I made this quick  meal the other night and it was a huge hit with the husband.  As I was cooking I wasn’t sure it would turn out well because it seemed to be missing a component that would hold everything together.  There is no real sauce or even anything that is very thick which is what I prefer.  Husband and I thought that putting a layer of shredded cheese in the middle as well as on top might help.  We also tossed around a few ideas for different dishes using similar ingredients and flavors.  I will get around to that eventually I’m sure 😉

Overall though this is delicious and if you like beef, cheese, and peppers, you’re going to love this. 

Taco Pasta Casserole

Recipe #: 98

Saved Since: May 2010

Recipe Count:  13 down, 193 to go

Husband’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Serves:  2 to 3

Ingredients

  • 1 c. dry penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 & 1/2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 c. multi-colored bell pepper strips
  • 3/4 c. salsa (your heat preference)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  3. Drain and put in a square baking dish.
  4. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onions until softened.
  6. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until browned.
  7. Add the taco seasoning, tomatoes, and bell pepper strips.  Saute until vegetables soften.
  8. Add salsa and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the ground beef and vegetable mixture over the pasta. 
  10. Toss lightly to incorporate and top with shredded cheese.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese melts.
  12. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

I love fried chicken but I am too afraid to cook it the traditional way.  I love how cooks on TV have fryers right next to their toasters.  Doesn’t everyone?

If I did, I’d probably fry chicken (and just about everything else) all the time.  So, it’s probably a good thing we don’t have a fryer!  We’d be huge people.  You’d probably find us embedded in the couch.  You’d probably have to take a wall out to move us.

Anyway, so this recipe is “fried”, not fried, because it’s baked.  Makes sense right?  I really wanted this recipe to knock me out in the first bite.  It’s called fiery isn’t it?  Well, I wasn’t impressed.  I’m still posting this because we enjoyed eating it.  I just have a few thoughts on what to do next time and the recipe below reflects those.  I also substituted panko for bread crumbs because I think they taste better and crisp better.

Try this out and enjoy.  Hopefully my changes will make it truly Fiery “Fried” Chicken.

Fiery “Fried” Chicken

List #: 48

Saved Since: August 2007

Husband’s Rating: “where’s the spice?”

My thoughts: definitely needs more fire

Recipe Count: 12 down, 194 to go

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. pineapple juice
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 c. panko
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil

Cook

  1. In a bowl mix together chili-garlic sauce, pineapple juice, and salt & pepper.
  2. Marinade chicken for at least an hour in the sauce mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  4. In a bowl, combine panko, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the oil.
  5. Coat each piece of chicken in the bread crumb mixture and transfer to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake until cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Source: adapted from RealSimple.com

 

I am a fan of stuffed vegetable meals.  My mom has been making stuffed peppers since I was a kid and it was one of the first recipes I learned to make on my own.  Since then I have made stuffed shells (disaster) and Orzo stuffed peppers.  I saw Rachael Ray make this a while ago and was immediately intrigued.  In addition to my interest in stuffed vegetables, I LOVE zucchini. 

So you know, I had to make this.  The addition of the egg was a little weird to me, but I think it was meant to hold everything together.  I don’t know that it was all that necessary, but regardless, this is a good recipe: filling enough without being too heavy, and there is no meat.

I think it could be good with orzo or rice in it too though.  I’ll save that little idea for next time. 

Stuffed Zucchini

List #: 70

Saved Since: April 2010

Husband’s Rating: “delicious!”

My thoughts: yummy and easy to make 

Recipe Count: 11 down, 195 to go

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini for stuffing + 1 small zucchini, chopped in bite size pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 slice white toasting bread
  • butter
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3/8 c. shredded Parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten

Cook

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Halve the 2 medium zucchini lengthwise and scoop the seeds and soft center flesh with a spoon to make shallow shells for the stuffing.
  3. Arrange the zucchini in a baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms, onions, and garlic for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped zucchini and heat for about 2 more minutes.
  7. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, heating through for 1 minute.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Toast the bread in a toaster and then spread with lots of butter. 
  10. Tear into pieces and add the bread to a food processor.
  11. Add parsley and basil and pulse to make herb bread crumbs.
  12. Fold the bread crumbs into the vegetables and add the parmesan and egg.
  13. Fill the zucchini shells with the stuffing and roast for 1o minutes.
  14. Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray.

 

 

 We had a first in our house on Tuesday night: Jicama.  I’ve seen this  in recipes, heard about it on cooking shows, never tasted it.

Finding it at the grocery store was an adventure too.  Did you know, in the produce sections there are shelfs on the bottom of the corner end-pieces of the regular displays?  They will put food anywhere.  Did you also know that Jicama are HUGE?  And there will only be about 4 to choose from?  And they will all be bigger than your head when you only need half of a 3/4 lb. Jicama?  The smallest I could find was 1 & 1/4 lb.  Great, thanks.

Anyway, onto this dish: this is the second recipe I have made from RealSimple magazine.  And just like the other (which I will post soon) it was so-so.  The Glazed pork didn’t blow me away, didn’t have been ooh-ing and mmm-ing as I stuffed myself silly.  It was just okay.  The pineapple slaw was a nice treat and I was really hoping that Jicama would be this revelation of food, this “omg I can’t believe I have never had jicama before” moment.  But, it wasn’t.  So now we have a still large Jicama in our house and I’ll have to find something to do with it.  Stay tuned.

I’ll go ahead and post this recipe because it isn’t horrible.  It’s definitely simple and I understand what Real Simple mag is trying to do.  More bang for less work and ingredients.  Well, the bang here is definitely in the slaw.  (Though truthfully, my husband and I ended up eating mostly the pineapple and red bell pepper and leaving the jicama in the bowl).

Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Slaw

List #: Bonus recipe — I just went through some old magazine and tore this out a few days ago

Saved Since: April 2010

Husband’s Rating: “Not good, not bad”

My thoughts: Eh.  Wish the recipe had a little more going on in the glaze.  Use your imagination people and make this pork spectacular. 

Recipe Count: 10 down, 196 to go

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 small jicama (about 3/8 lb.), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 10 oz. can pineapple rings, drained of juices and cut into thin strips (or use a fresh pineapple)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Heat 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in an oven-safe skillet.
  3. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, honey, and chili pepper.
  5. Brush the pork with half of the glaze and put the skillet in the oven.
  6. Roast, turning once, until the pork is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
  7. Brush the remaining glaze on the pork and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the jicama, pineapple, bell pepper, lime juice, and 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the pork.

Source: adapted from RealSimple Magazine, April 2010 issue.

Click here to read the story I wrote after making this dish.

*** 

I made a couscous dish the other night and was reminded of that story.  It was early in my relationship with my husband.  For a long time I was not allowed to tell anyone about it because he was embarrassed about it.  He is still not thrilled that I am writing this, but as I said then and still say now, that experience served its purpose. 

I whole-heartedly recommend this couscous dish, even if you don’t have a story to go along with it. 

 Vegetable Couscous

List #: 83

Saved Since: March 2010

Husband’s Rating: “very good.  more couscous, less vegetables next time.”  Recipe is written to reflect that change.

My thoughts: tasty, quick, easy = perfect. 

Recipe Count: 9 down, 196 to go

Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small yellow squash, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • pepper
  • couple dashes of hot sauce
  • 3/4 c. couscous
  • 1 c. chicken broth

Cook

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Saute carrots, onion, and peppers until crisp-tender
  3. Add the zucchini, squash, basil, garlic, salt & pepper and mix well.
  4. Stir in the couscous.
  5. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Once it boils, cover the skillet and remove from heat.
  7. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Source: adapted from delightful country cookin’.

We were very busy this weekend.  Our dining room is almost completely decorated!  All we need now is a 3-plate hanger and a small piece of furniture for the corner.  As soon as it is totally done I will post pictures.  Until then, here are some pictures of the pretty butterfly bush in our front yard.  We weren’t sure this was still alive, but it has bloomed and is beautful.  For a while I was only seeing bees and wasps on the flowers — lame.  But finally on Saturday we saw butterflies!  It was exciting so enjoy 🙂

 

 

In February 2007, I went on a dinner date at The Cellar in Blacksburg, VA.  It was the second time I’d been there in 5 years of living and attending school in Blacksburg.  I was told they had good pizza and since I am normally a cheese or pepperoni pizza girl, I let my date choose, figuring I could pick off the toppings I didn’t like. 

He ordered the Hawaiian pizza which has ham, bacon, pineapple, and cheddar cheese.  I said okay, but was doubtful I’d actually like the toppings.  I think I even told my date I had never eaten Hawaiian pizza and after recovering from his initial shock, he assured me it was delicious.  Warm pineapple? I thought.  I know it’s popular to grill peaches and I enjoyed warm baked apples, but for some reason, I couldn’t imagine warm pineapple being good, nevermind on a pizza.

The Hawaiian came to our table and I took a small bite, a look of uncertainty dominating my face.  I chewed, I tasted, I swallowed.  Looking at my date, I smiled, nodding my head in agreement.  This was delicious pizza!  He smiled back and took a bite of his own slice. 

15 months later, the same guy who introduced me to warm pineapple, took me to the top of a mountain and gave me a ring.  4 and a half months after that, I married him.  And yesterday, I made a dish with warm pineapple.  It reminded me of the very first time I tasted it.  And of our first date 🙂

Pork Skewers with Pineapple-Scallion Rice

List #: 29 (Full list on the About page).

Saved Since: September 2008

Husband’s Rating: “really good meal. pork cooked well”

My thoughts: pineapple and pork is just delicious and pineapple and rice is wonderful too. 

Recipe Count: 8 down, 197 to go

Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. can pineapple chunks in their juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bag of Boil-In-Bag rice

Cook

  1. Drain the pineapple chunks, but keep the juice for the marinade.
  2. In a zip-loc bag, combine pineapple juice, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the pork and the scallions and let marinate at room temperatute for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat a grill pan to medium-high heat (or use an outdoor grill).
  5. Put a pot of water on to boil and cook boil-in-bag rice as indicated on the package.
  6. Meanwhile, thread the pork and two-thirds of the pineapple chunks onto skewers.
  7. Thread the scallions onto one skewer.
  8. Grill the kebabs turning occasionally until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Chop the remaining pineapple chunks and stir into the cooked rice.
  10. Remove grilled scallions from the skewer and stir into the rice.
  11. Serve warm.

Source: adapated from Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine, September 2008 issue.