Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category


A Great Chicken Dish

September 30, 2011

We love chicken, most people do or there wouldn’t be so many ways to prepare it.

I have a great honey soy recipe and when I saw this one I was on the fence.   My family loves honey, but the recipe, at first glance, seemed too similar to the one I use.  Then my friend Allison posted about it.  That’s when I knew that I had to make this dish.  Allison used chicken thighs, but since I’m not a fan of dark meat, I decided to use the whole chicken as the recipe suggests.  I was going to keep the chicken whole, but decided to quarter it instead.

We loved this dish.  It was simple, tasty, crunchy and not too sweet.  Any leftover chicken would be great in a pot pie or a salad.  I actually poured some of the honey mixture on to the chicken and used a brush to spread it that I didn’t allow in the mixture.  There was some extra of the honey mixture that I then served with the chicken as a dip.  If you do contaminate the honey mixture, you can follow the directions that Allison suggested on her post.

This is also a great recipe that translates well from the oven to the grill.  It’s a perfect all year dish.  It’s chicken after all.

Honey-Glazed Chicken

  • 1/3 C Honey
  • 1 T Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t Dried Thyme
  • 1 1/2 t Course Salt (I used truffle salt)
  • 1/2 t Ground Pepper
  • 1 whole Chicken

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together honey, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Place 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 lbs), cut into 8 pieces (or quartered), on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil; brush with honey mixture.  Roast until chicken is deep brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes, brushing twice with honey mixture (do not brush during last 5 minutes of cooking).

Serves 4


Yes! Pasta!

September 13, 2011

Can I share something with you?   Here’s the thing about me, I’m a seasonal eater.  In the summer I love to barbecue and eat all the fresh fruits and veggies I can.

But when the season starts to turn cooler, I get excited.  I love to make pasta, and soups, and bake with yeast.  Yeah, that’s what fall means to me.  All the wonderful things I didn’t want to eat in the summer because of the heat are now my favorite things to enjoy once the temperature dips.

Right now the weather isn’t sure what it wants to do, it’s been in the 90’s and then a few days later it’s dipped down to the 60’s.  Ah, the midwest is awesome, right?   There’s a saying here:  Don’t like the weather?  Wait 15 minutes and it will change.

I love pasta.  It’s so simple to throw together and done right it’s pretty healthy.  Oh, except if you live with a diabetic, then it’s not a good idea to eat it everyday, even if he wants to.

Penne with vodka sauce is one of my favorite dishes.  There’s a place that my friend Angel and I go to that has one of the best versions of this dish.  It’s a dish that is so simple.  Unfortunately, it’s also a dish that can be bad if made incorrectly.  I’ve made a version that was so bland that I had a mutiny.  But this, this version is heavenly.  The key is cooking the tomatoes down to a thick sauce.  It allows for a great intense flavor.

Heaven.  Here’s the post that reminded me how great this dish is.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

  • 1/4 C  Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic-minced
  • pinch crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 t Sea Salt, divided
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 pound Penne
  • 2 T Vodka
  • 1 C Heavy Cream
  • 2 T Parsley-roughly chopped (optional)

In a skillet large enough to hold the pasta later, combine the oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and salt, stirring to coat with the oil.  Cook over low-moderate heat for 2-3 minutes.  Do NOT brown the garlic.  Add the crushed tomatoes.  Stir to blend, and simmer, uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 15-25 minutes.  This step is super important.  The sauce needs to thicken for the flavors to intensify.  So the amount of time you cook it is less important than  the consistency.   Taste for  seasoning.

In a saucepan, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil, add the penne.  Stir to prevent sticking and cook until  al dente.  Drain thoroughly.  Add the drained pasta to skillet with the  tomato sauce. Toss. Add the vodka, and toss again, then add the cream and toss.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb sauce.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


A Garden Find

September 1, 2011

I’m re-posting a great recipe from last year.

I was finally able to make this wonderful tomato pie last night for dinner.  When I looked at the post from last year, I noticed I had tomatoes about a month earlier.  Mother nature was not kind to my garden, but now that I have a tomato harvest I’m enjoying every minute of it.

We love the fresh tomatoes and I had almost forgotten how much we loved this dish.  It’s perfect as is or served with a great salad.

Also, since posting and making it last year, I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly.  Either way you make it, tomato pie is a great summer dish.  I make my own pie crust, but you can use the store bought kind just as easily.

Oh, regarding the pictures.  I was so excited about the pie that I took some pictures before I stuck it in the oven and I forgot the cheese.  Luckily, I remembered the cheese before I cooked it or we would have had a mutiny.

Tomato Pie

  • 1 Pie Crust
  • 4 whole Tomatoes (peeled, Cored, Seeds Removed)
  • 8-10  leaves Fresh Basil, chopped
  • A sprig of Fresh Oregano, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 C Chopped Green Onion
  • 1 pinch Truffle Salt To Taste (or Sea Salt)
  • 1 pinch Pepper To Taste
  • 1 C Grated Part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 C Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 C Mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line the pie crust with foil or a coffee filter and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack.

Once the pie crust is out of the oven, set the temperature for the oven to 350 degrees.   Clean and slice your tomatoes and arrange the slices in the crust, overlapping them.  You must make sure to seed and peel the tomatoes otherwise you’ll have tomato soup not tomato pie.   Add basil, oregano, and onion, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.   Mix cheeses and mayonnaise in bowl.  Spread over tomatoes.   Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly brown.  Cool about 10 minutes before slicing.

This is a great way to use up those garden tomatoes and that fresh basil growing like a weed in your garden!

Here’s the original post.


A Great Sandwich

August 30, 2011

We’ve been watching a new show on the Food Network.  I know I’ve mentioned before that we watch some of their programs.  It’s been more or less been by default lately.  There aren’t a lot of family friendly shows out there that will entertain all of us, and let’s face their programing lately has left a lot to be desired.

We’ve watched the Next Food Network Star for a number of seasons, but we haven’t liked the winners, until now.  The show we started watching is the Sandwich King.  Now, granted there have only been 2 episodes, but it isn’t bad.  It isn’t great, but the concept is something I can get behind.  Remember my Panini press?  Plus, the guy is from Chicago.

The first episode was about Italian Beef sandwiches.  It’s a sandwich that is much loved in these parts and is cause for as much debate as pizza.  What I love about this sandwich is that, although it’s not as great as getting a beef sandwich from your favorite beef stand, it does come in a very close second.  If I had a commercial grade meat slicer tucked away somewhere, I would probably reevaluate my opinion.  Really it’s that good, plus the smells coming out of the kitchen are intense.

I’ve made Italian beef in the crock pot before, but I loved the braising of the meat.  It gave it a great crisp, plus the flavor of the jus was out of this world.

Oh, and did I mention that Meeshie loved the sandwich?  She’s on a kick lately that involves dissecting any sandwich she eats.  She has a plan, insides first and then maybe she’ll eat the bun.  I don’t like it, but I tolerate it.  This sandwich, though, was eaten in its entirety, and as presented.  I was more than happy.

Oh, and I would have made the Giardiniera, but I had a vat of it from one of our trips to Costco.  Next time.  We like it hot and sweet with cheese.  You can add cheese to the sandwich, such as provolone or mozzarella.

Italian Beef with Sweet Peppers

  • 1-3 1/2 lb Boneless Beef  Chuck Roast
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Pepper, to taste
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 T dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 t Crushed Red Pepper
  • 6 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C dry red Wine
  • 2-14 oz cans of Beef Broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sweet Peppers:
  • 4 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Granulated Garlic
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Pepper, to taste
  • 4 soft, hinged sub or hoagie rolls, 4 inches

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position.

Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke. Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze  with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the beef broth and thyme, bring to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning of the jus. Place the roast back into the pot, with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven. Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 2 to 4 hours.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the jus through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and return back to the pot. If you feel there isn’t enough jus, add another can of beef broth and adjust the seasoning.  Bring to a simmer and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the sweet peppers: Toss the pepper strips with the oil, granulated garlic and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20-30 minutes.

Simmer the jus until very flavorful and hot. Place some beef on a roll, then some sweet peppers and then some Homemade Hot Giardiniera. Take the whole sandwich and quickly dunk in hot jus.

Here’s the link to the original.



July 20, 2011

Since our trip to Memphis last summer, my husband has been obsessed with barbecue. He has made sauce and tried smoking ribs. When we were first married, he had a smoker. He even smoked a turkey in it one Thanksgiving, but he soon got rid of it. It was too much work and it took forever to smoke the bird.   Now, everywhere we go he looks at smokers, forgetting the work and the time he put into something that no one was impressed with. I suppose that if he had a better experience with that turkey we would still have that smoker, but that didn’t happen.

My husband has since been able to recreate as much as he can the taste of the best barbecue he ever had last summer. I say that because every meal we had in Memphis was awesome. My husband is a lover of ribs and Memphis has great ribs. Not tourist ribs, good local ribs. A few times we asked either a policeman or bartender where to have the best ribs.  Those are the people who know where the good food is. I look at it this way, when people from out of town come to visit, I don’t take them to Uno’s for pizza unless they ask.

In my husband’s quest for barbecue, he’s also been experimenting with sauce. I think he’s nailed it with this one. He was looking for one that doesn’t use ketchup and between the two of us, we found it.  This sauce is perfect for ribs.

We’ve been using a slightly different method to cook ribs that gives it more of a smoked flavor.  These ribs are so tender, you don’t even need to cut them with a knife.

Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 C Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 6 t  Sugar
  • 4 T  Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 t, Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 1/2 t, Dry Mustard
  • 1 1/2 t, Paprika
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • 1 t Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T Honey
  • 2 T Balsamic Fig/Chili Vinegar

Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 2 hours or until thick.

Apply to chicken, ribs or pork chops.  Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight glass container.

I found the recipe here.

Barbecue Ribs

  • One slab Pork Loin  Backribs

Preheat the grill.  Grill both sides of the ribs to achieve the desired grill color , about 6-7 minutes per side.  Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap in foil.  Turn off a portion of the burners and place the ribs on the coolest side of the grill.  Continue cooking for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours (we check at the 1 1/2 hour mark), keeping the grill temperature between 335 to 350 degrees.  Remove the ribs from the foil, add barbecue sauce and grill for an additional 3-5 minutes per side, until the sauce starts to caramelize.  Serve the ribs with your favorite sides.


Citrus Garlic Shrimp

July 5, 2011

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and like you I had plans.  I had plans to barbecue.  Then I had plans to watch the fireworks in town.  We tailgate with our neighbors every year and enjoy the display.

My plans were altered slightly yesterday morning while I was watching the news.  They showed this wonderfully easy shrimp dish.  I knew I had to alter my plans to make it.  For some reason, though, the recipe wasn’t posted.  No worries, I knew I could recreate it.  I’m so glad I did.

This shrimp dish is so simple and quick.  Although, that is the beauty of shrimp.  It’s a quick meal.  The hardest part is prepping the shrimp, and I’ll admit that I purchased a pound bag of shrimp that was the easy peel.  Please don’t judge, I live in the midwest and sometimes it’s just easier to buy the raw frozen easy peel shrimp.

I love the color in this dish too.  The peppers really make it pop.  We had various other items with this dish yesterday, but this would be awesome on a bed of pasta, or some rice, or a large salad.

Citrus Garlic Shrimp

  • 1 lb Raw Shrimp, cleaned, deveined and peeled (I used a bag of 16/20)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 each of Red, Yellow and Orange Peppers, sliced
  • Truffle Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep the shrimp and set aside.  Juice the lemon and lime and place in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the juice.  Place the shrimp, peppers and onion in a large bowl, with a lid, or use a large Ziploc bag.  Whisk the juice and oil mixture together and add to the shrimp mixture.  Marinate for one hour.  Do not marinate longer or the shrimp will start to cook.  Take a medium to large-sized foil pan, poke holes in the bottom and place on the grill 15 minutes before you are ready to cook the shrimp.  Add the shrimp to the hot pan and cook until the shrimp is done.  The shrimp will be done once it changes color from grey to pink.


Next time, I’m adding some fresh basil!


An Unusual Twist On An Old Favorite

April 21, 2011

I came across this recipe last week and knew I had to try it.  The unusual preparation really caught my attention. 

Let me also state that Meeshie is not a fan of mac and cheese unless it comes in the blue box.  That’s not only sad, but frustrating.  There are so many great mac and cheese recipes out there that I look at, wishing I could make them.  And I guess that I could, but that’s a lot of mac and cheese.

This recipe is unique because you boil the noodles in milk and you don’t make a roux.  Dont worry though, it’s still creamy and thick without the roux. 

The best part was, Meeshie enjoyed it.  She still insists the blue box is the best, but she ate this up!

Let me also point out that I used penne pasta because I didn’t have any elbow macaroni.  I also used two kinds of cheese, sharp cheddar and Dubliner Irish cheese.  I wanted to use up the Dubliner cheese that I had in the fridge so that’s why I used two cheeses.  And because I did that, I placed some cheddar cheese on top of the macaroni before putting it into the oven.  I also used a very small amount of bread crumbs and would probably skip them next time.

Oh, and did also mention this recipe is pretty easy?

Civil War Mac and Cheese

  • 4 C Milk
  • 2 C Elbow Macaroni
  • 4 T Butter
  • 2 C, packed, grated cheddar cheese
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 C Bread Crumbs
  • Salt, for the macaroni

Heat the milk and salt in a large saucepan until steamy. Stir in the dry macaroni and let the milk come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer.  Pay attention while the macaroni is cooking in the milk as the milk may foam up and boil over.  Cook the macaroni for about 15 minutes or until done, the macaroni will absorb most of the milk.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  As soon as the macaroni is done, remove from the pan and put inside a casserole dish.  In the used sauce pan, place the butter and stir in the grated cheese, pepper and nutmeg.  Once the cheese has melted, pour the sauce into the macaroni and milk mixture and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Serve with a salad or use this dish as a side instead of potatoes.

Here’s the original.

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