My family LOVES having calzones for dinner. You can stuff them with anything, and if you buy ready made pizza dough (and why wouldn't you?), they are easy and quick to make. This is a recipe from Rachel Ray, and is one of her 30 Minute dishes. It took me 25 minutes to make, and they were amazing! You do not have to use her recipe for homemade marinara sauce, but it is 100 times better than jarred marinara sauce, and it literally takes 5 minutes to make. I served this with steamed green beans on the side, but a salad work be great as well.
Sometimes..only a hearty meal of Chicken-n-Ribs will do! Although you may feel guilty for indulging in the rich, chewy ribs, you balance that out with the clean tanginess that the chicken provides. Your hearty meat lovers are satisfied and your more health conscious chicken lovers are content as well. Perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ, this dish will travel well and is delicious served hot or at room temperature. Serve with a big, colorful salad, cole slaw, potato salad and ice cold watermelon slices, and you have a perfect backyard meal!
This dish may sound hard to make, but it it not. Chicken Marsala is a staple recipe everyone should know how to make, and this version is incredibly simple to prepare and delicious to eat! Serve with a salad, and a side of rice or noodles to soak up the Marsala-mushroom sauce. Elegant enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
***Option: Leave out the heavy cream, and thicken the sauce with a slurry (slurry= equal parts water+cornstarch). Mix in a small bowl before adding to your skillet.
I used to hate my slow cooker. I purchased one when I first got married in 1992. It seemed like the right thing to do. Phil was in school all day, and I was at work all day, so who had time to cook dinner? I went to K-Mart (there were no Targets back then) and purchased the cheapest slow cooker I could find ($20), along with a really cheesy looking Slow Cooker cookbook.
Yuck..even the cover recipe looks gross! It seems like almost all of the recipes were for chili, soup or stew. In addition, the ingredients consisted of cans of Campbell's soup, boxed stuffing mix, cans of fat free evaporated milk..... Phil would never eat anything that came out of the slow cooker and neither would I. I packed it away in its original box, and moved it over the years to four different houses, never giving it away!
Two years ago, someone told me that the best corned beef they ever had was cooked in a slow cooker. I was intrigued, so I got the recipe and tried it out. It was delicious! Flavorful, moist, fork tender and so easy to make. I decided to give my slow cooker another chance. I had some successes (BBQ ribs and soups) and some failures (meatballs and desserts), but to this day, I will only cook corned beef in a slow cooker. I keep meaning to try new things, but I keep thinking back to the early days of throwing out entire pots of food, and I get leery.
No, no, no...I must keep an open mind. A slow cooker is the perfect tool for a "Make Ahead Meal"! I know! Go back to the Corned Beef! It is the perfect candidate for the crock pot. It is a large hunk of meat that benefits from a long, slow, moist cooking. I couldn't find the last recipe I used, so I checked out a few recipes online for inspiration, and it came, from of all people, Sandra Lee, the Semi-Homemade, Moneysaving Diva of the Food Network!
Every single food blogger has an anti-Sandra Lee post. She is not a popular woman among those of us who like to cook good food, and eat healthy, tasty meals. I find Sandra Lee's concept of Semi-Homemade cooking (70% ready-made and 30% creativity) would have been a clever idea....30 years ago. C'mon! Doctoring up a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with frozen broccoli or Mexican spices?!?!? That may have been a revolutionary idea in the early 1980's, but today that is setting the wholesome food movement back three decades. She uses tons of processed foods and wants you to trick your family and friends into thinking it is homemade. Seriously....whose family has ever fell for that? Her recipe for Italian Salad contains cooked macaroni, tinned pears, grated carrot, bottled French dressing, minced onion and cooked string beans tossed together and served on lettuce leaves with mayonnaise and minced pimentos. I think that dish sounds revolting (not to mention it sounds like a recipe from a vintage 1950's cookbook)! Meanwhile, she is laughing all the way to the bank.
(a little overdressed for "Cocktail Time and Tablescapes!"
Anywho.....when I came across Sandra's original Corned Beef Recipe I was shocked to see that it was kind of what I was looking for. Let's face it, Corned Beef already comes in a pouch with pickling juices and a spice packet, so we are not talking organic, grass-fed beef here. We are already starting with a fairly processed piece of meat, but I doubt you will find an sustainable, all-natural pastrami anytime soon. I made a few changes to suit my tastes, but this is pretty close to her version.
Some people like to cook their corned beef ahead of time, and serve it cold. I like eating it about 30 minutes after coming out of the slow cooker. Any leftovers should be refrigerated right away, within two hours of cooking, and used within 3 to 4 days, or frozen for 2 to 3 months.
Serve with cooked cabbage like the Irish do, or with rye bread and spicy mustard like the Jews. My favorite way is to mix with hash browns and eat it for breakfast in the morning. Nothing is better than crispy Corn Beef Hash with Eggs to start off your day!
I adore scallops. If I am dining out, and scallops are on the menu, you can bet that I will be ordering them. I think they are one of the most perfect little, tasty foods. I not only enjoy them when dining out, I love to cook them at home.
The sweet, delicate flavor of scallops marry well with many different flavors and cuisines. They are low in calories, high in protein, virtually fat-free, loaded with Omega III fatty acids and have a ton of other nutritional benefits (high levels of B12 and magnesium, help to offer more protection against heart attack and stroke, help to prevent and control high blood pressure..just to name a few). They cook up quickly (four to five minutes at the most), and they are available year round.
In the US, we usually see two types of scallops at the fish counter. Sea scallops are the large ones, and are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. These are the more common type, and they usually average 20 to 30 scallops per pound. These are almost always they type I like to use. Bay scallops are the small ones, and measure about 1/2 inch in diameter. This sweet, tiny scallop is often used for casseroles, stews and stir-fry, largely because of its tiny size.
When purchasing scallops look for a shiny, moist exterior and no fishy smell. They should always smell sweet and slightly briny. Scallop season is November to March, but frozen scallops are available year round, and are very good. I am usually very against frozen seafood, but frozen scallops are delicious. Store your scallops in the refrigerator and use within a day or two of purchasing, because they are very perishable.
I think many home cooks are nervous about cooking scallops because they are very easy to overcook. They key is to watch the clock and cook them quickly, so they do not become chewy and rubbery. A typical sea scallop will cook on one side, in a medium hot pan, for four minutes. Gently flip over once, using tongs and cook one more minute. When scallops lose their translucency and turn opaque, they are done.
Although there are an infinite number of ways to prepare scallops, searing is one of my favorites. There are only three points to keep in mind:
1 - You must pat the scallops dry before attempting to sear them.
2 - Get your pan and cooking fat hot, over medium high heat, BEFORE adding the scallops.
3 - Don't crowd the pan. Cook in batches if your pan is not large enough.
I like to serve this dish served over a bed of mashed potatoes, with sauteed spinach on the side. Any vegetable will be delicious, but make sure to serve the scallops over a starch that will soak up the extra sauce. Angel hair pasta or rice would work nicely.
I used to be so intimidated at the thought of cooking clams at home. How was I supposed to know if they were good? How long should I cook them for? There were too many questions. Then, I heard someone say, that all you needed to know about cooking clams was that before you cook them, the shells need to be closed, and after you cook them, the shells should be open. Discard anything else. So, if you purchase your uncooked clams, and you find one with an open shell, discard it. After cooking, if you have a clam that has not opened, discard it. So easy!!!!!
Even though you cannot prepare this dish in advance, you can prep all of the ingredients in advance. Once you begin to prepare the dish, it is ready to serve in 15 minutes...with minimal effort.
If this doesn't warm you up on a cold winter night, I don't know what will!
Souper Jenny is one my favorite lunch spots in Atlanta. It is a cozy neighborhood cafe that serves homemade, fresh soups, sandwiches and salads at a very reasonable price. The menu changes daily (you can have it emailed to you every morning), and each day there is something new and interesting on the menu.
This is one of Souper Jenny's regular menu items...Her Dad's Turkey Chili. It is a little spicy, a little sweet, a bit tangy and very hearty, delicious and filling. As you can see from the recipe, it is loaded with lean protein, fiber, vegetables and each serving is virtually fat free. It is a guiltless pleasure! Also, it is so tasty, that the usually accompaniments that I serve with chili are not even needed (shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion). I served Jenny's chili for dinner with a Greek salad and some crusty bread...YUM!
Once you taste these meatballs, you may never go back to your old meatballs again. You do not need to eat these covered in marinara sauce, with a huge plate of pasta. They are so flavorful, they can stand on their own. The recipe makes 12 meatballs, so plan accordingly. I like to have extra, because they make a great lunch the next day, stuffed into a whole wheat pita, with some arugula, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette. You can also make these into mini-meatballs, and serve them as an hor d'oeuvre.
Arroz Con Pollo...AKA, rice with chicken, is a traditional Spanish dish that is commonly enjoyed throughout Spain, Latin America and The Caribbean. It is an easy, economical, stove-top, one pan meal. Every region has its own version of Arroz Con Pollo, and it can be suited for your own individual taste. In addition, every country and region claims their version is the "authentic" version. The one thing every Arroz Con Pollo has in common, is that it starts with a basic sofrito of diced onions, garlic, bell pepper and spices, sauteed in olive oil.
Almost any vegetable can be mixed in, for example, squash or zucchini sauteed in with the onions, or frozen peas, green olives or corn thrown in towards the end. You can be creative with the spices as well....many recipes call for saffron, but that can be expensive (but delicious). Other yummy seasonings you could try are red chile powder, smoked paprika, chipotle chile powder or fresh cilantro.
What is better than a bowl of chili when the weather starts to get cold (you thought I was going to say when the weather gets "chilly", right)? It is hearty, filling, inexpensive and makes the house smell really good while it cooks. It is very difficult to ruin a pot of chili. The only time I remember an inedible pot of chili, was when a nameless member of my family, heard that some prize winning chili recipe had a secret ingredient. The secret ingredient was chocolate. Somehow, the proportion of the secret ingredient was completely wrong, and the chili tasted like chocolate flavored chili! It was gross! When I later saw the chili competition on Food Network, I saw the winning chili recipe get prepared. The cook added one Hershey chocolate kiss, to a pot large enough to feed about 150 people! Every once in a while I see a chili recipe call for unsweetened cocoa powder. I always bypass that recipe.
Although I have about five different chili recipes that I make (a vegetarian version, a turkey chili, a white chili, a chicken chili, etc.), this is a great basic starter chili from Jamie Deen (Paula's son). I say it is a starter recipe, because chili can be adjusted for your own personal taste. If you like it meatier, add more meat. If you like it spicier, add more heat. For a vegetarian version, leave out the meat, and add some sauteed eggplant and chopped portobello mushrooms, etc. You can throw practically any leftover into a pot of chili. This recipe made a huge pot, so I served half, and froze half for another meal. It requires 4 hours of simmering time. I left it simmering on the stovetop, while I was home doing laundry on a stormy, rainy day. Chili tastes great when it is made a day or two in advance, so plan ahead for the 4 hours of simmering.