My Standby One-Pan Meal

Roast chicken with vegetables, a one-pan meal.

Roast chicken with vegetables, a one-pan meal.

What I love about this meal is it simplicity;  vegetables and chicken roasted together in one pan.  The only time you spend on it is prepping the vegetables.  Put everything together with the chicken in a roasting pan, stick it in the oven and relax until its done.  If I’ve done some advance planning of my menus then I might add extra vegetables so there will be some left over for another night.

My favorite combination of vegetables include potatoes, carrots, onions, and fennel.  Other cuts of meat can be used in place of the chicken such as pork loin.  A little white wine added along with some seasonings produces a gravy that is perfect.  You can swap vegetables in and out to suit your taste;  the whole point being how easy it is to put a great meal on the table without a whole lot of work.

This is how I put it together:

ROAST CHICKEN IN WINE SAUCE

SERVINGS:   4 – 6

  • Chicken pieces:  4 bone-in thighs, and 4 drumsticks. or leg quarters cut into sections. ( dark meat is best for roasting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium ribs celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic. minced
  • vegetables of choice, such as potatoes, carrots, fennel, turnip, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 – 1 cup white wine (depends on amount of vegetables, i.e., more veg. = more wine)
  • 1 Tablespoon grainy mustard such as Dijon.

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

2.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add half the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.  Set the chicken aside.

Pre-browning the chicken makes the skin crisp and the keeps the chicken moist.

Pre-browning the chicken makes the skin crisp and keeps the chicken moist.

3.To the drippings in the pan, add the onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes till they begin to soften.  Mix the mustard with the wine, and add to the pan.  Cook for 1 – 2 minutes scraping to loosen browned bits.

4.  Add the mixed vegetables to the pan and arrange across the bottom.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Place vegetables on the bottom of the pan.

Place vegetables on the bottom of the pan.

Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables, cover and transfer pan to the oven.

5.  Bake at 350*F. for about an hour until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Moist, tender chicken and flavorful vegetables.

Moist, tender chicken and flavorful vegetables.

Note:  For the wine,  if you will be having a glass of white wine with this meal use some of the same wine for the roast chicken.  Otherwise use any wine that may be open and needing to be used up.

An easy and satisfying meal.

An easy and satisfying meal.

SOURCE:    Carolyn’s own recipe

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

Apple and Sage Porkchops

Apple and Sage Porkchops

When I was a young girl, my family lived next door to a farm, and on this farm they raised some pigs.  No, their name was not McDonald, but in addition to the pigs they raised cows for milking.  They also grew strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables and my family was often the lucky recipient of their over abundance.  Well one year I was witness to their slaughtering one of the pigs.  I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I will never forget it and for a long time afterward I would not eat pork of any kind.  As I grew older and became responsible for preparing meals for my family, the vivid memory faded, and I gradually got over it.  Pork came back into my diet and now I can say that it is a meat I like very much and look for different ways to prepare it.

I just got around to making this dish, but I’ve had the recipe for quite some time now.  Don’t know why I waited so long.  Actually it seems  like the perfect fall meal, and that’s about when I clipped out the recipe.  But some things just take time to get to.  No matter, it is outstanding whenever you make it.

Pork chops—I used the boneless variety—apples, onions and a highly seasoned sauce.  Not a big time investment to make but a hugh payoff when you sit down at the table for dinner.  Wow! they were delicious.

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APPLE AND SAGE PORK CHOPS

SERVINGS:   4

YOU WILL NEED:

Cider, apple, onion and seasonings.

Cider, apple, onion and seasonings.

  • 4 pork chops, 1-inch thick, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

1.  Whisk together the flour, salt and all the seasonings in a small bowl.   Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with 1 Tablespoon of the seasoned mixture.  Pat lightly to make it adhere.

2.  Cook pork chops in hot oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until browned on both sides.

Season chops and brown on both sides.

Season chops and brown on both sides.

Remove from the skillet to a plate.  Add onion to skillet; cook and stir 3 minutes or until tender.  Add the apples;  cook and stir 2 minutes.

Add onions, then apples to skillet.

Add onions, then apples to skillet.

3.  Stir in juice, sugar and remaining seasoned flour until well mixed.  Return pork chops to skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 6 – 8 minutes or until desired doneness.

Return chops to skillet and continue cooking till done.

Return chops to skillet and continue cooking till done.

4.  To serve, arrange chops, onions and apples in a shallow bowl.  Pour sauce over all.

Arrange in a serving dish with apples and onions poured over chops.

Arrange in a serving dish with apples and onions poured over chops.

Served with broccoli and sweet potato.

Served with broccoli and sweet potato.

SOURCE:  Bon Appetite.com

Maple Soy Salmon with Roast Cauliflower

Maple-Soy Salmon

Maple-Soy Salmon

Since I went  a little hog-wild at the supermarket and purchased a lot of different forms of citrus fruits, now I’m in the situation of trying to use them in as many ways as possible.  Eating them peeled and sectioned “out of hand” and in fruit salads is a given.  A tangerine, a Mineola, or a clementine  make a quick snack any time.  I’ve already shared with you my recipe for Lemon Cream Squares here, so this week I will be featuring recipes that contain other forms of citrus.

Roast Cauliflower with Clementines, Cranberries, and Pistachios

Roast Cauliflower with Clementines, Cranberries, and Pistachios

One of the recent dinners I made was this one, Soy Maple Salmon with Roast Cauliflower.  Even  though you see no mention of a citrus in the title it’s there none the less, in both the salmon part and the cauliflower.  We thought this meal was fabulous and one that I want to repeat again soon.  During this season when seafood is also plentiful, I try to prepare a fish item at least once per week.  The total calories for these two items is under 400 calories, and only 18 Gm. Carbohydrate.  There is a bargain of goodness in this meal any way you look at it.

In planning my time to prepare this meal I found that if I roasted the cauliflower and made a salad while the salmon was marinating, I could then pop the salmon in the hot oven, finish the cauliflower dish and dress the  salad.

SOY-MAPLE SALMON

SERVINGS:    4

Marinating the salmon.

Marinating the salmon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2  Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4   4-5 ounce salmon fillets

1.   Mix all the ingredients (except salmon) plus  2 Tablespoons water in a large bowl or zip-lock baggie.  Add the salmon and turn to coat.  Allow this to marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

2.   When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400*F.   Coat a rimmed pan with cooking spray.  Drain the fish, season with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until slightly golden and beginning to crisp around the edges, 8 – 10 minutes.  The salmon should be moist, and flake easily with a fork.

Note:  Salmon will be baked after cauliflower at a lower oven temperature.

ROAST CAULIFLOWER WITH CLEMENTINES, CRANBERRIES AND PISTACHIOS

SERVINGS:   4

INGREDIENTS

Cauliflower brushed with oil and ready for the oven.

Cauliflower brushed with oil and ready for the oven.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slabs
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 clementines, zested and segmented
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons whole or chopped pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon zest from clementines
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1.    Preheat oven to 450*F.  Arrange cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and brush with 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast, flipping once, about half way through cooking time, until tender and a little charred at edges, about 25 minutes.

Cauliflower after roasting.

Cauliflower after roasting.

2.  Transfer to a serving platter with clementine segments and cover with foil to keep warm.  Turn down oven heat to 400*F to cook salmon.

3.  In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil, add the cranberries, pistachios, clementine zest, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Stir to heat through.  When ready to serve, drizzle over the cauliflower and clementines.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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This dinner entree is a mash-up of two recipes that I put together with some major modifications.

SOURCES:   Salmon:   Food Network Magazine;   Cauliflower:  Whole Living Magazine

Shades of Green

I’m thinking green, people.  I don’t mean environmentally green as in recycle, reduce, reuse or regift.  I mean the color green, as in grass,  spring,  shamrocks, emeralds,  (woo-hoo, my birthstone!).

Penne with Asparagus and Shrimp

Penne with Asparagus and Shrimp

What got me thinking along these lines was a display of fresh asparagus at the supermarket.  This vegetable says spring to me like no other so I had to buy some.  And then the question, ‘what shall I make with it?’  I pondered:  roast asparagus?  steamed asparagus with butter sauce?   asparagus with eggs?  No,  even though I like all those dishes, I wanted something more substantial that would make a whole meal.  So, remembering that I had a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer,  ( remember my resolution not to forget about foods in the freezer?)  I decided on the following recipe for Penne with Asparagus and Shrimp.  This is a healthy, hearty, yet easy recipe that is good enough to serve to guests.  It also makes a great take-along lunch for the next day.

PENNE WITH ASPARAGUS AND SHRIMP

SERVES:   about 4 generously

INGREDIENTS

Beautiful green asparagus, shrimp, onions and garlic.

Beautiful green asparagus, shrimp, onions and garlic.

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table

DIRECTIONS

1.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the penne and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain

2.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

Onions doing their thing.

Onions doing their thing.

3.  Pour in the white wine, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Stir in the red pepper flakes, butter, and asparagus;

White wine, butter and asparagus added.

White wine, butter and asparagus added.

Cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the shrimp and lemon juice, continue cooking until the shrimp have turned pink and are no longer translucent in the center.  Season with salt and pepper.

Shrimp, lemon juice, and then pasta added.

Shrimp, lemon juice, and then pasta added.

4.  Toss the cooked penne pasta with the shrimp and asparagus mixture.  Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese to garnish.

This just keeps getting better and better!

Sprinkle on more Parmesan cheese.

Sprinkle on more Parmesan cheese.

Serve with more parmesan cheese at the table to sprinkle on each serving.

SOURCE:  AllRecipes.com

Quesadilla Casserole

Quesadilla Casserole

Quesadilla Casserole

We really like quesadillas, but for me they don’t hold enough food or variety of food to feel like I’ve eaten a whole meal, To remedy that situation I combined some typical foods found in TexMex dishes with south-western seasonings and flour tortillas into a casserole and baked it. That provided us with a satisfying, filling meal with all the flavor and cheesiness you would expect. I got the idea for this from a recipe on the back of a package of McCormick seasonings. This is what we had for dinner on Super Bowl Sunday. My husband commented that he hoped I would make it often because it contained every thing he likes into one casserole dish.

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The product I used for the seasoning is one put out by McCormick Spices. It is a little card with small amounts of different spices needed for a recipe. The recipe is printed on the back so that you can pick up any other ingredients you made need while you are at the grocery store. The spices used here are pretty commonly found in most kitchens so you may already have them. I know I did but I wanted to try the recipe so I bought the card.

The casserole turned out to be quick to make and really good!

You just need a few cans of vegetables; black beans, corn and green chilies, and a large can of tomato sauce.

Add a pound of ground beef, flour tortillas and some cheddar cheese and you will be all set to make an ooey, gooey, cheesy dish of yumminess.

QUESADILLA CASSEROLE

Ingredients probably already in your pantry

Ingredients probably already in your pantry

YIELD: Serves 6

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed pepper (optional)
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 can ( 15 oz. ) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can ( 8 3/4 oz. ) whole kernel corn, undrained
  • 1 can ( 4 1/2 oz. ) green chilies, undrained
  • 6 flour tortillas ( 8 -inch size)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese; cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack

1. Brown beef and onion in a large skillet on medium high. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chilies. Mix well. Stir in all of the spices except the red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper if desired.

Combine meat, vegetables, and spices in a large skillet.

Combine meat, vegetables, and spices in a large skillet.

2. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on the bottom of a 13 x 9″ pan, previously sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef an cheese.

Layer in baking dish with tortillas and cheese.

Layer in baking dish with tortillas and cheese.

Top with more cheese.

Top with more cheese.

3. Bake at 350*F. for 15 – 20 minutes till heated through and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and guacamole if desired.

Serve it up, fragrant, cheesy and delicious.

Serve it up, fragrant, cheesy and delicious.

SOURCE: McCormick Seasonings

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

One time when we were at Outback Steakhouse, I ordered Alice Springs Chicken.  The name of the dish, first of all, made me curious, but the description said it was boneless chicken breast in a honey-mustard marinade with bacon, mushrooms and melted cheese on it.  Well, with all those good things on one piece of chicken how could it not be good?  So, I ordered it;  and I was not disappointed in the least.  It was moist, a complex blend of flavors, crispy around the edges, and gooey with melted cheese.

I’ve thought about that chicken often and wished I could have it again.  And although I kinda remembered all the ingredients and how it tasted I didn’t know the proportions, or exactly how it was prepared.  Then just last week I saw a recipe for it on Zip List.  It claimed to taste just like the version served at Outback Steakhouse.  You know I had to try it!

People, you will love it.  It looks a little messy, but believe me, it is fantastic.  It tastes just like the one I remember having at OBSH.

Bacon, Mushrooms, Melted Cheese.  What's not to love?

Bacon, Mushrooms, Melted Cheese. What’s not to love?

ALICE SPRINGS CHICKEN

SERVES   4

INGREDIENTS

Honey Mustard Marinade:

A simple marinade locks in the flavor.

A simple marinade locks in the flavor.

  • 1 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Chicken:

  • 4  skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked (I used precooked bacon)
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Combine the mustard, honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Whisk for about 30 seconds.  Pour half of the mixture into a zip-top bag.  Add the chicken breasts and marinate them in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  My pieces of chicken were very thick, so I cut them in half lengthwise.

2.  Chill and save the remainder of the marinade for later.

3.  When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375*F.   Using an ovenproof frying pan large enough to hold all the chicken, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat.  If you don’t have an ovenproof frying pan, you will transfer the chicken to a baking dish.

4.  Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from the heat, but keep in the pan.  (Here’s where you may need to transfer to a baking dish.)

Browned chicken in a baking dish.

Browned chicken in a baking dish.

5.  In another smaller frying pan, melt the butter and saute the mushrooms just till they start to give up some of their liquid.  Remove from the heat.

Sauteing the mushrooms.

Sauteing the mushrooms.

6.  Brush the seared chicken breasts with a little of the reserved honey-mustard marinade.  (Not the portion the chicken soaked in.) Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Lay two strips of bacon crisscross on top of each piece of chicken.  Spoon the mushrooms onto the bacon, being sure to distribute them evenly over all the chicken.

Bacon and mushrooms on top of the chicken.

Bacon and mushrooms on top of the chicken.

Sprinkle the Monterey Jack cheese evenly onto each chicken breast followed by the cheddar cheese.

7.  Bake for 7 – 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Sprinkle each piece with the chopped parsley before serving.  Put extra honey mustard marinade into a small bowl to serve on the side.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Served with herbed rice pilaf and a salad, this was a great dinner.

Served with herbed rice pilaf and a salad, this was a great dinner.

An idea for leftover chicken .  The next day, I made a sandwich from one of the pieces of chicken:  on a “sub” roll, spread both cut sides of the roll with Honey Mustard Mayonnaise,  lay a chicken piece on the bottom half of the roll, top with sliced tomatoes and lettuce.  This made a “man-sized” sandwich that my husband raved about..

SOURCE:   Family Favorite Recipes

Pork Tenderloin with Cheesy Polenta

Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sauce

Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Sauce

With a name like pork tender loin you would expect this cut of meat to be tender, right?   I may be in the minority here, but I’ve had the experience where it wasn’t tender at all;  more like dry, stringy, tough.  Did I do something wrong that ruined it,  or was it the cut of meat?   Most of the recipes I see for pork tenderloin have you cooking it (in the oven) at a very hot temperature, for a short time.  This may be the method of choice, but it doesn’t give me the results I want.

One thing I know about cooking most meats, is that the outside of it needs to be sealed in some way in order to contain its juices within.  This is what makes a cut juicy.  Without this step, cooking it at a high temperature will only dry it out,  and that equals tough!

So, with that in mind, I experimented with a pork tenderloin that weighed about a pound.  The recipe that follows describes what I did, and I’ll tell you right now that I got the results  I wanted:  a juicy, tender piece of meat with the added benefit of deep umami flavor thanks to the browning of the meat and the mushrooms used in the sauce.  Served with a cheesy polenta to spoon the sauce over,  this meal was outstanding.  In the words of my husband, it was “plate-licking good”.

A moist cut of pork with mushroom sauce to spoon over polenta.

A moist cut of pork with mushroom sauce to spoon over polenta.

PORK TENDERLOIN with CHEESY POLENTA

SERVINGS:   about 4

  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound weight
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 small – medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1  8-ounce pkg. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cream, light cream or half and half
  • 1 cup polenta ( cornmeal that cooks in 3 minutes)
  • 6 ounces shredded semisoft cheese, such as fontina, gouda, or jarlsburg
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, or dried parsley, for garnish

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F, and lightly spray a baking dish appropriately sized to the meat.

2.  In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat.  Season the meat all over with salt and pepper, and cook in the skillet, turning until browned, about 10 minutes.  Do not skimp on this step, it’s what produces the sear to keep the juices inside.

3.Transfer meat to the prepared baking dish.  Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.  Put into the oven and roast until the temperature registers 145*—-about 12 – 15 minutes.  When temperature has been reached, remove from the oven, cover with foil to keep warm and let rest while you continue.

4.  In the skillet, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, and over medium heat cook the shallots and mushrooms until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and simmer until reduced, about 3 minutes.  Cover and remove from heat.

5.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 3 1/4 cups water and the cream to a boil.  Whisk in the polenta.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking, until thick, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese;  season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.

6.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board and slice on an angle.  Arrange on a serving dish, top with mushroom sauce and garnish with parsley.  Serve with polenta.

Slice pork, pour mushroom sauce over top.

Slice pork, pour mushroom sauce over top.

Cheesy Polenta

Cheesy Polenta

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This meal can be completed by the addition of a green vegetable, such as green beans or broccoli.  In the event polenta does not appeal to you,  substitute mashed potatoes or rice to spoon the sauce over.  It will be very good however you serve it.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original

Not My Mother’s Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

I grew up in a household where meatballs were served regularly.  Mostly they were the kind made by church ladies for potluck suppers–my mother being one of them.  I remember gobbling up tiny sweet and sour meatballs made as appetizers,  giant-sized Italian meatballs balancing on top of a plate of spaghetti, and then there were the Swedish meatballs, floating in a gravy rich with sour cream.  So with a foot in both the Swedish and Italian heritage  communities, I think I know something about meatballs.

As I grew older and had a family of my own I developed my own meatball-making style.  They’re still a comfort food to me, but I’ve tried to make them healthier by using leaner meats, less fats in the sauce or gravy, and more spices to increase flavor.  Meatballs make a satisfying meal and can almost always be made ahead and frozen.  I like to make twice the amount I need for a meal and freeze the extras.  It’s reassuring to know you have the basis for a meal that can be prepared quickly when you don’t have time to cook.

These are the six principles I keep in mind when making meatballs:

1.  Keep it lean.  Opt for meat that is 90% lean.  If you want to use a fattier meat, such as pork for flavor, combine it with something leaner like turkey breast which is 99%lean.

2.  Use whole grain binders.  Typically meatballs use bread or breadcrumbs as a binder.  Use wholegrain versions or brown rice to add fiber and nutrients.

3.  Use plenty of herbs and spices.  The saying “fat equals flavor” is true, but if you cut back on fat you must make up for its flavor by adding dried or fresh herbs and spices to bump up the flavor.

4.  Change how you serve them.  A healthier meatball is great but not very  appetizing if served over a pile of white rice.  So think of other sides to pair them with like polenta, whole wheat noodles, or brown rice.  If you’re making a meatball sub use a whole grain roll.

5.  Don’t overmix.   Be careful to mix the ingredients just till they’re combined and handle gently when forming the meatballs, otherwise they will be tough.

6.  Cook smarter.  There is no need to cook meatballs in tons of oil… If cooked in a skillet , just a tablespoon of olive oil will provide enough lubrication to get them started.  The advent of non-stick pans has been a great help in this regard.  Meatballs can also be baked on a baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup.

In the weeks ahead I would like to share with you a few of my recipes for meatballs, so today we will start with Swedish meatballs.

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SWEDISH MEATBALLS

SERVINGS:   about 5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs, whole wheat if possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk or beef broth
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 350* and spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg and the milk ( or beef broth).  Add the dry breadcrumbs and spices, and mix with the egg mixture.  Allow to stand a few minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid.  Add the chopped onion and crumbled  beef.

Gently mix together all the ingredients.

Gently mix together all the ingredients.

3.  Mix all together lightly, and shape into 1 inch balls.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Meatballs are about the size of golf balls.

Meatballs are about the size of golf balls.

4.  Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and drain the meatballs if needed.  Place in the greased baking dish.  In a separate bowl, whisk the soup with the evaporated milk until smooth.  Pour over the meatballs.

5.  Return to the oven and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes to heat through.  Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Meatballs served over whole wheat egg noodles.

Meatballs served over whole wheat egg noodles.

SOURCE:   This is a major modification of my mother’s recipe.

Cheeseburger Pizza

Cheeseburger Pizza

Cheeseburger Pizza

“Two all beef patties, lettuce, cheese,…….. on a sesame seed bun”.  Sound familiar?   Today, I’m going to show you a fun way  to recreate this fast food burger without a trip to the drive-in.

I was somewhat doubtful that the sauce would come close to tasting like the one on the well-known burger, so I made up a half-recipe just to try it.  My gosh, it is spot on!   This is a great sauce to have made up ready to top off your burgers even if you don’t use all the other toppings.  You could surprise your friends/family this summer with a cookout, serving this “secret” sauce on the burgers.

With that piece of the recipe having proven itself, I was ready to make the whole thing.  Included here is  a good recipe for the dough, but if you don’t want to make you own dough or don’t have the time, a one pound package of pizza dough purchased at the supermarket will do just fine, and it’s a great time saver.

CHEESEBURGER PIZZA

YIELD:   1 large pizza,  8 – 12 pieces

For the crust:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

1.  Combine all the above ingredients (except sesame seeds) and mix and knead to make a smooth, soft dough, using a stand mixer, bread machine, or your hands.

2.  Place dough in a lightly greased bowl ( or leave it in the bread machine to rise) and let it rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

3.  Spray a large rimmed baking pan ( 15″ x 10″ is good ) with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle sesame seeds into the pan, if desired;  they’re there to mimic the burger’s ” sesame seed bun.”

4.  Deflate the risen dough, and stretch it into and oval with your hands.  Plop the oval onto the baking sheet, and then press it towards the edges.  When it starts to fight back, walk away for 10-15 minutes.  When you come back, you should be able to continue pressing it to the edges, nearly to the corners.  If you can’t, give it another rest and try again.  The dough should cover as much of the pan as possible—without making yourself crazy over it.

Spread dough in the baking pan.

Spread dough in the baking pan.

5.  Cover the dough, and let it rise until puffy, about 90 minutes.  While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings.

TOPPINGS

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • dill pickle slices
  • 10 -12 slices American cheese
  • shredded lettuce

6.  Season the ground beef with 3/4 teaspoon salt, and fry until brown;  drain off the fat.  Dice the onions, and shred the lettuce.  If using whole dill pickles, slice 1-2 large pickles.

Brown the ground beef.

Brown the ground beef.

Chop the onions and slice the dill pickles.

Chop the onions and slice the dill pickles.

SAUCE

Sauce ingredients.

Sauce ingredients.

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup green pickle relish
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (can substitute smoked or hot paprika, if desired)

7.   Combine all the ingredients, mixing until smooth.  Refrigerate  until you’re ready to use.

Mixing up the sauce.

Mixing up the sauce.

8.  Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425 *F.    Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until very light brown.

9.  Remove crust from the oven, and top it with the diced onion, then the ground beef.  Return pizza to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

First layer:  chopped onions and ground beef.

First layer: chopped onions and ground beef.

10. Remove from the oven, and top with the pickle slices, then the sliced cheese.  Return to the oven, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the crust are brown.

Second layer:  sliced pickles and melted cheese.

Second layer: sliced pickles and melted cheese.

11. Remove the pizza from the oven, and spread with the sauce.  Finally, sprinkle with the shredded lettuce.  Cut into 8 – 12 pieces and serve immediately.

IMG_2629

This size pizza was more than two of us could eat, so we spooned some sauce and then some lettuce on each piece as we ate it.  This tasted just like the famous burger it mimics.   The next day I wrapped the remaining piece in foil and heated it in a low oven,  spooning sauce and topping it with lettuce as we had before.   We loved it and I will definitely be making it again.

It tastes just like the burger, without going to the drive-in.

It tastes just like the burger, without going to the drive-in.

SOURCE:    King Arthur Flour

Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions in Balsamic Cream Sauce

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Challenge day # 3 without a refrigerator.  This is the requirement right now:  cook with what you have on hand, ONLY.  Going to the grocery store to fill in the blanks is not an option.   Today these were the food items that had priority for usage:  a package of 6 chicken tenders that had defrosted,  a half-package of mushrooms,  some  light cream, and part of a can of chicken broth.  To those ingredients I added 1 large onion, some balsamic vinegar and some butter to come up with what turned out to be a very good chicken dish.

The chicken tenders worked well because they cooked quickly, and remained tender in the cream sauce.  You could also use boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half, so they are not too thick.  The amount of sauce is plentiful, so it’s a good idea to plan rice or noodles to spoon it over.  I used a package of herbed rice pilaf with our meal.  To go along with this I used up the leftover  herbed butternut squash from day #1.

This is how I created this entree:     CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

YIELD:   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken tenders, at least 6 pieces, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half.
  • Chicken Tenders

    Chicken Tenders

  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in half, then sliced into “half-moons”.
  • A large onion, cut into "half-moons".

    A large onion, cut into “half-moons”.

  • 1 pkg. mushrooms, (or less), sliced or halved

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Add the sliced onions, reduce heat to low and sauté until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

2.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the same skillet, add chicken pieces and cook to brown each side.  Chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.  Remove to a plate.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits into the broth.  Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper.  Decrease heat to low and simmer a few minutes.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

4.  Bring heat back up to medium.  Add the chicken and onions to the pan mixture and cook the chicken all the way through.

5.  To serve, transfer chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour mushroom-onion-cream-sauce over the top and garnish with parsley if you wish.  (I did not have any parsley on hand.)

A satisfying dish of chicken,  mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

A satisfying dish of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

Our assessment of this dish?  My husband said ” UHMMM! this is great”.  But he loves mushrooms, so anything with mushrooms in it is AOK with him.  I thought it was a very good combination of flavors.  Most importantly for me is that the chicken remained moist and tender.  I always worry about white meat chicken becoming dried out, tough and chewy, but this didn’t.  The cream in the sauce smoothed out the tang of the vinegar, with the vinegar providing a dark color to the sauce. The mushrooms and onions rounded out the dish and were a good compliment over all.  I’m glad I made rice to go with it to put the sauce on.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original