Sunday, March 28, 2021

Skillet Dish: Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet Meal

This one dish meal is filled with spicy chicken pieces and loaded with crisp tender veggies all doused with Latin spices.  This dish will have you saying "more please!"



Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet Meal


You gotta love one pot meals.  They are convenient, easy to prepare, and the clean-up is a breeze!  Perfect for weeknights or lazy Sunday afternoons.  My Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet Meal captures the flavors of the southwest, and is prepared like a stir fry.  That means it's full of flavor but it cooks quick, which is what we always love!

Chicken breasts are cut in to bite size cubes and seasoned with your favorite taco seasoning.  Veggies like zucchini, corn, and bell pepper give this the southwestern flair and are cooked with the same taco seasoning.  To finish the dish a dousing of lime juice and a sprinkle of cilantro tops it off.  Great when served with rice and tortillas.  Everyone is going to love this recipe so make sure to keep this one on hand for quick meals!



What Ingredients do I need?

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • canola oil
  • taco seasoning - I use my homemade version
  • garlic
  • red bell pepper
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • limes
  • cilantro




Substitutions and Variations

  • Use chicken thighs instead of breasts
  • Would be great with top sirloin steak or pork tenderloin
  • Use any color bell pepper
  • Substitute a yellow summer squash, Mexican zucchini 
  • Add a poblano or anaheim chili sliced
  • Use different seasoning such as chili lime 
  • Change up the flavor profile by going Cajun, or Caribbean with jerk seasoning and appropriate vegetables.


Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • This is a stir fry techniques.  Once you have that down you can change the flavors and vegetables to create new dishes.
  • Cooking times are approximate and will change depending on how hot your skillet it and how tender you like your vegetables.
  • Prep all your ingredients first as this goes fast once you start cooking.
  • You can prep the ingredients the day ahead if you want.




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Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet Meal


serves 4


Chicken:
1- 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 bite sized cubes
2 tsp canola oil
2 tbsp taco seasoning

Vegetables:
1 1/2 lb zucchini, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 cups canned or frozen corn, drained if canned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, about 2 limes
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped


Sprinkle chicken pieces with taco seasoning and toss to cover.  
 
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to the skillet and allow to heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, constantly stirring, until browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside
 
Add the zucchini, bell pepper strips, corn, and garlic to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of taco seasoning over the vegetables.  Stir to combine.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini and the bell peppers are tender crisp, 4-5 minutes.  

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the skillet.   Add the lime juice and toss to cover the mixture.  Remove from heat and add the chopped cilantro.  Serve.   


adapted from:  Barefeet In the Kitchen










Sunday, March 21, 2021

Irish Flag Salad

A light and refreshing seasonal crossover salad from Winter in to Spring that just happens to be the color of the Irish flag!



Irish Flag Salad


I didn't get this posted before St. Patrick's Day but no matter.  This salad isn't actually Irish but it's pretty, and it boasts the colors of the Irish flag!  Wonderfully sweet pears and segments of juicy oranges sit on a bed of spinach and are studded with bits of feta cheese and chopped pistachios, all doused with a sweet citrus vinaigrette.   

This is the perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish, or steaks.  Add in some protein and you will also have a hearty main dish salad.  Enjoy the flavors of this salad as pears and oranges are so light and refreshing and they go perfectly together.  Then there's a little feta for some bite and pistachios for a little crunch.  Throw in a little red onion if you like to bring a more savory note.  This is one delicious salad!



What Ingredients do I need?

  • spinach
  • Anjou pear
  • Cara Cara oranges
  • feta cheese
  • pistachios
  • basil
  • olive oil
  • lemon
  • honey
  • white wine vinegar


Substitutions and Variations

  • Use any pear you would like
  • Use navel instead of Cara Cara oranges
  • Use canned mandarin oranges instead of fresh
  • Use a spring mix or romaine instead of spinach
  • Goat cheese instead of feta
  • Almonds or walnuts instead of pistachios
  • Add grilled chicken or fish for a main entree salad
  • Use a poppyseed or your favorite light vinaigrette



Kitchen Tips and Notes

- Leave the peel on the pear for texture and color

- Supreme the orange, which is a technique to cut away the membranes to create beautiful slices. Slice off the end piece of the orange then slice off the peel and the white pith by following the sphere of the orange down the sides. Set it on it's side and cut along the side of a membrane toward the center. Then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet releasing the segment.

- Use in season fresh ingredients for the best flavor
- A mild feta cheese is best for subtle flavor
- Adding crunch to the salad gives it texture
- Any sweet dressing would go with this salad





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Irish Flag Salad


Serves 4


2 Cara Cara oranges, Supreme into segments
1 D'Anjou Pear, cored and thinly sliced
4 large handfuls of spinach
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup basil, torn into pieces

Dressing:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste


In a large salad bowl, layer spinach, pears and oranges, feta cheese, pistachio, and basil. 

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.  Drizzle over the salad, toss and serve.









Monday, March 15, 2021

Shepherd’s Pie

Savory beef with lot of veggies simmers in a heavenly savory sauce and is topped with classic creamy mashed potatoes and baked to perfection.  Hearty Shepherd's Pie to the rescue!






Shepherd's Pie


Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up this week I wanted to make a few Irish...ish items that you can make at home to celebrate the holiday with.  Today's dish is a sort of casserole that is scrumptious.  I've tried several recipes for Shepherd's Pie in the past and they all fell short, coming out bland and tasteless.  Last year I came across one that sounded really flavorful.  I made it back then and was wowed by the flavors, so I decided to make this again last night and provide you with the recipe.

This dish is not Irish by any means.  The gravy uses Italian seasonings and a bit of wine, which is a far cry from something the Irish would put in their dish.  But it works...Oh does it work!  And it's one of the tastiest Shepherd's Pie I've had, so it's definitely worth a try.  The veggies are standard, onions, carrots, and celery.  Plus some chopped up mushrooms thrown in for more meatiness.  This dish is a hearty, stick to your ribs, kind of dish.  One that you will go back for 2nds....or 3rds!  Make the full batch 'cause you are sure to want leftovers.





What Ingredients do I need?

  • Ground beef
  • Vegetables:  onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, peas
  • Flour
  • Beef broth or stock
  • Herbs:  bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Red Wine
  • Tomato Paste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes



Substitutions and Variations

  • Traditional shepherd's pie uses ground lamb - feel free to use that, or turkey or even chicken would be great
  • If you don't like mushrooms, leave them out.  Or you can use white button, or other mushroom for the baby bellas
  • Change up the broth/stock to go along with the type of meat you are using
  • Leave out the wine and use more broth if you don't want alcohol
  • Substitute your favorite herbs.  Fresh stems will permeate your gravy, but you can use dried herbs if you like.
  • Try different mashed potatoes, such as garlic, cheese, or baby reds for a change.


Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • You need a large dish such as a 9x13 or equivalent casserole dish.
  • Place your dish on a baking sheet before putting in the oven to catch any spills from the gravy bubbling up.
  • You will need about 6-8 cups of mashed potatoes, so make a large batch.
  • If you want browner potatoes on top, turn on the broiler for a few minutes once it's finished cooking.  
  • "Finely" chop your veggies into a small dice so they cook quickly.
  • Chop and measure all your ingredients before you start cooking and the dish will be done faster.


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Shepherd’s Pie


serves 6-8


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and small diced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, small diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and small diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, left whole
2 sprigs thyme, left whole
1/2 cup frozen peas
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
6-8 cups cooked mashed potatoes

In a large skillet over medium high , add oil until shimmering.  Add the ground beef, season with salt & pepper and cook until browned, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Transfer the cooked beef to a separate dish.  Using what oil may be left in the pan add your vegetables.  Add additional oil if needed.  Cook them about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once they have softened season with salt & pepper.  

Add in the flour to the skillet and cook, stirring for 1 minutes.  Add the wine and scrape up any browned bit on the bottom of the skillet.  Add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, herb sprigs, and the peas.  Stir to combine.  Cook until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until gravy starts to thicken.  

Remove and discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs.   Add the meat back in along with any accumulated juices.  Stir to combine.   

Transfer the filling to a 9 x 13" or equivalent baking dish and spread evenly.   Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread them using a rubber spatula, in an even layer.

Bake uncovered at 400°F for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden and the filling has started bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.  










Saturday, March 13, 2021

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

An Irish-American take on the traditional Irish Soda Bread turned into a wonderful breakfast muffin! Just in time for St. Patrick's Day...Slainte!



Irish Soda Bread Muffins


It's time to celebrate all things Irish!  These muffins are a far reach from the traditional Irish Soda Bread and have been totally Americanized.  But these muffins are a wonderful nod to that traditional bread.  Filled with currents and a bit of caraway seeds these muffins mix up quickly and bake up like a dream.  

I found this recipe on the King Arthur Baking site and it is slightly different than my base muffin recipe.  A little less sugar, less oil, and the addition of buttermilk, plus the soda powder.  So I kept the recipe true to their site and I'm glad I did.  They turned out heavenly!  Moist and tender on the inside and they came out with golden craggy tops.  Studded with dried fruit these are perfect anytime of day.  Note: This recipe makes 12 muffins.



What Ingredients do I need?

  • all purpose flour
  • white whole wheat flour
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • egg
  • buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt
  • butter or vegetable oil
  • caraway seeds
  • dried currents or raisins
  • sparkling sugar (optional)


Substitutions and Variations

  • Use all All Purpose Flour instead of adding in the Whole Wheat Flour
  • Use milk with lemon juice or vinegar instead of buttermilk
  • Use sour cream or yogurt instead of buttermilk
  • leave out the caraway seeds
  • use raisins instead of dried currents
  • use different dried fruits for a different flavor type:  cherries, cranberries, apricots
  • Leave off the sparkling sugar


Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • 1st rule of them when making muffins is not to "overmix" the batter.  You want it batter to just come together.  Little spots of flour is okay.
  • To get high muffin tops turn your oven up to 400 degrees.
  • Make sure you are using fresh baking powder.  To test put 1/2 teaspoon into 1/4 cup of boiling water.  If it bubbles, you are good.
  • Halve the recipe for 6 muffins, but you will need to beat the egg and then use 1/2 of an egg.
  • Muffins can be frozen individually and kept for 3 months.
  • Fill the muffin tin almost to the top for nice big muffins.


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Irish Soda Bread Muffins



yield:  12 muffins


1 1/2 cups (177g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (85g) King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (74g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (170g) currants (first choice) or raisins
1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
1 large egg
1 cup (227g) buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted; or 1/3 cup (67g) vegetable oil
sparkling white sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan; or line with papers, and grease the papers.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk (or equivalent) and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients; honestly, this won't take more than a few stirs with a bowl scraper or large spoon. As soon as everything is evenly moistened, quit; further stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full; the stiff batter will look mounded in the cups. Top with sparkling white sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don't get soggy. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. Serve them plain, or with butter and/or jam.











Friday, March 12, 2021

Orange Poppyseed Muffins

A variation on a classic muffin these Orange Poppyseed Muffins with bring you a burst of citrus and Spring in your step!



Orange Poppyseed Muffins


Citrus is in abundance right now and what better way to use all the bright flavors it gives to you than to put it into your baked goods.  We are going to take the ever popular Lemon Poppyseed Muffin and give it a twist. Juicy oranges create a bright flavor that's hard to resist and they turn these breakfast muffins into something special.

Muffins are part of the quick bread family.  They are EASY to make!  You don't need a mixer to make muffins.  No, No! no creaming of the butter and sugar here as this is not meant to be a perfect cake.  One bowl will do!  Done in under 30 minutes, and you have a wonderful baked item on your table. 



What Ingredients do I need?

  • eggs
  • milk
  • orange zest
  • canola oil
  • flour
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • poppyseeds

What different ways can I serve muffins?
  • breakfast
  • brunch
  • snacks
  • with coffee or tea
  • dessert
  • perfect for grab and go breakfast or snack
  • bridal showers
  • baby showers
  • garden tea parties



Substitutions and Variations
  • Vary the type of orange you use.  I use Cara Cara.  Navel would be another perfect orange.
  • Use Tangerines as your citrus
  • You can do 1/2 the amount of flour in whole wheat flour if you like
  • Use a sugar substitute suited for baking if you like.

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • 1st rule of them when making muffins is not to "overmix" the batter.  You want it batter to just come together.  Little spots of flour is okay.
  • To get high muffin tops turn your oven up to 400 degrees.
  • Make sure you are using fresh baking powder.  To test put 1/2 teaspoon into 1/4 cup of boiling water.  If it bubbles, you are good.
  • Purchase a 6 well muffin tin for small batches.
  • Double the recipe for 12 muffins.
  • Muffins can be frozen individually and kept for 3 months.
  • Fill the muffin tin almost to the top for nice big muffins.


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Orange Poppyseed Muffins


yield:  6 muffins


1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon poppyseeds

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 6 well muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

To a large bowl add the egg, milk, canola oil, and orange extract.  Whisk to combine.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and orange zest to the bowl.  Stir until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Fold in the poppyseeds.

Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter evenly among the 6 muffin wells.  Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown and set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Serve.



Other Muffin recipes you may like:













Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Tangerine Ricotta Toast with Strawberries and Honey

Country bread that's toasted golden is topped with a blend of ricotta and tangerine, then topped off with sliced strawberries and a drizzle of honey.  Move over avocado toast, ricotta toast is here!



Tangerine Ricotta Toast with Strawberries and Honey


Spring is almost here and it's time to start introducing some lighter meals into our daily menus.  Today's post is a wonderfully light breakfast idea that's extremely easy to make.  As an alternate to spreading butter or cream cheese on your morning toast why not try some ricotta cheese that gives your a burst of protein?  Ricotta is a wonderful fresh cheese that is great as a spread mixed with a little tangerine zest for a burst of flavor, then topped with some fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.  What a great way to eat toast!

Be sure to come up with your own varieties of ricotta toast as the there is no limit but your imagination.  With all the fresh fruits that are coming up in this season you can make a different ricotta toast every day!



What ways can you serve ricotta toast?

  • Perfect for breakfast
  • Great as a snack
  • Dessert
  • Made savory as an appetizer
  • Great for brunch
  • Perfect for bridal or baby showers
  • Garden tea menu item

What Ingredients do I need?

  • Ricotta cheese
  • A Tangerine or Orange
  • Strawberries
  • Honey
  • Country Bread



Substitutions and Variations

  • Any berry or chopped fruit can be substituted for the sliced strawberry topping
  • Mix in fresh herbs with the ricotta for a savory spread
  • Mix in any citrus zest with the ricotta
  • Go savory and top with sauted mushrooms or grape tomatoes 
  • Use different types of bread such as a french baguette, pumpernickel, or whole grain

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Use the freshest ingredients for the best results since this is all about uncooked freshness
  • Cut your toast on the diagonal for cut toast points
  • Make crostini from a french baguette for smaller appetizer portions
  • There are no right or wrong ways to make this toast - use your imagination!




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Tangerine Ricotta Toast with Strawberries and Honey


serves 4


4 slices Country Bread
1/3 cup fresh Ricotta cheese
zest of one tangerine (or orange)
6-8 strawberries sliced
honey for drizzling

Toast the bread slices and cut in half.  

In a small bowl add the ricotta cheese and the zest of the tangerine (or orange).  Stir until combined well.

Spread the ricotta on each bread slice.  Top with sliced strawberries and then drizzle with honey.  Serve immediately.











Saturday, March 6, 2021

Hot Ham and Swiss Pockets

Ham and Swiss cheese just go together, but put it in a flaky puff pastry pocket and you have one hot delectable lunch!


Hot Ham and Swiss Pockets


I have another wonderful lunch idea for you that easy to put together.  I love my lunchtime sandwiches and even better is when it is a hot sandwich.  This one is the ultimate flavor combination of scrumptious ham and Swiss cheese, hot and melty, and baked inside a delicate puff pastry pocket.  Yum!  A take on a classic hot Ham and Swiss sandwich, but soooo much better!

This sandwich is very easy to put together with the help of store bought puff pastry, deli ham and sliced Swiss cheese.  You really just need to cut out some squares for the crusts and assemble.  Throw them in the oven to bake and your sandwich will puff into heavenly goodness!  We served these for lunch but they would make a great dinner item, or make them tiny into bite size appetizers.  They are fabulous any way  you serve them.




How do you serve them?

  • For lunch with a side salad and fruit
  • As a light dinner with a bowl of soup and a side salad
  • As an appetizer, just make the pockets into smaller sizes

What Ingredients do I need?

  • Puff pastry (I use a 5x5" pastry squares that I found at a Middle Eastern Market - see picture.) Pepperidge Farms are readily available.

  • Spicy Brown Mustard
  • Deli Ham slices
  • Swiss Cheese slices
  • Egg




Substitutions and Variations

  • Use Honey Ham or Black Forest Ham
  • Use Turkey instead of Ham
  • Use Pastrami instead of Ham
  • Use Gruyere Cheese
  • Use Dijon Mustard
  • Use Mayonnaise instead of Mustard
  • Mix Spicy Mustard and Mayo together
  • Add in some spinach
  • Add in tomato slices
  • Make a turkey, mushroom, Swiss pocket

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • NOTE: The recipe doesn't have amounts for the ham and Swiss cheese.  I bought 1/2 lb of ham and a package of sliced Swiss.  I used 2-3 slices of ham and 1-2 slices of cheese per sandwich.  Estimate what you would like, but keep in mind if you stuff them too much you will have more difficulty sealing them and the possibility of the filling oozing out!
  • Use a pizza wheel to easily cut the pastry dough
  • I used 5x5" squares, you can use any size you want.  
  • You can also take on pastry square and place the filling on half and fold it over for triangle pockets
  • Make small triangle appetizers
  • Another method would be to leave a large puff pastry sheet whole, layer on the ingredients, place the top sheet over and bake.  Once baked then you can cut squares or slices to your liking.
  • Watch the puff pastry when it's baking so that it doesn't get too brown or burn on top.
  • To make an egg wash just add a little water to an egg and beat together.



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Hot Ham and Swiss Pockets


1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted 
Spicy Brown mustard
deli ham, sliced
Swiss cheese, sliced
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board.  Cut in to squares about 5x5".  Cut 2 squares per sandwich and make as many as you like.  Place the bottoms on the sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Place several slices of ham and then 1-2 slices of cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. 

Brush the border with the egg wash using a pastry or silicone brush.  Place the second sheet of puff pastry square on top, lining up the edges.   Crimp the edges together using the fork tongs.  Brush the top with egg wash and cut two small slits in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.  

Bake for 18-20, or until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, slice on the diagonal and serve.


















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