Category Archives: Meat/ Poultry

Chicken and Gnocchi Stew

Since my #1 food tester is in college now (yes, hubby is my #2 taste tester) I sometimes have to rely on myself to eat leftovers. Even though I don’t mind eating leftovers for lunch or sometimes breakfast, there are times I have to make them more exciting in order to eat them. That is why I came up with Chicken and Gnocchi Stew. I had a leftover roasted chicken that needed a little tender love and care so it was perfect for a new recipe.

Using an already roasted chicken meant my prep time was cut in half which made pulling the rest of the recipe together easy. Chicken and Gnocchi Stew is mostly a different take on chicken and dumplings. Instead of nice big fat dumplings, there a little plump pillows of potato gnocchi. Gnocchi are right up my alley because I love potatoes. Adding gnocchi also eliminated the need to include potatoes in the stew. It was like a two for one deal!

I put Chicken and Gnocchi Stew in the comfort food category. It is packed with vegetables and protein along a little of the other stuff we shouldn’t eat too often. Fortunately, the best ingredient in comfort foods like this one is love.  Corny but true.

Chicken and Gnocchi Stew

Ingredients:

1 roasted chicken skin and bones removed then shred meat or

2 chicken breasts

2 chicken thighs

3 carrots peeled and sliced

2 stalks celery sliced

1 pkg gnocchi

1 pkg frozen peas

½ onion diced

½ onion sliced

1 can cream of chicken soup

3 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dried parsley

Prepare gnocchi per package instructions. Drain and set aside.

If using chicken breasts and chicken thighs, cook in 4 cups water with 1 tbsp salt for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool then remove skin and bones. Cut into bite-size pieces.

Pour chicken stock into a large pot. Add carrots, celery, peas and onions along with remaining salt, pepper and parsley. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Whisk in cream of chicken soup. Add chicken and gnocchi cook for 15 minutes more. Serve with or over biscuits. Tastes even better the second day.

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Crostini Delights

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Not too long ago I was watching an episode of the Sandwich King on the Food Network channel and he gave me an idea for a recipe. Granted, his version of a steak crostini was much more high end than mine but I would put my Crostini Delights up against his any day. No Jeff Mauro, that is not a challenge.

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My family is not big on eating beef so making a light dish with a little beef was right up my alley. Crostini Delights can easily be adapted to whatever you like on slices of french bread. Before I made my Crostini Delights for my hubby he only raved about having bruschetta which I layered on thin slices of french bread. Now, he raves about the “Delights”.

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On the Sandwich King, the host flashed fried thin slices of filet mignon and built layers of meat, pesto, rosemary, gorgonzola cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes. Like I said, his version is high end. My version uses deli slices of London broil instead of filet mignon which still has great flavor and is very tender. To make the crostinis my own I paired different ingredients to create a melt in your mouth treat. Put this recipe on the list for your next dinner party as an appetizer and I am sure your guests will be raving about the great taste of the Crostini Delights.

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Crostini Delights

 Ingredients:

1 thin crusty french bread loaf

½ lb deli sliced London broil

¼ lb sliced provolone cheese

2 Roma tomatoes sliced then cut in half

½ cup gorgonzola cheese

¼ cup BBQ sauce

basil leaves

olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice entire french bread loaf at an angle to create bite sized pieces of sliced. Drizzle olive oil over each slice of bread. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes until bread is lightly browned. Remove from oven.

While bread is baking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Pour BBQ sauce around the bottom of the pan then add the slices of London broil. Quickly toss the meat in the warm pan until well coated with sauce. Turn off heat.

Once the bread is lightly browned layer each slice with gorgonzola cheese, London broil, a basil leaf, two pieces of tomato then top with a little provolone cheese. Place back in the oven for a few minutes until the provolone cheese melts. Serve immediately.

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Pepper Steak

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Today was a non-chicken day since we had just enjoyed a chicken pasta dish and I planned on making chicken again in a couple of days. Only certain folks can eat chicken almost every day but I am not one of them. I do like chicken just not every day. There are times when I think I might grow feathers if I eat one more chicken dish.

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Because it was a non-chicken day and I had run out of ideas I decided to flip through a food magazine to get help with what I could prepare for dinner. Half-way through the magazine I saw a beautiful picture of a Pepper Steak meal and Bingo I knew what we were having for dinner. I had a few red and green peppers that were getting soft and I always have onions on hand. I checked the freezer and I had a package of thinly sliced sirloin petite steaks. One pepper steak dinner coming up!

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Granted, I had not made Pepper Steak in many, many years. I couldn’t even find my original recipe so I had to look up a couple of recipes online. I more or less combined a few of the recipes I found and then added my own twist.

A few tips on how to make a good Pepper Steak.

  1. Be sure to buy thinly sliced steak. Trust me. If you use a thicker slice of steak, the meat will be tough and chewy.

  2. Marinate the steak to make the meat flavorful and tender.

  3. Use ginger in the marinade. The flavor is bold and pairs well with the beef.

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Pepper Steak may become one of my new favorite dishes besides pork chops. I surprised myself with how good this dish was on the first try. I think the next time I prepare the recipe I will add snow peas or pea pods to jazz it up even more. Then again, why mess with a good thing.

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Pepper Steak

Ingredients:

1pkg sirloin petite steak sliced thin. Cut into strips.

4 plum tomatoes cut into chunks

1 red onion cut into chunks

1 lg green pepper cut into chunks

1 lg red pepper cut into chunks

¼ cup beef or chicken stock

Marinade:

¼ cup soy sauce

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp corn starch

½ tbsp Adobo (optional)

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Mix marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Place steak in marinade and stir to coat meat. Set aside and let stand for 10 – 15 minutes. Reserve any marinade not absorbed by the meat.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Brown meat in batches. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Once all of the meat is browned, pour off all but 1 tbsp of oil (if necessary, add a little oil). Add onions and peppers to the wok along with seasonings. Stir then cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, steak, beef stock and any remaining marinade. Stir to mix. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 – 10minutes stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

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White Bean Chicken Soup

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OMGoodness! It is COLD today so what better time to make a big pot of soup. That is exactly what I said to myself on the way to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few items for dinner. I might not have felt so chilled if I had cranked up the heat in the car but that still would not have warmed me on the inside. To make that happen I needed a nice bowl of homemade soup.

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My choice was either chicken noodle soup or a White Bean Chicken soup. I planned to have spaghetti the next day for dinner so chicken noodle soup was out and White Bean Chicken soup was in. Keep in mind I did not have a recipe for White Bean Chicken soup but not having an actual recipe has never stopped me from cooking. So, while strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s I made up the recipe that would become “the soup”.

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Most soups are pretty easy to make. They are a one pot dish that only needs a little tender love and care and lots of seasoning. Because it was freezing outside I was in the mood for a healthy, hearty soup. I figured the white beans and chicken would make it hearty plus filling with lots of protein while the mirepoix and cabbage would make it healthy. Did I just hear someone say what the heck is mirepoix? Yes, I did. It was my hubby. He asked me this question while I was writing down the recipe when I got home. I was talking out loud to myself trying to remember how to spell mirepoix and hubby asked “What the heck is that?” When I told him it was diced carrots, onions and celery he said “Why don’t you just say that?” My response was I wanted to sound fancy like the chefs on TV. I know. It is always better to keep it simple.

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Simply put, White Bean Chicken Soup is comfort food. Whether it is freezing cold outside or you want a flavorful homemade meal in a bowl, this soup will do the trick.

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White Bean Chicken Soup

 Ingredients:

3 cans cannellini beans rinsed

1pkg sliced pepper chicken

1 container mirepoix (diced onions, celery and carrots)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 cups chopped cabbage

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp Adobo

1 tsp thyme

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp lemon pepper

Shred chicken and set aside. Mash ½ cup of white beans (this will help soup to thicken) and set aside with remaining beans.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add mirepoix and seasonings to the pot and stir. Allow the vegetables to sweat for 3 – 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and add white beans then stir. Reduce heat to medium. Mix a spoonful of broth into the measured heavy cream. Add the mixture to the pot. Stir and let simmer 3 minutes.

Place chicken in the pot and stir. Cook for 20 minutes then add chopped cabbage. Stir to mix in the cabbage. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes until cabbage is softened and cooked through. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

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Ham Hash

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While my hubby and kids love all types of pasta I am a fan of potatoes. I love mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and of course fried potatoes. Since I am the only one that craves potatoes I don’t make them too often. But, when I do I want to make sure everyone will eat them.

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I figured out a while ago that in order to get my hubby to eat potatoes I needed to make them for breakfast. Why breakfast instead of dinner I still have not figured that one out yet. Hey, I don’t mind as long as I can eat potatoes.

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I first flirted with making a turkey hash but put that recipe aside because I did not have turkey at the time I decided to create a breakfast potato recipe. I did however have a package of diced ham I was going to use in a ham salad recipe. Preparing Ham Hash was a nice choice mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand. A lot of recipes are created based on what is in the pantry or refrigerator when chefs put on their creativity caps. At least, that is how quite a few of my recipes are pulled together. Using a little bit of this and that based on what you have to work with is a great way to create new tasty meals. I am never afraid to try something new and fortunately my family does not mind participating as my taste testers in my crazy kitchen laboratory.

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Creating a Ham Hash recipe was not a big stretch. This is a very simple recipe that is full of flavor. One of the best things about the recipe is that it is quick to fix. The potatoes and veggies do not take long to cook especially since I used packaged shredded potatoes (I do shred my own Yukon Gold potatoes when I have time).  Plus, the ham was already cooked.  So…. Viola! Quick and Easy.

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Ham Hash

Ingredients:

3 – 4 Yukon Gold potatoes shredded or 1 pkg shredded potatoes

2 scallions sliced (both white and green parts of scallion)

1 pkg diced ham

1 small onion diced

¼ cup green peppers diced

¼ cup red peppers diced

2 tbsp bacon fat

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp parsley

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced ham and stir to coat with fat. Cook until ham is slightly browned. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add potatoes and veggies to the skillet and sprinkle with seasonings. Stir to mix veggies with potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and allow potatoes to crisp up a little for 5 – 6 minutes then add ham back to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Stir to mix in ham with the potatoes. Cook an additional 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked through. Serve with eggs and biscuits.

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Mommys’ Pork Chop Sandwich

Yimg_5509_1Yes, I am over the age of 30 and I still call my mother “Mommy”. What can I say? I never made the transition from Mommy to mom and I could not see myself calling her mother. Mother seems much too formal to me but I don’t knock anyone that calls their mother – mother. Actually, a couple of my aunts called my maternal grandmother “Mother”. The rest of us called her Ma Dear. However, mother seemed to fit coming from my aunties.

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Okay, I digressed. Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich jumped into my head the other day when I was trying to come up with something for dinner other than chicken or beef. We had already had both during the week along with fish so I had to make a decision on which one would get a second turn for the week. Truth be told I love pork chops. The problem was that my hubby is not big on pork unless it’s bacon. So tentatively, I decided to make pork chop sandwiches like my mom did back in the day.  I wasn’t sure he would go for it. To my surprise, when hubby asked what were we having for dinner and I said Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich he only said what time do we eat. Now, I am not sure if he was just really hungry or was in the mood for pork. Either way, I was happy.

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Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich is fairly straightforward. Two slices of bread. Mustard. Hot sauce and on occasion a little mayo. This basic combination of flavors tastes wonderful – at least to me.

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As for my hubby, he jazzed up his pork chop sandwich by adding lettuce, tomato and the cole slaw I made to go with the sandwiches. After thinking about my hubby’s creation, I realized the sandwich he made was similar to another sandwich I make which has chicken instead of pork chops. Great minds think alike.

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Enjoy!

Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 – 3 pork chops

2 – 3 cibatta rolls sliced

1 medium tomato sliced (optional)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

½ cup shredded lettuce (optional)

½ cup cole slaw (optional)

1 tsp mustard

salt

seasoned salt

black pepper

hot sauce

Adobo seasoning

smoked paprika

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with a little Adobo seasoning, seasoned salt and pepper.

Season pork chops with salt, pepper and Adobe seasoning. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Dredge seasoned pork chops in flour. Shake off excess flour. Gently place chops in hot oil. Fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through. Approximately 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Spread mustard on one side of each sliced roll. Place one pork chop on each roll. Shake hot sauce over pork chop (you decide the level of spiciness). Top pork chop with the other slice of bread.

Optional: Add sliced tomato, lettuce and cole slaw.

Eat Up!

 

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Tostadas

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Tostadas remind me of an open faced taco or a burrito. I know burritos are not crunchy like a taco but the ingredients I put inside of my burritos are similar to what I put on top of my Tostadas. Not long ago at one of our office celebrations I discovered packaged tostada shells. A co-worker brought in the tostada shells with pulled pork ( a recipe I will try later). I was so excited to see the corn tostada shells I had to find out where she bought them. Unfortunately, she had purchased them at a local store near her house which happens to be far from where I live. Needless to say, I would not be traveling over the state line just for tostada shells.

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Of course I started searching for packaged tostada shells in every grocery store I visited. I finally hit pay dirt at a neighborhood grocery store where I shop on occasion for certain types of foods.

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Like I said earlier, Tostadas remind me of an open-faced taco. The difference is that I top the Tostadas with brown rice and beans. The rest of the toppings are pretty much the same as my tacos. Check out the Latin section of your local grocery store and you may find the packaged tostada shells. These babies are a big time saver but if you like making your own tostada shells go for it!

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This recipe turned out to be a winner with my friends and family because everyone could build their own Tostada from the “fixins bar” I set up. Shredded chicken, beef, beans, rice, tomatoes, fresh avocado, my homemade Guacamole and more made dinner both fun and good to eat.

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Tostadas

Ingredients:

4 – 6 tostada shells

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

1 lb ground turkey or beef

1 ½ cup queso cheese shredded

1 4 oz can green chiles

1 4 oz can chopped jalapenos

1 pkg taco seasonings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the meat in a medium-sized frying pan over medium high heat. Drain off fat then reduce the heat to medium low. Sprinkle in taco seasoning, green chiles, jalapenos and water. Stir to blend everything together then add browned meat.

Lay out tostada shells on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each shell with a little cheese then layer rice, meat mixture, tomatoes and top with more cheese. Place in oven for 3 – 5 minutes until cheese melts. Remove from oven. Top with sour cream, fresh avocado slices or guacamole.

 

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Garlic BBQ Chicken Wings

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I am going to admit something to the world. I prefer to take the easy way out when it comes to frying chicken. Chicken wings and specifically chicken wingettes are the easiest pieces to fry if you are frying chicken. Wingettes are already cut into pieces and do not need a lot of cleaning. Other parts of the chicken like the breast and thigh need tender loving care to make sure you get most of the fat and other questionable things off of the chicken. Drumsticks are not hard to clean but they take longer to cook than wings. So yes, I can be a little lazy when it comes to frying chicken. That being said I do love fried chicken and don’t mind frying up a batch of wings for the family any day of the week.

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I came up with my Garlic BBG Chicken Wing recipe after watching a food show that showed the cook adding garlic to a butter sauce then pouring it over fried chicken wings. I liked the idea of adding garlic and butter to a BBQ sauce then pouring it over fried chicken wings instead of a plain butter sauce. The result was quite tasty and since I baked the wings after frying them and drenching them in BBQ sauce there was a nice little char to the wing.

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This recipe is simple because you can use whatever flavor BBQ sauce you like the best. If you want something a little sweet but spicy, try Stubbs Sweet Heat BBQ sauce. The sauce has a nice tang and you can feel a subtle heat in the back of your throat as you eat. Adding the garlic just added another wonderful level of flavor to the wings. There are so many different flavors of sauce that will work well with this recipe. Start out by experimenting with your favorite BBQ sauce then go from there. I am 99% sure you will enjoy these wings no matter what sauce you decide to use.

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Garlic BBQ Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

1 jar Stubbs Sweet Heat Bar-B-Que Sauce

2 pkgs chicken wingettes washed

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

frying olive oil or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl season chicken with salt and black pepper. Add oil to a dutch oven or large heavy pot (about half way up the side of the pot. Turn heat to medium high until oil begins to smoke slightly. If you are brave, flick a drop of water into the pot. If it sizzles the oil is hot.

Cook chicken wings in batches (8 – 10 pieces each time) until they are crispy. Drain on paper towels.

In a medium sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes then add BBQ sauce. Stir to mix butter, garlic and sauce. Reduce heat to low to keep warm while cooking chicken.

Add chicken and sauce to a large container with a top. Shake to coat the chicken wings. Spread chicken out on a foil lined baking pan. Bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes.

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Queso Fundido

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Tortillas are a staple in my kitchen.  Between making chicken burritos, breakfast burritos , tortilla chips and soft tacos as a quick meal I make sure I always have tortillas on hand.  I was searching for a new way to use tortillas when I just happen to come across a delicious looking Mexican dish that included tortillas.  I had never heard of Queso Fundido which means “melted cheese”.  I discovered that Queso Fundido is actually a very popular dish even in the states.

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In most areas Queso Fundido is made as an appetizer but my research showed some folks like to turn it into a sandwich.  Since I was new to making the recipe I thought I had better stick to making it an appetizer.  There were so many different recipes out in the cooking sphere I decided to find a basic recipe then add my own little twist.  The standard ingredients for any Queso Fundido is spicy sausage, tomatoes and cheese.  After that you can add whatever seasonings you like.  Chorizo is the sausage of choice in most recipes because of the level of heat and spice.  If you are not into spicy sausage, you can still make this dish but use a milder Italian sausage.  Nobody will care.  Use whatever makes you happy.  But if you want the Queso Fundido to be authenic, use the chorizo.

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Be prepared for this dish to disappear quickly.  If you have cheese lovers in your house, they will definitely love Queso Fundido.  Serve it up while it is hot and bubbly along with warm tortillas.  Talk about Yummy!

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Queso Fundido

Ingredients:

1 pkg ground chorizo or spicy Italian sausage

6 flour tortillas

1 jalapeno seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped

2 cups mozzarella or Mexican cheese

¼ cup diced onion or scallions

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cilantro chopped

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat olive oil in medium sized skillet. Brown chorizo until cooked and slightly crisp. Remove sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add garlic, onions, jalapeno tomatoes and seasonings to the skillet. Stir to mix well. Reduce heat and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until veggies are soft. Add sausage to the mixture and stir to combine.

Spray a pie dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese in the bottom of the dish. Layer ½ of the chorizo and vegetable mixture over cheese. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the chorizo mixture then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cheese melts and dish is slightly browned and bubbly. Serve with warmed tortillas.

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Hot Italian Sandwich

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A good sandwich always starts with delicious bread. Some of the best bread comes from the bakery at your local grocer. I often find myself searching for different types of rolls for sandwiches when I want to make a tasty but quick family meal.

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The other day I found two different flat rolls that inspired me to try a new sandwich. An Italian roll and a jalapeno roll. The Italian roll was sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and oregano while the jalapeno roll was sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan cheese with slices of jalapeno peppers baked into the top of the bread. Both rolls smelled heavenly at the bakery and were so inviting that I had no choice but to put a couple of each in my basket. The Italian roll inspired me to create a Hot Italian Sandwich which turned out to me a winner in the family. I have made this sandwich a few times since my first try and it continues to be something the family enjoys. The sandwich is packed with soppressata, capicola ham and pepperoni sliced from the deli.

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Sandwiches are my go to meal whenever we are having a later than usual dinner because my son has a sporting event, school event or I have a bunch of errands after work. By the time we get home I don’t feel like preparing a complicated meal but I still want a balanced dinner. I really just want to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes so that we all still have time to relax before going to bed to prepare for another busy day.

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Hot Italian Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 – 3 flat bread rolls (jalapeno, Parmesan or regular) sliced in half
6 – 9 slices deli pepperoni
6 – 9 slices deli soppressata
6 – 9 slices deli capicola
1 large tomato sliced thin
4 – 6 slices provolone cheese
4 – 6 slices pepper jack cheese
2 tbsp pesto
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp oregano
1 tbsp Italian dressing
1 cup of shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix Italian dressing with lettuce and set aside.

Spread pesto on bottom half of each roll. Place two slices of pepper jack cheese on the bottom half of each roll. Place on a cookie sheet.

On a separate cookie sheet pile 2 slices of capicola, 2 slices soppressata, 3 slices tomatoes sprinkled with oregano and red pepper flakes. Top tomatoes with pepperoni then 2 slices provolone cheese.

Place meats and bread in the oven until cheese melts approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from oven and top bottom half of each roll with meat and lettuce. Place other half of roll on top of the lettuce and cut in half. Serve with chips or a cup of soup.

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