Monthly Archives: May 2016

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chicken Stuffed Roasted Peppers 

The warmer months are upon us where no one wants a heavy meal and eating a reoccurring plate of grilled chicken over salad can get old.  Now this dish isn’t much different, it still has grilled chicken and vegetables, but it’s put together in a beautiful way with extra flavor from a basil pesto and goat cheese crumbles.  Still light and pretty darn healthy!

Another fun thing about this recipe is it can be done in your kitchen OR take it al fresco and do this ALL on your backyard grill for a fun, light dinner!

*I like to serve this either with: pasta tossed in the remaining pesto, with a pich of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper OR if I’m on the grill…I just grill up some more veggies!  Especially fresh asparagus, mushrooms, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1lb chicken
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed 
  • 1 4oz container crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 jar basil pesto
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper

Garnish/Side

  • Italian flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • 1 pckg pasta noodles of choice or grilled vegetables  

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees and rinsing, cutting in half and removing the seeds of the bell peppers.  In a large bowl combine about 1 Tbsp of EVOO along with 2 Tbsp’s of the basil pesto.  Toss the cut bell peppers in the mix. 

      

Lay the coated peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt & ground pepper over the tops.  Roast in the oven until just slightly soft (the skins start to bubble), about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  *Keep the oven on, but you can drop the temperature to 400 degrees. 

 While the peppers are roasting you can prepare the chicken and spinach.  Heat a pan with a bit of oil to medium-high heat while coating the chicken also with a tbsp of pesto and salt & pepper.  Cook/grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side, till just cooked through (I had thin strips, so please cook accordingly), and has a nice golden-brown crust. 

 Also, rinse the spinach and chop off the hard stems (don’t worry if you miss a couple) and place the cut spinach into the same pesto bowl that the bell peppers where in. 

As soon as the chicken is done cooking, remove to a cutting board and chop up.  Immediately tossing the hot, chopped chicken into the fresh spinach.  *The hot chicken will help to wilt the fresh spinach.  Again, add a pinch of salt & pepper and another Tbsp of pesto. …I promise you, this will not be too much of a basil flavor.

   Assembly time!!  Bring over the baking sheet of roasted red peppers and fill with the pesto-chicken-spinach mixture.  Next, take a good amount of the crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle over top.  *I like a lot, so I press that goat cheese in there! 

 

Finally, pop these stuffed peppers into your preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes.  Remove and serve with a side of pasta or fresh, grilled vegetables.  Enjoy! 

 
*This time I served ours with a side of pasta.  After the noodles boiled, I tossed directly into yes, that same bowl with a bit of pesto in it!  I added more pesto, salt & pepper.  One bowl, three times..LESS cleanup!! 👍 

 


Roasted Poblano Mac n’ Crema

This is the bomb!! (Do people still say that anymore?….ehh, I don’t even care). This pasta salad is my mexican spin on the classic backyard bbq staple and it’s a lot better!  It’s light, but still creamy and has just a bit of heat without overpowering.  Plus, let’s not forget that roasted flavor from the poblano peppers and cumin!  

However, the best part about this dish is that it’s equally delicious served either warm or cold!  Truth!  We’ll often eat the side dish warm on the first night I prepare it and serve the leftovers cold (if there are any) the next day!

*This can be made with gluten-free noodles if desired.

*I prefer to keep the seeds in my jalapeno or serrano pepper, as this makes a large batch, but to each their own.

*I prefer to use the traditional macaroni noodle here, but any short noodle can work in a pinch..as you can see from my rotini below.  Oops! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz elbow noodles (any short noodle can work)
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (or a serrano for more heat)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup+ Mexican crema 
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili flake
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper (pinch of each) 

   

 
We’ll start by roasting our poblano peppers for this yummy side dish!  You can do this 1 of two ways…either A. Cook the poblanos directly over a gas flame till charred on all sides or B. Place on a baking sheet under your broiler (turning as needed) to blacken.  Onced they’re charred you can place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap to steam for about 10 minutes…*When ready, remove the blackened skin, seeds and stems.  Dice the poblanos up! 

   While the poblano peppers are steaming, go ahead and bring a large stock pot filled with salted water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, cook the noodles to package directions, drain and set aside. 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add in 2 Tbsps of oil and sauté the chopped onions for 3-4 minutes.  Next add in the roasted poblanos, minced jalapeño (or serrano) followed by the garlic, cumin, chili flake, oregano, salt and pepper.  Turn the heat down to low (or remove pot completely from stove top) and stir in the noodles and Crema. 

     Serve as a side at your next shin-dig and reap in the compliments!  Again, this can be served warm OR cold.  It’s that dang good!

    Buttery Fried Cabbage & Sausage

    This meal is REALLY easy, REALLY inexpensive AND pretty darn healthy!  Yes, do not let the words “buttery” and “fried” scare you…Surprisingly enough, this recipe comes in at under 400 calories per person and if you’re allergic to gluten, you’re good there too!

    Here in the south sometimes the word fried also can mean sauté, not everything we eat here is deep fried in lard!  Well most…but not all 😉  Anyway, when you combine the butter & cabbage, it’s slowly sautéed aka fried!  Alright, enough on the verbiage lesson…

    To sum it up, I was able to make this dinner for my family in under 30 minutes…which is great, because it was inhaled in about 5!  Plus the entire dish cost less than $10?!!  Beat that!

    **Bacon/Bacon grease can also be used..calories MAY go up though 😉

    The Starting Lineup

    • 6 Tbsp butter, divided
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 14oz kielbasa (polish) sausage, sliced
    • 1 head of green cabbage, sliced
    • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
    • Italian flat leaf parsely, rough chop

    Serve with:

     
     In a large skillet over medium heat, melt half of the butter (3 tbsp).  Add the diced onion to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes and then add the garlic.  Sauté for 1 minute more.

     Next, add in the red wine vinegar and give a good mix with the onions & garlic. Follow this with the sliced sausage and cook till the slices are slightly browned. Smells sooooo good, huh?!

     Now add in the remaining butter, cabbage, crushed red pepper, paprika and salt & pepper.  Carefully toss all together and watch as the cabbage begins to slightly wilt and take on a more golden color.

     Top the dish with the fresh parsley and serve!  Enjoy with a side of potatoes and a cold beer, enjoy!!

    German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

    I was of course thinking of potatoes when trying to figure out a side dish for my wonderful fried sausage & cabbage dinner…and what better than a family favorite of ours?..German Potato Pancakes!

    If you grew up in a German household, Polish household, Hungarian…eastern European, etc you definitely had your own version of potato pancakes, and these are mine.  My lineage calls them “Kartoffelpuffer”, but you can call them whatever you like…just try them. 🙂

    The Starting Lineup

    • 5 large russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp paprika, kosher salt & ground pepper, each
    • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil 

    Garnish

    • Sour cream
    • Chives OR Green onion OR Parsley  

    Start this side dish by peeling and rinsing the russet potatoes before shredding them.  You can use a box grater, mandolin, food processor, etc.  Press the shredded potatoes between two tea-towels to allow for the moisture to escape. 

     

    In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  Next add in the beaten eggs and then fold in the shredded (patted dry potatoes) and onion. 

       Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Next add about a 3 Tbsp full scoop of the potato mixture to the hot oil (just 2-3 at a time) and lightly press to flatten out in a disk shape. 

     Cook for about 4 minutes on each side and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. 

     Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs alongside your favorite smoked sausage!  Enjoy! 

     

    Seared Pork Chops w/ a Southern Bacon Tomato Gravy

    You get it by now..we LOVE our comfort food in this house!  If I’m not devouring a taco or 5, you can often find me with a big ol plate of braised meat, mashed potatoes and gravy!  Oh my….

    This is actually a pretty quick recipe that you don’t have to let stew all day long, but will still gives your home a wonderful aroma and a family pleasing meal..  So even consider this for a filling weeknight dinner!

    The Starting Lineup

    • 2 lbs pork chops
    • 4 strips of bacon, grease reserved
    • 1/2 large onion, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 14.5 oz can of tomatoes (w/ onion, celery & bell pepper)
    • 2 Tbsp flour
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    • 1/2 cup milk (*you can use all milk instead of chicken stock if desired)
    • 1/2 chicken stock 
    • 1 tsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Olive oil  

    Begin this recipe by liberally seasoning the pork chops with a bit of oil and the paprika, salt & pepper and set aside. 

     In a large heavy-bottomed-pot or pan, begin to cook the bacon over medium heat till just crisp.  Remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined sheet while reserving the bacon grease.   Next, to that grease, add in the 1 tbsp of butter, the onions and cook till slightly translucent and then add in the garlic. 

       Turn the heat down to medium-low and follow this up by sprinkling the flour over the onion/garlic mixture and stirring to make a rue.  Slowly pour in the milk (& chicken stock if using) while stirring continuously.  Get those flour lumps out!   Finally add in the can of tomatoes (with juice) and brown sugar.  Bring to a low boil and then down to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 

        

    I wanted to mash up my tomatoes just a bit here..

     If you’re really good at multitasking, while you’re making the above Bacon Tomato Gravy,  have another pan set on medium-high heat with a tbsp of oil in it.  Once hot add in the pork chops (2-3 at a time/don’t overcrowd pan) and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side.  Immediately after each pork chop has been seared, add straight to the gravy, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes to cook through. 

       *During the simmering of the pork chops, I like to complete my side dishes, which are typically fresh, sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes.

    Time’s up!!  Spoon a good amount of mashed potatoes onto a plate and place a juicy pork chop on top.  Ladle that warm Southern Bacon Tomato Gravy over the chop & potatoes and top with the reserved bacon and some parsely…just don’t forget the veggies!!  Enjoy! 

     

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