Tag Archives: entree

Minestrone

Lunch. Happens every day. Gets surprisingly monotonous when you work from home. After a lot of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, and random other 2 second fixes, I found something a lot more hearty. Takes a little while longer to make, but it’s so very worth it.. and it makes a ton, so you can have it over a few days.

Minestrone soup.

I got this recipe from someone I used to work with, but as usual, it’s been modified.

1/2 pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces
one sweet onion, chopped
one large leek
one cup chopped carrot
one cup chopped celery
one tablespoon minced garlic
slutty olive oil
3 medium zucchini
2 small cans peas and carrots (can use frozen)
1 can cannelini beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
parmesan cheese
basil
oregano
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven, sautee the bacon until completely cooked. You can remove the meat if you like, but I leave it in. Add chopped onion, garlic, chopped celery and chopped carrot. Sautee until the onion is clear. Slice the zucchini and add it. Do the same with the leek – make sure you leave the dark green part and don’t throw it away – it adds a nice flavor. Add the peas and carrots, as well as the beans and stir thoroughly. Add basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Top with the undrained can of tomatoes. Bring the whole pot to the sink and add enough water until everything is just covered. When you put it back on the stove, add 1/4 cup olive oil and about 2/3 cup parmesan cheese. Stir then bring the whole thing to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce to a low simmer and let cook for about an hour.

Mmmm.. minestrone.

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Stuffed Peppers.. or returning to the kitchen again

I’ve been traveling.  A lot.  My interest in the kitchen has waned as a result so I started to fall towards the whole takeout-delivery cycle of food.  It’s a bad place to be, so I’ve returned to the kitchen with a renewed interest in.. the crockpot.  Ahh.. pot roast.. or vegetable soup… or the bajizillion other things you make in a crockpot.

I came across a recipe from a paleo site.  Let me start by saying that I am not a follower of paleo.. but because they eschew grains and I live with someone trying to keep carbohydrates in check, they’re a great place to start for cooking ideas.. which brings me to this.  Stuffed peppers.

I made some modifications to the recipe and have put it below.  The first thing I want to say is do. not. cook. the. cauliflower. ahead. of. time.  That makes for mushy cauliflower.  Mushy cauliflower is icky and I disapprove of it wholeheartedly.

Second, notice.. no liquid.  Fear not.  The sausage provides the liquid.

Third, the original recipe called for cooking these badboys for 6 hours.  I cooked them for 4 and they were almost overdone.  I prefer some bite in the peppers.

These are quite filling.  When I made them, I made sides.. which remained untouched.  These are a true one dish meal.

  • 1 pound of hot italian sausage.  I got them and pulled the meat out of the casing.  Gross but effective.  For a less fun alternative, buy bulk sausage.
  • 4 assorted bell peppers. I went with 2 green, 2 orange.
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, grated or chopped into a “rice” consistency.
  • 1 small (8 ounce) can of tomato paste.
  • 1 small white onion, medium dice.
  • 1 tsp lazy man’s chopped garlic.
  • 2 tsp dried basil.
  • 2 tsp dried oregano.
  • 2 tsp dried thyme.
  • juice from one lemon

With a hearty menacing laugh, RIP the tops off of the peppers.. or use a knife.. it’s cleaner.  Seed them and save the tops.

Put everything in a large bowl and mix like it’s meatloaf.  Do not use a spoon or other utensils.  Practice your menacing laugh.  Mix some more.  When the mixture is fully incorporated, spoon into each of your empty soul-less peppers.  They’ll hold a lot so keep stuffing until they’ll hold no more.. then put the tops back on them and put them in a crock pot.  Cook on low for about 4 hours.

 

Chicken Marsala

This post isn’t so much an entree, but more of a snackatizer.  This was one of my first forays into quick cooking and it worked out remarkably well.  You can tell from the liberal use of bread crumbs instead of panko that this particular recipe is early in my cooking life.  I still make it from time to time and it always goes well both as an hors d’oeuvres and as an entree – depending on how much you make.  You can make this with any kind of red cooking wine – marsala happens to be my favorite.  If you use regular wine, make sure to add salt when you add the wine.

1 pound chicken tenders
italian style bread crumbs2 eggs
marsala cooking wine
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
slutty olive oil
handful of capers (optional)

Remove the vein from the chicken tenders and cut each piece into thirds.  Sautee the mushrooms in olive oil until they are reduced and set aside.  Mix the eggs and the vinegar, dip the chicken pieces in the mixture, roll in bread crumbs and fry until they’re done through.  I do these in batches because it’s never a good idea to crowd the pan.  You will notice that the batches get darker as you go along – that’s what’s supposed to happen.  When the chicken is cooked, set aside.  Do not clean out the pan.  Add some marsala wine and optional capers along with some of the cooked mushrooms to the pan.  Toss in the chicken until well coated.  Continue to do this until everything is cooked and coated.

I know someone who likes these with thai peanut sauce.  I’ve tried it.  I’m not convinced.

Split pea soup

Wow.. it’s been a while. I’ve been busy moving. I’m back in central Florida where I belong and it’s been a challenge. That, and I finally went in to the doctor since I’m over 40, submitted to a blood test (i HATE needles) and found out, to nobody’s shock, that I have high cholesterol. I’m taking that into account with my current food..plan..thing.. and it turns out that I didn’t have to make too many changes. I am watching the nutrition panels more, which I guess is a good thing.

One of the things I missed the most about Florida is Publix. Now that I’ve moved back, there are three of them within a 2 mile radius of my place. They happened to be having a sale on dried goods and I picked up some dried split peas to make some soup. I haven’t had it in a while so, since it’s rained all day, today was the perfect day.

1 1 pound (16 oz) package of dried split peas
4-6 cups of water
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1 cup Goya mojo (I use the bitter orange)
1/2 pound smoked ham cut into small pieces

Take the split peas and soak in a dutch oven in 4-6 cups of water. Usually the package says you don’t need to soak them but since I don’t put my soup in a food processor, you need them to soften before cooking. After soaking for about 2 hours, bring to a boil then bring down to medium and cover. You’ll want to stir every few minutes for an hour. The peas should begin to break apart and turn the water green. Add the smoked ham. Continue to cook on medium low for another hour. You should have enough residual heat that the peas will explode into the water. Eventually the pea mush will settle to the bottom. When it’s a the consistency you want, remove about 2/3 of the standing water, add the worcestershire and mojo. Give it a good stir and cook for another 15-20 minutes and let rest.

I love this with toasted cheddar cheese and tomato sandwiches on rye. Great for a rainy day.

Steak and Guinness pie

Mmmm.. pie.  Especially beer pie.  Since this is fairly potato heavy, I haven’t made this in a long time but I do love it.  It’s excellent for cold weather and it is certainly one of those things that gets better the next day in the fridge.  I’ve also been known to make them and freeze them before baking – making it a very easy homemade TV dinner experience.

I actually made this for my parents who wouldn’t touch it because they equate Guinness with bad beer – and to be honest, the stuff we get that doesn’t come in the shotgun cans here in the US is fairly foul, given that it is contract brewed by Molson and has a bit of skunk to it.  Luckily baking manages to fix that.

One final thought.  As with so many of my recipes, this calls for a 40 of Guinness.  You may have noticed a trend.  I don’t drink beer that often anymore so I don’t keep it in the house.  I also like the snazzy feeling of walking out of a grocery store with a huge high end beer in a paper bag.

This recipe will make two pies.  I use these proportions because I like steak and Guinness pie and because the store brand premade pie shells always seem to be buy one get one.  Possibly just my store, but it always works out.

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • flour for dredging (I use Wondra)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 40oz Guinness
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed small
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 pieces of premade pie shell
  • corn starch

Press pie shells into pie pans and set aside.  This works out much better when they are at room temperature.  In a dutch oven, sautee onion slices, capers and garlic in a 1-1 mixture of butter and vegetable oil until the onion is almost clear.  Push the mixture to the edge of the pot.  Dredge the beef in flour and drop the pieces into the pot and brown them.  You may need to do this in batches to keep from overcrowding the meat.  Add the Guinness and potatoes.  Top with the dried spices.  Cook on high until the liquid begins to boil, then bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 1/2 hour.  Thicken with corn starch and transfer into pie shells.  Top with another pie shell and pinch close.  Cut vent slits in the top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until the shells are finished.  If you freeze the pies before baking, make sure they are completely at room temperature before putting in the oven.  Add an additional 10 minutes in the oven.  Nothing kills the love inherent in steak and Guinness pie like a chunk of ice in your meal.

Campfire Meals

Another day, another recipe.  This time, it’s something simple and quick that I learned how to make at – of all places – church camp.  Campfire meals were one of those artsy things everyone’s probably done once but never done again.  The idea was to take ingredients that can be easily stored and transported, then cooked in an open fire (or, in my case now, an oven).  It basically consists of a meat, some sort of vegetable, and a starch that can be sliced.  The original recipe always had ground beef in it but I like to get all fancy schmancy with mine now and I use beef strips instead.

  • Tin foil
  • one pound beef strips or ground beef (low fat content)
  • one small potato, sliced
  • one small onion, sliced
  • one carrot, julienned
  • one celery stalk, julienned
  • one tsp worcestershire sauce per packet
  • dried thyme

Basically take the tin foil and put all the ingredients on it.  Wrap the tin foil into a pouch and toss in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes or toss in a dying campfire for the same amount of time.  The fat from the beef will extract and cook the other ingredients.  The thicker the sliced potato (I grate mine usually) the longer you’ll want to cook it.  When it’s done, transfer to a bowl and top with a cheese of your choice.  Smells like the camp you didn’t want to go to when you were a kid.. until you got there.. then you didn’t want to leave.

Chicken Salad

Everyone has their own take on chicken salad.  I really didn’t have one until we started on the new food..plan..thing.  Since I work at home generally I make lunches in the morning and was looking for something fairly low carb and low glycemic that would also be sustainable.  I didn’t realize that chicken salad would be such a big part of the lunch experience.

The salad part (as in serve it over salad) is ad hoc.  I always make mine with celery, cucumbers, romaine, tomatoes, and chick peas.  When I do this, it makes enough for one person for one week.  It’s enough of a favorite that I get asked for a salad or chili pretty much every day.

There are two ways to make this and I’m including the long way starting with roasting the chicken.  When I’m not feeling the love with the whole experience, I got to the grocery store and get a rotisserie chicken – preferably a cold one so I can use it right away.

First, the chicken roasting.  In order to not sound like a crazy person, I do actually grab multiple chickens and freeze them.  I generally end up going through a chicken a week.

I coat the chicken in a mixture of olive oil and dark sesame oil, then liberally sprinkle rosemary, thyme, and oregano over the bird before roasting.

Once it comes out of the oven, allow to cool, then I feed the skin to the dog – because by this point he’s expecting something.. anything.. having to do with the bird.  The rest of the chicken gets pulled apart into small pieces.  I find that the mix of dark and white meat makes it unusually good.

Now onto the chicken salad….

  • 1 cup mayonaisse
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tbsp curry – I use garam masala from the asian grocery store

Mix all the ingredients, then put them in a container in the fridge for at least an hour to come together.

I normally make the salad, topped with the chicken salad, then a handful of sliced almonds and two sliced dates.