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Ready for Noodles

And then add the noodles and toss to coat and distribute the vegetables:

Creamy Egg Noodles With Veggies: Ready to Serve

The vegetables tend to stay on the bottom no matter how much you toss, so when serving make sure to "dig deep" with the spoon to make sure each serving has plenty of veggies.

Serve with a side salad and/or garlic bread. And if you're really feeling crazy why not top it with a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese? ;oP

Notes: Sometimes I like to use rosemary and thyme. Red onions or shallots are particularly good in this sort of thing, but I was out of both when I made this. Peas are also a good addition. Like I said, mix and match it! That's what dishes like this are all about!

Posted by Dianne at 11:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 9, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

I first had eggplant in college. Being a poor college student, when I went out with friends and they chose Olive Garden, I would often order the Eggplant Parmesan because at the time it was the cheapest main course on their menu. I wasn't sure what I thought about eggplant at first and I never actually bought one and tried other things with them until a few years ago. I didn't know what I was missing!

Eggplant is a really versatile little fruit, which most people call a vegetable, and is a very good source of fiber. You can use it in soups, in casseroles, in salads, pretty much any way you can think of. Eggplant Parmesan isn't exactly an every day food, but it's a really great treat from time to time!

Eggplant Parmesan does take a bit to put together, but it's worth it and it isn't difficult at all. You basically set up an assembly line and go! Plus it isn't an exact science. You can use as much of the things that are in the dish as you want. You can make a big dish, or a small dish. It all depends on how many you're feeding. Alexis loves helping with these sorts of things, so it's a good dish to get the kids in the kitchen too and that's always a good thing!

What You'll Need:
1-2 large eggplants, sliced
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried basil
3 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
Marinara sauce (Note: I like Organic Newman's Own Marinara sauce, but you could make your own if you wanted.)
Shredded mozzarella
Shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Slice the eggplant into rounds and set aside:

Eggplant Parmesan: Eggplant

Next put the bread crumbs, salt, herbs and spices in a pie dish and stir to mix:

Eggplant Parmesan: Breading

Then add eggs to a separate pie dish and beat until mixed. Once the eggs are beaten set up your assemble line:

Eggplant Parmesan: Assembly Line Set Up and Ready to Go

Once the assembly line is set up you're ready to bread!

First place a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet and turn heat to medium. Let the oil heat up as you're breading your eggplant.

Next take a slice of eggplant and dip both sides in to your beaten eggs:

Eggplant Parmesan: Egging

Now it's time to dip the the egg covered eggplant into the breading mixture:

Eggplant Parmesan: Breading

Make sure both sides of the eggplant are covered with the breading mixture like this:

Eggplant Parmesan: Breaded and Ready to Fry

Now it's time to start frying!

Continue breading your eggplant slices as the other slices that are ready are fried and repeat the process of breading until you run out of eggplant.

Place the eggplant slices in the skillet:

Eggplant Parmesan: Frying

And then brown both sides:

Eggplant Parmesan: Eggplant frying

Once browned on both sides remove from the skillet and drain on a few paper towels:

Eggplant Parmesan: Eggplant Draining

Continue frying until all of the eggplant is browned.

Now you're ready to assemble the Eggplant Parmesan! I usually start doing this as the eggplants have drained, while I'm still frying the other pieces to speed the process along.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. Choose a baking dish based off of the amount of eggplant you've prepared. I used a medium sized dish for this batch.

Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish:

Eggplant Parmesan: First Layer

It's OK to cut the eggplant in half to fill the corners if you need to.

Next a a little marinara:

Eggplant Parmesan: Middle Layer

Again it doesn't have to be perfect. Just make sure most of the eggplant is covered.

Now you add a layer of Parmesan Cheese:

Eggplant Parmesan: First Layer

Continue this process until you get to the top of your dish:

Eggplant Parmesan: Last Layer

The top layer will be topped a bit differently. Add Parmesan AND mozzarella cheese:

Eggplant Parmesan: Ready to Bake

Place Eggplant Parmesan on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove foil for the last 20 minutes of baking.

Eggplant Parmesan: Baked

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

This is just perfect with a side salad and a slice of garlic bread.

Notes: I have wanted to try this process with Portabella mushrooms, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Remember you can make this as big or as small as you like.

Posted by Dianne at 1:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 2, 2010

Summer Pizza

Summer Pizza

I love to make pizzas with fresh vegetables, especially this time of year. This pizza is simple, yet uses those tomatoes and zucchini that can sometimes overwhelm you this time of year! It's a mix and match kind of meal, but it really can't be beat!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You can use white whole wheat flour instead.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 to 1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of yeast
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar or honey
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

You can use your favorite crust for this. This is mine.

In a large glass bowl stir together flour and sea salt. Set aside.

In a glass measuring cup or small glass bowl add water (start with 3/4 a cup and if you need more you can add it later), yeast and sugar or honey. Let sit for 2-5 minutes until foamy.

Slowly add the yeast/water mixture and olive oil to the flour and stir until dough ball forms. You may need all of the water or just some it, or maybe a touch more. It all depends on humidity and such. Knead for about a minute. (I just do this in the bowl.) Let sit for an hour to rise.

Use to make the pizza of your choice.

Summer Pizza

What You'll Need to Make the Summer Pizza:
Pizza dough (see above or use your favorite)
1-2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
6-8 leaves of basil, cut into strips
1 tablespoon of oregano leaves, chopped
Mozzarella, shredded
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Goat cheese, crumbled
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Spread dough out on a pizza pan that has been oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray. Or you can makes smaller pizzas on a baking pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Once dough is spread place a layer of tomatoes on top of the crust, covering as much of the surface as you can. Next spread zucchini out over the top of the tomatoes and be sure to cover any holes left by the tomatoes. Sprinkle the garlic over the top of the zucchini.

Top vegetables with mozzarella, Parmesan and goat cheese evenly. Last add basil and oregano and then sprinkle the top of the pizza with sea salt.

Bake for 12-18 minutes until crust is browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can really add any other vegetables that you like, onions, yellow squash, mushrooms, etc. You could probably make this a grill pizza too.

Posted by Dianne at 2:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 12, 2009

Dan Dan Noodles


This week I have several guest bloggers lined up. I hope you enjoy! Up first is fellow Marylander Rachel from Coconut Lime. Be sure and stop by and say hello!

Note: I meant to have this go live this morning, but we set off on our adventures and I completely forgot! Next guest entry up on Wednesday!

10-12 oz ground chicken or pork
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch knob ginger, grated
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 cup chicken or pork broth
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons (jarred) pickled mustard greens*
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorn

canola oil for frying

to serve:
roasted peanuts for (optional)
chopped green onions
16 oz fresh Chinese egg noodles (cook according to package instructions)

Heat some oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the chicken/pork, onion and light soy sauce, and cook through, stiring to break up any large chunks. Add the remaining ingredients and stirfry until cooked through and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Add noodles and stirfry for 1 or 2 minutes to coat. Serve in bowls sprinkled with additional peanuts or green onion.

*Look for these at Chinese or more generally Asian grocery stores.

Yield: 4 meal-sized servings

My thoughts:
Dan Dan Noodles are a street food (dan dan refers to the pole that was used to cart the noodles around on the streets) in China but I love making them serve as a whole meal. Normally I make the noodles with pork but this time I had ground chicken on hand so I used that instead. I think the chicken is just almost as tasty, both absorb the flavors well. If you want you can whisk together the dark soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame and chile oils, vinegar and peppercorns ahead of time and let them sit at room temperature until you are ready to use them-the rest of the dish cooks up quite fast so it is good idea to have them ready to go.

Dan dan noodles are what I think of as "stealth" spicy-they don't seem spicy when you are eating them but afterward-thanks to the peppercorns and chile oil-you realize your lips are tingling.

A note about those optional peanuts: peanuts are present in most Stateside versions of dan dan noodles but are not strictly traditional. I personally can take or leave them in the dish so feel free to adjust to your taste.

Posted by Dianne at 4:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 13, 2009

Turkey Pie

Turkey Pie

Yesterday I got another one of my hanging garden implements planted and hung. This one had cucumbers and eggplant. The eggplant looked great this morning...The cucumbers not so much! I may have to replant them!

The tomatoes and peppers I planted on Sunday look great too! Yesterday I also planted another tomato plant (yellow cherry), some thyme and a jalapeño plant. I'm really enjoying the container gardening thing...No weeding! ;oP I hope to give a full garden report tomorrow afternoon so stay tuned!

So now let's talk a little turkey pie!

Right after Easter I had a ton of turkey left over. I cooked the turkey for Jamison, but for once he wasn't really that interested in turkey! That's a first for him...He's all about the tryptophan! I decided to try and think of something I could do with the left over turkey instead of just freezing it, because well my freezer was a bit stuffed at that moment. I also had a lot of left over mashed potatoes. What to do? What to do?

For a while I've wanted to make a Shepard's type pie and I started thinking about it and thought it might be interesting to take the elements I had left over and pair it with a few things I most always have on hand and make a turkey version of a Shepard's Pie and what do you know? It worked!

This is most definitely a sometimes food, but it's good. It's warm, hearty and most importantly delicious! It's just perfect for when you want something down home, yet easy. What are you waiting for?

What You'll Need:
1 pie crust (Note: You can make your own or get one in the freezer section.)
Turkey, cut or torn into chunks
1 - 10 ounce package of frozen peas and carrots
6-8 mushrooms, cut into quarters
3/4 cup of half and half
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of pearl onions
3-4 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of Dubliner Cheese, shredded fine (Note: Parmesan cheese will work if you can't find Dubliner.)
2 tablespoons of rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place pie shell into a baking dish (or if you bought it already there proceed to the next step.) Place a layer of turkey on the bottom of the shell:

Turkey Pie: Turkey

Next add frozen vegetables and mushrooms:

Turkey Pie: Frozen Peas, Carrots and Mushrooms

Pour half and half over the vegetables. Mix together salt, pepper and flour and sprinkle over the top of the vegetables as well:

Turkey Pie: Flour, Sea Salt and Pepper

Next spread the pearl onions out over the top of the mixture:

Turkey Pie: Pearl Onions

Set aside.

In a glass bowl beat mashed potatoes until very smooth:

Turkey Pie: Potatoes, Cheese and Rosemary

If you need to add some extra milk to smooth them out do. You want no lumps at all.

Next add cheese and rosemary:

Turkey Pie: Potatoes and Cheese

Mix until completely incorporated.

Now comes the fun part! Putting on the mashed potatoes. I used a piping back and a large tip and covered the entire top surface of the pie:

Turkey Pie: Ready to Bake

If you don't want to take the time to do this, then you can just spread out the potato mixture on top, but it really only takes a minute or two and it adds a big bang to the presentation.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until slightly browned:

Turkey Pie: Baked

If it gets browned before the 35 minutes is up, then cover it gently with a piece of aluminum foil for the rest of the cooking time.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes: This isn't going to come out of the dish in perfect slices...Don't sweat it! It still looks great and it's the taste that counts.

Posted by Dianne at 2:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 9, 2009

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

If you've been a reader of Dianne's Dishes for any amount of time you've heard me mentioned my love of Mexican food. The flavors are just fabulous! And while this casserole isn't Mexican in the true sense of authentic Mexican cuisine, the flavors lend themselves to that theme.

This casserole is an adaptation of one from childhood. It's one of the few times you'll see a canned cream of anything soup on this blog. Of course I've tweaked it over the years, because we are talking about me after all, but it is still comforting in in familiarness.

This is also the perfect make ahead dish and leftovers are even better than first helpings! It's just perfect for a week night meal or even a pot luck dinner. After all variety is the spice of life and in this case you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds of ground turkey (Note: You can use ground chicken or ground beef if you prefer. Or if you want a no meat option try some textured soy or vegetable protein.)
1 large onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 - 3.8 ounce cans of sliced olives drained
2 - 4 ounce cans of green Chile peppers, drained (Note: You can use jalapeños if you prefer.)
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (Note: You can use one cream of mushroom and one cream of celery, or two cream of celery, etc.)
1 - 16 ounce bottle of taco sauce, with 1/3 a cup set aside (Note: You can use hot, medium or mild.)
Shredded cheddar
Shredded Monterrey Jack
Corn tortillas

In a large skillet or stock pot sauté onions with ground turkey, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until onions and tender and turkey is cooked through:

Mexican Casserole: Ground Turkey and Onions

Once the turkey and onions are cooked remove from heat and stir in olives and peppers:

Mexican Casserole: Ground Turkey, Onions, Chile Peppers and Black Olives

Next stir in taco sauce (minus the 1/3 a cup set aside) and cream of mushroom soups:

Mexican Casserole: Filling

Now it's time to assemble everything!

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. Place a layer of corn tortillas on the bottom of the dish:

Mexican Casserole: Layer One

Next add half of the turkey mixture and spread it out over the top of the tortillas:

Mexican Casserole: Layer Two

After the filling you will add a layer of shredded cheese:

Mexican Casserole: Layer Three

Then repeat...Layer of tortillas, the rest of the turkey filling, another layer of cheese and then top with a layer of tortillas. Top this layer with the set aside taco sauce and spread it out to cover the entire surface:

Mexican Casserole: Ready For The Top Layer Of Cheese

And finally top this layer with a generous amount of cheese:

Mexican Casserole: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-25 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned around the edges:

Mexican Casserole

Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can garnish this any way you like, or even just eat it plain. I like to serve it with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Posted by Dianne at 8:36 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 1, 2009

Chicken Pizza Burgers

Chicken Pizza Burgers

Each aspect of this "recipe" is a recipe in and of itself. You've had two days of previews of what was coming without actually knowing it! Today we're going to take the recipes from the previous two days (Tomato Sauce and Sandwich Buns) and combine them with a Chicken Burger to make Chicken Pizza Burgers!

For a while now I've had a growing aversion to ground beef. I still eat it and use it in recipes from time to time, but actually handling it sort of makes me ill. Recently I finally got around to trying ground chicken and I was very pleased with it as an alternative to ground beef! Mushrooms are great as a meat substitute too, but sometimes I just want something with a little more bite. I decided to try a chicken burger, but also thought it needed to be kicked up a notch so this is the end result!

I also thought it would be fun playing around with a baked burger to see how it would turn out and I must say I think the process worked great! It kept a lot of the juiciness within the burger instead of letting it drip out in the process of grilling or pan frying. I want to experiment with this method with other types of burgers in the future.

But for now sit back, relax and let's make some Chicken Pizza Burgers!

What You'll Need:
1 pound of ground chicken
1 cup chopped red onion
1 - 6 ounce jar of mushrooms, drained
1 cup of bread crumbs
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Extra virgin olive oil
Tomato Sauce (Note: You can use ready made pizza sauce if you want.)
Sandwich Buns (Note: You can purchase buns if you want.)
Pizza cheeses (Note: I used Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and Asiago.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Dump ingredients into a glass bowl and work together with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is moist and sticks together. (Note: The ground chicken I got was pretty moist. If you have trouble getting it to come together because there isn't enough moisture you can always add 1 beaten egg. I don't think you'll need it though.)

Form into 6-8 patties and place in a baking dish that has been brushed with olive oil:

Chicken Pizza Burgers: Ready to Bake

Bake for 1 hour to ensure they are done through. Remove from the oven and start your assembly.

First you'll place your cooked chicken burger on a bun:

Chicken Pizza Burgers: Ready For Sauce

Next you want to top the burger with some tomato sauce:

Chicken Pizza Burgers: Ready For Cheese

Then you want to top with your favorite Pizza cheese(s):

Chicken Pizza Burgers: Last Step

After that you'll put the bun on top and eat!

Notes: Obviously this is a fork and knife kind of burger, unless you really want to get messy. You could also do this method with any type of ground meat...beef, turkey, pork, etc. I actually ate one of the patties in this form and froze the rest of them for later.

Posted by Dianne at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2009

Weeknight Dinner, Turkish Style from Melissa!

Weeknight Dinner, Turkish Style

Melissa is one of my friends on FaceBook, and also a reader of Dianne's Dishes. When I asked for people to help me out this week she jumped right in! Who says you have to have a blog to be a guest blogger? Today you're getting a treat...Not one recipe but three recipes to make up an entire Turkish Dinner!

For my little family, the weeknight meal is always something I am trying to find a quick fix for. After a long day of working, the last thing I want to be is creative in the kitchen. I’m always trying to put something on the table without too much effort and don’t know where I would be without blogs like Dianne’s Dishes. I have some standbys myself that will hopefully come in handy for you. This is one of my favorite weeknight meals, mainly because it is fairly quick to make and has lots of flavor. I will put a disclaimer on this that I am calling it Turkish style, however the meal would probably be at home in most Middle Eastern kitchens. I grew up in Turkey and am half-Turkish, so I call it a Turkish meal, but this does not intend to start an argument about what food originated where….and I should also note that my husband is Armenian ;)

The following meal recipes do not have to be followed exactly, it’s more a method I am hoping to show – you can make your own meal according to your own tastes. I will offer some suggestions along the way. The one area where there is not a lot of wiggle room is with the rice, the measurements, ingredients, and cook time should be followed for the dish to turn out how it is meant to be. Also, I’m not a big fan of measurements but will try to include them where relevant.

Lebanese Salad

This is my version of a Lebanese Salad, adapted to fit the tastes of my family. I particularly love that there is no lettuce in this salad, it’s such a fresh and delicious (not to mention healthy) side dish.

Lebanese Salad

1 clove garlic
¼ of a red onion
1 green pepper, depending on the size (I use cubanelle)
3-4 tomatoes (I use roma)
1 large cucumber (I like the hothouse cukes, but will use regular ones if not available)
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Olive Oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sumac (a middle eastern spice that provides a lemony flavor)

Finely mince the garlic and chop the red onion into any size/shape, I like to dice it fairly finely because I do not use much and prefer little bits distributed throughout the salad. Chop the pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber into a ½ inch or so dice (with the tomato, I remove the seeds to make the salad less watery, which I recommend). Combine all of these ingredients in a salad bowl and add the parsley and mint on top . Sprinkle with the lemon juice and a drizzle of oil, add a pinch of salt and a generous shake of sumac. Stir and place in the fridge to let marinate for a while before you intend to serve the salad – an hour or so will really help the flavors combine and add to the deliciousness.

Serves 2 adults with seconds, just add veggies for more servings.

Lebanese Salad Notes:
- I’ve tried grating the garlic rather than finely mincing it but found the grated garlic would clump together. It’s worth the effort to mince it.
- I do not recommend adding any kind of leafy green to the salad, though you certainly can if you want to.
- If you do not have/cannot find fresh mint, dried will work in a pinch, but the flavor of the salad will not be as fresh. Just remember to use only a sprinkling of the dried mint, as the flavor is stronger.
- It is well worth the effort to get sumac – it’s a very versatile spice and particularly good with lamb and other meats. My husband even likes to add it to tomato sauces for pasta. Most major metro areas have Middle Eastern markets that carry it, I’ve even seen it at Whole Foods. However, Penzey’s Spices always has it and it can be ordered through their online store.
- This salad is amazing piled on top of a few toasted pita chips – the chips soak up the dressing and become very flavorful. Serve with a soup (such as lentil) and you’ve got a great lunch or light supper.

Rice Pilaf:

I have never understood the need for boxed mixes when it is so simple to make pilaf with a few simple ingredients that are pantry staples. People can be so intimated by cooking rice, but it could not be easier! An excellent side dish – and a main course for my picky toddler.

Rice Pilaf

1 cup long grain rice (nothing works as well as Uncle Ben’s)
1/3 cup (scant) of orzo (you can also use little vermicelli from a Middle Eastern Market, if you prefer)
2 cups of chicken broth
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Drizzle 1TB or so of olive oil in a saucepan – some people use butter or a combination of both, it’s up to you. I like the taste and health benefits of the olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat and add the orzo when the oil has warmed up. Sautee the orzo until it browns, as below:

Rice Pilaf

Add the rice and combine until everything is coated with the oil (or butter) and toast together for about a minute. Add the broth (there will be a sizzle and steam) and a generous pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and cover. Drop the stove to very low (1 or 2) and let cook for 20 minutes. Do not lift the cover to stir or even check progress. Once the 20 minutes has passed, uncover and stir the rice. If it still has some liquid in it, leave the cover off and keep over low heat, stirring frequently until it has evaporated. However, the rice should never be bone dry, it should look almost creamy when done. It will look more separate as it cools down.

Notes on rice pilaf:
- The ratio of the dry rice to the liquid should always be 1 unit of rice to 2 units of liquid. Adjust the measurements according to how much you need to make. I do not recommend making more than 1.5 cups of dry rice (and 3 cups of liquid) in one batch, it just doesn’t come out right. Better to make several smaller batches.
- I used the boxed/canned chicken broth from the store; homemade would make it taste even better. My favorite is College Inn, which is what my husband’s family always uses and swears by. You can use a chicken soup base combined with water or even bullion in a pinch, but it’s not my favorite way to go (especially with the bullion with its additives and MSG). Some folks use water, which is fine, but there is not much flavor to the finished product, even if it is well-seasoned.
- My father in law loves black pepper in his pilaf, if you like it, by all means, add it during the cooking process when you would add the salt.
- I grew up eating this dish made with short grain or medium grain rice, which makes for a sticker pilaf. It’s also very good, but I love the separate kernels of the Uncle Ben’s.

Lamb Kofte:

This is a great protein for your weeknight meal, full of flavor and possibilities. Little ones usually like this because they’re basically meatballs, except my picky son of course. There are endless variations to how this dish can be made and then cooked, so please feel free to experiment. This version of the recipe is the way I frequently make it.

Lamb Kofte

1 lb ground lamb
1 small yellow onion
Handful of fresh parsley
1 egg
½ cup, give or take several TB of fine bulgur (plain bread crumbs will work as well)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 TB of cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes

I have always had a challenge properly seasoning this dish since I cannot exactly try the raw meat, but I’ve come up with a system that seems to be working. Take lamb out of refrigerator one to two hours prior to when you would like to work with it, otherwise your hands will freeze. Spread the ground lamb out in a shallow dish (such as a baking dish) to give it lots of surface area and season with salt and pepper, as well as a pinch of red pepper and the cumin. Having the lamb spread out like this helps me to see where the seasoning is going, which is better than just dumping a handful of seasoning into a pile and hoping for the best.

Lamb Kofte

Next, finely chop the parsley and grate the onion and add it to the meat mixture. I actually pulverize both of these items in a mini food processor; it’s much easier and faster than grating and chopping. These two ingredients add moisture as well as excellent flavor to the dish. Next, beat the egg and add to the meat mixture, followed by the bulgur (or bread crumbs).

Lamb Kofte

Use your hands to combine the mixture together, but do not overmix otherwise the meat will become tough. If it is too wet, add more bulgur (or bread crumbs) a little at a time until it sticks together but is not dry. Next, break off a small amount (I use a small ice cream scoop for uniformity but a spoon will do fine) of the mixture and shape into a flat meatball, as below:

Lamb Kofte

Continue shaping until you have used the entire mixture.

Lamb Kofte

The next step is to cook the kofte. For this particular meal, I used my trusty countertop grill on medium-high heat, but you can pan fry in olive oil, broil in the oven, or even bake (using a rimmed sheet to catch the fat), etc. The kofte is especially good on the outdoor grill –particularly on charcoal. On my countertop grill (that cooks from both sides), it took about 6 minutes to cook.

Lamb Kofte

Serves four.

Notes on kofte:
- If you do not like lamb, this dish can be made with any other ground meat such as veal, beef (make sure there is some fat in it, if it’s too lean the kofte will be too dry), etc. If using ground ground chicken, make sure to add a larger onion and even some other extra veggies (like carrots or zucchini) for the necessary added moisture to balance out the lack of fat. I’ve also used meatloaf mix for this (veal, pork, and beef), and it was delicious. The sky is the limit.
- I usually will make a double batch of this and freeze many of the kofte after I form them. I keep them in plastic wrap and they thaw during the day in the fridge, perfect for a quick dinner – you just pop the thawed ones on the grill or in the oven, make the side dishes, and you’re all set.
-Kofte is especially good as part of a sandwich – particularly in freshly baked crusty bread that has been warmed on a grill with some tzatziki spread inside with fresh mint leaves and cut up tomatoes.

Thanks Melissa! This looks great and I appreciate you helping me out this week! Be sure and check back tomorrow for our next fabulous guest blog entry!

Posted by Dianne at 11:06 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 5, 2009

Swedish Meatballs With A Twist

Swedish Meatball With A Twist

If you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while, you've probably heard me talk about some of the things that were childhood favorites. Swedish Meatballs was one of those dishes. I've wanted to adapt that dish for a while now, but I just never got around to actually doing just that.

Last month I actually used ground chicken for the first time and I really loved it! I started thinking of other things I could use it for and many things started popping into my head...Burgers, chili, etc. But then I got the idea early this week that it would be fun to try and make Swedish Meatballs with the ground chicken in place of the ground beef, and not only was I really pleased with how this turned out, but I actually liked it better than the original version! That's always fun when that happens!

This dish has three main part, the meatballs of course, a cream based soup or gravy and rice. I'll cover the soup/gravy, which I made from scratch this go around and the meatballs. I think you guys can more than cover the rice! ;oP

So sit back, relax and let's take a look at my Swedish Meatballs With A Twist!

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Cream of Mushroom Soup

What You'll Need For The Cream of Mushroom Soup:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 small portabella mushroom cap, chopped (Note: I like to just do little cubes.)
6-8 button mushrooms, chopped (Note: See note above.)
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 a quart of fat free half and half (Note: I love fat free half and half because it gives you the illusion of something much richer, but it's not as many calories or fat as using cream.)

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Mushrooms, Onion and Garlic Ready To Cook

In a medium sized pot melt butter in olive oil. Add chopped vegetables, a generous pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook until just tender:

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Mushrooms, Onion and Garlic Cooking

Add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in half and half and cook for a few minutes until thickened. (Note: It will continue to thicken when it bakes, so don't go for too thick. You can always add a bit more half and half if it thickens up too much.)

Remove from heat and set aside.

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Browned

What You'll Need for the Meatballs:
1 pound of ground chicken
1 small potato, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 a red onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
Extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients except olive oil until completely incorporated. (Note: The best way to do this is just to get in there with your hands!) Shape mixture into balls. I like to make them just slightly smaller than a golf ball, but whatever size you want to do is fine. Take into account though that larger it is the longer it will take to cook.

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Starting to Brown

Heat a thin layer of olive oil and cook, turning the meatballs once or twice, until slightly browned:

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Browning

(Note: You aren't cooking the meatballs done all the way through, you're just browning the outsides.)

Place the meatballs in a baking dish that has been brushed with olive oil or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Now it's time to put it all together!

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Ready to Bake

What You'll Need to Put it All Together:
Browned meatballs
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cooked rice

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Pour the Cream of Mushroom Soup over the meatballs and bake for 30-40 minutes until the meatballs are done through.

Swedish Meatball With A Twist: Baked

Serve over cooked rice.

Notes: I'm going to go out on a limb and say since this worked with ground chicken, you could do the same with ground turkey too. If you want you can used canned soup, but I really liked the fresh taste of the one I made myself.

Posted by Dianne at 8:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 28, 2009

Spinach Alfredo Lasagna

Spinach Alfredo Lasagna

I actually made this dish over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when Jamison's family was here. I normally make a gluten free lasagna with meat for the guys (or more aptly Jamison who only wants sauce, meat, cheese and noodles in his lasagna) and a vegetable variation for the girls or for anyone other that Jamison who is interested. Jamison's mom has developed an intolerance to tomato sauce so this let me be able to experiment with other options...And you know how I love to experiment!! ;oP

I often see recipes that call for spinach in lasagna and I have to admit I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea. I usually don't pair spinach and tomato sauce. I don't know why, but I'm just not that big of a fan of the combo. But it did make me start thinking it might be interesting to make a lasagna using an Alfredo sauce in place of the tomato sauce and I really liked the result. If you're a fan of spinach and Alfredo then this is the lasagna for you!

What You'll Need:
1 large package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 bottle of your favorite Alfredo sauce (Note: I have yet to experiment with making my own. I plan to, but just never seem to get around to it. Just look for a good bottled version, but be careful...Some of them have high fructose corn syrup in them! Why??? Alfredo isn't supposed to be sweet!)
Uncooked lasagna noodles (Note: I like these because they are the perfect length for an 8 X 8 inch dish without having to break them! But any lasagna noodles will work.)
Mozzarella, shredded
Parmesan, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 F.

So basically you're just doing you basic lasagna layering operation....

First spray or coat an 8 X 8 inch dish with non-stick spray or olive oil. Next add a layer of lasagna noodles. (Note: There is no need to cook them beforehand. They will cook as the lasagna does! The only time that I actually cook lasagna noodles is when the dish isn't going to be baked immediately. Any type of lasagna noodle will cook while baking, the box doesn't even have to say that they are "oven ready"!) Top with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce. Place a thin layer of spinach on top of the Alfredo and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat process until you run out of sauce/spinach or you reach the top of your baking dish. (Note: On the very top layer you just want mozzarella and Parmesan. Omit the spinach and Alfredo sauce.)

Spinach Alfredo Lasagna

Cover your dish with a lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes or until noodles stick done. Remove cover for the last 5-10 minutes to let it brown slightly. Take the dish out of the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: It's nearly impossible to get a decent picture of lasagna, but trust me this is delicious! You could also add in cooked onions and/or mushrooms along with the spinach if you liked. A layer of ricotta would be great too. I would add it directly to the noodles before the Alfredo layer.

Posted by Dianne at 9:53 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

November 21, 2008

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food. Seriously...I think I could eat it everyday! Refried beans, queso, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tortillas, tacos, oh my! Let's face it though Mexican isn't exactly healthy, but you can make it more healthy with a few simple tricks. So let's take a look at some enchiladas that aren't as bad for you. Don't get me wrong, this still isn't an everyday food, but there is no reason you can't take something sinful and make it a little less so, to enjoy a little more often.

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (Note: You can use any color you like. I used red.)
2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1/4-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: More if you like it hot, less if you don't. You can leave it out all together if you prefer.)
1 - 16 ounce jar of salsa, divided in half (Note: You can use mild, medium or hot...It's all according to personal taste. I used medium for this.)
1 - 8 ounce block of cheddar of Colby cheese, shredded
Whole grain tortillas (Note: If you wanted to make this gluten free you could use corn tortillas.)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas: Filling

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onion and bell pepper until tender. Remove from heat and stir in chicken, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper and 1/2 of the jar of salsa and stir to mix.

Next it's time to assemble the enchiladas!

First you want to add cheese to the middle of the tortilla:

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas: Cheese

Next add a some of the chicken mixture:

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas: Chicken Filling

And then roll the tortilla up like a burritos and place into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas: Ready to Top

Continue these steps until you fill your baking dish and/or run out of filling.

Next top with the remaining salsa:

Whole Grain Chicken Enchiladas: Ready for Cheese

Then generously top with shredded cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until slightly golden and heated through. Serve immediately with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Notes: You could do this with most any filling. Beef, pork, shrimp, or even just veggies.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna: Topped With Sour Cream

Mexican lasagna has always intrigued me. I've heard about it for years, but had never tried it. I knew the general idea was that you used corn tortillas as you would noodles in a more traditional lasagna, while also utilizing more traditionally Mexican ingredients. I made this version sans meat and I must say I really liked the result! What's even more fabulous is that the longer it sits the more the flavors just come together making it the perfect recipe for leftovers! And let's face it leftovers are a good thing...Lunch anyone? ;oP

What You'll Need:
12 Corn tortillas
1 - 15 ounce can of pinto beans (Note: If you want you can use pre-made refried beans, but I like to make my own.)
6-8 scallions, chopped (Note: Both green and white parts.)
Cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt
1 - 4.25 ounce can of whole green chillies, drained and chopped
1 - 19 ounce can of enchilada sauce
Chopped peppers (Note: You can use any type of pepper that you like. I used chopped sweet banana peppers, but bell peppers will work fine too. If you really want to heat things up then you can use a hot pepper as well.)
Shredded Cheddar, Colby or Monterrey Jack (Note: I used Colby Jack. Or you can use a combo of any of them.)
Sour cream for garnishing if desired

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mash pinto beans and stir in chopped scallions, a generous pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste. (Note: If you don't like a little spice then leave out the cayenne, but I like for it to give a little kick. You can use as much or as little of it as you like.) Set aside.

Mexican Lasagna: First Layers

Spray and 8 X 8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and place 4 corn tortillas in the bottom of the pan, overlapping, until the entire bottom surface of the dish is covered. Spread out half of the bean mixture to cover the top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with chopped chilies and peppers.

Mexican Lasagna Second Layer with Cheese

Next add a layer of enchilada sauce and cheese. Repeat these steps one more time.

Mexican Lasagna: Top

After you have done two layers add another layer of tortillas and top it with enchilada sauce and peppers. Then top with a layer of cheese.

Mexican Lasagna: Baked

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Mexican Lasagna: A Slice

Cut into slices and serve plain or with a dollop of sour cream.

Note: Guacamole would be a good topper for this too. You could add some shredded chicken too if you liked, or even some mushrooms to continue in the vegetarian vibe.

Posted by Dianne at 7:36 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken

While my first attempt at a slimmed down General Tso's Chicken didn't turn out completely as I had hoped, and wasn't quite what General Tso's Chicken should be, it did turn out to be quite lovely! It had a very spicy element along with a little sweet. It was good and I would make this again, but I'm going to have to experiment a little more. For now I'll share this with you, because really if you like a little sweet an spicy then this is the dish for you!

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoons of sesame oil
3-4 scallions, chopped (both white and green parts), Plus additional scallions cut into strips for garnishing
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 large green chili pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup of honey
2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup corn starch
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2-3 cups of steamed broccoli
Cooked brown rice (Note: Brown rice takes about an hour to cook so keep this in mind. The dish itself takes about 30-35 minutes from start to finish.)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat sauté scallions, ginger, chili pepper and crushed red pepper flakes until onion is wilted and tender. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

When onion is tender add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sea salt, honey and 1 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir together remaining chicken broth with 1/3 cup of corn starch until smooth and add to the pot. Stir sauce until thickened (this usually takes a minute or two) and remove from heat.

Let sauce cool for a minute and then strain into a bowl. Set aside.

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken: Browned Chicken

While the sauce is cooking, in a large skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil sauté chicken until browned and done through. Once cooked add strained sauce and cook for a minute or two to let the flavors meld.

While the chicken is cooking steam broccoli and the strips of green onion until tender. (Note: I usually do this in the microwave by putting a few tablespoon of water in the bottom of a glass bowl and then putting the vegetables on top. It takes about 2-3 minutes in my microwave.)

To assemble place a cup of rice on a plate and then top with the chicken/sauce mixture. Top with the steamed scallions and broccoli. Serve immediately.

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken

How easy and delicious is that?

Notes: You could do this with shrimp or beef instead. Or if you wanted an entirely vegetarian dish you could use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and mushrooms or tofu instead of meat. If you wanted to make it vegan you'd have to find a substitute for the honey. Agave nectar might work, but I'd have to play around with that to be sure.

Posted by Dianne at 8:58 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 8, 2008

Spinach Gruyère Quiche

Spinach Gruyère Quiche

I love quiche and lately I've been wanting to make one, so when I had some left over pie dough I decided this was the perfect way to put it to use! Quiches are simple and delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner! This one utilizes some fresh spinach, which just happens to be in season right now, and pairs it with some Gruyère and just a hint of Monterrey Jack. The Gruyère provides the saltiness and the Monterrey Jack gives it a smooth undertone. It's just perfect when you're really in the mood for quiche.

What You'll Need:
1 pie crust (Note: You can use homemade or store bought.) 2 cups of baby spinach, julienned
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 1/2 cups of Gruyère, shredded
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Monterrey Jack, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
A very small pinch of sea salt (Note: Gruyère can be salty so be careful with adding additional salt. If you do choose to add some I wouldn't add more than 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon at most.)
8-10 eggs (Note: This depends on the size of your eggs. If you eggs are larger you'll most likely need 8, if they are smaller then 10. There is no wrong answer with a quiche so do what feels right to you.)

Spinach Gruyère Quiche

Preheat oven to 400 F.

If you are using a homemade pie crust then roll it out and place it into a pie plate. If you're using a store bought crust it's either in a pre-made tin or it's already rolled out. If it's the rolled out version place it in a pie plate as well. Once your crust is in the pan, whether it is put there by you or already purchased that way, set it aside. Also make sure it is thawed if it was frozen.

In a large bowl toss together spinach, onion, cheeses, black pepper and sea salt if needed. Add eggs and stir to mix. Pour the egg/vegetable mixture into your pie shell. Bake for 30-40 minutes until quiche is done through and slightly golden.

Seriously how easy is that?

Spinach Gruyère Quiche

Notes: You can use any type of veggie or cheese that you like. If you wanted to make this gluten-free you could leave the crust out and simply bake the egg mixture in the pie dish without it, which would give you more of a fritatta, but it's the same in principle.

Posted by Dianne at 10:20 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 18, 2008

The Best Slow Cooker Pot Roast You'll Ever Eat

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

Pot Roast is one of, if not the, quintessential comfort food of all time. When you cook a pot roast in a slow cooker you end up with a tender, moist roast that literally falls apart. You can cook it alone and make some mashed potatoes and a side salad to accompany the meal, or you can throw in some cut up potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc to make a wonderful one dish meal.

Any way you make it, this is bound to become a family favorite! And the best part is this is simple and easy to throw on in the morning and have a hot, hearty dinner ready for the evening. Pot roast isn't just for Sunday dinner anymore!

What You'll Need:
1 roast (Note: You can chose shoulder, rump, whatever you like.)
Sea salt
Black pepper

Place roast in the bottom of you slow cooker and cover with water until just covered. Add a very generous pinch of sea salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper and believe it or not that's it!

Now for cooking. You can do it one of two ways. You can cook it on high for 5-6 hours or you can cook it on low all day long. You'll know it's done when you stick the roast with a fork and it sort of shreds.

Once the pot roast is cooked remove it from the slow cooker and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing. I usually let it rest on a cutting board or in a glass dish. When you start to slice the roast it will normally just sort of fall apart. Once in a blue moon you may get a roast that does not, but it's very rare. 9.9 times out of 10 when a roast is cooked like this it just falls apart and is very tender.

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

If you want to add in vegetables then layer them on the bottom of the slow cooker and then lay the roast on top. After that follow the same directions as above.

If you want you can make gravy with the broth that forms from the cooking of the roast by taking 2 cups of the broth and placing them in a stock pot. Take about 1/4 a cup of broth and mix with 1-2 tablespoons of flour until smooth and add to the pot. Stir the broth/flour mixture in to mix and then cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. There is no need to add salt or pepper as the broth already has both. You can also reserve the left over broth for soup.

Notes: If you want you can add in a sliced onion on top of the meat or throw in 6-8 garlic cloves, but it's not necessary unless you just want to. The salt and pepper bring out wonderful aspects of the meat itself. You could also add in some rosemary and/or thyme.

Posted by Dianne at 7:24 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Creamy Vegetable and Chicken Pasta

Creamy Vegetable and Chicken Pasta

Alexis and Jamison could eat spaghetti every night of the week if I let them, but I get bored with just plain old spaghetti so I often shift things around and make a pasta topper out of fresh tomatoes and veggies all while changing the herbs an things to make it different every time. This is one of those creations.

This pasta topper is healthy and creamy with just the right punch of herbs and flavors. The fresh tomatoes give it a wonderful depth of flavor and it's a quick easy meal that comes together in no time! Pair it with a tossed salad and you've got a delicious dinner that will break the same old pasta blues!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of cooked pasta of your choice (Note: I used corn spaghetti since I made Jamison spaghetti at the same time and of course his has to be gluten free.)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in two
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of California style frozen vegetables
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut or torn into bite sized pieces (Note: A rotisserie chicken would be perfect for this dish.)
1 cup of baby spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon of corn starch or flour (Note: If you use corn starch and pair it with a corn or soy pasta this dish is gluten free. I used flour this go around since Jamison wasn't eating the dish.)
3/4 a cup of water
Parmesan cheese to top (Note: About an ounce per person.)

In a large skillet sauté tomatoes, onion and garlic with oregano, thyme, sea salt and pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until onions are tender. Add frozen vegetables, chicken and spinach and cook until the vegetables are thawed. Next stir in flour and water and cook until the mixture thickens. Serve over pasta noodles and top with some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Makes two good sized dinner sized portions or three smaller sized portions.

Notes: You can add in type of veggies that you like. I like to add mushrooms to the mix. You can also mix and match the herbs of your choice.

Posted by Dianne at 9:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 2, 2008

Mushroom and Tortelloni Salad

Mushroom and Tortelloni Salad

I love a good pasta salad. The mix of pasta, vegetables, olive oil, vinegar and cheese just melds so perfectly together and makes a wonderful all in one meal!

Pasta salads are a good pot luck dish or even make a good addition to a picnic. You can mix and match ingredients and you always end up with a hearty, satisfying dish that can be changed the tiniest bit or drastically depending on what you're in the mood for, all while giving you a familiar, yet different experience. It's an extremely versatile alternative to your common salad. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
1 - 8 ounce package of Barilla Ricotta and Spinach Tortelloni or equivalent product, cooked according to package directions and cooled (Note: If you want to cool it quickly you can simply rinse it in cool water.)
1 package of button mushrooms, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 scallions, chopped
1 small can of black olives, drained
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook tortelloni according to package directions, drain and let cool.

Slice mushrooms and sauté in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil until mushrooms are tender. Let mushrooms cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl toss together vegetables and olives to mix. Add tortelloni and toss to incorporate. Set aside.

In a glass canning jar with a lid shake together vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and oregano until completely incorporated. (Note: You can also do this in a glass bowl with a whisk, but the jar method is much easier.) Pour over the vegetable/tortelloni mixture and toss to coat.

At this point you can do one of two things. You can refrigerate the salad for an hour or two, sprinkle with Parmesan and then serve. Or you can just sprinkle with Parmesan and serve at room temperature. Most pasta salads don't store well due to the vinegar content breaking down the vegetables and are best eaten when made or within a couple of hours there after.

Notes: You can add in other veggies if you like. Cucumbers are a wonderful addition to pasta salads, as are peas and corn.

Posted by Dianne at 7:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 26, 2008

Seasoned Mushroom and Pearl Onion Chicken with Brown Rice

Seasoned Mushroom and Pearl Onion Chicken with Brown Rice

Who says eating healthily has to be boring? You can take your basic chicken breast and spice it up with a little seasoning, pair it with some veggies and brown rice and you've turned it into a scrumptious meal! On top of that it can be done quickly and easily. What's better on a weeknight for dinner?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small package of button mushrooms
1 - 1 1/2 cups of small pearl onions (Note: I used fresh pearl onions for this.)
Seasoning Mix (Note: I used Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning, which I got at Costco. It is a dried mix of onion, garlic, carrot, black pepper, red bell pepper, tomato, orange peel, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, basil, celery, lemon peel, oregano, savory, mustard seed, cumin, margoram, coriander, cayenne pepper, citric acid and rosemary, but what ever kind of seasoning you like works.)
2 cups of cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a making dish coat each chicken breast, onions and mushrooms with a little olive oil. (Note: You just want a thin coat. A few teaspoons per breast at most.) Sprinkle seasoning over mixture and toss to coat. Bake for 35-45 minutes until chicken is done through. Serve chicken, mushrooms and onions over cooked brown rice.

Makes two servings.

Notes: You could use other veggies if you like. It's all a matter of taste. The seasoning I used has enough flavor that salt isn't necessary, but if the one you use doesn't then add a pinch of sea salt and even some black pepper to the mix as well.

P.S. It's Tuesday and you know that that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits and was chosen by Ashley of eat me, delicious. I sat out this week's recipe due to having way too much going on last week, but don't forget to pop over and see what everyone else baked up!

Posted by Dianne at 7:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 20, 2008

Mexican Chicken Stack-up

Mexican Chicken Stack-up

Mexican food is one of my all time favorites, but as you know it can be very heavy and fat laden. It doesn't have to be though. This "Stack-up" is the perfect substitution for nachos. By layering your ingredients the flavors all meld together and the end result is light, yet satisfying, all while being full of protein, vitamins and good fats. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 cup of beans (Note: I used black beans, but you can use red beans, pinto beans or a mixture if you like.)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked in Mexican spices (See instructions and ingredients below.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 an onion, chopped
1 ounce of light or fat free cheddar
1/2 an avocado, sliced
1-2 tablespoons of light sour cream

Heat beans in a small pot.

Mexican Chicken Stack-up: Chicken

While the beans are cooking cut chicken into strips or chunks and place in a skillet. Cover with chicken with water. Add 1 tablespoon of parika, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of cumin to the water. Give a quick stir. Put pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook until water evaporates.

While the chicken and beans are cooking sauté onions in a little extra virgin olive oil until caramelized.

Now on to assembly...The first layer is the beans and the second layer is the chicken.
Mexican Chicken Stack-up: Beans and Chicken

Next add the onions.
Mexican Chicken Stack-up: Beans, Chicken and Onions

On top of the onions place the cheese and let it melt a bit and then top with avocado.
Mexican Chicken Stack-up: Beans, Chicken, Onions, Cheese and Avocado

And finally top with sour cream and serve immediately.

Notes: You could use steak or shrimp instead of chicken or if you wanted to go completely veggie you could sauté some mushrooms and use that instead. Portabella mushrooms would work really well, but any mushrooms will do. Also you can sauté some bell pepper with the onion is you like.

Posted by Dianne at 7:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 31, 2008

Balsamic Steak with Feta and Thyme Sweet Potato Medallions

Balsamic Steak with Feta and Thyme Sweet Potato Medallions

Balsamic vinegar and feta go very well together, but who is going to eat feta simply with a little balsamic vinegar? By marinating a steak in some balsamic vinegar and topping it with feta, you've got a wonderful taste combination. Pair the steak with some Thyme Sweet Potato Medallions (which go together well in flavor too!) along with some baked or steamed asparagus and you've got a healthy, filling meal in no time!

What You'll Need for the Thyme Sweet Potato Medallions Per Person:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium to large sweet potato, cut into rounds
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a baking dish and spread around to coat. (Note: you only need a few teaspoons to a tablespoon max. Use a basting brush to spread it around on the surface of the dish.) Layer sweet potatoes into the dish and sprinkle with thyme. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Thyme Sweet Potato Medallions

Notes: Depending on how many potatoes you are cooking this may take more or less time. Keep an eye on them. You could leave off the thyme if you aren't a fan and simply top them with a little sea salt and black pepper OR you could even just sprinkle with a little nutmeg and/or cinnamon. It you go with the nutmeg and/or cinnamon route don't think you need to add any sugar. Contrary to popular belief though sweet potatoes really don't need any sugar added, they are naturally sweet all on their own!

What You'll Need for the Balsamic Steak with Feta Per Person:
1 single serving type steak of your choice (Note: An appropriate sized serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards or your palm.)
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 ounce of feta cheese (Note: I used fat free feta, but you can use whatever type you like.)

In a bowl cover the steak with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, turning the steak occasionally in order to coat evenly.

When you are ready to cook the steak the cooking method is up to you. You can remove it from the marinating solution and pan sear or "fry" it until it's done to your likeness, you can grill it or you can even bake it. I chose the pan searing method and I prefer my steaks medium so it took about 3-5 minutes in a very warm skillet.

Once the steak is cooked top with feta while the steak is still hot and serve immediately.

Notes: You could use goat cheese instead of feta if you wanted, because what's not better with a little goat cheese! ;o) Also the balsamic vinegar caramelizes as you cook it so it gives the outside of the steak a beautiful dark chocolate color.

Posted by Dianne at 8:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 9, 2007

Old Bay Roasted Chicken

Old Bay Roasted Chicken

Chicken, chicken, chicken! It's been a chickeny few days around here at Dianne's Dishes. I had chicken in the freezer that needed to be used so there's been a whole lot of chicken! It's fall clean out time of the freezer! You've heard of spring cleaning? Well I like to do it in the Fall too! ;o)

Old Bay Roasted Chicken is chicken with a kick! My sister, who isn't a fan of Old Bay seasoning, even enjoyed this when we had it for dinner last night! It's another simple go to dish that you just roast and go! Pair with rice or potatoes and a side salad and you've got a nice healthy meal!

What You'll Need:
1 whole chicken
Extra virgin olive oil
Old Bay seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Wash and dry the chicken. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and coat with Old Bay seasoning. Be sure to sprinkle Old Bay into the cavity of the chicken too.

Bake for 2 hours or until chicken sticks to 180 F. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes: Old Bay has a bit of a kick to it so if you've never tried it be aware. If you remove the "crust" that the Old Bay forms it removes some of the heat. But if you like things hot then the more the better! :o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 5, 2007

Chicken, Artichoke and Spinach Pizza

Chicken, Artichoke and Spinach Pizza

Every couple of weeks we have pizza night. Jamison and Alexis always have the same thing and don't deviate from their norm. Tomato sauce, pepperoni, ground beef and rice milk mozzarella cheese for Jamison, while Alexis likes tomato sauce, Parmesan, black olives and fresh mozzarella. I on the other hand rarely eat the same pizza twice in a row. I'm always coming up with new variations and this variation is scrumptious!

What You'll Need Per Person:
Pizza crust
Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup of spinach, chopped
2 artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup of chicken (cooked), shredded
Black olives
Goat Cheese

First off you need pizza dough. I always make my own with the link provided above, but you can purchase dough if you like. It's completely up to you. Divide the dough into "personal pan" sizes and go from there.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

For this pizza you want to roll out your dough and brush it with extra virgin olive oil. Top with minced garlic and parmesan. Bake in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Don't let it get too brown because you will be putting it back in the oven when it is topped.

Remove crust from the oven and let it sit for a minute or two and then top with most of the spinach, saving a bit to put on the top. Next layer on artichoke hearts, chicken and olives. Top with left over spinach, a bit more Parmesan, mozzarella and goat cheese.

Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until toppings are melted and golden.

Notes: You can leave out the chicken and make it completely vegetarian. You could also add in other veggies. This is a "white" pizza given the lack of tomatoes, but you probably figured that out already! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:23 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 20, 2007

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those quintessential comfort foods. Normally it's tomato based, but it doesn't have to be. I had some chicken left over from this weekend from when I made some chicken noodle soup and thought this would be an interesting way to use what I had left. Throw in a little spinach along with the chicken and you've got a hearty twist on the classic, that will fast become a favorite. It's nice to have a twist to pull out to surprise those you might be serving. Try it, you'll love it!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 purple onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of spinach leaves, washed and chopped
3 cups of shredded chicken
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sauté onion and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil until just tender. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in chicken and add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush an 8 X 8 inch dish with olive oil and place a layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom of the dish. (Note: If you want to make the dish go faster pre-cook the noodles and decrease cooking time in the oven by 45 minutes. Otherwise just put the noodles into the dish straight out of the package.) Add a layer of chicken/spinach mixture and top with Parmesan and mozzarella. Repeat these steps until you run out of chicken/spinach mixture, ending with a layer of spinach/chicken topped with cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50-60 minutes until noodles stick tender. Cook for the last 10 minutes with foil removed. Remove from oven when done and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Notes: You could use mushrooms and leave out the chicken to make it vegetarian.

Posted by Dianne at 8:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 21, 2007

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Who says chicken fingers have to be fried? You can make a healthier version by baking them in the oven and they are just as scrumptious! What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt free seasoning mix (It's like season salt, but it's salt free)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder or salt
Boneless, skinless chicken tenders (Note: You can always take a boneless skinless breast and cut it into strips if you can't find them already pre-cut at your butcher's counter.)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch dish with non-stick.

Beat eggs and sit aside.

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs, parmesan, seasoning mix, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, paprika, parsley and garlic powder or salt to combine.

Dip one chicken tender into the bread crumb mixture to coat. Then dip into the beaten eggs mixture and coat both sides. Dip back into the bread crumb mixture and coat once again and place into the pre-sprayed dish. Repeat until you run out of chicken tenders. Make sure the chicken tenders aren't touching. They can be close to one another, but give them a little room in between.

Bake for 8-15 minutes until chicken is done through and tenders are golden brown.

Notes: You could add crushed pecans, macadamia nuts or cashews to the bread crumb mixture for a different taste. You could also add in Cajun or Creole seasoning in place of the seasoning mix to spice things up. Leftovers make good sandwiches.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

"Hobo" Dinner

Hobo Dinner

This meal is the epitome of easy, fresh and cheap dining! With all the veggies coming in at the Farmer's Market and in the garden this is a very easy dish to pull together. It's perfect for camping cooked right over the camp fire (that's where we always had it and it reminds me of summers at the lake), grilling or even in the oven. Mix and match what you have on hand and you can have a basic "Hobo" Dinner or even a "Not So Basic" version. What you put in it it completely up to you, but you'll enjoy it none the less!

What You'll Need Per Person:
Aluminum foil
Non-stick spray
1 serving of meat (ground beef, chicken, fish, seafood, steak, etc.)
1 small potato (sweet potato, russet, yellow, etc.)
1 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
2 slices of onion
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take aluminum foil and foil up sides to make a square "dish". Spray the foil with non-stick spray and place meat serving in the middle of the the "dish". (Note: To make this completely vegetarian/vegan you could use mushrooms in place of the meat. Just slice a few button mushrooms and add to the bottom or use a large Portabella mushroom cap.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next layer potatoes over the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Do you see a pattern forming here? ;o)) Next add the zucchini and then a bit more salt and pepper. Top with sliced onions and fold the foil over to form a packet and seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet or in a dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until meat is done and veggies are tender. Serve immediately by sliding the packet onto a plate. You've got everything right there in the packet, ready to go.

Notes: You could easily add other veggies. What ever you like would work. Corn would be nice. Carrots would be good too. Rutabaga, turnip...Well you get the idea! You could also add in other spices or seasoning. Old Bay seasoning would be perfect with shrimp or seafood. Mix it up and make it your own!

Posted by Dianne at 11:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 7, 2007

Rosemary Thyme Baked Chicken

Rosemary & Thyme Baked Chicken

My herbs are about the only thing that this drought hasn't killed! Herbs, herbs, herbs galore! What do do with all those glorious summer herbs coming out of the garden? How about pairing them with some chicken. It's the perfect compliment!

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Brush each chicken breast with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and then top with chopped herbs. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden browned and done through. (Note: If you're paranoid you can cut into the chicken breast at its thickest point to make sure it's all the way done, but it isn't really necessary.) Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Rosemary & Thyme Baked Chicken

Notes: Again this is a perfect grill recipe if you don't want to heat up the kitchen. You could also use a steamer. The flavor from the thyme and rosemary infuse the entire chicken breast and give it a wonderful, fresh flavor. You could also add in a little grated lemon or orange rind for a nice citrus compliment. This chicken is perfect paired with whole grain brown rice and a little steamed spinach for a delicious, healthy meal.

Posted by Dianne at 7:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 1, 2007

Fried Buttermilk Chicken and Biscuits

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

It would appear I'm on a southern food kick this week! It must be this god awful heat that is making me think of childhood comfort food from Tennessee! ;o) Fried Chicken is the very epitome of what you think about when you think of southern cuisine. Throw in some Buttermilk Biscuits and mashed potatoes and you've got southern through and through!

What You'll Need For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken:
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1 quart of buttermilk
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
3 tablespoons of Vogue Cuisine Instant Vege Base Soup and Seasoning or vegetable bullion powder
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Oil for frying (I like safflower)

You can either buy the whole chicken cut up by your butcher or you can cut it up yourself. Either way, once it's in pieces wash chicken and pat dry. In a large container with a sealable lid place layer the chicken and cover with the quart of buttermilk. Place container in the fridge and leave it there for at least 24 hours.

When ready to make chicken heat oil to 350 F in a large skillet or stock pot. ( I prefer to use a stock pot...Less splashing and chance for burns!) Preheat oven to 425 F.

While oil is heating mix together flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and Vogue Cuisine Instant vege Base Soup and Seasoning and place in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Then dredge each piece in the flour mixture to cover completely. Place directly into heated oil and cook until each piece is golden brown turning once or twice to ensure all sides are browned.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken Frying

Place fried chicken on a baking sheet that is topped with a cookie wrack or a broil pan with top and bake for 10-12 minutes to make the chicken crisp. Drop heat to warm (about 170 F) and leave chicken in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

Notes: The larger the piece the longer the frying time. It takes roughly 7-10 minutes per side for a large breast piece. A wing takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Watch the color and you want it to just be golden. You also don't want to completely cover the chicken with oil. You just want it to come up the sides of each piece. 2-3 inches of oil is usually what you're looking for. Fried Chicken also makes a good picnic food the next day cold.

Buttermilk Biscuits

I decided to change my regular biscuit recipe a bit and play around with it a little. This was the result...I was very pleased!

What You'll Need For the Buttermilk Biscuits:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk (Note: You made need more or less depending on humidity. Add slowly and once the dough forms stop!)
Melted butter for brushing, optional

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and sea salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of your food processor. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or the food processor until crumbly. Add buttermilk and stir until just mixed. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out the dough and cut into biscuits using a glass or biscuit cutter. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Let the biscuits sit for 20-25 minutes and rest. Then brush with melted butter if desired and baked for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Posted by Dianne at 9:49 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 31, 2007

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Ribs are one of Jamison's favorite meals...Throw in a few potato skins and he's in heaven! A few years ago I read something about slow cooker ribs and thought it was an interesting idea, but never got back to actually trying the theory. Yesterday when Alexis and I went to the grocery store they had some pork ribs on sale, so I decided to give them a try! The result was tender, fall off of the bone goodness! Plus the whole thing is easy and fool proof. Throw them on before you go to work and come home to a mouth watering dinner. If you like ribs you'll love these!

What You'll Need:
1 rack of ribs
1 batch of Dianne's Barbeque Sauce

Cut slab of ribs into 3 or 4 sections to fit into your slow cooker depending on what size machine you have. (I have the large one so I cut the slab into 3 pieces.) Place rib sections into your slow cooker and pour all of the Barbeque Sauce minus 1 cup into the crock to cover the ribs and cook on high for 4 hours. Lower heat to low and cook for an additional 2-3 hours or until meat is tender and falling from the bone. Prior to serving heat the reserved barbeque sauce through and serve as a dipping sauce. (Note: If you are serving more than 1 or 2 people then you can add more ketchup and brown sugar to the existing Barbeque Sauce to make it go further. Simply use a 1 cup ketchup to 2-3 tablespoon brown sugar ratio.)

Notes: You could also do this with chicken or a boneless pork shoulder. If you don't want to remember to change the temeperature you could cook them on high for a total of 5-6 hours and it would work just as well. Just remember when the bones comes out easily it's done! The cooking time depends on the volume of ribs present. While the ribs were cooking I kept moving them around in the slow cooker so that each piece had a chance to be on the bottom, but you can just walk away and ignore them until they are done too. Either method will work fine.

Posted by Dianne at 8:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 24, 2007

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is another one of those ultimate comfort foods. There are many ways to make the dish, but it's hard to find a version much better than this one! It's warm, hearty and oh so delicious!

What You'll Need For The Crust:
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of cold butter
1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of ice water

In a food processor pulse together flour and salt to mix. Cut cold butter into pats and add to the food processor. Pulse the butter with the flour until mixture becomes crumbly and roughly the size of peas. Slowly add water until a dough ball forms. (Note: You might not need all of the water. When the ball forms stop adding water. It's also possible that you might need a bit more water. It all depends on the humidity in the air and such. You can't judge beforehand unfortunately so pay attention and when the ball forms stop adding water!!) Divide the dough into two balls and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Let the dough soften at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before rolling out so it will be easy to use.

What You'll Need For The Filling:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked in water and chopped into large chunks
1 stick of butter
1 onion, chopped
6-8 large button mushroom, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup of parsley, chopped
2 cups of chicken cooking water
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup of frozen peas
1 egg, beaten

Cook chicken in a pot by covering with water. Add a little sea salt and black pepper and cook until chicken is done through. Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid and cut chicken into chunks and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Melt 1 stick of butter and sauté onions and mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until tender. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add parsley and stir to mix. Add chicken cooking water and let the mixture thicken (about 2-3 minutes). Add veggies and chicken and stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.

What To Do To Assemble the Pot Pie:

Roll out dough and press into a pie dish. Add filling to the pie shell. (Note: The filling will be slightly higher than the top of the dish. Push the bulk of the filling to the center of the pie shell.) Roll out the other dough ball and cover the pie, crimp the edges and cut steam holes. Brush the top of the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt:

Chicken Pot Pie Baking

Bake for 35-35 minutes until crust is golden browned.

Chicken Pot Pie Baked

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie

Notes: You could easily leave the chicken out of this and make it a Vegetable Pot Pie. You could substitute vegetable broth for the chicken water in this scenario to make it completely vegetarian. Leeks would also be a good addition, as would cubed potatoes. You can also make the filling and chill it before using for a day or two in the fridge or freeze in the freezer for months.

Posted by Dianne at 8:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2007



Katherine and I were watching Paula Deen yesterday and she and her son Bobby made Goulash. We thought it looked interesting so I whipped up a batch with what I had on hand and tweaked it a bit. The result was delicious! Next I want to try the Caramel Cake she made on that show too! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced (or 3 small cloves)
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of onion powder
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 - 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of water
3/4 package of textured soy protein
3/4 of a package of fusilli (The fusilli I used came in a 1 lb 1.6 oz package)

In a stock pot sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic until tender. Add thyme, basil, onion powder, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and soy sauce. Stir to mix. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer cook for about 15-10 minutes to let flavors meld. Add soy protein and fusilli and cook for 6-8 minutes until fusilli is done. Serve immediately.

Notes: Paula's recipe called for Italian seasoning, but since I don't usually have that on hand, I just used the components separately, minus the oregano which I'm out of at the moment and keep forgetting to purchase. The recipe also called for macaroni noodles, but I used fusilli instead because that's what I had on hand. We used soy protein and mushrooms in place of meat, because I'm not a fan of red meat most of the time. In short all of that to say this is a very easy dish to mix and match.

Posted by Dianne at 8:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 28, 2007

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole reminds me again of childhood and this is my take on my Mom's classic. It's another one of those ultimate comfort foods! It's also very versatile. Throw in what you like, bake and about 40 minutes later you've got a hearty meal! How comforting is that?

What You'll Need For The Topping:
2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 - 2 cups of buttermilk (You may need more or less depending on humidity. You are looking for batter consistency.)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix all ingredients and put into a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cook and then break into crumbles and set aside.

Chicken Casserole

What You'll Need For the Chicken Casserole:
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cups of crumbled corn bread (See recipe above)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup of chicken broth (Notes: You are using this to moisten the topping. See the notes below in the recipe itself.)
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast, chopped (Notes: Use 2 if you use extra mushrooms, 3 if you choose not to)
2 cups of mushrooms sliced
1 can of cream of mushroom soup OR 2 cups of a creamy soup such as this one
1/2 cup of fat free half and half

Sauté celery and onion until just tender. In a large bowl mix cornbread, celery, onion, broth, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until mixture is moist. Use more or less broth depending on consistency. (Note: You are looking for the constancy of stuffing or dressing.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together chicken, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup, half and half, a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once mixed spread mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with stuffing mixture and spread out to cover the chicken mixture entirely.

Bake for 30-45 minute, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I sometimes add sage and/or thyme into the topping for a bit of a twist.

Posted by Dianne at 7:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 19, 2007

Spinach and Chive Quiche

Spinach and Chive Quiche

I love quiche and surprise, surprise, Jamison doesn't. So every once in a while I make one for lunch. This variation turned out especially yummy! The cheeses settled to make layers that all sort of melded together into a lovely taste sensation! If you like quiche then most definitely try this one!

What You'll Need:
1 pie shell
8-10 eggs (Depending on size. More on that in the recipe itself.)
1/3 cup of chopped chives
1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped or julienned
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup of Buttermilk cheese (or Cheddar), shredded

Spinach and Chive Quiche

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Press pie crust into a pie dish and set aside. (Note: You can make your own or you can use a premade shell. It's completely up to you. I happened to have a couple of shells in the fridge from when my parents were here so I just used one of those.)

Beat together 8 eggs and stir in remaining ingredients and pour into pie shell. If this doesn't fill up the pie shell then beat a couple of more eggs and pour over the top. Bake quiche for 30-40 minutes or until done through. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Spinach and Chive Quiche

Notes: You can add other cheeses, or throw in some meat, or even use different veggies. Mushrooms are always good, as are onions and asparagus. It's another one of those recipes you can tweak endlessly and it's always good! Add a side salad and you've got a meal!

Posted by Dianne at 7:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 20, 2007

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

My parents are visiting us from Tennessee and my dad requested that I make dinner. Things have been a bit busy with us flitting here and there, so I hadn't cooked dinner since their arrival as we had been out and about. Last night however we slowed down long enough to actually be at home and I got to cook a home cooked meal, which as you know I adore and prefer to eating out any day.

As a child this was another of my Mom's special occasion meals. Serve the meatballs and rice along with a few vegetables and/or a salad and you've got a great meal! The next time I make them I'm going to try to make them with Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style meat substitute and make them meatless, but that's a little "daring" for my Dad! For last night's dinner we just stuck to the basics. That's the way he likes things! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 small onion, shredded
1 large or 3 small carrots, shredded
1 medium to large potato, shredded
2 pounds of ground beef
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of cream of mushrooms soup or 4-6 cups of Creamy Potato Leek And Mushroom Soup
2 cups of uncooked brown rice, cooked according to package directions

Preheat a large skillet.

Mix shredded veggies, ground beef, salt, pepper and eggs until completely incorporated. (Tip: Much like meatloaf it's easier if you just dig in with your hands and mix it that way.) Once the meat/veggie mixture is mixed form into meatballs about the size of a cherry tomato.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Add a thin layer (about 1/8 of an inch) of olive oil to your preheated skillet and brown meatballs on each side and place into a 13 X9 inch baking dish. Cover browned meatballs with cream of mushrooms soup or Creamy Potato Leek And Mushroom Soup. Bake for 40-50 minutes until meatballs are done through. (Note: I tend to like beef when I eat it to be between medium well to well done. If you prefer a different amount of doneness then adjust cooking times accordingly.)

Serve meatballs over rice.

Swedish Meatballs

Posted by Dianne at 10:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff

As a child my Mom used to make Beef Stroganoff from time to time and it was one of our childhood favorites. She used ground beef instead of thin steak, but it was delicious none the less and as I've mentioned many times as I've gotten older red meat normally makes my stomach hurt so I've adapted a lot of my old beef recipes to substitute mushrooms instead. Trust me you'll never know the difference!

You can use whatever type of mushrooms you want with this recipes. Portabellas are particularly good in this dish, though I usually use button mushrooms because even though they are simple they are my favorite. In this case I used the left over mushrooms from the Mushroom Broth, but you can use fresh mushrooms or if you're a meat eater then you can add thin steak or ground beef. It's just a matter of taste and there is no wrong answer.

What You'll Need:
Mushrooms left over from Mushroom Broth or 1 1/2 pounds mushroom caps of your choice, sliced
1 envelope onion soup mix
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup of sour cream
6 cups egg noodles, cooked according to package directions

If using fresh mushrooms in a large skillet over medium heat sauté mushrooms in non-stick cooking spray until almost tender. If using the already cooked mushrooms from the Mushroom broth then proceed to the soup mix. Stir in onion soup mix, flour and tomato paste. Add water and sour cream stir until well mixed. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Serve immediately over cooked egg noodles.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Posted by Dianne at 9:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

Whole Grain Shrimp Enchiladas

Whole Grain Shrimp Enchiladas

Enchiladas by their very nature are anything but healthy, delicious yes, but healthy, not so much. This was my attempt at making them a bit healthier and it turned out deliciously! True, it's still not bonified health food, but it's a lot better than their original fat laden counterparts. Try it and see!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 baby yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 baby red bell pepper, chopped
Sea salt
Black Pepper
1-8 ounce package of fat free cream cheese
1 medium block of low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (Note: I have not been able to find fat-free cheddar cheese in block form and the pre-shredded stuff does not melt properly due to stabilizers. I don't know if they make fat free block cheddar cheese, or what it would melt like. It is possible that there might not be enough latent fat content for it to work. If anyone knows of a brand of fat-free cheddar cheese in block form that you've tried then email me a diannesdishes at gmail dot com and let me know. :o))
1 cup of salsa
1 1/2 cups of small steamed shrimp
8 Whole Grain (preferably sprouted grain if you can find it) 8-inch Tortillas
1/2 cup of fat free half and half

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onions and bell peppers with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper until tender. Stir in cream cheese, salsa and 1/2 of the cheese and stir until melted and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Place the enchilada filling from the skillet down the middle of each of the 8 tortillas and roll the tortillas up. Place them seam down in the baking dish and cover with them evenly with the rest of the cheese. Pour half and half over the cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned. Remove enchiladas from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, guacamole or any other topics you prefer.

Posted by Dianne at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

Vegetable Enchiladas


My sister and Nelson came over to play in the dirt last Thursday (You've gotta love spring...It's time to plant things again!) and we decided to whip up some dinner. My sister suggested enchiladas and I thought that sounded heavenly! We whipped up this dish and it's not something you'd want to eat every night (lots of cheese, and thus calories), but it most definitely is worth making now and then! ;o)

What You'll Need For The Enchiladas:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
4 large or 6 small mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 small container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 - 8 ounce block of low fat cheddar, shredded
1 - 8 ounce block of Colby cheese, shredded
1 cup of milk

What You'll Need For Toppings:
Sour Cream
Green onions


Mix cheeses together and set aside

In a large skillet sauté bell pepper, onion and mushrooms until tender with a little salt and pepper. Stir in Tofutti and half of the cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon Tofutti/veggie mixture into the middle of corn tortillas and fold over. Place seam side down in the baking dish and repeat until all the filling is gone. Top with remaining cheese and milk and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.


Top with toppings of your choice after serving.

Notes: You can add whatever you like in the filling. Next time I think I'm going to try some crawfish and shrimp! You could also add some green chilies, or jalapeños, or even a little salsa. Whatever strikes your fancy go for it! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 28, 2007


Calzone: Baked!

Basically calzones are just a rolled up version of pizza in a pocket or mini pies so to speak, but they are fun to make and delicious to eat! Throw in your favorite toppings, add a salad on the side and you've got yourself a meal!

Calzone: The Inside

What You'll Need For The Crust: (This is my basic pizza dough recipe.)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of warm water
4 teaspoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of honey

Mix flour and salt in your food processor by giving it a few pulses. Add in olive oil.

In a separate container mix water, yeast and honey. Turn on food processor and pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture and process until dough ball forms.

Cut dough ball into 4 pieces and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

What You'll Need For Each Calzone:
1/4 pizza crust
1/4 a red onion, sliced into strips
1/4 a bell pepper, diced
1 large button mushroom, sliced
Green or black olives, optional
2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of part skim Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of pizza sauce
olive oil
1 pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch of dried oregano
1 pinch of Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Cook red onion, bell pepper and mushroom until tender by sautéing or in the microwave. Set aside.

Take one ball of dough and roll flat:

Calzone Dough: Rolled Out

In the middle of the rolled out dough add cooked vegetable mixture and olives:

Calzone: Veggies

Next add mozzarella cheese:

Calzone: Mozzarella

Then add Parmesan cheese:

Calzone: Parmesean

And then add ricotta cheese:

Calzone: Ricotta

Last add pizza sauce:

Calzone: Sauce

Fold dough over the filling:

Calzone: Folded Over

Fold the excess dough back toward the calzone to crimp the edges and seal in the filling:

Calzone: Edges Tucked

With a very sharp knife make 3 slits for venting:

Calzone: Vented

Brush the top of the calzone with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, oregano and/or Parmesan cheese:

Calzone: Brushed With Olive Oil, Sprinkled With Dried Oregano, Sea Salt, Parmesean And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Each calzone makes roughly 2 servings.

Notes: You can put pretty much anything you want to into the center for your fillings. Spinach? Sure! Goat cheese? Yum! Use salsa instead of pizza sauce and cheddar cheese to make a Mexican calzone. Or you could make a fruit calzone with some cooked apples, blueberries or cherries!

Be creative! Being in the kitchen isn't just about eating, it also about having fun!

Posted by Dianne at 12:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Garlic Shrimp Pasta With Homemade Spaghetti Noodles

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

A few years ago Jamison got me a pasta maker for Christmas. I got it out one day to use it and found out that the first batch can't be eaten because you have to use the dough to clean the oil out of the machine and I hadn't gotten back to it given life is just sometimes crazy. Yesterday I finally had time to get it back out and make some pasta! Alexis "helped" me so the noodles didn't turn out nice and long because they were just play dough to her, but they were delicious none the less! I HIGHLY recommend fresh pasta! It was easy, cooked up in no time and was delicious to boot!

What You'll Need For the Pasta:

I used the recipe off the back of the Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour package, minus the salt, but I did things a little differently from the instructions.

Homemade Spaghetti Noodles

1 1/2 cups of Semolina flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of water

Process ingredients in a food processor until a ball forms. Remove and knead for 5 minutes. Roll into a ball and put into a bowl oiled with olive oil and let sit covered for 1 hour.

Pasta Dough

After at least and hour remove pasta ball from bowl and cut in half. Cut each half into half again. Press pasta flat and run through your pasta maker a few times to make a long flat noodle.

Flat Pasta Noodle

Once the noodle is flat run through the pasta cutter of your choice. My machine has spaghetti and fettuccini on the attachment I currently have. I chose the spaghetti setting.

Lay noodles flat as you cut them to prevent them from sticking together and cook in boiling water with a little salt for 2-4 minutes. Fresh noodles cook MUCH faster than the dried equivalent, so keep an eye on them!

Once cooked top with the pasta sauce of your choice.

What You'll Need For the Garlic Shrimp Per Person:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 gloves of garlic
2 scallions
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6-8 shrimp
1 1/2 cups of cooked pasta
2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of chopped parsley

Sauté garlic and scallions in a little olive oil until just tender. Add a pinch of sea salt, ground pepper and the shrimp and cook until shrimp are just pink. Add noodles, cheese and parsley and cook until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Posted by Dianne at 9:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 31, 2007

Meatless "Meat"loaf

Meatless "Meat"loaf

Since I started my no meat in January test I started thinking of ways to take "classic" meals that have meat in them and transform them into veggie versions that make you never miss the meat! Actually I've been doing this over the past few years when I started avoiding red meat, given it makes me sick to my stomach. Meatloaf was one dish that I had never tried to adapt though. Given the main ingredient of meatloaf is well, meat, the idea was a bit daunting, but I'm never one to be persuaded when I put my mind to something.

I started scouring the internet to see what was out there. I found rice versions and lentil versions and though they looked delicious, they just weren't what I was looking for. Then I came across Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style and decided that it would be the perfect for a "meat" loaf and I was right...It worked like a charm!

What You'll Need:
2 packages of Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
2 eggs (If you want to veganize this you could substitute egg replacer)
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup of organic ketchup, divided
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix GLGBS, eggs, oats, bell pepper, red onion, 1/2 cup of ketchup, sea salt and black pepper with your hands until completely incorporated. (You've got to get your hands dirty to make a little comfort food!) Place mixture into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and spread out/flatten to form a loaf. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of ketchup and baked for 30-35 minutes until browned on top.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 8 servings.

Note: I actually halved this recipe and made two mini meat loaves. I had one for dinner last night and froze the other one for later.

Posted by Dianne at 2:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack