Tag Archives: Food

Greek Tzatziki Chicken Pasta

Going “global” with this one guys!  Now as y’all know, I basically have two types of cuisines that I prefer to eat…constantly.  Mexican and southern comfort food!!  I do however branch out from time to time and THIS time it’s with my likely 3rd choice, Greek!

Now I used to live by this AMAZING restaurant called “Pita Jungle”, that without fail catered to my cravings of this ethnic fare..saltiness of feta cheese, brininess of kalamata olives, fresh vegetables and the Greek’s unique spices has me every(damn)time.  The only bad part of always getting my ‘fix’, was moving away and having nothing silimilar nearby.  It was time to create my 2nd masterful Greek dish and THIS one is silly easy!

This Greek inspired chicken pasta is full of flavor, yes, BUT it’s also healthy for you too!  Heck, get yourself another helping! 😉  Using non-fat greek yogurt and fresh produce brightens this dish and leaves you not feeling heavy in the least.  *I also used fantastic gluten-free noodles that really help with that after dinner bloated feeling.  Lastly..this dish is also so versatile that it is equally delicious served warm OR cold!  So it’s a fabulous choice for a leftover dinner or lunch at work too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb chicken breasts/tenders
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, seeded/cored and sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 package penne noodles

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 large cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp dill, fresh is best if you have it
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Greek Chicken Marinade

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 salt and pepper, each.  

Alright friends!  In a large gallon size ziplock bag, add in all of the marinade ingredients followed by the chicken.  Seal and place in a dish (to avoid spillage) and into the fridge.  Allow to marinate for about 3 hours.  Do not go too much longer as the citrus in the marinade will change the texture of the chicken.  *You can make the marinade without the lemon juice if you’d like it overnight and add it in later.

Assuming the chicken has been marinating away and it’s time to finish the meal, you’ll next prepare the Tzaziki sauce and again, it’s just as easy as the marinade!  After you dice up the cucumber, simply whisk together all of the above mentioned ingredients, cover and set aside.  *If preparing this in advance, please keep refridgerated until ready to use.  

Onto the vegetables!  Rinse, cut, chop, dice, seed etc. etc. etc. your yummy veggies while also bringing a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.  *I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper over the vegetables for added flavor.

In a skillet over medium/medium-high heat with 1Tbsp of oil and 1Tbsp of butter, add the marinaded chicken.  Cook through and set aside.  Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  

Once the chicken has cooled slightly, roughly chop into bite size pieces.

Drain the al dente noodles and pour into a 2-qt casserole dish or large serving bowl.

The finish line has arrived…Now it’s just time to cross it!

Simply add the vegetables and olives to the penne pasta, pour on your finished tzatziki sauce and gently toss together with the crumbled feta cheese.  

Serve with extra lemon slices and perhaps a bit more feta cheese and a pinch of fresh dill, enjoy!!  

Pierogi Pea Salad w/ Grilled Kielbasa

Here you have it… A simple, hearty meal that you can prep, cook, enjoy and clean up within an hour!  Hey, what’s not to enjoy about that??  Perfect for a weeknight family dinner!

It’s honestly a very nice pairing and balance of flavors too.  The rich sausage and onions are offset by the bright freshness with the dill, chives and bit of sour cream.  Plus the warm potatoey-cheddar filling against the cool dressing is an added bonus!  Again, what’s not to love about that?!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz pckg pierogis (I used frozen potato-cheddar filled)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 Tbsp mayonaisse
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dill, fresh and chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • kielbasa sausage, quartered (I used two packages)
  • 1 yellow onion, thick sliced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter    

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, chopped chives and dill and the dijon mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. 

 Next bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, while you sauté the sliced onion in the extra virgin olive oil and butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Add in the quartered kielbasa sausage and sear to warm through.  Turn down to low to keep warm while you finish up the pierogi salad. 

   Cook the pierogi’s to the package directions (boil for 4-5 minutes) and then add the cup of frozen peas to that same boiling pot for the last minute.

Drain the peas and pierogis, rinse and pat dry.  Add both to the dressing you made earlier and gently toss to coat. 

   Serve with the kielbasa, onions and a side of spicy mustard, enjoy! 

 

Brisket Burgers w/ Grilled Tequila Peach Slaw

Do you want to impress your dad this Father’s Day??  Then it’s a must that you try this sweet-heat burger that also has a hint of booze!  

Here in the south, peaches are a summertime staple and what better way to enjoy them then grilled, soaked in a sweet tequila bath and overtop a ground brisket burger that has a kick from fresh jalapenos…a true Texas delight!  Enjoy!🍔🌞

The Starting Lineup

Brisket Burger

I had my butcher mix me:

  • 1lb of ground chuck 
  • 1lb ground brisket
  • Kosher salt & pepper, outside of patties
  • Soft bakery hamburger rolls
  • Pepper jack cheese, slices

Grilled Tequila Peach Slaw

  • 4-5 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup tequila anejo
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste 

Begin this summertime fave by firing up your grill!  Slice up and skewer the peaches before brushing the melted butter over top.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the pineapple juice and the honey.  Whisk together till smooth.  Bring to a simmer and let cook till slightly thickened, about 15 minutes and then remove from heat.
 

Now that your grill is hot and ready, grill your skewered peaches for just a few minutes.  Remove, chop up and add to the pineapple/honey syrup.  Pour the tequila over top and give a gentle toss.  Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.

While the peaches are soaking, prep the veggies for the slaw. 

 

Combine all the ingredients for the slaw together, including the soaked peaches.  Toss, cover and refridgerate while you get the burgers ready. 


Prepare your meat into about 1/4lb patties (8 all together) and press your thumb slightly in the middle of each patty to prevent puffing up while grilling.  Sprinkle the outside liberally with kosher salt and pepper.  Now with the grill ready to go once again, add the beef/brisket patties and cook till desired doneness. *I prefer mine cooked about 5 minutes on the first side and then 3-4 minutes on the other, flip just once please ;).  Once you’ve flipped your burger, add the pepperjack cheese to each patty.  Cheese NEEDS to be melty-good here folks!
*I also like to split my hamburger buns, lightly spread mayonnaise on each cut side and place on the grill for a minute or two.  The mayo will caramelize over the flame leading to a nice crunch and less soggy burger!  Winning!! 

 

Breakfast Enchiladas

With the weekend fastly approaching, I thought I’d share an easy family favorite brunch that I’ve been making for years!  What’s fun (and economical) about this breakfast is that you can use up what’s already in your refridgerator!  

Below, I gave the ingredients that I recently used, but sometimes I may only have bacon or asparagus or red bell peppers…and sometimes I don’t even have any breakfast meats at all and just make the enchiladas with eggs & veggies.  The options are truly endless with this great meal!

*Another tip..you can make this the night before (pouring the egg over even) and then bake the next morning!! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb breakfast sausage (or diced ham, bacon, or vegetarian)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cheese, shredded (i.e. cheddar, jack)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • A pinch each of salt, pepper & cumin

Garnish

  • Jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • Green onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Salsa/Hot sauce  

Here we go…preheat the oven to 350degrees and prepare a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray.

While the oven is preheating, we’ll rinse, chop and dice up the veggies (of your choice), grate the cheese and start cooking the breakfast sausage in a pan heated to medium. 

     After the sausage is about halfway cooked through, add in the seasonings and the vegetables and cook together till sausage is done and the veggies are translucent.  Set aside, off of heat. 

   Now one by one, prepare each tortilla by spooning a healthy amount of the cooked sausage and veggie filling down the center and topping with a Tbsp of cheese.  Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Continue until the tortillas and filling are gone.  *Keep the ends ‘open’ so that the egg mixture can seep its way into the rolled tortillas. 

     In a medium size bowl, crack in the 6 eggs and whisk in the 1/2 cup of milk with a bit of salt and pepper.  Next, fold in the slightly drained can of Rotel diced tomatoes and pour the entire mixture over the filled tortillas.  *Give the baking dish a jiggle to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed. 

         Cover the entire dish with foil and pop in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  After the half-hour is up, remove the foil and top with the remaining shredded cheese.  Continue to bake (uncovered) for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. 

 Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes to set.  Serve each enchilada with the garnish of your choice and enjoy!! 

 

Cola Carnitas

I often say that simple ingredients can make the most delicious meals.  This recipe is yet another that helps make that thought true.  Given there are no complicated add-ins or cooking techniques, you REALLY taste the sweetness of that Coca-Cola, the brightness from the fresh oranges and the savoriness of the seared and braised pork.  I’d eat this delish delight off of a shoe…but a warm tortilla is better. 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 2-3 lbs pork butt/shoulder
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 12oz Coca Cola (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp cumin, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp evoo
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil  

We’ll start this Mexican food favorite by mincing the garlic, quartering the oranges and heating the canola oil to a medium high heat in a large dutch oven.  Also sprinkle the entire pork with a liberal amount of cumin, salt and pepper and the extra virgin olive oil.  

    Working in small batches (you do not want to overcrowd the pan..no, no, no…), sear each side of your pork in the hot dutch oven.  Once seared nicely, set aside as you finish the rest of the pork.  This will take roughly 20 minutes for the entire pork butt/shoulder to brown.  

  

  

Next, add all of the seared pork back into the pot along with the Coca-Cola and water.  You will now also squeeze in those fresh oranges!  After each quarter has been squeezed dry, toss the whole thing into the pot. 

  
 Bring to a boil, while scraping up the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.  

Lower the temperature to a simmer and add in the Bay leaves, garlic and a pinch or two more cumin, salt & pepper.  Simply cover and keep on that low temperature for 2-3 hours…just walk right away and relax! 

 ….I do believe that time is now up!!  Carefully uncover that pot (steam hurts!) and remove that tender, fall-apart pork to another dish.  Pull apart with two forks or let cool slightly and use your own two hands!  *I like to sneak a bit straight into my mouth too, sshhhh…. After its fully shredded or chopped up, ladle in a bit of the juice from the dutch oven to keep warm and not dry out. 

 Serve this as you wish!  However, around here we top warmed tortillas with this sweet and citrusy pork, along with a bit of cilantro, chopped white onion and thinly sliced radishes.  Enjoy!! 

 

Fall Harvest Pizza

If you love the Fall season as much as I do, then you’ll absolutely adore this pizza!  It has all the savory flavors and colors this time of year is known for, with a hint of sweetness too…excellent combination!

Plus, you can get the same taste an easier route if you purchase a lot of the veggies prepped and premade dough.  A Fall family favorite right here! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
  • 3 links chicken sausage (I.e. Apple flavored)
  • 1 large onion, (red or yellow) sliced
  • 2 cups kale, torn
  • 1 1/2 cup butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 Apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2-3 Tbsp Bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • EVOO 
  • Honey, drizzle
  • Sage leaves (optional), crisped
  • Cornmeal (optional), for crust  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Assuming your pizza dough is ready for baking (if you prefer not to make your own, you can of course buy it in your freezer aisle, your local pizzeria or even a Boboli crust), we’ll prep our veggies!

Ok….in today’s world, you can absolutely buy your squash already cubed and the kale already torn in a bag, etc…genius!  However, I took the hard approach and if you did too, then here we go!  Slice your onion into slices and with a vegetable peeler, you can actually peel off the butternut squashes rind.  It’s actually pretty easy.  I peeled about half of my butternut squash, cut the peeled part off and cut into cubes.  Save the other half for another meal 🙂 

   Have a sauté pan with 1 tbsp EVOO heated to medium and add in your onions and a pinch each of kosher salt and sugar.  Allow to cook down and caramelize while stirring occasionally.  Also add the squash to a baking sheet, drizzle with EVOO and top with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Transfer this to the oven and roast for 20 minutes, till tender, while your onions are sautéing. 

   Once these are both finished cooking, transfer to seperate dishes and set aside.  *Keep your oven on that same 400 degrees for the pizza, add in either a large baking sheet or a pizza stone to heat up while you finish prepping.

In the same pan you cooked the onions down in, now add in the chicken sausage and cook through…typically about 6 minutes per side.  Once the sausage is finished, set aside and allow to cool & rest before you slice. 

   While the sausage is resting, you can now rinse and tear up the kale (if needed) and thinly slice your apple.  You should have all of the toppings prepped at this point. 

Optional:  Crisped Sage, heat 2 tbsp EVOO in pan to medium heat.  Add in a couple sage leaves and cook for about 20-30 seconds on each side.  Immediately take out and transfer to a paper towel.  You’re done! 

   It’s pizza assembly time!!  Roll out the dough to your desired shape..Don’t worry about that perfect circle here.  I think a roundish square works and is rustic and charming.

After I rolled out my dough, I carefully placed it onto a piece of parchment paper coated in cornmeal (optional).  Brush EVOO ALL over the dough top and sprinkle the with minced garlic (if your crazy like me, earlier in the prep heat up  EVOO in a pan, add the garlic to it and immediately take off the heat and set aside for this.).  

 After the dough has been brushed with EVOO and minced garlic, we’ll start layering the toppings.  It goes like this:  Caramelized onions and any drippings first, the kale leaves, the roasted butternut squash, the Apple chicken sausage (now sliced), then the Apple slices.  Top this all with shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of Bleu cheese crumbles. 

  

  

  

So I used a large preheated baking sheet (upside down) as my base, and carefully lifted the parchment paper topped with the loaded up pizza onto it.  *careful that baking sheet is hot!!  Transfer to the 400 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, till cheese is melted and crust is browned. 

 When time is up, remove the pizza and drizzle with the honey all over the top and crisped sage. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  We prefer ours with a small salad and a good bottle of hard cider!  Enjoy! 

   

Baked Greek Fries

Baked fries are underrated in my opinion.  They’re basically mini baked potatoes with endless flavor varieties and dip options and who doesn’t love that??  

So since I made my family chicken gyros, but didn’t want the oh-so-obvious “Greek salad”, I thought what about French fries!  Just like when I go to the Greek places on the corner or in the mall..but baked and slightly more guilt-free!   Very yummy!

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 Russet/baking potatoes, sliced lengthwise 
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper 
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO 

Optional Garnish

  • Feta cheese, crumbled 
  • Mint, torn  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Also spray a large baking sheet with non-stick.

Start this tasty and healthier side by rinsing, scrubbing and patting dry your potatoes.  Cut the potatoes lengthwise into “French fry shape” 😉 you’re also welcomed to peel your potato skins off, but I just don’t believe in that!  I love a crispy skin for texture AND flavor…ask my hubby.  I ALWAYS still his leftover baked potato skin at restaurants and at home.  Also a fave loaded appetizer of mine…ok, ok, I digress… 

 Next pat dry your cut potatoes and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and spices.  Now add your cut potatoes into the bowl and toss to coat.  *you can also place your potatoes onto the sheet tray and pour the sauce overtop and then mix with your hands.  You also do not want to overcrowd your baking sheet (meaning no fries laying overtop eachother.  If needed, do in seperate batches. 

   Place this into the oven and allow to bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring the fries up occasionally till browned.  Once finished and a bit crispy remove from the oven.  Top with a bit of crumbled feta cheese and torn mint if desired. 

 Serve as a side to your favorite flavored gyro or slouvaki and a side of tzaziki sauce for dipping!  Enjoy!

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