August 1, 2012

Baked Gluten Free Chicken Tenders

Baked Gluten Free Chicken Tenders

Alexis is a big fan of chicken tenders and as you know many that are available commercially are made out of that stuff they swipe up off the bottom of the floor at the chicken factory. Who wants to eat that? Not me! And I most definitely do not want to feed that to my child, so I went with simple, and gluten free so Jamison could eat them too, and voila...Homemade, gluten free, baked chicken fingers! Much better than the commercial variety!

These chicken tenders make a great main course; pair it with a salad, or roasted vegetables and you've got a kid friendly meal, that is much better than the alternative and that my friends is a good thing!

What You'll Need:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into tenders
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of corn starch
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of gluten free corn flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon of season salt (Note: You can use Lawry's or Old Bay or Tony Chachere's, etc. Whatever you like, go with it!)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut the chicken breasts in to strips or you can buy the tenders already cut if you prefer. Set aside.

Stir together corn starch and salt until incorporated. Set aside.

Beat eggs in a pie dish and set aside.

Crush the corn flakes until they're fine. I like to do this in a large bag and roll the heck out of them with a rolling pin. Place crushed corn flakes in a bowl and add seasoning. Stir to mix.

Dip each chicken strip in the beaten egg. Next dredge the chicken strip in the corn starch mixture. Dip the strip back in to the egg mixture and then dredge completely with the corn flake mixture. Place prepared strip on a baking sheet lined with a silicone making sheet or parchment paper. Repeat process until all of the chicken is coated.

Once all of the chicken is prepared bake for 25-20 minutes until golden and done through. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: No notes for this one.

Posted by Dianne at 2:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2010

Ground Chicken Tacos

Ground Chicken Tacos

I love Mexican food! Seriously I think I could eat Mexican every day and be perfectly content with that fate. Jamison on the other hand isn't a fan. On Sunday I made him take me to have Mexican after church and he grinned and bared it like a champ. I don't usually drag him for Mexican, but sometimes you just want what you want! I couldn't help but tease him that my next husband was going to have to love Mexican food. Bless his heart for putting up with me! ;oP

When I make Mexican inspired dishes at home I like to lighten them up a bit. This version of tacos takes ground chicken and makes a really satisfying alternative to your basic taco. Top them the way you like and voila!...You've got a really great weeknight Mexican dinner that really his the spot!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 pound of ground chicken
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of ground chipolte chile powder
1 cup of water

Saute onions and pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until slightly tender. Add ground chicken, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper and cook until chicken is done through:

Ground Chicken Tacos: Meat, Onions and Peppers

Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix:

Ground Chicken Tacos: Ready to Simmer

Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed and mixture thickens slightly:

Ground Chicken Tacos: Ready to Make Tacos

Serve in hard of soft taco shells with cheese, tomatoes, avocado, etc.

Ground Chicken Tacos

Notes: This makes a great topping for nachos too! Also this process works with any ground meat.

Posted by Dianne at 12:39 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 21, 2009

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions

Within the last year I have discovered ground chicken. I don't know what took me so long, but it's such a versatile ingredient to play around with! The first time I used it was actually earlier this year in Beggar's Stew. Since then you will often find a package in my freezer.

Burgers are perhaps the most obvious choice when using ground chicken and this burger combines the old timey burger feel, with the zing and pop of Old Bay seasoning. If you're a fan of Old Bay then this burger is for you!

What You'll Need:
1 pound of ground chicken
1 large sweet onion, divided, half chopped fine, half cut into strips
Old Bay Seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Flat bread
Burger toppings of your choice

In a large bowl mix together ground chicken and chopped onion, along with a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning. Mix together (it's best to get your hands in there and just squish it all together!) until everything is incorporated.

Shape into three patties and then sprinkle the tops with more Old Bay seasoning:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Ready to Cook

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large skillet cook burgers until each side is browned and then place in a glass baking dish:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Ready to Bake

Place in preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until done through. (Note: I like to finish these up in the oven to be sure that they do indeed cook through. Raw chicken is not something you want to bite into!)

While burgers are baking start your onions.

Place the onion strips into a large skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring often, until slightly caramelized:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Onions Caramelizing

Once burgers are done remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Baked

While burgers are resting toast your flat bread until nice and golden:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Flat Bread and Swiss

Top each toasted flat bread with a burger, some cheese (if desired) and onions:

Old Bay Chicken Flat Bread Burgers With Caramelized Onions: Ready to Top

You can also top with any other burger fixings/condiments that you like.

I like to serve this with sweet potato oven fries.

Notes: If you don't care for Old Bay (sacrilege! ;oP) you can omit that and add in thyme and rosemary or some other seasoning.

Posted by Dianne at 8:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 7, 2009

Pineapple Chicken Salad

Pineapple Chicken Salad

I love fruity chicken salads. It all goes back to when my Mom worked at a little video store downtown in the small town where I grew up. There was a theater up the street that had a little sandwich type shop that was open every afternoon and we often went there to grab a late lunch or a snack. One of their dishes was a chicken salad sandwich that had pineapple in the mix. I immediately fell in love!

This recipe takes me back to my childhood in so many ways. It is probably my first taste it then go and make it sort of dish. I've made variations of this many times over the years, and while I've liked them all, I have to admit this is probably my favorite take. I whipped up this batch to make finger sandwiches for Miss G's birthday party. I thought I had gotten a shot of the actual sandwiches I made, but I missed that in the hustle and bustle of the day

This truly is a "use everything" kind of dish. You get the added benefit of having chicken stock/broth to use as well. And as you know I'm all about the versatile dish. I just love something that puts you half way to something else!

What You'll Need:
2 small chickens
Sea salt
Black pepper
Bay leaves
Rosemary sprigs
Thyme sprigs
1 - 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
1 bunch of scallions (Note: I used red spring onions, but you can use whatever you can find.)
1/3 cup of light mayonnaise (Note: I like Hellmann's.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/3 cup of pineapple juice

Place both chicken in a large pot and cover with water. (You're basically cooking the chicken like you're making chicken stock/broth.) Add a generous amount of sea salt (about a tablespoon), some black pepper (roughly another tablespoon), a few bay leaves, some rosemary, some thyme, etc.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 to an hour until chicken is done through. Remove chickens from stock/broth (they'll probably fall apart) and set aside to cool. You can strain the broth and freeze or store in the fridge for later.

Once the chicken is cool remove skin and bones until all you have is a big bowl of chicken. Chop or grind into small bits. (Note: My mom brought me this really cool tool from Pampered Chef that I used to do this. I couldn't find it on their website though and can't remember what it was called to share with you, but basically it has a handle and the bottom of the tool kind of looks like a water wheel that is sharp. You could do this in a meat grinder or a food processor too.)

Once the chicken is chopped add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Chill before serving.

Notes: You can eat this on bread as a sandwich, in a quarter tomato or on a bed of greens. It's very versatile!

Posted by Dianne at 8:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 11, 2009

Chicken Meatloaf

Chicken Meatloaf

As I've mentioned in the past, lately I'm starting to grow an aversion to ground beef, especially in it's raw form. I don't like to look at it, touch it, or even smell ground beef! I tolerate it for Jamison's sake by holding my breath and grinning and bearing it because I hate to take away one of the few things he can still eat, but it's seriously becoming really not my thing! Once in a blue moon I'll get a craving for something made with ground beef, but those cravings are becoming fewer and far between.

For some reason ground chicken and turkey don't really bother me that much though, so I've started substituting them (and mushrooms when I want something without meat) in place of ground beef for things that I am going to eat and I really like the results! This meatloaf is the prime example.

Now if I could just convince Jamison that ground chicken/turkey is the way to go.... ;oP

What You'll Need:
1 pound of ground chicken
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
1/2 of a bell pepper, chopped
2-4 garlic scapes, chopped (Note: If you don't have, or can't find garlic scapes, you could use a couple of cloves of minced garlic.)
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of oatmeal
2 eggs
1 cup of ketchup, divided (Note: I always used an organic brand because they don't have high fructose corn syrup in them.)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl squish together ground chicken through eggs and 1/2 cup of ketchup. If you want you can do this in the bowl of your mixer or with a spoon, but really the best way to do it is just get your hands in there and mix! Keep mixing, stirring or squishing until the ingredients are completely blended.

Once everything is mixed, press the mixture into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of ketchup to the top and spread out to cover the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until chicken is done through.

Makes 6 servings.

Notes: You could use ground turkey instead if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 12:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 26, 2009

Chicken Sloppy Joes

Chicken Sloppy Joes

Normally when I make Sloppy Joes I make a vegetarian version that I really love. I had some ground chicken that needed to be used and thought it would be fun to come up with a version utilizing that instead of the mushrooms I usually use, or ground beef, which I in truth have a love/hate relationship with (sometimes I like it, most of the time I don't, and I don't like handling it at all!) and have never actually used to make Sloppy Joes. The chicken was just perfect! If you're looking for a slightly different twist on a classic then look no further...You've found just the dish for you!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of ground chicken
1 - 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of natural brown sugar
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of A-1 Steak Sauce

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté onion and bell pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper:

Chicken Sloppy Joes: Veggies

Remove onions and pepper from skillet and cook meat until done through:

Chicken Sloppy Joes: Chicken

Once meat is browned add pepper and onions back to the skillet and stir to mix:

Chicken Sloppy Joes: Chicken and Veggies

Stir in tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and A-1 Sauce until incorporated. Bring to a quick boil and then lower heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes to let the flavors meld a bit.

Chicken Sloppy Joes: Ready for a Bun

Serve on buns.

Note: These are perfect with oven fries. I paired them with sweet potato oven fries. A side salad would be great too and round things out quite nicely!

Posted by Dianne at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | 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

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

Ingredients:
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

Ingredients:
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

Ingredients:
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

November 18, 2008

Chicken and Mushroom Kabobs

Chicken and Mushroom Kabobs

Kabobs are a fun way to present normal ingredients and give them a little flare! They don't take much work, not to mention they are healthy to boot, yet they still have a bit of a wow factor to them. You can easily take them and make them any way you like, but who says you can't have a little fun with your healthy food?

What You'll Need per Person:
1 small boneless, skinless chicken breast
6-8 button mushrooms
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Seasoning of your choice
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Chicken and Mushroom Kabobs: Ready to Cook

Cut chicken into approximately even sized chunks. Place on a bamboo skewer and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and seasoning of your choice. (Note: If your seasoning has salt in it omit the sea salt.) Repeat process with mushrooms as well.

Chicken and Mushroom Kabobs: Baked

Bake for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are tender and chicken is slightly browned and done through.

Serve with rice.

Notes: Any meat or veggie will work. It's completely up to you and your tastes.

Posted by Dianne at 12:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 26, 2008

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

We're going to wind out the week with another quick, easy post. Hopefully my thumb will be more on the mend by Monday! It's doing much better, but still very sore!

This recipe is a great way to use up pulled pork or chicken! You've got all the elements of a fabulous barbeque dinner all rolled into one! What's not to like?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 russet potato, baked
Sea salt
1/3-1/2 cup of pulled pork or chicken, warmed
1/4 cup of barbeque sauce, heated
1 ounce of cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded
1 scallion, chopped
Sour cream (optional)

Slice open baked potato and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Top with pulled pork or chicken, barbeque sauce, cheese, scallion and some sour cream. Serve immediately.

Loaded Barbeque Baked Potatoes

Notes: Pair this with a salad and you've got the perfect meal! If you want to make it vegetarian you could use mushrooms in place of the meat.

Posted by Dianne at 8:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 25, 2008

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Another easy one today...The thumb is still throbbing! It's more of a hunt and peck deal than typing right now!

Katherine requested Fried Chicken for her birthday dinner so I put the chicken in to marinate the night before. When Nelson got sick and they couldn't come I decided to see how it would bake up instead and it turned out great! The chicken was tender and the spices made it just perfect! If you are looking for a little different way to make chicken then this is the perfect method for you!

What You'll Need:
Chicken with the bone in
1 quart of buttermilk (Note: You need enough to cover the chicken completely. If you are making more then you might need more milk, if you're making less then you might not need the whole quart.)
Seasoning of your choice (Note: I used Old Bay Seasoning.)

Place chicken in a container an cover with buttermilk. Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Remove chicken from buttermilk and sprinkle generously on all sides with seasoning of your choice. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour or so until chicken is done through and browned on the outside. (Note: If you're worried about it you can check the internal temperature of the chicken, but if it sticks tender with a fork it's most likely done.)

Once chicken is done remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Simple, easy and delicious!

Notes: The buttermilk makes the chicken super tender. Thyme and/or rosemary with sea salt and black pepper would be good on this too. Cajun or Creole seasoning also would be fabulous!

Posted by Dianne at 7:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms

Parmesan Chicken with Mushrooms

Chicken is a very easy ingredient to make a thousand different ways and you always have something different, yet you don't have to go to a lot of effort to make something completely delicious. By playing around with a few spices, perhaps some cheese and a veggie or two you can make something spectacular in no time and that's just perfect for a week night dinner or even when company comes...Who says you have to spend all day in the kitchen to wow them? ;oP

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
A seasoning blend (Note: I use an organic/no salt mix that I get at Costco called "Kirkland Signature Organic No Salt Seasoning" that has 21 different things in it like dried onion, bell peppers, garlic, etc. But any seasoning blend that you like will work.)
A pinch of sea salt (Note: If the seasoning blend you use has salt then omit this.)
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of Parmesan, grated
Sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and place chicken breasts in the dish. Sprinkle the breast generously to coat with seasoning blend and then add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and then place mushrooms slices on the top of each breast.

Place chicken in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until breasts are done through. Serve immediately.

How simple is that?

Notes: You could add onion and bell peppers strips to the chicken too if you liked, or even use a mix of different types of mushrooms.

Posted by Dianne at 9:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 29, 2008

Turkey Pasta Bake

Turkey Pasta Bake

So you want some sort of pasta dish, but you aren't actually thinking along the line of something tomato based and you are stumped about where to go from there...Now what? Why not pull out some pasta, turkey and peas? This combination makes a lovely savory combination that will become a instant favorite if turkey and peas are your thing. It's just perfect for when you want a little pasta, but you'd like to put a hold on the tomatoes! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 box of whole wheat penne, cooked according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
4 turkey cutlers, cooked and cut into chunks (Note: I cooked 4 cutlets, but only used two of them as I halved this recipe.)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups of mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 cup of fat free half and half
1/2 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 package of frozen peas
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook penne according to package directions, drain and place in a very large bowl. Set aside.

Turkey Pasta Bake: Turkey Chops Cooking

In a medium sized pan sauté turkey cutlets until done through. Remove from pan, cut into chunks and set aside.

In the same skillet that you cooked your turkey, add a bit more olive oil and sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add half and half and Gruyère and stir until mostly melted. Stir in peas and turkey chunks until incorporated and pour mixture over the pasta, stirring gently to incorporate, but not mash the noodles.

Turkey Pasta Bake: Ready for Cheese

Once noodles/veggies/turkey are mixed pour into an 13 X 9 inch dish that has been brushed with olive oil and spread out to ensure the mixture covers the entire dish.

Turkey Pasta Bake: Ready to Bake

Top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese melts and is slightly browned.

Notes: I halved what you see above made an 8 X 8 inch pan instead. You could use chicken or shrimp in place of the turkey, or even just add more mushrooms and leave out the meat all together.

Posted by Dianne at 7:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 27, 2008

Kicked Up Barbeque Chicken

Kicked Up Barbeque Chicken

Barbeque chicken, a bit dull, but oh so good! But why not kick it up another notch? This takes regular barbequed chicken and makes it something more...It's just perfect for when you want something quick, simple, but with a certain wow factor. What's not to like about that?

This recipe is actually something I came up with when I was doing Weight Watchers several years ago and one of the many times I've done that over the years. By taking the barbeque chicken and adding a few elements you really get bang for your buck (or points as the case may be)!

It's been a while since I've done Points (the last time I did WW I did the Zone plan), but let's see if I can't remember the basic break down...2 points for the chicken breast, 1 point for the barbeque sauce, 2 points for the cheese, 2 points for the center cut bacon and 0 points for the scallion...That brings you in at around 7 Points, if I remember my Points correctly, for a very hearty dish. Pair it with some fresh or steamed vegetables and you've got the perfect meal!

Note: As I mentioned it has been several years since I have done Points, so double check the numbers if you are actually doing WW! :o)

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup of barbeque sauce
1 ounce of shredded cheddar or Colby cheese (Note: I used Colby Jack.)
1 piece of center cut bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled
1 scallion, chopped both green and white parts

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Bake chicken breast for 20-25 minutes until done through. Remove from oven and brush with barbeque sauce. Return to oven for 5 additional minutes.

Once chicken is done and barbeque sauce is heated remove from oven and place chicken breast on a plate. Top with shredded cheese, bacon and scallions. Serve immediately.

Kicked Up Barbeque Chicken

Notes: If you aren't a fan of barbeque sauce you could simply add the toppings to a breast that has been cooked with season salt.

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Slow Cooker Fajitas

Slow Cooker Fajitas

Normally I do fajitas on the stove top, but a few weeks ago I decided to try them out in the slow cooker and see how they turned out and I have to say I was very pleased! The meat turned out to be tender and the spices were just right! I'll definitely be doing this again...It's simple, delicious and just perfect for those summer days when you don't want to heat up the house!

What You'll Need:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of beef or chicken, sliced into thin strips
Extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Note: Most of the pictures are of the beef version, but I've got a couple of chicken examples too for the end.

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Ready to Slice

Slice meat into thin strips and place in a glass bowl:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Sliced and Ready for Spices

Mix together spices and then pour over meat. Toss to coat and place the meat in the bowl of your slow cooker:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Marinated and Ready to Cook

Cook on high for 2-3 hours until beef is tender.

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Ready to Take Out of the Slow Cooker

After the meat is cooked remove it from the slow cooker and serve. Below is how I like to serve them.

First lay meat out in the center of a tortilla:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Meat

(Note: I prefer whole wheat.)

Next top the meat with some sautéed peppers and onions:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Peppers and Onions

I like to really sear them and let them get slightly caramelized. It makes them tender and gives such a wonderful flavor.

Next top with a little cheese:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Cheese

Sometimes I use cheddar, sometimes Colby, sometimes Monterrey Jack, or sometimes a mix of all three. This night I simply used Colby.

At this point you can call it a day and simply wrap it up:

Slow Cooker Fajitas: Ready to Eat

Or you can top it with a little sour cream, avocado and/or guacamole and then wrap it up. You can pair it with some beans or a salad and dinner is ready!

Chicken also works with this method:

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

You cook it the same way and once the chicken is done through and tender you're ready to go.

I cooked some for Jamison the other day:

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas (Jamison's So Sans Tortilla)

I served his with rice since he's not a fan of corn tortillas and he can't eat the flour version.

Notes: You can play around with the spices if you like. I like it a bit spicy, but you can leave out the cayenne all together if that is not your thing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:21 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Slow Cooker Turkey: Ready to Slice

If you've been a reader of Dianne's Dishes for a while you've seen me talk a lot about not heating up the oven that much during the summer. But not heating up your oven doesn't mean you have to give up foods you would normally cook there, it just means you find a different way to cook them and a slow cooker is a perfect way to do just that!

The other day I got a turkey breast from South Mountain Creamery and I decided to see how it would turn out in the slow cooker. I mean you can cook chicken quite well in a slow cooker so why not turkey? I must say even though in theory I thought it would work I was very pleased with the result! The breast was tender, juicy and overall just very delicious and the whole process was beyond simple! I'll most definitely be trying this again!

Another good thing about turkey is that you can do many things with the leftovers too! How about Turkey Avocado Salad or Turkey Noodle Soup or Turkey Salad...You can also use turkey in just about any recipe you would use chicken instead. How is that for versatile?

Slow Cooker Turkey

What You'll Need:
1 turkey breast (Note: I used one that had the bone.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried rosemary

Place turkey breast into the bowl of your slow cooker. Drizzle with olive oil. (Note: You want a few tablespoons max.) Flip the breast over to make sure you get olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and dried rosemary. Place lid on slow cooker and turn heat to high. Cook for 6-7 hours.

Slow Cooker Turkey: Sliced

Halfway through the cooking process flip the breast once. Once cooked bring out of the slow cooker and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Turkey: Leftovers!

Notes: Any dried herb you like will work. Thyme would be fabulous!

Posted by Dianne at 7:26 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

July 3, 2008

Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry

Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry

I'm back! It would appear that they have ironed out the issues that were occurring that left me unable to access Dianne's Dishes Tuesday afternoon and the better part of yesterday...Now watch, I probably just went and jinxed myself! ;oP

Anyway, let's get started with some food shall we?

The other day when I made the Vegetable Stir Fry for me, I also made a Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry for Jamison. You marinate it much the same way, but the "sauce" is much more simple than that of the Vegetable Stir Fry. The result is a tender, slightly sweet/carmalized and slightly salty dish that really hits the spot. Unlike Jamison you can throw in some steamed broccoli or a few sautéd vegetables and really round out the dish. Pair the stir fry with some brown rice and you've got a lovely, healthy meal that you can throw together in the morning or the night before, put in the fridge and then quickly cook in the evening. What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/4 cup of gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice vinegar
1 scallion, chopped (green and white section)
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
1 pound of steak, cut into cubes and all visible fat trimmed
1 cup of cooked brown rice per person (Note: Remember that most brown rice takes about 50 minutes to an hour to cook. The stir fry itself takes about 20-30 minutes.)

Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry: Marinating

In a bowl or a canning jar mix together sesame oil, gluten-free soy sauce and rice vinegar until incorporated. Stir or shake in scallions and garlic to mix. Add steak and toss or shake to coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour to overnight covered tightly in the fridge.

Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry: Beginning To Cook

Dump the contents of your bowl or jar into a large skillet and over medium heat bring to a boil. Cook the beef until the liquid evaporates, the mixture thickens slightly and the beef is tender:

Gluten-Free Beef Stir Fry: Cooking

Serve with rice and/or steamed or sautéd vegetables.

Notes: You could do this with chicken or sea food as well.

Posted by Dianne at 8:47 AM | Comments (5) | 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

June 16, 2008

Grilled Chicken Sandwich With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone And A Side Of Old Bay Oven Fries

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone

A grilled chicken sandwich is sort of a classic. You can go really simple and have a grilled chicken breast, with some lettuce, tomato and mayo, but why not kick it up a notch? You've still got your basic grilled breast, but why not top it with some sautéd mushrooms and a little Provolone cheese and you've got a sandwich that went from good to fabulous! Pair it with some Old Bay Oven fries and you've got a quick and easy meal.

What You'll Need Per Person For The Chicken Sandwich:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 slice of Provolone cheese
2 slices of whole grain bread or a whole grain bun
Mayonnaise and/or brown mustard if desired

Old Bay Oven Fries

What You'll Need Per Person For The Old Bay Oven Fries:
1 potato (Note: I usually use russets.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Old Bay Seasoning
A small pinch of sea salt (Note: Go VERY easy on the salt as Old Bay has some salt in it. Just use a minute amount. Possible 1/4 a teaspoon or so.)

Pre-heat a grill or a grill pan until it's hot. (I used a grill pan.)

While the grill or pan is heating (my pan is cast iron so it takes a bit) pre-heat oven to 425 F.

Wash potato and cut into strips. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. (Note: You need no more than roughly a tablespoon to make oven fries. Don't go overboard or the fries won't crisp. You don't want the fries to be sitting in oil, you just want a slight coating.) Sprinkle generously with Old Bay seasoning. (Note: Old Bay has a bit of a kick to it. If you don't care for spicy use less, or you could simply use sea salt and black pepper.) Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until fries are browned and slightly crisp.

While the fries are baking it's time to start working on your chicken sandwich. Depending on the size of your breast you may be able to get two sandwiches out of one breast. If the breast you are using is large and/or thick cut it in half. It it is still thick then pound it flat. You want the breast to be uniform in size. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Brush the hot grill with extra virgin olive oil (again you just want a thin coat, you don't want the breast sitting in a pool of oil. A tablespoon or two will cover the entire grill) and place the chicken breast on the grill. Turn the breast a few times and cook until done through. If you're not sure if it's done you can cut into the breast, but you can usually tell by looking at it when it's done. It takes about 5-8 minutes on medium to high heat. Toward the end of the cooking time add mushrooms to the grill and cook until tender.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone: Chicken and Mushrooms Grilling

When the chicken is done spread mayo and/or brown mustard on a couple of slices of toasted whole grain bread. Add chicken breast and top with a slice of cheese and then add sautéd mushrooms. Top with the other slice of bread, cut and serve with the Old Bay oven fries.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich On Whole Wheat Bread With Grilled Mushrooms And Provolone: Chicken, Mushrooms and Provolone

Quick, easy, delicious and healthier than a sandwich that has been fried and served with regular fries. Plus the taste is fabulous!

Notes: You could use Swiss cheese in place of the provolone. You could also add in sautéd onions and/or bell pepper if you like. I always use light mayo and this time around I skipped the mustard.

Posted by Dianne at 8:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2008

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

Every couple of weeks we have pizza night. Jamison always has a tomato sauce with pepperoni and ground beef on a gluten free crust with rice mozzarella, Alexis usually has a tomato sauce with mozzarella, Parmesan and black olives, though as of late she has eschewed the olives and me, well I like to switch it up. Sometimes I have Chicken, Artichoke and Spinach Pizza or a Goat Cheese Pizza with Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes or taking the dough and making a Calzone or you can leave out the crust all together and make Eggplant Pizzas. The possibilities are endless!

This go around I decided to make something a bit more contemporary and put together a Barbeque Chicken Pizza on a White Whole Wheat Crust! You can top this any way you like and you end up with a personalized pizza that hits the spot! What's better than that?

What You'll Need For the Crust:
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of honey
4 teaspoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl stir together flour and salt to incorporate. In a glass measuring cup add honey and yeast to warm water and let sit for 3-5 minutes until foamy. Add olive oil to the flour mixture and then slowly add water/yeast mixture stirring until ball of dough forms. (Note: Depending on humidity and such you may need a little more or a little less water. Eyeball it as you go. Once the ball forms you'll know to stop. It's hard to mess this recipe up. It's very forgiving. If you go too far with the water then add more flour a tablespoon at a time until ball forms. If you need more water then add it a tablespoon at a time. Easy peasy.)

Once the dough ball forms you need to let it rise. This make roughly one large pizza or 4-6 personal sized pizzas depending on how big you like them. I like to make personal sized pizzas so that way everyone can have their own favorite toppings. If you're making one big pizza simply place the dough on a baking sheet in your oven with your oven light on (the oven light puts out just enough heat to rise to dough) or if you want to make personal sized pizzas divide the dough into 4 to 6 small balls and place on a baking sheet and follow the same procedure as for the large ball. You can freeze the dough balls before you let them rise if you want to use them later and then pull them out and let them thaw and rise at another time. If you aren't freezing the dough then let the dough balls rise for at least one hour. Then roll or push out the dough on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (use a little olive oil on your hands to keep it from sticking) and top with your favorite pizza toppings to bake.

What You'll Need To Complete The Personal Sized Pizza:
1/4-1/3 cup of barbeque sauce
1/2 cup of shredded chicken
1/3 cup of mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup of Parmesan, shredded
1/4 cup of sliced black olives
1/4 of an onion, chopped (Note: I used Vidalia, but any onion will work.)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Spread a layer of barbeque sauce out onto the spread out crust. Next add a layer of chicken. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan and then add olive and onion. Bake for 8-12 minutes until crust is golden brown, cut and serve.

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

Notes: Pineapple is a good addition to this pizza. Green peppers work too.

Posted by Dianne at 10:55 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 9, 2008

Stuffed Pork Chops

Stuffed Pork Chops

I get bored with food. More specifically I get bored with the food that Jamison will eat. How he eats such a bland diet and does so over and over is beyond me! I can't even begin to explain to you how much I love him, but I get bored with his food quickly! ;o) So sometimes when I'm thinking of what to make for dinner I'll make something plain he'll eat (in this case a pork chop) and kick it up a bit so that I'm not having to eat the same things over and over and over. In my mind life is too short not to try different things!

A while back I saw Tyler Florence stuff a pork chop. I don't remember exactly what his had in it, but it had another form of pork (either pancetta or ham) and some sort of cheese, then again maybe it wasn't Tyler and maybe there was no cheese, but I specifically remember thinking "Really? Pork twice?" and then I started thinking about hardening arteries and heart disease and life in general...See how that works? See how I just get sidetracked like that?

Where was I? Oh yes....Stuffed pork chops!

Anyway, the other day I decided to try my hand at stuffed pork chops, but I decided that two forms of pork was just a bit much. So I started thinking of things that go well with pork chops and apples were the first thing that came to mind. Then I started thinking about something that would meld well with the apples and immediately thought of blue cheese and thus these babies were born!

Stuffed Pork Chops: The Inside

Once baked the flavors just combine perfectly! The apples soften and meld with the blue cheese and the whole overall taste is just superb! Pair the chops with a little wild rice and a steamed vegetable and you've got a wonderful meal that is sure to wow! These chops take the ordinary and very easily make them extraordinary. What's better than that?

What You'll Need Per Person:
1 thick cut pork chop
1/4 of an apple, cut into thin rounds
1 ounce of blue cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. (Note: I actually baked these in my toaster oven.)

First you want to cut a pocket into your thick chop. You do this by cutting in to the thickest part of the chop. Insert the knife and make a clean cut, making a pocket, but do not cut it alll the way through. You want a pouch, not two separate pieces of pork.

Once the pork chop is cut, then cut an apple into thin rounds and place the rounds inside the pocket:

Stuffed Pork Chops: Apples Slices

Next top the apples with blue cheese:

Stuffed Pork Chops: Blue Cheese

After you add the cheese you want to secure your chop. I used cooking twine, but you can use toothpicks if you want:

Stuffed Pork Chops: All Tied Up

Brush the top of the chop with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until pork is done through. (Note: I know some people advocate baking pork like beef, but not me! Pork has to be well done. If it is not well done then don't eat it! Trichinosis anyone? Didn't think so!)

Stuffed Pork Chops: Baking

Remove from oven, untie and serve immediately.

Notes: You could use goat cheese and pears if you liked instead of apples and blue cheese.

Posted by Dianne at 7:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 6, 2008

Pineapple Chicken Salad

Pineapple Chicken Salad

My sister, Ben and the boys are getting ready to fly to Tennessee tomorrow and she needed someone to distract Nelson and keep Grant out of the two year old grasp of his brother so she could pack. Alexis and I headed to their house this morning to do just that! We even swung by Starbucks and brought drinks because well Alexis is all about Starbucks (even though I don't drink coffee, they've got great tea...And before anyone asks and the answer should be obvious, but I'll share anyway, Alexis doesn't drink coffee either, but she loves their Strawberries and Cream Frappuchino! ;op)

Earlier in the week when I picked up groceries I grabbed a chicken because I was running low on broth and needed to make some. When I found out we'd be going over to Katherine's today I decided to use the breast meat from the chicken to make a batch of chicken salad and take it over for lunch today along with some fruit for a quick an easy lunch. I saved the rest of the meat for use later, but that's neither here nor there right now! ;o)

I've made variations of this chicken salad hundreds of times. The idea for the pineapple came from a chicken salad sandwich we used to get a long time ago in the little town I grew up in Tennessee and was probably my first improvised recipe in that I tasted it, remembered I liked it and recreated it years later. Every time you make it it is slightly different due to the pineapple. Sometimes the pineapple is really sweet, others not so much (and sadly this go round it was not so much), but it's good either way, though I prefer it slightly sweeter.

The chicken has a slight hint of thyme and rosemary from the cooking process of making the broth and the almonds and sunflower seeds give it a little crunch, but overall this is the prefect, summery salad that can be used to make sandwiches or even served on lettuce and really hits the spot on a hot summer day!

Pineapple Chicken Salad

What You'll Need:
2 chicken breasts, shredded (Note: If you don't use chicken that you've used to make broth with herbs then you could add in 1/4-1/2 of both dried thyme and rosemary.)
1 - 20 ounce can of crushed or tidbit pineapple in its own juice, drained
1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of whole almonds
1/4 cup of light mayonnaise

In a large bowl add all ingredients and stir to mix. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Seriously how easy is that?

Notes: You can add 1/2 of a small red onion finely chopped, but I was out. You can also add chopped scallions instead if you want. Cashews can be used instead of almonds and pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds or a combination of any of them.

Posted by Dianne at 3:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 2, 2008

Steak Sandwich Done Right

Steak Sandwich: The Inside Goodness

When I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and lived in the dorm there was a grill across the courtyard from my dorm that had the best (and the time the only) steak sandwiches I had ever had! The grill wasn't on my meal plan, but you had "bonus" dollars on most plans and those could be used there. A friend of mine and I would go down to the grill once a week or so and indulge. Given we had to walk a mile or so to class and then a mile or so back for many of our classes and we were usually walking quite quickly we easily burned off these splurges and I do mean splurge!

Let's take about these gut buster sandwiches why don't we? These sandwiches had lord knows how much fat and calories! The meat was cooked in butter and then if you added vegetables (I always had just mushrooms) then those were cooked in butter too. After that they'd slap down a little more butter and "toast" the bun on the grill and then put the whole thing together! And I'm not talking just a little butter, I'm talking like 1/4 of a cup at least for each thing that was "cooked" or as the case may be fried! Then we'd top it off with a large order of French fries. Oh my! I can hear my arteries hardening just thinking about all that butter! ;oP

As I have gotten older I just can't eat like that anymore. Over the past two years anything that has too much fat or if I eat too much fried stuff it just doesn't sit well. Plus who wants that much butter in a sitting? (OK...Maybe Ina or Paula Deen, but still! ;oP) Also I really worry about beef in general. I don't eat a lot of beef and I most definitely eat grass fed beef when I do. Mad cow anyone? I think not! It was time to take your basic steak sandwich and take it to a whole other level.

This sandwich actually uses a steak. It does not use that minute steak stuff, which I'm sure is not grass fed. Throw in some mushrooms, some provolone and serve it on some whole grain toasted bread and you've taken the standard, greasy steak sandwich and made it into something much lighter and much better for you. Who says you can't revamp something bad into something better?

What You'll Need:
1 - 1 pound grass fed steak
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sliced mushrooms (optional)
Sliced onions (optional)
Sliced bell pepper (optional)
4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted
2 slices of Provolone cheese

Slice a 1 pound steak into thin strips. Place in a glass bowl and drizzle with some olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and then toss to coat. Place bowl covered in the fridge for at least one hour.

Steak Sandwich: Steak Marinating

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and cook mushrooms, onion and pepper until just tender. (I used only mushrooms, but you can use all of them or none of them...It's completely a matter of taste.) Once vegetables are tender add steak and cook until the meat is done to your likeness. (I like mine medium.) Remove from heat.

Steak Sandwich: Steak and Mushrooms Cooking

To assemble the sandwich place the layer of meat/veggies onto a slice of toasted bread. Top with Provolone. Add any condiments that you like. (I like a little light mayo.) After the condiments top with the other slice of toasted bread. Cut in half and serve.

Steak Sandwich: Ready for Cheese

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Notes: This method would work with chicken too if you wanted. At the grill they served the sandwich on a hoagie bun. You could serve it on a whole grain bun if you liked. For a vegetarian version you could just use more mushrooms and/or other vegetables.

Posted by Dianne at 8:22 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

May 21, 2008

Basic Roasted Lemon Chicken with Thyme and Rosemary

Roast Lemon Chicken: Baked

Basic roasted chicken is a very simple, yet very delicious solution to an impressive meal. It gives you a little wow factor, all while being crazily easy to prepare. It's perfect for a week night or even to pull out when company comes around. Most importantly (or at least to me) is the left over chicken to make other things with and of course the potential to make chicken broth. I'm all about multi-purpose when it comes to potential future meals.

Now let's talk roasting. There are two schools of thought on the matter. Low and slow or high and fast. I however like to do a combination of the two. I like to roast the chicken at 325 F for an hour or so and then crank the temperature up to 400 F for the last 30-45 minutes. The slow makes the chicken tender and juicy, the last blast of heat gives you that lovely brown color and crispy skin. I usually bake a chicken at least two hours, but most likely closer to three. It all depends on how large the chicken is and things of that nature.

When I'm picking out a chicken I always choose a chicken that is natural. If it says it has added fluid or solution or whatever that is not the chicken you want! You want a basic, unaltered, unadorned, unmessed with (yes I just made that up! ;oP) natural chicken. The stuff they add is mostly water and/or salt and or some weird flavoring that is supposed to make it taste better, but do you want to eat some weird flavoring that is most likely some nasty chemical or would you rather do it yourself? Trust me doing it yourself is better! ;o)

When seasoning your roasted chicken you can just do basic and add just salt and pepper or you can spice it up a bit. Chicken is very versatile and it's one of those things that is very easy and very fun to play around with. If you aren't sure which way to go two choices in terms of herbs that will give you a knock out chicken every time are thyme and rosemary. With the addition of the lemon you have a wonderful combination that will wins you raves.

Some what are you waiting for? Let's roast a chicken!

What You'll Need:
1 natural chicken
Sea salt (Note: I like to use Celtic sea salt when roasting a chicken.)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil (Note: Some people use butter, but I use olive oil for two reasons: 1) It's healthier and 2) I think it makes a crisper skin and gives the chicken an overall better taste.)
Dried thyme (Note: I think the dried thyme works better for roasting versus fresh thyme.)
Dried rosemary (Note: See explanation for dried thyme.)

Pre-heat oven to 325 F.

(Note: The USDA recommends a chicken have an internal temperature of at least 165 F and to be totally honest I never check the temperature. You want to chicken to be done through and if you stick it with a fork the juices should run clear. If they don't then the chicken is not done and should be cooked longer. After you've cooked a chicken or two you can usually tell by looking at it if it's done. According to USDA guidelines a 3-4 pound chicken will take 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours to bake fully at 350F. It also depends on the actual temperature of your oven as well as they can run either hot or cold.)

Rinse your chicken under cool water and pat dry. Place in a large baking dish.

Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then stuff in the lemons.

Roast Lemon Chicken: Ready for the Oven

Next drizzle the outside with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt, black pepper, dried thyme and rosemary.

Roast Lemon Chicken: Ready for the Oven

Place baking dish in the oven and cook chicken for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Then raise the oven temperature to 400 F and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes until the skin is really browned and crispy. Remove chicken from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting and servings.

Roast Lemon Chicken: Served

Notes: Lemon not your thing? You can stuff the chicken with onion and/or garlic. You can also add in potatoes and carrots around the chicken about 20 minutes before you up the temperature to 400 F to make it an all in one dish.

Posted by Dianne at 9:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

Taste & Create IX: Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing

I had so much fun last month with the Taste & Create event that I signed up to do it again! This month my partner was CIA: Cooking in an Apron and there were so many wonderful recipes to choose from that it took me a while to decide what I wanted to do. I finally chose to make Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing!

First off let's just cut to the chase...Goat cheese! Those of you who are regular readers know I adore goat cheese and have even made it myself! Also I must admit I had never tried sun dried tomatoes, though I have wanted to. I know they were really popular back in the 90's but I was a dirt poor college student back in those days and they never even crossed my radar. So the combination of the two sounded so nice that I just knew I had to try it!

I ended up making my own tapenade. It's simple. You just mix together roasted garlic, black olives, sea salt, some black pepper and a little olive oil. You can do this process with green or black olives, but I chose to do it with black since that is what the recipe called for. Since I had added garlic to the tapenade I left it out of the recipe. I also like my tapenade a bit chunky, instead of smooth.

The process of making this chicken is simple: You take a boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut into it at the thickest part, filleting it open, but not totally cutting it in half. Next you add in a layer of cooked spinach:

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing: Spinach Layer

On top of the spinach layer you next add a layer of goat cheese mixed with sun dried tomatoes:

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing: Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Layer

To mix the goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes together I chopped up the tomatoes and placed them and the goat cheese in the bowl of my mixer with about a tablespoon of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes and mixed until incorporated.

Once the goat cheese mixture was added I topped it with some of the tapenade and folded the breast over and baked it at 375 F for about 25-30 minutes until golden and done through and that was the only thing that I changed instead of cooking it in a pan on the stove top. It was one of those days and I had so many things going on I couldn't watch it properly so I baked it for 25-30 minutes and it turned out great! The flavors all melded so well together and I was able to use spinach from my spinach box on the front porch!

If you like spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese then this is the chicken for you!

Be sure to check For The Love of Food after May 24th to see how the Taste & Create round up went!

Taste and Create Label

Have a wonderful day everyone! I'm off to vacuum, mop and then work on a quilt!

Posted by Dianne at 7:52 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 4, 2008

Pulled Pork with Barbeque Sauce, Slaw and Oven Fries

Pulled Pork with Barbeque Sauce, Slaw and Oven Fries

Barbeque doesn't have to be hard...There I said it. You can have your secret ingredients, you can claim that only smoking it makes it good, you can grill it, you can bake it, you can even slap that sucker in a crock-pot and while each might have its charms, they all end up being charming and delicious in and of themselves. Add in some oven fries and a little slaw and you've got an easy meal that will have you looking forward to those summer days right around the corner.

This version falls into the oven or crock-pot category. You simply roast the pork with a little olive oil, black pepper and sea salt and then shred, top with some barbeque sauce and slaw, while pairing it with some oven fries and you've got a fabulous barbeque dinner that will win you raves. The most important thing to remember is that this is extremely easy too and that's always good, especially on a week night when dinner can be hectic.

Pulled Pork

What You'll Need for the entire Meal:
A pork roast (Note: Butt, shoulder or whatever cut you prefer.)
Buns (Note: Hotdog or hamburger buns either would work. I normally buy the whole grain type if I do a bun at all, which I usually don't, but I couldn't find them this go around.)
Barbeque sauce (Note: I use my homemade sauce, but you can use the bottled stuff if you prefer. I'll even give you a pass on the high fructose corn syrup lecture just this once. ;oP)
Slaw (See recipe below)
Oven fries (See recipe below)

What You'll Need for the Slaw:
2 cups of cabbage, shredded (Note: You can use green cabbage, red cabbage or a mix of both.)
1 cup of carrots, shredded
(Note: If you want to just buy a bag of pre-shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw mix feel free. I like to do it myself since it's a bit fresher, but either method will work.)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of apple cider (Note: If it seems a bit thick add a bit more vinegar a tablespoon at a time to thin it out.)
1/4 cup of light mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar or honey (Note: If you like slaw sweeter go with more, if you like it less so go with less.)
1 teaspoon of celery seed (optional)

What You'll Need for the Oven Fries per Person:
1 potato, cut into shoestring pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
Black pepper

First you need to get the roast started. You can do this one of two ways. You can put the roast in a crock pot with about an inch of water, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the crock pot on high and cook for 5-6 hours until the roast falls apart and/or you can shred it with a fork.

The other way to do this is to cook the roast covered in the in oven low and slow. Preheat oven to 300 F. Place the pork roast in a dish (choose one that has a lid) and drizzle the roast with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the dish with the lid or foil if you don't have a bakeable covered dish and bake for 3-4 hours depending on the size of the roast. You'll know it's done when you can take a fork and it will start to shred like this:

Pork Pre-Pulling

Once cooked let the roast sit for 10-15 minutes and then shred with a couple of forks.

After the pork is shredded you can eat it however you like. I sometimes eat it without a bun, and in fact usually eat it that way, but occasionally I do use buns. Usually it's a layering system bun, then shredded pork, then barbeque sauce.

Pulled Pork with Barbeque Sauce

Once you have the barbeque sauce in place top it with slaw and serve.

Pulled Pork with Barbeque Sauce and Slaw

While the roast is cooking make your slaw. Slaw is a simple dish, cabbage or other vegetable of your choice, a little mayo, some vinegar and a little sugar or honey. You don't need a lot of any of these. The key to a good slaw is that it's not swimming in sauce. It should be slightly coated, but you don't want a lot of extra sauce. The taste of the cabbage/salad should be accentuated, not covered up. Slaw also needs a bit of time to marinate for an hour or so before serving.

In a large bowl toss together cabbage and carrots until mixed or dump the premixed cabbage or broccoli mixture. In a separate bowl mix together mayo, vinegar and sugar until smooth. Pour the mayo mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Store in the fridge covered until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Thirty minutes before you're ready to eat start your oven fries. Rinse the potatoes and cut them into shoestring pieces. Toss the cut potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and place on a baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are done through an are slightly crispy.

Notes: If you want a different take on slaw then why not try some Wasabi Slaw? You could use sweet potatoes or purple potatoes instead of regular potatoes to switch things up on the oven fries. You could also use other seasonings on the fries. Seasoned salt is good, or Old Bay Seasoning is also a good addition.

Posted by Dianne at 12:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 29, 2008

Steak-a-Mabobs

IMG_6570

So what to call this? I just didn't know, thus the Steak-a-Mabobs title! This is a very simple dish, that creates a certain wow factor. I got the idea from Chicken Cordon Blue, but without the extra breading and meat and minus the butter. The steak and spinach meld very well with the swiss cheese and overall it's just a wonderful combination. Paired with some roasted sweet potatoes it made the perfect meal! If you want something with a little pizazz, all while being easy to make, then this is the dish for you!

What You'll Need:
1 - 1 to 1/2 pound steak of your choice, pounded thin
Sea salt (Note: I used Celtic sea salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper
Baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
Swiss cheese (Note: I used raw milk baby swiss cheese.)
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

First you need to pound your steak until it is about 1/4 of an inch all the way around and then sprinkle the surface with sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper:

IMG_6533

Next layer the steak with baby spinach leaves:

IMG_6536

On top of the spinach leaves add 1 to 2 ounces of swiss cheese:

IMG_6540

Roll up the steak and secure it with some wooden skewers:

IMG_6541

Drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more sea salt and black pepper. Bake the steak for 25-55 minutes depending on how done you like your meat. I actually let this one go a bit too long for my taste as I like a medium rare steak, but you can cook it however you enjoy.

Makes 2-3 servings depending on the size of your steak.

Notes: You could use arugula in place of the spinach. You could also add in mushrooms and/or onions if you liked or switch out the cheese for provolone or Monterrey jack. It's a fun recipe to play around with.

Posted by Dianne at 10:26 AM | Comments (3) | 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.)
Water
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 7, 2008

Cheesy Ham Bake

Cheesy Ham Bake

I love Easter and not to mention the leftover Easter ham! A thick slice of ham makes a wonderful sandwich, but you can just eat so many sandwiches before you start looking to make something else. An omelet with ham and cheese is a good alternative or you can make a sinful, cheesy, macaroni bake with nice bites of ham through out. It's not light and it's not something you want to make everyday, but it's a fun treat or "sometimes" food an sometimes that's just what you need!

What You'll Need:
3/4 of a 16 ounce package of pasta (Note: I used rotini, but you can use whatever shape you want.)
2 cups of milk (Note: You can use whatever kind of milk you want. I used skim.)
2 - 8 ounce bars of Colby cheese, shredded
9 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
Black pepper
4 cups of ham, chopped into bite sized pieces

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking melt cheese in the milk until smooth with a little black pepper. (Note: You can add salt it you want, but given the cheese and ham are salty in and of themselves I don't. I think these two elements make the whole dish salty enough.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl toss together pasta and ham. Pour melted cheese mixture over the mix and stir to coat. Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the mixture is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Notes: I had planned to add 2 cups of broccoli florets into the mix too, but I was out of broccoli. You could add in other veggies if you wanted and leave out the ham if you wanted a vegeterian option. Mushrooms would be good, as would onion and/or bell peppers.

Posted by Dianne at 7:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 24, 2008

Steak Fajita Nachos

Steak Fajita Nachos: The Inside

Back in 1993 I returned home for a year to attend a local community college and a friend of mine and I used to eat a local Mexican restaurant that was there at the time. They had a dish on the menu that was called Chicken or Beef Fajita Nachos that was to die for! The restaurant went out of business and I had never seen a similar dish at other restaurants so I decided it was high time that I try to recreate it and I did just that!

This dish can be as hot (and I made it pretty hot!) or as mild as you like. You can also use the cheese of your choice or a mix of several cheeses. It comes together easily and it really took me back! If you like Mexican than this is the dish for you!

Steak Fajita Nachos

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into strips
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1 pounds of steak, cut into thin strips
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper
A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1 - 8 ounce bar of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded (Note: You could also use white cheddar or any other mild white cheese.)
Corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sauté onion and pepper in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, along with sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, until slightly tender. Add steak and cook until the steak is just browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spray a pie dish with non-stick spray and place a layer of tortillas to completely cover the bottom of the dish and then cover the tortillas with a layer of cheese:

Steak Fajita Nachos: Corn tortillas and Monterrey Jack Cheese

Next add half of the beef/pepper onion mixture on top of the cheese:

Steak Fajita Nachos: Peppers, Onions and Steak, Oh My!

Repeat this procedure one more time (a layer of tortillas, a layer of cheese and a layer of meat/onion/peppers) and then top the beef/onion/pepper layer with more cheese. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Steak Fajita Nachos: Baking

Notes: You could use chicken or shrimp in place of the steak. Serve with a little sour cream and/or salsa.

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 28, 2008

Cajun Adzuki Beans with Brown Rice and Chicken

Cajun Adzuki Beans with Brown Rice and Chicken

Alexis loves beans! Lima, red. black, garbanzo, green...You name it and she loves it! Tuesday on our weekly trip to My Organic Market to get groceries I decided to grab a package of red adzuki beans and give them a try. Alexis saw them on the counter and wanted to make them for dinner Tuesday night, but I told her that we'd have to soak them overnight. So we did just that and yesterday for lunch we had a fresh pot of adzuki beans.

Now while Alexis enjoyed her beans with some brown rice, I wanted to spice things up a little. I was in a spicy mood yesterday (but I guess that's true of most days) so I pulled out Cajun seasoning and a few other elements and this quick and easy rice dish was what I came up with. The spicy goes a long way toward helping you feel full longer and every aspect of the dish is a nice and healthy change from lunch time doldrums. Sometimes it's nice to spice things up in the middle of the day, the added benefit being that you don't want to snack as much as the afternoon wears on. That's always a good thing!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
1/2 a bell pepper, chopped
3 mushrooms,
1-2 tablespoons of cajun seasoning (Note: The seasoning I use is salt free. If you use a version that has salt included then omit the pinch of sea salt below.)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 cup of cooked adzuki beans
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into chunks (Note: This is completely optional. You could add in shrimp to mix things up a bit or even just add in mushrooms if you wanted a completely vegetarian option.)
1 cup of water

In a skillet or medium sized pot sauté onion, bell pepper, mushroom and garlic until onion and pepper are tender. Add seasonings and stir well to mix. Add brown rice, adzuki beans and chicken chunks to the veggie mixture and stir to coat. Add water and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until water is gone and has absorbed into the dish. Serve immediately.

This makes two large main course servings or four smaller side dish portions.

Notes: You can make this as spicy (or not spicy) as you like. Simply adjust seasonings to your taste. I was going to add celery to mix as well, but we are out. You could also add in any other veggies that you like.

Posted by Dianne at 7:26 AM | Comments (2) | 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

January 24, 2008

Whole Wheat Chicken and Vegetable Pasta

Whole Wheat Chicken and Vegetable Pasta

Eating healthy is usually associated with eating boringly, but that's anything but the case! Whole Wheat Chicken and Vegetable Pasta is a hearty, satisfying, yet healthy alternative to other pasta dishes. The vegetables bulk up the dish without bulking up the calories, while the whole wheat pasta gives you a whole grain kick that is better for you than plain old ordinary pasta. This dish is just perfect for one, or even to share! Pasta...What's not to like?

What You'll Need Per Person:
2 ounces of the dry whole wheat pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 a boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked until done
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 a small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise
1 cup of California Style frozen vegetables (Note: The version I used had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and zucchini.)

Cook pasta, drain and set aside.

Cut chicken into chunks and cook in a skillet with a little non-stick spray, sea salt and black pepper until done through. Set aside.

In the same skillet you cooked the chicken sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes in a little extra virgin olive oil with sea salt, black pepper and oregano until tender. Add frozen vegetables and cook for a few minutes until veggies are thawed. Add cooked pasta and chicken then stir to coat. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes to let flavors meld. Serve warm.

Notes: You can add in other herbs if you like. Basil might be a good addition or thyme. You could also top with cheese if you wanted, but remember that cheese can rapidly add up calorie wise. You could also use shrimp instead of chicken, or you could leave out the meat entirely and add more mushrooms for a meatless option.

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 28, 2007

Turkey Salad

Turkey Salad

This is yet another recipe that let's you utilize that left over turkey without out a lot of hassle or fuss and as I mentioned yesterday that's a good thing after working so hard on the big Thanksgiving meal!

Much like Chicken Salad, Turkey Salad makes a great sandwich or is even good served in a wedged tomato or on a bed of lettuce. It's a simple and delicious twist on a classic...Try it and see.

What You'll Need:
4 cups of cooked turkey, chopped (Note: Light or dark meat works fine or a mixture of both. It's a matter of personal taste.)
3 ribs of celery, chopped fine
1 small red onion, chopped fine
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons of light mayo (Note: You don't need a lot of mayo to get the job done. It shouldn't be heavy, but a light coating instead. Many time people over do it and you end up with a heavy, gloppy mixture, which isn't a good thing.)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes: This could easily be made with chicken instead of turkey and it similar to Whole Foods Chicken Salad, minus the tarragon (which in all honesty I'm not a big fan of, though I will eat it from time to time), walnuts and chicken of course! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 2, 2007

Turkey Avacado Salad

Turkey Avocado Salad

Who says turkey only has to be on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas? This is the perfect recipe to use for left over turkey. It's quick, easy, delicious and healthy. That is a mix you can't go wrong with!

What You'll Need:
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked turkey breast, chopped
1 small avocado, cubed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon avocado oil (Note: If you don't have or can't find avocado oil then you can use extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups spinach leaves, whole

Mix all ingredients except spinach and toss well. Serve on a bed of spinach leaves.

Makes 4 servings.

Notes: How's that for simple? ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:31 AM | Comments (0) | 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 (1) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007

Simple Baked Chicken with Rosemary

Simple Baked Chicken with Rosemary

This week it has been all about simple in terms of food here at our house. I got through stages where I like things a bit more complicated and then I go through stages where I like simple, straight forward food. Baked Chicken is one of those simple and straight forward type dishes that always hits the spot.

There are so many things you can do while baking a chicken. You can mix up the spices, you can go with barbeque, you can make it plain Jane, but no matter what you do the key is making it what you like. It's versatile and easy, both of which are nice especially on a week night when things can be a little crazy. My personal favorite herb for chicken is rosemary. It's the perfect compliment.

What You'll Need:
1 chicken, rinsed and dried
1 small onion, chopped in half (Note: You don't even have to peel the onion.)
1 lemon, chopped in half (Optional)
Extra virgin olive oil (Note: You can use butter if you like, BUT olive oil is healthier and I think it tastes better for chicken as well.)
Rosemary leaves pulled from the stem (Note: I think the more rosemary the better, but if you want to go with less that's ok too. I wouldn't use less than a tablespoon though.)
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

First when baking a chicken you need to decide which way you're going to go. You can either preheat the oven to 350 F and bake the chicken for a couple of hours or until internal temperature reaches around 180 F OR you can preheat the oven to 450 F and cook it for an hour or until internal temperature reaches around 180 F. Either way works and both ways are delicious. The 350 F method is a bit juicier, but the 450 F makes for a crisper out shell. Last night I chose to go with the 450 F route. So which ever method you choose preheat your oven to that temperature.

Rinse your chicken and pat dry. Place in a baking dish. Stuff the chicken with the onion and/or lemon. Cover the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake according to the temperature instructions above. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Notes: Like I said above there are numerous ways you can bake a chicken. You can make an Old Bay Chicken by covering the chicken in Old Bay. You can use thyme instead of rosemary or even sage. What you choose is completely up to you and each time it's like you've made an entirely different dish. You can also use different stuffing medium such as garlic and/or apple. Mix it up.

Posted by Dianne at 2:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

A Birthday Party: Beef Stroganoff and Chocolate Cake with Almond Buttercream Icing

Katherine's Birthday Cake

Saturday was my sister's birthday and I'm a big believer in celebrating a birthday! Some people as they get older don't want to celebrate their life anymore and choose to mourn the day instead, but I think birthdays should be embraced and reveled in. Life is a grand adventure and birthdays simply remind us of our many adventures along the way!

I invited Katherine, Ben and Nelson over for dinner to celebrate. The tradition at our house growing up was that you got to pick what we had for dinner on your birthday and you got to pick your cake. Katherine chose Beef Stroganoff and chocolate cake with almond buttercream icing. Katherine also wanted a salad, some sort of veggie and some yeast rolls, so I made a big spinach salad with a choice of homemade ranch or blue cheese dressing, some roasted asparagus and a batch of Parker House rolls. We broke out the good china and had a grand old time!

Birthday Table

Over all everything came together well. The rolls could have risen a bit longer, but I got side tracked. The Beef Stroganoff was a play on the one my mom used to make as a child, that I adapted into Mushroom Stroganoff over the years. This go around though I skipped the onion soup mix and used all fresh ingredients and instead of ground beef I took a pot roast and sliced it across the grain into somewhat bite sized chunks. The result was wonderful! I highly recommend this if you like this sort of dish!

Beef Stroganoff

What You'll Need For the Beef Stroganoff:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 pounds of beef tips or other type of beef cut into chunks
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 cup of sour cream
1 package of egg noodles cooked according to package directions

In a large pot or skillet (and I mean LARGE!) sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Once the veggies are tender add two tablespoons of flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add beef and cook for about 15 minutes until it's mostly brown stirring occasionally so it won't stick. (Note: A little red here and there is not a problem as you'll be cooking the dish a while more.) Add tomato sauce and cook for 35-40 minutes to allow the beef to become tender. Add sour cream and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve over egg noodles.

Notes: In a pinch you could use onion soup mix. Just omit the onion and garlic. You could also use garlic powder or salt if you're out of fresh garlic. Having made it both ways I highly recommend the fresh onion and garlic. Both variations are good, but the fresh version definitely was the best! You can also substitute more mushrooms for the beef to make the vegetarian equivalent.

After dinner we dug into the cake!


Katherine's Birthday Cake

Cake: The Inside

The basket weave wasn't as neat as I would have liked, but the icing was having issues on Saturday so we went with what came out. It turned out ok in the end and it tasted delicious, so that's all you can ask for. :o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:37 AM | Comments (4) | 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
Mozzarella
Parmesan

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 30, 2007

Onion Burgers

Onion Burger

As a kid when we used to camp at the lake all summer we ate a lot of burgers. One of my mom's friends made the best onion burgers! She used onion soup mix in the meat and worcestershire sauce and they were delicious. On the 4th of July we usually spent the day together and she always made those burgers!

The other day I was thinking about my mom's friend and her burgers and I decided to play around in the kitchen with what I had on hand and see if I couldn't put something together that was similar. The result was delicious! Pair the burgers with some oven "fries" and you've got the perfect meal!

What You'll Need:
1 pound of ground beef or turkey
1/3 cup of A1 Steak Sauce
1 small onion, chopped fine (I used a red onion...Which the name of by the way irritates me...It's purple people! ;o))
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl mix all ingredients until completely incorporated. (Note: The best way to do this is either in your mixer or with your hands.) Form into patties and cook until desired doneness. Top with your favorite burger toppings.

Makes 2-4 burgers depending on how big you like your burger.

Onion Burger

Notes: I don't add salt to this personally because the A1 is salty enough in and of itself to me. I also use the leanest grass fed beef available or the leanest ground turkey.

Posted by Dianne at 10:16 AM | Comments (1) | 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

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

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 9, 2007

Stuffed Mushroom and Irish Cheddar Burger with Cajun Oven Fries

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger with Cajun Oven Fries

I rarely eat red meat. I rarely eat meat at all for that matter, but for the past several years red meat has made my stomach hurt. Sure I enjoy the taste, but I usually regret the consequences. Last night when I discovered that I was out of Boca Burgers I decided to try my hand at a stuffed burger. The burger turned out great and for once it didn't bother my stomach either! This burger is deliciously tangy, with a "surprise" in the middle! If you like burgers, you'll LOVE this one...Try it!

What You'll Need for the Stuffed Mushroom and Irish Cheddar Burger:
2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 packet of onion soup mix
1/2 cup of A1 Steak Sauce
4 ounces of Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, cut into small slices (Or any cheddar will do, I just particularly like the Kerrygold variety!)
8 small button mushrooms, sliced

Mix beef, soup mix and steak sauce until fully incorporated and form into 4 patties and then follow the directions below.

First, make each patty into a "nest":

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Nest

Next line your "nest" with cheddar:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Add the Cheese

Now add a layer of mushrooms over the cheese:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Add the Mushrooms

Form patty over the center ingredients to seal in the cheese and mushrooms:

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Sealed and Ready to Cook

Cook the burgers over medium heat to your specifications. I like mine medium well to well done. (Or about 10 minutes for that level of doneness.)

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: Cooked

And inside you have a yummy "surprise"!

Stuffed Mushroom and Cheddar Burger: The Center

Top burger with condiments of your choice and enjoy!

Makes 4 burgers.

What You'll Need for the Cajun Oven Fries:
2 large russet potatoes, cut into strips
Extra virgin olive oil
Cajun seasoning
Sea salt (Note: The Cajun seasoning I use does NOT have added salt. If you are using a brand that does, then omit the salt)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Toss potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle Cajun seasoning over them and a little sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until done through and slightly crispy.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by Dianne at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 1, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken And Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings is one of those quintessential dishes that exemplifies the idea of Southern cooking and every family that likes them has their own twist on this classic. Some like to add onions, others add potatoes, but in my mind Chicken and Dumplings should be more straight forward and ultimately more simple.

I grew up in Tennessee and in my family my mom and I were the ones that loved Chicken and Dumplings (and still do!) My father isn't much of a chicken person and I'm not sure what my sister's opinion of the dish is, but it wasn't strong either way or I think I would remember. (Sisterpooh if you're reading you can add your two sense worth in the comments! ;o)) This simple dish is my take on the Southern Classic. It's simple, quick and delicious!

What You'll Need:
2 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
Water (Enough to cover the chicken...Usually about 4-6 cups)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of buttermilk (Note: Depending on humidity you may need a little more or a little less. You want a very, very sticky dough.)
3 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of dairy (Your choice heavy cream, light cream, half and half, milk)

In a large pot over medium heat place both chicken breasts in the bottom of the pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of sea salt and some black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cooked covered until chicken is done. (Usually 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

While the chicken is cooking mix 2 cups of flour, sea salt, baking soda, baking powder and buttermilk until a very sticky dough forms. Set aside.

When the chicken breasts are cooked remove from pot and put the cover back on to the pot. Take the skin off of the chicken breasts and discard. Remove the meat from the bone. Chop or tear meat into bite sized pieces with caution as the meat is still very hot. Add chicken back to the pot.

Mix your dairy and 3 tablespoons of flour until smooth with no lumps and pour into the pot with the chicken and stir to mix. Drop spoonfuls of dough into the pot until dough is gone to make dumplings. Put the lid back on the pot and cook for 20-30 minutes until mixture has thickened. Serve warm.

Notes: As I mentioned in the intro you can add onions if you like, or potatoes or I've even seen mushrooms added to the mix! You can also top it with chopped parsley if you want, which I do sometimes, but ultimately I think the simpler the better is best for this dish. Also if you have some left over chicken you can use that instead and substitute chicken broth for the water, heat it to simmering and then skip on to the dairy step.

Posted by Dianne at 9:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

Roast Turkey Breast

Roast Turkey Breast

Jamison and Alexis love roasted turkey. I make it a lot around here and though I didn't actually eat any of it this time, I can vouch from the past that it's delicious! This turkey was for Easter dinner and this time I got only the breast section and roasted it, instead of an entire turkey since Jamison isn't a fan of the dark meat and I wasn't going to eat any of it or make broth. When Thanksgiving rolls around we'll talk about brining the turkey and actually making broth, but until then, here's a Semi-Recipe that turns out perfectly every time!

What You'll Need:
A turkey breast section or a small whole turkey(This has two breasts still attached to the bone section)
An onion cut into quarters (No need to peel it or anything)
1 lemon cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil
Thyme sprigs
Rosemary sprigs
Sea salt
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Rinse the turkey and place it into a baking dish. Sprinkle the cavity of the bird with sea salt and pepper. Stuff with onion. lemon and herbs. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with olive oil until coated. Sprinkle with sea salt, chopped rosemary and black pepper. Bake until breast reaches 170 F. (About.com has a nice chart of approximate cooking times per pound. Be sure to check the temperature to be sure though! If the turkey starts getting too brown for your liking, but hasn't reached the magic number, then cover it loosely with foil to keep it from browning any further.) Remove the turkey from the oven and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before cutting to let the juices settle and then slice and serve.

Posted by Dianne at 2:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

Fruity Chicken Salad

Fruity Chicken Salad

I've mentioned before that I'm mainly Pescatarian (Ovo, lacto, veggies and fish), but once in a blue moon (and in fact for the first time in 2007) I crave meat around the time of that lovely female monthly visitor. For the past two weeks I've wanted chicken. At first I thought it was an iron thing, so I increased iron in my diet, but nothing seemed to take the edge off. I tried some of the chicken substitutes and still I was not satisfied. Saturday evening I baked a chicken with olive oil and rosemary, stuffed with onion and lemon. When I took a bite my whole body sighed in relief. I still don't plan to eat it everyday, only on rare occasions when I am actually craving it and the craving will not go away (thus the new category "Sometimes Meat"), but sometimes my body just wants what it wants.

Anyway, I had some left overs so I made up a batch of my Fruity Chicken Salad. When I was a kid there was an old theater in the town I grew up in that had a little cafe that operated during the week when the theater wasn't open. My mom worked up the street so sometimes in the afternoon after school my sister and I would venture up to the cafe for a snack (or in my case a late lunch...I was really bad about not eating lunch back then!) and to kill time until Mom got off work. The cafe served a wonderful chicken salad sandwich that had pineapple in it and I was hooked. The cafe closed years ago, but this is my take on their classic.

What You'll need:
2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup of fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces (or if you don't have fresh you can use the same amount of canned pineapple tidbits)
1/2 cup of mandarin oranges, chopped
1/2 cup of cashews or almonds
1/4 cup of light mayo
2 scallions, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Dump all ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve on a bed of lettuce or on bread. Store leftovers in the fridge.

And did I mention easy? ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack