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Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken Thighs and Rice with Bacon. 'Nuf said...

There is nothing more delicious than a "comfort" meal, and this is surely one of them.  This dinner is very easy to make,  and although the cooking time is a bit lengthy... about 1 1/2 hours, it gives you a chance to get the rest of your dinner together while it cooks.

Begin by getting your ingredients together:

½ pound of bacon
1 cup of long grain, uncooked rice (I used Near East Rice Pilaf)
how ever many chicken thighs you need (I used 10)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup water
sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp basil
a generous sprinkle of parsley

Begin by covering the bottom of your baking dish with strips of bacon.

The next layer is the rice.  I used a box of Near East rice pilaf.  I kept the seasoning pack separate.

Now for the chicken.  I used boneless skinless thighs and placed them flat on top of the rice.

Season with the packet from the rice, some ground black pepper, and paprika.

The sauce is very simple to make.  In a bowl, combine the soup, 1 cup of water, a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, a small sprinkle of nutmeg, a teaspoon of basil and about a tablespoon of parsley.  Whisk everything together until well blended and pour over the chicken.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in a 300 degree oven for an hour and a half.  Add some brussel sprouts that were roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, and you have a perfectly delicious, easy dinner.  The leftovers were just as yummy and gone before dinner time the next night!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

grilled zucchini roll-ups

These rolled-up delights were so flavorful and delicious!  They were the perfect side dish for a summer dinner.  Here are the ingredients you will need:

2-3 zucchini (on the smaller side)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Goat Cheese (about ½ cup)
1 Tbs fresh parsley leaves, chopped
½ tsp lemon juice
1 cup of baby spinach leaves
fresh basil leaves

Begin by using a mandolin slicer to make long thin strips of zucchini.  Coat each side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat up your grill, about medium high.  When the grill is hot, cook the zucchini so that you get good grill marks on both sides.

Once the zucchini is cooked, set it aside and combine the ingredients for the stuffing.  For the goat cheese, blend together the parsley, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper.

One by one, take a slice of zucchini, lay some spinach leaves and a few fresh basil leaves on top.  Take about a teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture and place it on the leaves.  Roll the zucchini up and place on a serving plate.  That is all there is to it. 
They are served cold so you can make them in advance and store in the fridge.  You could make them for an appetizer as well, and maybe even add either a shrimp or even a piece of sausage in the center.I have to say, not only do they taste delicious, but they look amazing!  Enjoy......

Friday, May 9, 2014

The best Caesar dressing without eggs and anchovies!

This has got to be the easiest dressing to make, preparation-wise.  And, I love the fact that it doesn't have eggs or anchovies in it!  If you like anchovies, add in 5 fillets.   Everything goes into your food processor.  The rule of thumb here is if you want the dressing creamier, add more artichoke hearts.

Here are the ingredients:

3-4 fresh garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 tsp course black pepper
5 drops of Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs wine vinegar
3-5 artichoke hearts (canned in water, not marinated)
Juice of one lemon

Add all the ingredients into your food processor and blend on high until creamy.

Taste to make sure there is enough salt and pepper.  If you like the dressing thinner, simply add more olive oil and blend.

I have used this dressing on chicken as well as the sauce in some of my one-pan pasta dishes.  The lemony flavor is delicious when combined with spinach, chicken, seafood, or pork.

This is definitely a keeper!

Delicious Bolognese Sauce

A while ago, I went to a local pub and noticed they had Bolognese sauce on their special menu.  I called the waitress over and asked if it had lamb in it.  As soon as she said yes, I knew it was going to be delicious.    I swear lamb is what makes this sauce so delicious.  It was one of the best sauces I have had, so I asked the chef if he could give me the recipe, and he did!    I hope you will love it as much as I did....

Here are the ingredients:

2 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
5 celery stalks, finely chopped
5 large carrots, finely chopped
1 large vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cups of red wine
½ bunch of fresh thyme (the more, the better!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
(this amount makes the sauce mildly spicy.  If you like it hot, add more!)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes

2 cups heavy cream
chicken stock if the sauce is too thick
Parmesan cheese

Begin by cooking the lamb and beef.  Drain off all but a little bit the fat and set the meat aside in a bowl.

Using the same pan, cook the celery, carrots and onions until they are tender.  

Pour in the wine and continue down the list of ingredients, up until the cream.  Simmer on medium for about 15 minutes.

Just before it is time to serve, add in the cream and Parmesan cheese.  If the sauce is too thick, feel free to pour in a bit of chicken stock.  I used about a cup of Parmesan cheese.  Taste to make sure there is enough thyme, salt and pepper.  When you get it right, you are good to go!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Delicious Stuffed Zucchini

I had a new idea for stuffing zucchini and who better to try these new ideas out on but my family!  I think they are used to being guinea pigs by now..  There are only 4 ingredients total:  zucchini, avocado, roasted red peppers, and Brie cheese.

Begin by slicing the zucchini lengthwise and with a melon baller or spoon, remove the seeds and create a trough.  Place them face down in a pan with a little water in it.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, just until they begin to get tender.  Dump out the water and turn the zucchini over.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

The first layer is sliced avocado, followed by strips of roasted red pepper, and finished off with pieces of Brie. 

Place your pan back in the oven for about 20 minutes, long enough for everything to heat through and for the cheese to melt.  That's all there is to it.  The flavors blend together so well, and it really looks nice too!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Seared Salmon over Spinach, Mushrooms and Panchetta

Last night I was looking for a healthy, simple dinner packed with flavors.  I had bought 3 salmon steaks a few days ago and needed to cook them.  Lucky me!  This dinner was exactly what I felt like and took about 30 minutes to prepare. 
A vote was taken to have pan-roasted potatoes along with the salmon, so I got those started.  Basically, in my pan I add olive oil, new potatoes and sprinkle on basil, fresh garlic, parsley, onion powder, thyme, and salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat with the cover on for the first 15 minutes, long enough for the potatoes to become fork-tender.  Then the cover comes off and I turn the heat up slightly so they will brown up. 
Now for the spinach mixture... here are the ingredients I used:
2 Shallots, chopped
Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 slices of Panchetta, diced
Fresh Thyme
3 handfuls of fresh spinach
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Saute the shallots in a little olive oil.  When tender, remove from the pan and cook the Panchetta.  Add the mushrooms during the last few minutes of cooking.  Turn off the stove and add the fresh spinach and thyme, and the cooked shallots.
Cover and let the spinach wilt slightly.  To finish, splash with balsamic vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.  (I had some leftover roasted green beans that I decided to cut up and add...just in case you were wondering why you saw beans in there!)  Place this mixture in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
I used the same pan for cooking the salmon.  Turn the heat up  to medium high.  While it is heating, make sure to dry the fish completely.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Go once around the pan with olive oil and place the salmon in the pan, skin-side down.

Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is nice and crispy.  You want to do the majority of cooking with the skin-side down, because the skin protects the fish from drying out while cooking.

Lower the heat to medium and gently turn, cooking for another 3-4 minutes.  Check to make sure the inside is pale pink.  If not, leave on for another minute....just be careful you don't leave it on too long.

To plate, place a spoonful of spinach on the plate and lay the salmon right on top.  Add the potatoes, and you have a great meal!


Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine and Apricots

This probably sounds very fancy, but it only has 5 ingredients!  Cooking time is about 3 hours on the stove top over low heat, so if you're up for it, make this.  It was absolutely delicious.

Here's all you need:
1 bottle of red wine
3 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
Beef Broth
6 cloves of garlic
1 package of dried apricots
1 package short ribs

The first step is to get a large zip lock bag and add 2 Tbs. of flour, and 1 Tsp. each of salt and pepper.  Add 2-3 of the ribs to the bag, zip it shut and shake to coat.

Place the meat in a heavy pan with a little olive oil over medium high heat.  Brown the ribs, about 2-3 minutes per side. 


When done, place them on a plate and set side so that you can free up the pan to make the sauce.

 In a medium size bowl, whisk together 1 bottle of red wine and 3 Tbs. of Dijon mustard. Chop the garlic cloves and cook for about 2 minutes. 

Then add your wine mixture and stir to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  The last step is to add the browned ribs and the apricots.  Add as much beef broth as you need to bring the level of the liquid up so that it almost covers the ribs.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover the pan and simmer for about 3 hours.

It's amazing how the sauce changes to a thick brown gravy.  The meat is so tender that you won't need anything but a fork to eat it! 

I chose to ladle the ribs and gravy over mashed cauliflower, but feel free to use either egg noodles or mashed potatoes.


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