Pork

Milanesa de Carne with Roasted Jalapeño Chimichurri

Today I’m going south of the border…like SOUTH, south of the border with this simple, comforting dish that is very popular in parts of Mexico and South America.  The milanesa I prepared is a variation of the Italian version brought over (think chicken parmigiana) more than a century ago.  It can be any meat of your choosing: beef, chicken or pork and lightly dredged and shallow-fried till golden.  In fact, health conscience people are even baking them to cut down on their fried food intake.  To each their own…though I stick with the authentic way!

I amp my recipe up with the slightly spicy and smoky flavor of my Roasted Jalapeno Chimichurri!  It’s quite simple and very versatile!  Make sure to use it with your potatoes as well, and if there is any leftover, spoon it over eggs, burritos, sandwiches or a dipping sauce!  Finally, make sure to squeeze that fresh lemon over each bite as the acid cuts through the fried richness…salivating now.

The Starting Lineup

Milanesas

  • 4-6 (appx 1 1/2 lbs) Thinly cut beef steaks, i.e. literally “Beef Milanesa” in my grocer’s meat section.
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs + 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (can substitute in Panko bread crumbs)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • vegetable oil
  • Lemons, quartered, for serving/squeezing over top the milanesa

Roasted Jalapeños Chimichurri

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste

*Serve with a simple salad, crispy roasted potatoes and lemon wedges.

Start with the Chimichurri sauce (this can also be done the night before).  Roast your jalapenos over an open flame (gas oven/grill) or under your broiler, turning until the skin is slightly charred and blistered.  Let the jalapenos steam in a closed paper bag or plastic wrap covered dish for about 10 minutes.  Remove the outside blistered skins and the seeds.

Using a food processor, blender or an immersion blender (like I did), combine all of the Chimichurri ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  Cover and set aside in your refrigerator.

Milanesa1.jpeg

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, to keep the fried and breaded steaks warm while you cook the others.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and in a large zip lock, bag combine the steaks, lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Let sit out and get to room temperature while your heat up the oil.

In 3 shallow dishes:

1st dish:  Flour   2nd dish:  beaten eggs   3rd dish:  breadcrumbs seasoned w/ garlic powder, dried parsley, salt & pepper.

Heat 1/2 inch of  oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot prior to frying up the steaks.

One by one, dredge each steak lightly in the flour, then the eggs, followed by an even breadcrumb coating.  Place in the hot oil, cooking each side for about 3-4 minutes until a golden brown crust.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet in the oven to soak up any excess grease and keep warm while preparing the remaining steaks. *TIP: You may need to lightly pat dry the lime marinated steaks with a paper towel prior to the dredging process.

Serve each steak with a simple side salad, roasted potatoes (or fries) and lemon wedges.  Drizzle the Chimichurri sauce over top and enjoy!

Milanesa2

Creamy Pumpkin & Sage Bacon Alfredo

Call me “basic” but come Fall, I sure do love me some pumpkin!  Now I’m not fully crazy, as in pumpkin spice coffee every morning, noon and night crazy.  I do, however, like to use the orange offspring of squash in more creative ways.  Todays “way” is in the form of pasta!

To convince my family my idea was some sort of genius, I also used 2 of the tastiest key words in describing our future dinner, “alfredo” and “bacon”…Yep, that got their attention!

Now sure, this is after all Alfredo so it does contain a bit of cheese, but it’s actually not all that artery clogging and indulgent as you may think.  For one, I used less than 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mainly for the saltiness it brings.  I substituted the heavy cream for it’s lighter cousin, half & half, and if you want to lessen the saturated fat of butter, feel free to use Tresomega Nutrition cold pressed coconut oil!  Plus, lets not forget the health benefits of the sneaked in pureed pumpkin!

Now honestly, this sauce is fantastic on any pasta or fluffy gnocchi of your choice, it would be good on a shoe for that matter.  Though for my gluten free friends, I highly recommend the new GF pasta made by my buddies at Tresomega Nutrition!  It contains no wheat nor corn and is made with organic rice, quinoa and amaranth which keeps that same bite and color of your traditional pasta noodles.  It also doesn’t fall apart when cooked like most of its counterparts!  I’m fully a fan!

Please find out more info on Tresomega Nutrition products here:

  1. http://www.tresomega.com/
  2. https://www.facebook.com/TresomegaNutrition/
  3. https://www.pinterest.com/tresomega/
  4. https://twitter.com/tres_omega

You can also purchase the Tresomega Nutrition brand at:

  1. http://tresomega.com
  2. https://www.sams.com
  3. https://www.amazon.com
  4. https://www.walmart.com

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb of your preferred pasta or gnocchi (Tresomega Gluten Free recommended)
  • 8 strips bacon, grease reserved, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter or Tresomega cold pressed coconut oil
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups half & half (16oz)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water (optional to thin sauce)
PP1

I tried this recipe with both pasta noodles and gnocchi and BOTH are delish!

Begin this Fall-inspired pasta by chopping, grating and mincing your bacon, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet on medium heat, crisp up your bacon.  Once done, transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside while keeping the bacon grease in the skillet.  *There should be about 2 Tbsp of grease.

To that same pre-greased skillet, add to it either the butter or cold pressed coconut oil along with the chopped onions and sauté, about 7-8 minutes.  Turn down to medium-low and then add in the garlic and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Careful not to burn the garlic, but to slightly crisp up the sage.

**Here you can boil a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and add in your pasta of choice and cook to package directions.

Once the veggie medley is finished (smells gooooood huh?!), you will add in the pumpkin puree while whisking in the half & half to form a creamy consistency.  Next, whisk in the grated parmesan cheese, crisped sage leaves, 1/2 of the cooked bacon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat till combined and then add in your perfectly cooked pasta.  ***You can also add in the 1/4 cup of pasta water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

Serve warm, with the other 1/2 of cooked, chopped bacon sprinkled overtop, a bit more parmesan and sage leaves if desired.  Enjoy!

PP5

Grilled Brie, Bacon, Arugula and Fig Sandwich (The Figgy Piggy)

This “gourmet” bistro style sandwich will wow your guests, yet is simple and quick for you to whip up!
The unique flavors of the peppery arugula, salty bacon and sweet figs go soooooo wonderfully together.  They stay held together by the mild, creamy melted brie and your last taste bud gets love from the crunchy, slightly sour note of the grilled bread.  So basically, this awakens all your senses, have I sold you yet? 😉
…and if sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can absolutely pile these same toppings onto pizza dough or flatbread!
The Starting Lineup
Loaf of quality sourdough or ciabatta bread (8, 1/2″ slices)
1 pckg bacon, cooked till crisp
1 round brie cheese (1/4″ slices)
2 cups arugula
1 jar Fig Jam/Preserves (i.e. Bonne Maman brand)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise 
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat.
On one side of your bread slices, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (this will create a perfect golden brown crust).  Turn slices over and spread a layer of the fig preserves on each slice.  Next layer on the brie cheese slices, crisp bacon and the arugula.  Top with the remaining bread, fig side down.
Add the butter to your hot pan or griddle and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the brie has melted.
Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with a small salad or soup.  Enjoy!

FiggyPiggy

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Bahn Mi

Basically, I’m in love with any sort of meal that involves meat between two slices of crusty bread, aka the glorious “sandwich”!  This version is known as a Bahn Mi and is of Vietnamese roots…Now, I do not claim this to be truly authentic, like from those great Viet markets along the gulf coast of Texas.  I do, however, claim that this juicy pull-apart sweet heat sandwich WILL knock your socks off and be a keeper when at a loss for a dinner idea!

*Feel free to tweak the ‘spicy mayo’ to your liking.  I like mine pretty spicy, so I typically add more Sriracha to kick it up!

**I use my mandolin to cut the veggies for the pickled slaw; be careful as these are SHARP!  You can also cut with a knife or in round slices.

***Feel free to use pork or even shrimp (Just don’t put the shrimp in the slow-cooker please ;).  Also, you can make this into a rice bowl, a salad, tacos or even lettuce wraps!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth (or water)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, red pepper flake

Pickled Slaw

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 jalapeno thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch of both salt and sugar

Spicy Mayo

  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • squeeze of lime juice

Garnish

  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Crusty French rolls

BahnMi1

Slow Cooker:  Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray and place in the chicken.  Next whisk together all of the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.  *When finished, shred with two forks and keep in the pans juices.

In a small pan, bring the 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1/2 cup water and a pinch each of salt and sugar to a boil.  Place the thinly sliced carrots, cucumber and jalapenos into a bowl and pour the hot vinegar/water over top.  Cover and allow to “pickle” for at least 30 minutes.  *This can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator overnight as well.

BahnMi2

Spicy Mayo:  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.  Feel free to tweak the ingredient amount to your liking.

To assemble:  Slice each crusty roll in half lengthwise (I like to give it a light toasting), then slather on a good amount of your spicy mayo on each side.

Lay down some of the sweet-heat, shredded chicken and top with the pickled vegetables.  Finally, garnish with the chopped, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime and the top of the toasted roll!  Enjoy!

BahnMi3

Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers

A dinner of “stuffed peppers” often gets a bad rap.  My friends and family either love it…or hate it.  My guess on the nay-sayer’s is due to the peppers that I have devoured in my life have just been, well..bland.  Ground beef or turkey, rice, maybe some chopped veggies.  Did I mention they’re often dry too??  Well my Italian version is anything but!

The simple garlic, onion and tomato sauce (plus sneaking in that zucchini) keeps it from turning dry and I always choose the ‘hot’ Italian sausage for the slight extra kick!  Do you have kids?  Well still get the ‘hot’, trust me, it’s not that spicy, just flavor!  Last, but definitely not least, that layer of fresh mozzarella cheese puts the average pizza slice to shame!!

Now you can these eat on their own or perhaps with a side salad or even that dry rice, BUT..since we’re cooking with those Italian flavors, why not place your finished product atop perfectly al dente pasta!  Garlic bread too, perhaps?….

The Starting Lineup

  • 3-4 bell peppers, seeded and halved
  • 1 package Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 14oz Italian finely chopped tomatoes (I prefer Cirio Italian with basil)
  • Mozzarella cheese slices (Fresh)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 

Garnish/Side (optional)

  • Pasta noodles, cooked al dente
  • Reserved leftover sauce from the meat mixture
  • Chopped basil
  • Shredded parmesan

peppers1

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees while bringing the olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat,  *Spray a 9×13 oven proof baking dish with nonstick spray.

In your hot skillet, add in the sausage (out of its casing) and cook completely through while chopping up with the back of your spoon.  Once cooked, remove the sausage and drain all but 1 tbsp of the oil/grease.

Now add in the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, followed by the zucchini for 2 minutes and finally the garlic for 1 minute.  To the sautéed vegetables, pour in the finely chopped Italian tomatoes (careful for splatter!) and add the cooked sausage back in.

Your filling is done!  Spoon equal amounts into your halved and seeded bell peppers and place into the 9×13 baking dish.  Top each with a healthy amount of cheese.  PLEASE do not scrimp on this!  *If I purchased the larger package of mozzarella, I have been known to place a slice in the bottom of each pepper before I fill, followed by more on the top!  Yes!!

peppers2

Cover the baking dish and peppers with foil and pop in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and let the cheese bubble for another 5 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest.  *My husband loves his mozz topping to be on the browned side, so I will place our right under the broiler for mere 2-3 minutes.

If desired, while the peppers are in the oven, prepare the pasta noodle side and dress in any reserved sauce from the meat mixture.  *I make sure to keep those juices exactly for this reason!

Garnish your plate with a bit of extra chopped basil, perhaps grated parmesan, and you have certainly elevated those hum-drum stuffed peppers!!

peppers3

Smokey Gnocchi Toscana 

Who doesn’t love Olive Garden’s famous “Zuppa Toscana”?  It’s a delicious blend of sausage, kale and potatoes in a creamy broth…my only small problem with the soup (more so my family’s problem) is it will not fill my hearty boys and husband’s appetite up!  Nope, soup in general just won’t cut it!

Now since I was craving a big bowl of Toscana comfort, I had to figure out a way to change it into something a bit more substantial if it were to be mine.  I have to say, it came pretty easy to me..thank goodness.  How about we make the broth into a rich, more flavor packed cheese sauce and amp up the potato texture by using those fluffy pillows from heaven, otherwise known as gnocchi.  Hey, gnocchi’s are in fact made from potato flour..I do have a little bit of genius left in me.  My boys tend to suck it out of me at times.  I also made sure it was chocked full of (not too) spicy sausage and healthy kale.  Yep, with all those Italian flavors going on, even my boys will slurp up the greens!

Last, but not least, I topped it all off with some crispy, crumbled bacon for another layer of smokey flavor…drooling…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 package Gnocchi 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4+ cups Kale (a Kale/Spinach blend would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk, plus more to thin cheese sauce if needed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped for garnish


First and ALWAYS foremost is prepping your ingredients to have at the ready!!  Chop and mince the garlic and shred the cheese if it hasn’t already been done for you.  I’ll be taking sous chef applications soon 😉

Now onto the cooking part my multi-tasking friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and on a foil lined baking sheet, lay out the bacon and cook till slightly crisp (about 15 minutes, rotating once in the oven).  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Keep the oven on, but drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of salted water up to a boil (for the Gnocchi) and in a separate large pan, heat up the olive oil to medium heat and begin browning the sausage, chopping up with a spoon as you go.

Water boiling: add in Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.

Sausage: once cooked through and slightly crumbled, remove from pan and drain the grease slightly.  *leave about a tablespoon of grease please.

In the same pan that the sausage cooked in add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the kale and garlic and allow to wilt down.  Once quickly wilted, add the sausage back in along with the Gnocchi.  Remove from heat.

Pesto cheese sauce: in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour till it makes a rue (paste).  Now you will whisk in the milk for about 3 minutes till starts to thicken.  Add in the pesto, 1/2 of each the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a pinch of salt and pepper.  *It may get a little thick here, so just thin by whisking another couple tablespoons of milk in at a time until you reach your desired consistency.



You’re at the finish line now!  In a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, spoon in the Gnocchi, sausage and kale mix.  Pour that super cheesy pesto sauce ALL over and top with the remaining cheeses.  Cover with foil and place in the 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  

Bump up the oven to 425 degrees and pull the foil off, allowing to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheesy top gets nice and brown.  Remove from oven and relish in the “it smells soooooo good in here” praises!  Make sure to top it all off with the crumbled bacon..NEVER forget the bacon!  *Let rest for 5 minutes before serving..remember it’s going to be hot!  

Serve with a simple salad, warm bread sticks and you have yourself a hit!  

Cajun Pasta’laya

I’ve been in a Cajun influenced state of craving lately and was REALLY wanting a New Orleans staple…jambalaya!  My only problem (ok it’s not quite a “problem” but an annoyance of mine) is that I have two toddlers and when they eat rice, well it’s not a pretty sight.  I’d say they get 1 grain of rice in their tiny mouths for every 53 pieces on my floor.  

So hey!  Let’s substitute pasta noodles (MUCH easier for them to use a fork with or even fingers) and have ourselves some dinner!  It worked out great, wasn’t too spicy, wasn’t too mild.  The boys and hubby enjoyed it alike and guess what??  There was no damn rice all over my floor when dinner was over!  Happy momma!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 lb chicken (Breasts or tenders), cut into pieces
  • 1 pckg large/extra large shrimp 
  • 1 pckg andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 12oz penne pasta noodles
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)…I like one with cajun flavors of celery, onion, bell pepper
  • 1 each green & red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp+ of cajun seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Green onions, sliced (garnish)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • Crystal, Louisiana or Tabasco sauce (garnish)  

Start this feast with a ‘kick’ by prepping all of your meats, shrimp and veggies.  In two large seperate bowls (1 for chicken & 1 for shrimp), add a hefty teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to each and toss to coat.  Set aside.  Mince, dice and chop up veggies and get the EVOO heated up over medium heat in a large pan.  Also bring water to boil in a large pot for the noodles. 

     Once the oil is up to temp, add in the seasoned chicken and begin to cook.  Once just starting to brown, add in the onion, bell peppers, garlic and sliced andouille sausage.  Cook till chicken is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to sweat/soften.  Remove the cooked chicken, sausage & veggies and set aside. 

 Next, in the same large pan, (add in a bit of butter or oil if needed) add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook just a couple minutes on each side (don’t let them curl up completely up on you.  You want the appearance of the letter ‘C’, not an ‘O’ for perfectly cooked shrimp).  Remove from pot and set aside with the other cooked goodies. 

   *By now your pasta should be al dente (boil 1-2 minutes under package directions)!  Drain and set aside. 

 Back in that same large pan, add in the butter and flour while whisking away to form a rue.  While still whisking, incorporate the heavy cream until it’s creamy and smooth. 

       Next, add in the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice & all) and stir to combine.  Here you can taste for heat level and add in either/or another tsp or two of Cajun seasoning or a couple dashes of southern style hot sauce.  Once that is perfected, add back in all of the cooked veggies, meats and shrimp and toss in the cooked penne pasta noodles! *Add more milk/cream if it becomes too thick.

     Spoon into serving bowls and top with the freshly grated Parmesan and green onions!  Enjoy!!!  *You can also add the cheese and green onion to pan at the end if serving buffet style. 

 

%d bloggers like this: