Category Archives: Main Course

Italian Sausages, Peppers and Zucchini

The other day I went to a local apple orchard to pick up some delicious seasonal apple cider and spotted some cute marbled zucchini in the general store. I’m not sure if they are called marbled zucchini but they looked like they were marbled and much smaller than regular zucchini.

Anyway, I picked up a few along with some red, yellow and green peppers. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the veggies at the time but it all came together when I decided to make a quick Sunday meal. The result was a dish made of hot and sweet Italian sausage, sliced peppers, crushed tomatoes and my cute little zucchini sliced thin.

This was another one pot dish that I served over pasta with grilled Naan bread on the side. Talk about yummy. Not to brag, but I was impressed with how quickly the meal came together and how wonderful the mixed flavors tasted. I didn’t even have to ask hubby if this recipe was blog worthy. The first bite let me know it was definitely going on the blog!

Italian Sausages, Peppers and Zucchini

Ingredients:

1 pkg hot Italian Sausage casing removed and cut into large bite sized pieces

1 pkg sweet Italian Sausage casing removed cut into large bite sized pieces

5-6 fresh basil leaves torn

2 small zucchini sliced thin

1 small red onion peeled and sliced

1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced

1 green bell pepper seeded and sliced

1 yellow bell pepper seeded and sliced

1 lg can crushed tomatoes

½ cup water

2 tbsp grape seed oil

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

½ tbsp Adobo seasoning

Place oils in a large skillet or dutch oven and heat over medium high heat. Add sausages and brown on both sides then remove and place on a plate. Add peppers and onions to the skillet and season with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, Adobo and Worcestershire sauce. Stir then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes then add zucchini, basil leaves, crushed tomatoes and water. Stir to mix then add sausages and juices to the skillet. Stir to blend all the ingredients then cover and let simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.

Easy Pepper Steak Sandwiches

Because my family is not big on eating a lot of beef we only have steaks about twice each month. Sometimes even twice per month is too much for steak but I still like to fix some type of beef just to break up the menu from having chicken dinners. That is where London Broil comes in. Deli sliced London Broil to be exact.

Back when date night meant reservations at an upscale restaurant, hubby would take me to one of my favorite places called Harry’s Savoy Grill which is known for Delicious (with a capital D) steaks. Harry’s is where I fell in like with London Broil steaks. Their steaks are so tender you can practically cut it with your fork. Plus, Harry’s is the only restaurant where I will order my steak medium rare as I am not one to eat anything at a rare temperature. I make my exception with London Broil.

Now date night is more causal and we tend to do take out for dinner so we can sit on the porch or watch a movie. Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying London Broil. Because I have not figured out a way to make flank steak really tender, I decided to use deli sliced London Broil for an Easy Pepper Steak Sandwich. Instead of spending time marinating slices of flank steak I use thinly sliced London Broil since the meat is already tender. I just simmer the meat in a light sauce with sauteed onions and peppers to make the sandwiches more flavorful and Delicious with a capital D!

If you are true beef eater, check out this recipe for an alternative to a heavy steak or burger. I think you just might like it.

Easy Pepper Steak Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 – 1 ½ lbs London Broil deli slices

1 medium onion sliced

1 small green pepper sliced

1 small red pepper sliced

1 garlic clove minced

½ cup chicken or beef broth

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp olive oil or grape seed oil

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 tbsp cornstarch

½ tsp Kosher salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Place soy sauce, ginger, cornstarch and garlic in a small bowl and stir to mix well. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add peppers and onions to the skillet. Season veggies with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and let cook for approximately 3 – 5 minutes until the veggies slightly soften.

Stir in broth and soy sauce mixture to the skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Add in the deli slices of London Broil. Gently turn the meat to make sure both sides are coated with gravy. Let simmer for 1 – 2 minutes. Serve on a hoagie roll or your favorite sandwich roll.

Roasted Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Other Veggies

I have learned over time that the best way to bring out the natural flavors of vegetables is to roast them. Whether it is to create a delicious soup, add to a favorite recipe or to just have a medley of veggies, roasting is the way to go.

This past summer proved to be a veggie delight for me and hubby. Between the tomatoes and peppers we grew on our porch and the beautiful vegetables we bought from local farmers we were in veggie heaven.

To pack a lot of flavor into one vegetable side dish I roasted zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onions and peppers together. The prep time was quick and the end result was fantastic. Also, using a sheet pan to roast the vegetables kept clean up time down to a minimum.

Next time you want to have a flavor packed side dish or just a bowl of good veggies, try roasting a bunch of your favorite vegetables together for a Healthy, Quick and Easy recipe.

Roasted Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Other Veggies

Ingredients:

1 lg zucchini quartered

1 lg yellow squash quartered

1 pkg Campari tomatoes cut in half

1 lg onion cut into wedges

1 small jalapeno pepper sliced thin

1 medium green pepper diced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray then add the vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle with all of the seasonings then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss to mix and coat the vegetables. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and cooked to your desired tenderness. Serve with your favorite meat or over rice as a vegetarian meal.

Crab Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Stuffed poblano peppers has become one of my favorite side dishes because they go well with any main course. Plus, you can stuff the peppers with just about anything. Rice, cous cous, tomatoes or even crab meat.

The last time I decided to stuff some poblano peppers I made Crab Stuffed Poblano Peppers. This recipe was created because I had crab meat on hand and fresh salsa I did not want to go to waste and a few poblano peppers hanging around. My original thought for the crab meat was to make crab imperial (I’ll post that recipe one day) but I decided I wanted a lighter meal on this particular day. Stuffing the peppers with crab meat seemed like the perfect side dish to our lollipop lamb and I was right.

The combination of the crab meat, fresh salsa and cheese tasted great with just a hint of spiciness. If you want more heat don’t remove the rib of the poblano peppers and leave some seeds. As most folks know that is where most of the heat comes from for any hot pepper.

Although I paired the stuffed peppers with lollipop lamb chops, they would also go with a nice Big Salad. Check out the link for a great salad recipe.

Crab Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers (seeds and ribs removed)

1 small container of lump crab meat

½ cup fresh hot or mild salsa

¼ cup shredded Queso or Mexican Cheese

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Juice from ½ a fresh lemon

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slit the top of each poblano pepper half way lengthwise. Set aside.

Combine the crab meat, fresh salsa and seasonings in a large bowl. Add the cheese to the bowl and stir to blend well. Stuff each pepper with a few spoonfuls of the crab mixture. Do not over stuff.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray then lay the peppers on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are softened and the cheese is golden brown.

Jazzed Up Dirty Rice

If you’re looking for a Dirty Rice recipe that is strictly made from scratch, this is not the recipe for you. This recipe is a combination of an old recipe from many moons ago and my new friend Zatarain’s. Of course, the recipe can be adjusted to exclude the help of Zatarain’s but why not cut a few corners whenever you can for an easier recipe.

Like I said earlier, I used to make dirty rice many moons ago when I was single. Rice dishes are a great way to stretch a budget when you are low on funds (young single life) or if you are just learning how to cook on your own. In my case it was both when I initially moved away from home. I knew how to cook but not really on my own plus buying my own groceries. I am more of a potatoes kind of gal but making dirty rice, rice casseroles or fried rice allowed me to have multiple meals for lunch and dinner.

My Jazzed Up Dirty Rice is a recipe I will definitely share with my youngest son as he is on his own now and learning how to cook for himself. Jazzing up the recipe meant using Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, Chile peppers, Cajun sausage and a few red pepper flakes to bring on the heat.

Pulling everything together is quite easy and since you basically only use a few pans for cooking your clean up time is less than usual. Give this recipe a try and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Jazzed Up Dirty Rice

Ingredients:

1 box Family Size Zatarain’s Dirty Rice

1 lb Campari tomatoes (quartered)

1 package fresh Italian sausage (casting removed)

1 package Zartarain’s Cajun Smoked Sausage sliced

1 small can green Chiles

1 small onion diced

2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)

1 ½ cups water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp seasoned salt

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tomatoes in a small casserole dish. Season with ¼ tsp salt and oregano. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes then stir to coat with seasonings and olive oil. Place tomatoes in the oven for 45 minutes. Set aside when done roasting.

While the tomatoes are roasting brown the Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sliced smoked sausage and onions to the Italian sausage and stir. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes then add the green Chiles. Cook another few minutes then stir in the roasted tomatoes and remaining seasonings. Create a well in the middle of the pan then add the box of Zatarain’s Dirty Rice. Gently mix the rice with the sausages and tomatoes then stir in water and chicken broth to blend. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer for 25 – 30 minutes until the rice is tender stirring occasionally. If necessary, add a little more liquid half way through the cooking process if the rice seems hard or too dry.

Serve with cabbage, a green mixed salad or sliced tomatoes.

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Although chicken breasts were one of my favorite pieces of the bird (wings were my next favorite), I found as I got older that chicken breasts can be too big and dry sometimes when you bake them. Over my years of cooking I was able to perfect my baked chicken and have it come out more moist than dry.

As I changed my eating habits I discovered I liked cooking with chicken thighs more than chicken breasts. Still, the breast held a special place in my heart and I would get a hankering for a nice meaty stuffed chicken breast. Recently, I rediscovered thinly sliced chicken breasts at my grocer. The grocer doesn’t always seem to have them on hand so I forget about looking for them. On my last shopping trip I spied a few packages of thinly sliced breasts and grabbed enough to make dinner and to freeze for another meal.

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts became a thing in my home when I had a taste for lasagna but did not want to go through the process it takes to make a really good lasagna. I came up with the idea to layer the thinly cut chicken breasts I had in the freezer like I would a lasagna. This recipe fit right in with my new low carbohydrate lifestyle since there was no pasta in sight. I wasn’t sure the fellas in the house would like this dish as much as the pasta layered dishes I have made in the past. However, I was pleasantly surprised that they thought it was a nice change from a heavy lasagna. Just so they had the illusion of having pasta with the Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts I made some spaghetti squash to go with dinner. In the end, I was able to service a low carb meal everyone enjoyed and I could stick to my new lifestyle of eating.

Don’t worry. There will be plenty of other recipes that include pasta. After all, my family’s still big time pasta eaters.

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:

2 packages of thinly sliced chicken breasts

1 package of fresh baby leaf spinach (roughly chopped)

1 brick cream cheese softened

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup fresh salsa (hot or mild)

1 cup marinara sauce

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese divided

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cream cheese, salsa, spinach and ½ of the grated Parmesan cheese in a large bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Spray a long casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread a little marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer one package of the chicken breasts over the sauce. Season with some of the salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powder. Spread the spinach and cream cheese mixture over the chicken then layer the other package of thinly sliced chicken breasts over the cream cheese and spinach. Season the top layer of chicken with the remaining seasonings. Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the chicken then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Serve with spaghetti squash, pasta or a nice mixed green salad.

Drunken Chicken and Rice

Anytime someone uses the word “drunken” in a recipe you know it involves alcohol. Fortunately, the alcohol usually burns off and you are left with the wonderful flavor alcohol brings to the recipe. My Drunken Chicken and Rice recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw on “Pati’s Mexican Table”.

I was watching her show while trying to come up with an idea for dinner and noticed she was making a dish with chicken thighs which I happen to have had on hand in the refrigerator. I planned to make curried chicken the next day so I had picked up the boneless chicken thighs at the grocers that morning. But, after watching Pati I figured why not try her recipe instead since I had most of the same ingredients and could substitute a few of my own.

The end result was a pan full of deliciousness. My son T looked at me after taking one bite and said, “Your putting this on your blog – right?” while hubby was digging in for his second bowl. Of course both of them added a little more heat to their portions but there was just enough heat for my tender taste buds. As a side dish, I made Poblano peppers stuffed with a blend of Mexican cheeses. I actually chopped up my Poblano pepper and stirred it into my bowl of Drunken Chicken and Rice. Absolutely Wonderful! The Poblano was an excellent accompaniment to the chicken and rice.

I would definitely recommend this recipe for a quick one pan meal. The less fuss and clean up the better in my book.

Drunken Chicken and Rice

Ingredients:

6 – 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 small can of green chiles

½ white onion diced

½ yellow pepper diced

½ red pepper diced

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups white long grain rice

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup beer (your choice)

½ cup diced fresh tomatoes

4 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp Kosher salt

½ tbsp seasoned salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

½ tsp Chile lime seasoning (optional)

Rinse rice in cold water and set aside.

Place chicken in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat chicken with seasonings. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat Add chicken to the hot skillet and spread it out. Brown chicken on both sides then remove from the skillet and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the skillet then add the rice. Stir the rice to coat it with the oil and let cook for about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Move the rice to the edges of the skillet to create a well in the center of the skillet. Add onions, peppers, tomatoes, green chiles, garlic, cumin and Chile lime seasoning. Stir the veggies and cook about 2 – 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Mix veggies and rice together then add beer. Stir then let simmer for 1 – 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, cooked chicken and peas to the skillet. Stir to mix well then cover and cook about 15 – 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt or other seasonings if necessary.

Side Dish Ideas:

  • Poblano Peppers stuffed with a blend of Mexican cheeses
  • Wilted Buttered Spinach

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Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes

I took it as an omen that I should try to make a pasta dish with feta cheese and tomatoes when I saw two different clips on YouTube about baked feta and tomatoes in a sauce. My version of the recipe includes spicy sausage. What can I say. My family enjoys meat. Of course this recipe can be made meatless for the enjoyment of my vegetarian friends. Either way my Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes came out a winner.

Until hubby came into my life I was never big on feta cheese. It was not a cheese I would automatically pick up at the grocery store having grown up using cheddar, Swiss, Gueryre and mozzarella cheeses. Feta just looked really bland to me so it was easy to bypass for other cheeses. I cannot say I didn’t like the taste of feta cheese because it sometimes was a topping for salads when we dined out. However, with all of the other flavors in the salad my palate must not have been sophisticated enough to distinguish its tangy taste way back when. Hubby introduced me to the delicious flavor of feta while eating at various Italian restaurants while we were dating. Now, I incorporate feta into a variety of recipes to add a level of tang and creaminess to the dish.

I think this Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes dish is quite tasty and oh so simple to make. The hardest part of prepping the recipe is browning the sausage and cooking the pasta. The feta cheese and cherry tomatoes bake together in a casserole dish with a few herbs. Once baked the tomatoes and feta are turned into a delicious creamy sauce which is tossed with the sausage and pasta. Talk about quick and easy. I can make this dish within an hour and have it on the table for my hungry crew to gobble down.

If you have pasta lovers in your house, try this recipe. They will love it!

Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 spicy fresh sausages with casing removed

2 pints of cherry tomatoes

1 block of Feta cheese

1 box pasta. [Prepare according to cooking instructions]

1 bag baby leaf spinach

¼ cup olive oil + 1 tbsp

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp Sea Salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cherry tomatoes in a casserole dish and drizzle with ¼ cup of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Toss until coated with olive oil. Make a well in the middle of the casserole dish and add the block of feta cheese. Place sprigs of thyme and rosemary around the tomatoes. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until cheese is slightly golden brown and the tomatoes are roasted.

While the feta cheese and tomatoes are baking prepare pasta according to the package. Brown the sausage and drain on a paper towel then add to a bowl along with the spinach. Toss the two together and the heat from the sausage will wilt the spinach.

Once the feta cheese and tomatoes are finished baking remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and remove the sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Mash the cheese and tomatoes with a fork then mix the two together. Add sausage and pasta to the casserole dish then gently toss everything together until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Top with a little mozzarella cheese and stick in the oven a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with a nice salad.

Double Dip Fried Chicken

Okay, who besides my vegan friends does not like good ol’ home cooked fried chicken? I don’t see any hands so I am guessing just about everyone likes fried chicken. Of course, fried chicken is not something you should have often and if you want to make it seem a little healthy it is better to oven fry the chicken. Less grease. Less hassle. But, when you have a taste for some good extra crispy fried chicken you should try my Double Dip Fried Chicken. Yes, I said double dip. You will be surprised just how crispy, flavorful and tender the chicken will be.

This recipe is a twist on a recipe I saw on a restaurant cooking show. I would never have thought to double dip my chicken before frying to make it real crispy. I always wondered how some chefs were able to make their chicken crispy enough to make a crunching sound without the chicken being dry. Now, I know.

The key to tenderness is marinating the chicken in seasoned buttermilk for a few hours. Usually, after the chicken had marinated I would toss the buttermilk. Oh no, not any more. That buttermilk is golden. Once the chicken is coated with a flour mixture I dip it back into the buttermilk then coat it again with more of the flour mixture. The buttermilk helps to keep the chicken tender and the extra coating creates a wonderful crispiness to the chicken.

Next time you get a taste for some good ol’ extra crispy fried chicken grab some buttermilk, seasoned flour and try out my Double Dip Fried Chicken. I think you will like it.

Double Dip Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

4 – 8 cleaned chicken thighs

4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp smoked paprika

½ tbsp Chile lime seasoning (Trader Joe’s optional)

½ tbsp onion powder

½ tbsp Adobo (optional)

½ tbsp seasoned salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Season the chicken on both sides with salt, ½ tbsp ground black pepper, Chile lime seasoning and smoked paprika. Place chicken in an air tight container then pour buttermilk over the chicken to cover it. Place container in the refrigerator for 2 – 4 hours or overnight.

When it is frying time, heat vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Temperature should register at 360 degrees. To test the oil the old fashion way, put a small drop of water in the oil and stand back. If it starts popping the oil is ready.

While oil is heating up take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Add flour, ½ tsp ground black pepper, seasoned salt, onion powder and Adobo to a large bowl and combine until well mixed.

Shake off excess buttermilk from a chicken thigh then place it in the flour mixture and coat both sides. Shake off excess flour and dip the floured chicken back into the buttermilk marinate. Again, shake off the excess buttermilk then place it back into the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and place on a wire rack. Repeat steps with each piece of chicken.

Add 4 – 5 pieces of chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a layer of paper towels. Repeat steps until all of the pieces are cooked. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Roasted Pork Loin

Although last year was a tough year dealing with the new corona virus Covid-19, we had a very Merry Christmas. Instead of making another traditional holiday meal with turkey and ham I decided to make a nice Roasted Pork Loin and indeed it was nice.

I must have hit the supermarket at the right time because I found a couple of beautiful pork loins on sale. One for Christmas and one for a later date. I have to admit I wasn’t sure my hubby would like pork loin since he is not a big pork fan except for bacon. Because of that I also made my Baked Chicken with a Mango Chutney Glaze in case he didn’t like the pork loin.

The first sign that the pork loin might go over well with hubby was the wonderful smell roaming through the house as it cooked. The next was when I pulled the pork loin out of the oven and let it rest before slicing and I saw several eyeballs checking out the pork loin. I even thought I heard the smacking of lips. While I was slicing up the meat hubby came over and said that looks really good and I’m hungry. I asked if he wanted to try a piece and he happily took it and gobbled it up. His first response was “Wow, that is tender. I like it”. Then he took another small piece of meat to tide him over until dinner.

After that hubby was hooked and at dinner he praised the roast pork loin. He even went back for seconds which is rare unless it is for salad. Looks like I have a new menu item to choose from for future holidays.

Roasted Pork Loin

Ingredients:

1 pork loin

½ small onion sliced

½ cup chicken stock or white wine

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Cajun seasoning, rosemary, oregano and olive oil in a small bowl and mix until seasonings are wet. Set side.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Rinse the pork loin and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper on all sides. Place in hot skillet and brown on all sides.

Place sliced onions on the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven and top with the browned pork loin. Top the pork loin with the wet seasoning mix and rub into the meat on all sides. Add the chicken stock to the casserole dish.

Place the pork loin into the oven (uncovered) and roast for approximately 45 minutes. Baste the pork loin then cover with foil and cook for another hour and 15 minutes. Baste the pork loin approximately every 20 minutes. Remove the pork loin from the oven (keep covered) and place on a platter to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing..