Archive for Dinner

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Chicken pot pie is a favorite in my family.  There’s something about the tender chicken, delicious vegetables and cream sauce that makes us happy-happy-happy.  My favorite part of chicken pot pies, however, is the crust.  Sometimes I go the extra mile and make a homemade crust, but lately I’ve taken to using frozen puff pastry.  You can also substitute the puff pastry with biscuits (find my homemade biscuit recipe here).  Just top the filling with cut out biscuit dough and bake as directed below.

Rather than bake up individual pies, I make it casserole-style, baked in a 9×13″ pan and topped with the puff pastry.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bag baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered chicken seasoning (or you can use 3 bouillon cubes)
  • 1 small bag frozen peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

1. Place a large pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and chicken to the pot. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pot; set aside.

2. In the same pot used to cook the chicken, add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pot; cook until the mushrooms begin to soften.

4. Add the chicken back into the pot.

5. Stir in the flour.

6. Mix the water with the chicken seasoning then pour into the pot (or you can just add the seasoning or bouillon to the pot and pour in the water). Stir the chicken mixture as you pour the water into the pot to prevent clumping.

7. Add the half-and-half. Stir to combine the ingredients.

8. Cook for 15 minutes or until the mixture slightly thickens.

9. Add the peas to the pot.

NOTE: We forgot to add the peas when we made this last night (oops!), but this is the step where you’d do so. 🙂

Add the black pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  If you like it more salty, add more chicken seasoning.

10. Pour the chicken mixture into a 9X13 pan.

11. Top the chicken mixture with the puff pastry sheets. Cut off any excess puff pastry.

12. Lightly beat the egg whites. Brush the top of the puff pastry with the beaten egg whites.

13. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown (I baked this for a few more minutes so that the puff pastry was a deeper golden brown than what’s shown in the photo below.)

14. Let the pot pie cool for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Serve and ENJOY!

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Gumbo-laya

My family loves both Gumbo and Jambalaya. Today, we couldn’t decide which dish to make so I combined the two and made a combo that I call Gumbo-laya. 😉

What’s the difference, you ask?

Gumbo is a soup, made with a base of a very dark roux (made from cooking oil and flour until it turns dark brown). Gumbo also has okra, which helps to thicken the soup. The meat in gumbo depends on what you prefer, but it usually has some type of sausage (usually pork Andouille sausage) and seafood (shrimp and lump crab meat).

Jambalaya is a rice dish (not soupy at all) where the rice is cooked with the meat, along with onions, celery, peppers, stock and seasonings. It does not contain a roux since it isn’t soupy. Jambalaya also usually adds tomatoes.

My Gumbo-laya has a combo of the two. It’s soupy, uses a roux (but not a dark one) to thicken it, has okra and tomatoes along with the trinity of onions, celery and peppers, and of course, rice too. I use a wild rice medley in this recipe to up the health factor, but you can use the rice you have on hand.

Speaking of healthy, this recipe is actually pretty nutritious, believe it or not. Aside from the 1/2 cup of flour I used to make the roux, everything else is good for you. Here are the highlights:

  • Organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens
  • Turkey kielbasa instead of traditional high-fat Andouille sausage
  • Heart healthy olive oil (a good fat), and only a couple of tablespoons, not a half CUP like traditional gumbo
  • Organic wild rice

To keep the health benefits high, you can omit the shrimp and use shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast instead.

Give my recipe a try. It’s delicious…and I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Gumbo-laya

Ingredients:

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup wild rice medley
  • 3 cups sliced okra (you can use frozen okra)
  • 3 stalks green onions
  • Optional: Tabasco sauce

Directions:

1. Slice the kielbasa into 1/4-inch pieces, then cut each piece half. Place the sausage into a large soup pot.

2. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery to the pot. Cook over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

3. Make a small well in the middle of the pot by pushing the sausage mixture to the side. Pour the olive oil into the well.

4. Pour the flour (all at once) into the well, on top of the olive oil. Stir the flour and oil together, then stir it into the sausage mixture.

5. Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring as you pour.

6. Add the shrimp and chopped garlic to the pot. Place a lid on the pot; continue to cook over medium high heat.

7. In a small bowl (I used the measuring cup I used for the flour–why dirty more dishes?), mix the spices/seasonings together (paprika, sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme).

8. Stir the seasonings into the pot.

9. Add the drained tomatoes.

10. Add the rice.

11. Add the okra.

12. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is done. Stir occassionally. Taste to adjust for seasonings. Optional: Add a few shakes of Tabasco sauce.

Sprinkle sliced green onions on top, serve and ENJOY!

 

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Juicy Cheeseburgers with Baked Smothered Fries

I may be dating myself, but one of my favorite burger places to eat was Cool Spot, a quaint drive-in burger joint in Barrigada owned and operated by Josefina and Francisco Cruz.  The juicy burgers and hot-out-of-the-frier french fries were the perfect lunchtime meal when I was going to high school.

Anyone can make burgers at home, but to me, it’s about the special sauce that set these apart from ordinary.  You don’t have to use my recipe below, but give it a try.  The addition of my special sauce sets these apart from ordinary cheeseburgers.

Juicy burgers are not hard to make, but surprisingly, you’ll find that most homemade burgers use store-bought patties that turn out dry and hard.  Here are some tips to ensure moist, juicy burgers every time.

  1. Use ground beef that has at least 18-20% fat.  Beef that is too lean will make your burgers too dry.
  2. Do not over-handle the meat.  Add your seasonings to the meat then mix as little as possible.
  3. Do not–I repeat, do NOT smash the patties with your spatula!  Doing this squeezes out a lot of the meat’s natural juices that keep the meat moist.
  4. In addition to not pressing on the patties as they cook, another tip is to flip them one time only.  If you like rare burgers, cook them for 2 minutes on each side, 3 minutes on each side if you like them medium-rare, 4 minutes on each side for medium, and 5 minutes for well-done burgers.

Fantastic burgers go hand-in-hand with french fries, but no ordinary fries will do.  Try my version — potato slices (wedges are good too) that are generously seasoned then baked and topped with shredded cheese and bacon.  Yum!!

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Juicy Burgers with Baked Smothered Fries

Ingredients for the Smothered Fries:

  • 2 large potatoes (russets are great for this)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use garlic-infused olive oil for more flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you can add more after baking if you’d like it more salty)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese blend (I like a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, asadero and queso quesadilla)
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the Special Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons Best Foods real mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

Ingredients for the Burgers:

  • 3 pounds ground beef, 80-82% lean
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 slices of your favorite cheese (I used American cheese in these photos)
  • 12 sesame topped burger buns
  • Optional toppings:  romaine lettuce leaves, sliced tomates, pickles, bacon strips

Directions:

1.  Prepare the fries.

Peel the potatoes then cut them into 1/4-inch sticks.  Place them onto a large baking sheet.

Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes.  Use your impeccably clean hands to toss the potatoes to evenly distribute the oil.

Sprinkle the garlic powder, chili powder, paprika and salt over the oiled potatoes.  Toss to evenly coat the potatoes.

Bake the potatoes at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

After the fries are done, taste one and add more salt if you’d like.

Sprinkle the crumbled bacon and green onions on top of the fries.

Add the shredded cheese.

Bake for 5-10 more minutes, or just until the cheese melts.

Serve alongside the juicy burgers and ENJOY!

2.  Prepare the Special Sauce while the fries are baking.

In a small mixing bowl, place the mayo, mustard and ketchup.

Add the onion powder.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and relish.  Stir, mixing well.  Set aside.

3.  Make the burgers while the fries are baking.

In a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef, garlic, salt and black pepper.  You can also add some chopped onions (optional).  Mix together (do not over-mix) then separate into 12 balls.  Flatten each ball into patties, about 1/4-inch thick (they will shrink as they cook, so don’t make them too thick or you’ll have burgers that are much smaller than the buns).

Cook over a hot grill or skillet (see my tips above for how long to cook them).

Top each burger patty with a slice of cheese.

4.  Assemble the burgers.

Spread some of the Special Sauce onto each sesame bun half.  Top the bottom bun with a juicy burger patty, pickles, tomato slices, bacon strips and romaine lettuce.  Place the top bun on the assembled burger, serve with a side of Smothered Fries and ENJOY!

 

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Ground Beef Stir Fry

Stir fried lean meat and vegetables are delicious and healthy meal choices. Use your favorite vegetables or whatever is in season.

I like using the leanest ground beef I can find — I used 96% lean ground beef in this recipe. Broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions were my vegetables of choice today, but I also love adding eggplant, zucchini, and carrots.  Use your favorite vegetables.

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Ground Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Dashida
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 broccoli “crown”, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 container sliced mushrooms (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, more or less, to taste

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the garlic, Dashida, and black pepper.

2. Add the broccoli, onions, bell pepper and mushrooms. Stir to combine the ingredients.

3. Add the hoisin sauce to the pan. Stir to combine. Turn the heat up to high; cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are done to your liking.

4. Stir in the soy sauce. Cook over high heat for another minute or two.

5. Serve with steamed white or brown rice and ENJOY!

 

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Hannah’s Carne Asada Tacos

My daughter loves to cook as much as I do, and she loves to experiment with new dishes.  This is her take on Carne Asada Tacos, complete with her recipes for the Marinade, Guacamole, and Pico de Gallo.

Give her recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Hannah’s Carne Asada Tacos

carne asada tacos

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds skirt steak, with excess fat trimmed off
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend

Hannah’s Carne Asada Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • The juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro

Hannah’s Pico de Gallo:

  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional: chopped hot peppers

Hannah’s Guacamole:

  • 3 large avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into small pieces
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • The juice of 3-4 limes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Optional: 1 medium tomato, diced (the guac pictured here doesn’t have any tomatoes since I made pico de gallo)
  • Optional: diced hot peppers, like jalapenos

1.  MARINADE AND GRILLING DIRECTIONS:

Mix all marinade ingredients together. Pour over the skirt steak (I recommend marinating the steak in a ziplock bag). Let the steak marinate for at least 2 hours. Grill until done to your liking. Slice the meat against the grain (so that it isn’t tough when you bite into it). 

2.  PICO DE GALLO DIRECTIONS:

Mix all the Pico de Gallo ingredients together. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with your carne asada tacos.

3.  GUACAMOLE DIRECTIONS:

Mix all the guacamole ingredients together. I like to gently stir my guacamole so that you still have chunks of avocado. If you prefer, you can mash the avocados with a fork for a smooth texture. Serve with your carne asada tacos or with chips.

4.  TACO ASSEMBLY:

Grill a tortilla until warmed. Fill with slices of carne asada, some guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese. Enjoy!

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