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Crock Pot Chicken noodle soup

27 Jan

Talk about easy!

Made on my freezer cooking day:

3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tbs chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp Parsley
4 uncooked chicken thighs- trimmed and cleaned
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles

Combine all ingredients except egg noodles in a freezer safe bag. Freeze flat. Remove from the freezer the night before to thaw. Place bagged ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until juices run clear. Shred chicken and return to pot. Add egg noodles and cook an additional 30 minutes.

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All Vegetable Lo Mein

9 Aug

I must admit, I have never made an asian inspired dish… ever! I’m not sure why, but it has always intimidated me a bit. This dish was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed the challenge of working with different ingredients. This dish takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, which is always handy in the hot summer nights when  you don’t want to heat up the house. It’s also quite healthy since we replace the traditional lo mein noodles with vegetables.

Vegetable Lo Mein

For the chicken you will need

2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons of honey
4 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
3 chicken breasts cut into chuncks

For the “noodles”

2 cloves of minced garlic
3 large carrots
2 small summer squash
2 small zucchini
Splash of reduced sodium soy sauce

(Basically you want equal parts of each. Getting smaller squash and zucchini is key in this dish to avoid excess seeds and water)
Combine the first five ingredients and 1/2 a cup of chicken stock. Stir well. Add the chicken breast and marinade it for about 15 minutes. While the chicken in marinading use a mandolin to julienne the carrots, zucchini and squash.

With a large saute pan (or wok) heat about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil on high. While the pan is heating remove the chicken from the marinade. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken.  Working quickly, rotate the chicken to brown it on all sides. Once the chicken is browned, add the reserved 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cover. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove the chicken and cover it to keep it warm.

Using the same saute pan (or wok)  heat it to high and add about 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Toss in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, next add in the julienned vegetables. Cook on high heat for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Do not over cook the vegetables or they will become mushy. The vegetables should have a similar consistency as noodles. Finish the vegetables with a splash of soy sauce and top with the drained chicken.

Enjoy!

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

21 Apr

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Ingredients

2 bell peppers
3/4 cup orzo
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock or salted water
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 medium zucchini finely grated
1/2 medium zucchini chopped
1 cup mozzarella (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top of the peppers)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper, olive oil

 

Cook orzo pasta in vegetable stock or salted water according to package instructions. (Reserve cooking liquid for later use). While the orzo is cooking prepare the peppers by cutting each one in half. Remove the stem, seeds and rims and place in a casserole dish. Saute the onion, garlic and chopped zucchini until tender.

Combine orzo, tomatoes, sauteed vegetables, grated zucchini, cheeses and seasoning in a bowl and spoon into the prepared peppers. Pour about an inch of the cooking liquid into the dish around the peppers. This will help steam the peppers while cooking. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove foil top the peppers with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!

Super Stuffed Shells

10 Apr

My boyfriend is an italian-aholic. Anything including pasta, marinara, cream sauce, and cheese he’s all over it. For dinner this weekend I decided to make some a new concoction that might please him.. Naturally, it was Italian themed.

Italian stuffed shells

1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs

1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes
(I had 5 Roma tomatoes I needed to use so I roasted them with italian seaoning, fresh garlic and 1/2 a chopped small onion  at 425 for about 35 minutes instead of using the canned tomatoes. )
8 ounces (20 to 24) jumbo pasta shells
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
Cook pasta shells as directed on package.
Combine ricotta, 1.5 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, cooked sausage, spinach, tomato mixture in a large bowl. Prepare a baking dish by spreading about 1/4 of the marinara sauce on the bottom so the shells don’t stick.  After the shells are cooked, fill each shell with the filling and arrange in the baking dish. Top with remaining Marinara sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 45-50 minutes.
Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Soup

2 Mar

Roasted carrots, onion and garlic pureed into a creamy delicious soup. It really can’t get much simpler!
roasted_carrot_soupYou will need:

7 large carrots peeled, halved crosswise, and cut lengthwise
1 Large Onion, quartered
1 head of Garlic
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 stick of margarine
1 tsp Garlic salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400

Mix room temperature margarine with parsley and garlic salt in a small bowl until combined. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the butter mixture all over the foil. Place the carrots and onions on the foil lined baking sheet and mix around so they are coated in the butter. Place in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes- turning at least once.

For the garlic, cut 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves. Drizzle about a tbsp of oil on the cloves and wrap in tin foil. Place the garlic in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once cooled, turn the clove upside down and squeeze the cloves out. You could also use  a fork and knife but if find the squeezing method to be faster.

Using a food processor or emulsion blender puree the vegetables until smooth and transfer the mixture to a pot. Add chicken stock until the desired thickness and simmer for 30 minutes.   It would be great as a first course or light main dish. Serve with crusty bread

roasted_carrot_soup2

Pigs in a Blanket

26 Jan

Gołąbki…Cabbage Rolls…Pigs in a Blanket…

golabkiMy family always called them pigs in a blanket. Probably about 10 years straight I would go to grandmas house to make this traditional polish dish. She had this process down to a science and would make at least a roaster stuffed full every time. We would spend all day chopping, mixing, rolling, waiting, then packaging up enough to send plenty home to each of her kids and grand kids. Don’t worry, I’ve decreased the recipe quite a bit so you won’t need to go buy 6 heads of cabbage.

Ingredients:
1 large head of cabbage, cored
1 Hungarian wax pepper, seeded and chopped into large pieces
a few cloves (6 or so?) of peeled garlic
1 medium onion chopped and sauteed
1 cup cooked rice (we normally prepared this the day before to save time)
1/2 cup quick barley
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasoning salt
Pigs in a Blanket
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

Preparation:
Fill a pot (large enough to hold the head of cabbage) with enough water to cover the cabbage and cook over medium heat covered. You want to cook the cabbage until it is starting to get translucent and flexible. The cabbage will continue to cook after being rolled so be sure not to overcook it. The outer leaves will loosen first. Once flexible and removed from the head, remove the leaves from the pot and allow to cool. Continue this step until the leaves get too small to roll. The smallest leaves from the center of the cabbage should be chopped and 1/2 should be laid in the bottom of the roasting pan or baking dish along with the garlic cloves and peppers. Once cool, carefully trim the large veins of the cabbage leaves.

Mix the beef, pork, onions, rice, barley, and seasonings together in a large bowl.

In another large bowl combine the tomato ingredients.

Assembly
Lay the cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Get enough meat (generally about 1/2 a cup for a larger leaf) and form into an oblong log. Place the log near the top of the leaf where the vein used to be. Fold in the edges of the cabbage leaf in and roll the rest of the leaf around the log. Place the roll, bottom side (or opening side) down in your roasting pan or baking dish.  Continue this step until all of the cabbage and meat has been used.

Poor the tomato mixture over the top of the pigs and top with any extra cabbage, garlic, Hungarian peppers, salt and pepper.

If you are layering the cabbage rolls, separate the layers with the extra cabbage, garlic, Hungarian peppers, salt and pepper.

My grandma always used a roaster because she was cooking so many. We’d put the roaster at about 350 for the first 2 hours or so, then turn it down to 200 for about 2 hours longer.

I didn’t have a roaster so I lined them up in my slow cooker. I set it on high for the first 3 hours then on low for the last 1 hour.

It’s a time consuming dish, but it’s worth it!
ENJOY!

Chicken Meatballs and Spaghetti

12 Jan

Chicken & Spinach Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

2 lbs ground chicken
1 small grated onion
1 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Pinch of italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Place your spinach in the center of a clean dish towel and squeeze out any excess liquid over the sink. (The spinach is a great way to help our chicken not dry out but if there is too much liquid from the spinach, the meatballs will not stay together)

Combine the grated onion, drained spinach, ground chicken, mustard, and seasonings. Roll into balls a little larger than golf ball size. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes on 375 degrees or until cooked through.

Serve along side marinara sauce as an appetizer

OR

Serve with wheat pasta as a healthy main course.

Wheat Pasta Recipe:

3 eggs
1 cup of all purpose white flour
1 cup wheat flour
plus extra for flouring the board
pinch of salt

Feel free to use all wheat flour to make your pasta. I found using all wheat to be a little too grainy for my taste.

On a large cutting board make a well in the flour. Add in the eggs and salt and begin to wisk in a little bit of flour a little at a time. Once the dough becomes too difficult to stir in flour with a fork, begin to kneed with your hands until there are no lumps. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes

Pasta Press:
After letting the dough rest I divided the dough into four  small sections. Set the machine on the largest setting and feed the dough through. My pasta press starts on one and goes through six. I fed the dough through twice each setting at stopped at 5. After that I ran the dough through the spaghetti setting.

Rolling the Dough by Hand:
Be sure to flour your surface well so the pasta doesn’t stick. Roll the dough out until you can see your hand through the dough. Gently fold the dough over until it is a manageable size then thinly slice the dough with your knife.

From there you can lay the pasta out and allow it to dry or you can cook it immediately. Cook the pasta in generously salted, boiling water for about 3-5 minutes. (The pasta will cook at different times depending on the thickness of the pasta so you may need to add more time.)