Tag Archives: Dinner

Pan Seared Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Bacon Cream Sauce

I know this is hard to believe with a recipe title as such, but this meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table.  Yes, I tell no tale, less than a half of an hour.

What’s also great about this quick, and arguably almost healthy meal, is that since it’s so quick to cook up, it can be in your weeknight dinner rotation.  Plus, since it’s flavors are so “high-end”, it is also a no-hassle recipe for a dinner party or perhaps even an at home date with your loved one.  *One extra thing, my five year old son ate this up TWICE and even proclaimed, “I just love this stuff”.  Again, I tell no tales…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, sliced (Plus 2 Tbsp of the oil)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular will work as well)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan Cheese, shredded (garnish)
  • Penne pasta, for serving

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Let the Salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Gather all of the ingredients and bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta) while you begin to sauté the diced bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  Remove the rendered, slightly crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Also (if needed) drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.  *When the stockpot of water is boiling, add in the penne pasta and cook to the package directions.  Drain and set aside till plating.

Bring the skillet with the bacon grease to medium heat and sear the salmon fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

To that same skillet, add in the onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes + oil, paprika, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.  Sauté together for about 2 minutes.

Add in the vegetable/or chicken stock over to deglaze the pan and let simmer for a couple minutes.  Pour in the half & half along with the 1/4 cup parmesan and stir together, salt & pepper to taste.  Add the seared salmon back into the creamy, fragrant sauce to bring back up to temp.

Serve this delightful dinner individually plated or family style…Coat the cooked penne in the creamy sauce, place the salmon overtop and sprinkle the freshly torn basil, parmesan and crisped bacon overtop!  Enjoy!!

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Baked Spaghetti Pie

Back when we lived in hot and sunny Arizona, we would frequent a certain Italian food joint that was close to our home.  However, it wasn’t the close proximity that made us end up there, it was my husband’s love for their Baked Spaghetti that brought us.

Fast forward years and years and he still spoke of it…so I began to give it a whirl!  With much success, I give you my version which in using a spring form pan, gives many ooh’s & ah’s at dinnertime!  Looks quite impressive for such an easy recipe!

*If you do not have a spring-form, this recipe works just as well in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan! 🙂

**Feel free to add in/change ingredients to suit your tastes and what you may have in your pantry and fridge!  I.e. Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, different cheeses, maybe no meat at all!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz spaghetti noodles (boiled 8-9 minutes/drained)
  • 24-32oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, torn (optional garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil (for the noodles) while you have a large skillet browning the ground beef with the chopped onions, minced garlic and olive oil.  *Feel free to add a pinch of salt and Italian seasonings of your choice if desired.

Once the noodles have finished (slightly under cook them at about 8-9 minutes, as they’ll finish in the oven), drain and toss in a large bowl with the beaten eggs, parmesan cheese and teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Set aside.

As the ground beef becomes browned, pour in the marinara sauce of your choosing and stir together.

Now I used a lightly greased 10″ Spring-form pan for this (what you would typically make a cheesecake in), however, you can also use a deep dish pie tin, a 2-quart casserole dish, etc.  Just make sure to spray with a bit of non-stick.  **With the spring-form pan, I wrapped the bottom in foil just to ensure no leakage, which I didn’t have anyway.

First layer in the egg coated noodles and then top with dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Pour the meaty red sauce overtop, finally topping with the shredded mozzarella cheese.   Place your prepared spaghetti pie, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil cover and let bake another 10 minutes.

Once finished baking allow to rest for a good 5 minutes before slicing into.  If desired, top with a bit more parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil.  Enjoy!

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Loose Meat Philly Sandwiches

Philly sandwiches are delicious, plain and simple.  Trying to find an authentic Philly or even an unauthentic one for that matter can prove challenging.  Now my version here obviously falls into the “unauthentic” grouping, but it still carries that fantastic ooey-gooey, beefy, cheesy flavor throughout AND if you’re feeling old-school, than feel free to top with a dollop of Cheez-Whiz!  Now THAT up’s the legit’ness! 😉

*Plus, it’s much, much cheaper and easier than using rib-eye steak and can spread out for a family dinner or gathering!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • Pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8oz package of provolone cheese slices
  • 8 pack of hamburger buns/rolls
  • Cheez-Whiz (optional)

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In a large (cast-iron preferably) skillet, cook your ground beef until a deep brown crust occurs.  Next, you will carefully break apart, not too much to wear it crumbles, but is in rather larger chunks.  Again, cook these pieces to another deep brown crust.  Transfer the beef to a medium size bowl and set aside.

To the same skillet you cooked your beef in (you can leave most if not all of the grease), add in the butter along with the chopped, diced and sliced onions, bell peppers and mushrooms.  Let these veggies sit and brown for about 2 minutes, stir and let brown another 2 minutes.

Add your cooked ground beef back into the pan with the sautéed vegetables.

Meanwhile,  in the same bowl your cooked beef was in, pour in the beef broth and cornstarch and whisk together.  Pour this mixture into the skillet along with the Worcestershire, ketchup, and the salt & pepper.  Stir together and simmer for 5-7 minutes (liquids start to dissipate).

Next, cover the entire top of the beef mixture with the provolone slices.  Allow to sit for about 1-2 minutes, until cheese looks “melty” and the gently and thoroughly stir all together.  The cheese will help keep the loose beef and veggies together on your rolls…and be oh so gooey!!

Finally, I like to toast my rolls or buns just a bit and using a slotted spoon (please use a slotted spoon or else you’ll be eating your sandwich with a fork..which is ok too) and scoop a hefty amount onto the bottom bun.  Finish it off with the crusty top half and a napkin! 😉  ..maybe some seasoned French fries and dipping sauce as well.  Enjoy!

Loose Meat Philly Sandwiches

Blackened Chicken Broccoli Tortellini

Here you have a family pleasing meal that can be made on a hectic weeknight, because…it take’s just 30 minutes!  Yep, a 30 minute meal that didn’t even use a jar of sauce to create a creamy yet more dreamy alfredo sauce!

To offset the richness of the cheese tortellini and sauce, the blackened chicken gives just the right amount of kick and since you basically are just blanching the broccoli, it keeps a great crisp texture!  Even my 5 year old had seconds AND leftovers for lunch the next day, score!!

*You can use any noodle of your choosing if not a tortellini fan; you can also use fresh broccoli if available.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken, I like the thin cut breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic power
  • hefty pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Pasta

  • 16oz  package frozen cheese tortellini
  • 10oz frozen broccoli
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 container parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings to create a blackening rub.  Pat some olive oil all over each chicken breast and then coat in the blackening seasoning.  *Often, if I am using thin cutlets of chicken, I will just coat one side.  If using larger chicken breasts, coat both sides..

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and either bring your grill to medium high heat or a cast iron pan to screaming high heat.

Now, I used our grill, so once ready I made sure the grates were oiled and cooked each side of the thinly sliced chicken for about 2 minutes and then transferred to a plate tented with foil to let rest.  *If using a pan, do the same, just remember to turn your vent on as it WILL smoke a bit inside your kitchen.  Cook till the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  The last 2 minutes of cooking, toss the frozen broccoli right in with the tortellini.  Drain in a large colander.

In a large pan, melt the butter and whisk in the heavy cream.  Add in the cooked tortellini and broccoli.  Sprinkle and fold in all of the parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  *I like lots of pepper.

Hey, you’re DONE!!  Slice the blackened chicken and lay overtop the broccoli tortellini alfredo and you have yourself a tasty dinner!  Serve with garlic bread, a side salad and vino of course!!

 

Del Mar Salt Cod Arepa

Good morning friends!!  So this past month I was asked to help CFE International in coming up with some new recipe ideas for their fantastic salt fish products!  For those not in the know…’Salt-Fish’ is traditionally known as Bacalao and is a way to preserve freshly caught fish popular in Puerto Rico, Spain, Portugal and much of the Caribbean.

So I decided to take a popular Baja-Mexican spin on it and toss the light and flakey fish with a spicy pico de gallo and serve it almost torta style with a quick soft and pillow like arepa!  We’re learning new cuisine all day in this one, huh? 😉

Now we had these as a fresh, light and healthy dinner but I think these would be great this coming summer as finger food appetizers at the pool or even serve the spicy cod filling along with tortilla chips are crackers as a dip with your cervezas!  Enjoy!

Here in Texas, you can find the Cristobal product in the frozen section at your local Brookshire Brothers, HEB, Fiesta, Food Town, H Mart, Kroger and Los Altos Ranch Market.  So I’d say it’s quite convenient!!

CFE International

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb salt cod, rinsed and soaked overnight
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 habanero, minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Arepa’s

  • 2 cups pre-cooked P.A.N white cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp salt

Garnish

  • Avocado slices
  • Lime Mayo (1 cup mayonnaise, juice of 1 lime, 1/2 tsp cumin, pinch of salt)

arepaPrep

This meal begins the night before..is it hard?  No.  Is it a must?  Oh yes…

Start by rinsing your salt cod under running water and place into a large bowl.  Fill with water to cover and top with plastic wrap.  Place in your refrigerator roughly 24 hours prior to preparing the dish.  You will want to change the water about 3 times during these 24 hours to rid all of the excess salt.

Party time!  Ok, place the soaked cod and enough water to cover in a stockpot over med-high heat and bring to a simmer on the stovetop.  Change the water and bring to a simmer 3-4 more times or until desired saltiness is achieved.

Place the now de-salted and cooked cod into a large bowl, shred with two forks and allow to cool.

Next, simply chop and dice up the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and hot peppers.  Add these to the cooled fish along with the juice of two limes and a pinch of salt.  Toss together, cover and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.

On to the Arepas!

In another large bowl (meanwhile heat a cast-iron skillet to medium heat), stir the water and salt together until the salt dissolves.  Next pour in the cornmeal a little at a time, working with your fingers, to form a pliable dough.

Divide into 8 dough-balls and then pat into “hockey-puck” shapes.

In your heated pan, add the arepa dough (about 2-3 at a time) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side for a golden brown.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  *If not using a cast-iron or other non-stick pan, add about 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil to your hot pan and once cooked transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

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Slice in half (similar to an English muffin) and dollop a good amount of the lime-mayo on each side.  Spoon on a good amount of the tangy and spicy cod filling and top with a few slices of sliced avocado.  Bring that arepa together and chow down with a cold one my friends!!

ArepaFinish

IGCod

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

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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!!

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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!!

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Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Brussels

Well, we’re under a tornado watch here in Texas.  Ah the beauty of Spring in the south, right?  That all being said, I’m not really keen on taking my boys and I outside to play this fine afternoon, so I figured it was time to update my other love.  My food blog.

This spin on one of my favorite recipes by Lisa Fain, aka The Homesick Texan, will even have your “I loathe Brussels sprouts” friend’s socks knocked right off!  I’m not kidding…I am a Libra and I do not lie, I am fair and loyal and tell no tales.  It’s damn good!

So next time you see those intimidating sprouts waiting for your approval and love in your local supermarket, please do your dinner party and that loathing friend a favor.  It’s easy, unique and impressive.  It’s Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Brussels Sprouts!

*If you do not have a cast iron pan, pour the mix into a broiler proof baking dish prior to placing in the oven. 

**You can remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeno if desired…but I always ask, “why??” 😉

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved/quartered
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (1 Tbsp grease reserved)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 4oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • a  hefty pinch each of salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin

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Begin this tasty side dish by crisping up your bacon, while also bringing a stock pot of salted water to a boil.

Once the water has begun to boil, add in the prepared Brussels sprouts (stems trimmed and halved or quartered) and let cook for 6-7 minutes.  Once tender, pour into a colander and run cold water over to stop the cooking.  *Also set aside the now cooked bacon.

Preheat your ovens broiler and place a rack about 6″ from the top.

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet on low heat, melt the butter along with the reserved bacon grease.  Add in the minced jalapenos and let sweat down for 2 minutes, followed by the minced garlic for the last 30 seconds.  Next, add in the flour and whisk for about 1-2 minutes till browned and then pour in the whole milk while, again, continuously whisking.  Stir ever so often for the next 5-7 minutes as the mixture thickens.  Careful not to let it come to a boil.

Stir in 1/2 of the shredded cheese and the spices.  Keep stirring allowing for the cheese to turn into a real gooey cheese sauce.  Make sure to taste test here; I always add a bit more salt and cayenne than you may think needed.  Next fold in 3/4th of the cooked bacon and the par-cooked Brussels.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of shredded cheese all over top of the Brussels and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.  Careful to watch closely and do not let burn!  Every oven is so very different!

Once browned and bubbly, remove, sprinkle with the remaining bacon crumbles and allow to rest for a few minutes..it is hot!!

Serve warm and ENJOY folks!!

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