Chipotle Beef Tostadas

Happy Valentines Day!  I hope you are spending the day celebrating with loved ones and eating just a little too much chocolate.  This is a quick and spicy recipe to put some real food in your belly before you unwrap one more chocolate kiss.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, June 2012.

No substitutions were made.

chipotle 1

Chipotle Beef Tostadas

2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef chuck
1 large white onion, minced
kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 10 oz can Mexican-style diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 med zucchini or yellow squash, diced
2 c coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
freshly ground pepper
8 tostada (flat crisp tortillas) or taco shells
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

chipotle 2

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add the ground beef, half of the minced onion, 1 tsp salt and the chipotle chile powder; cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and the onion is tender, about 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, beans and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is just tender, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the coleslaw mix, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

Divide the tostadas among plates and spoon the beef mixture on top.  Top with cheese, slaw and remaining minced onion.  Serve with lime wedges.

chipotle 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I used a heaping tsp of the chipotle chile powder, and it was plenty spicy for us.  It just depends on how spicy you’d like you’re mixture to be.  This is great quick  recipe for a weeknight meal.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Do you guys get as excited as I do to try new recipes?  I can read a cookbook like a novel, drinking in details, picturing how the flavors will meld together and hoping when I make the dish it’ll be better than I imagined.  Each week I shift through cookbooks, and notebooks full of recipes waiting for something to jump out at me and say “This is the week!  It’s my turn!”.  These tacos shouted loud and did not disappoint.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2012.

Substitutions made, noted below.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs – cut into bit sized pieces
3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tblsp canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tblsp honey – I used agave syrup
1 tblsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tblsp coarsley chopped dry-roasted peanuts
3/4 c diagonally sliced celery
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas – I used flour tortillas
1/3 c sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add 1 tblsp soy sauce to bag; seal.  Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade.  Place 1/4 c cornstarch in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt.  Add chicken to cornstarch in dish and toss chicken to thoroughly coat.  Shake off excess cornstarch.

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add 1 tblsp canola oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add half of coated chicken; saute for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown.  Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.  Repeat the procedure with remaining oil and chicken.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, honey and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice.  Stir in garlic.  Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently.  Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas.  Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh man was this a killer meal.  We all loved these tacos and the boys are ready for me to make them again.  I just have to remember the 30 minute marinade ahead of time so we’re not eating a super late dinner. 😉

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

We love quiche in our house, but haven’t really tried a frittata before.  I’m glad I finally decided to try.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, September 2012.

Substitution made, noted below.

frittata 1

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

1 small zucchini, 1 inch sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1 1/2 inched diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1 1/2 inch diced
1 red onion, 1 1/2 inch diced
1/3 c good olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
12 extra-large eggs – I used 14 large eggs
1 c half-and-half
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tblsp unsalted butter
1/3 c chopped scallions, white and green parts (3 scallions)
1/2 c grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the zucchini, peppers and onion on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with  1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss well.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Add the garlic, toss again and bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the oven to 350 degrees.

frittata 2

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, parmesan, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

In a 10-inch ovenproof saute pan, melt the butter and saute the scallions over med-low heat for 1 minute.  Add the roasted vegetables to the pan and toss with the scallions.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes over med-low heat without stirring.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the frittata for 2- to 30 minutes, until puffed and set in the middle.  Sprinkle with the gruyere and bake for another 3 minutes, until the cheese is just melted.  Cut into 6 or 8 wedges and serve hot.

frittata 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This puffed up and was beautiful.  The changes I make next time?  Less oil on the veggies.  1/4 c or less would be fine.  Stir the veggies and the eggs when added to the pan.  Since I didn’t do this, the veggies all stayed at the bottom like a vegetable crust; which isn’t bad, but it didn’t match the picture.  Another great recipe for a special Saturday breakfast!

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

The ultimate in comfort food – Chicken Pot Pie.  Fall has given me a need for rich, warm foods.  Foods that fill your belly and your soul.

This recipe is from Real Simple, February 2009.

Substitution and addition made, noted below.

chicken pot pie Collage

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c dry white wine
2 c 1% milk – I used 2%
1 10oz package frozen peas
1 tblsp fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 9-inch pie crust
* Addition – 1 med diced zucchini

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cooke the chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool, then shred.  (I diced mine.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken).  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

chicken pot pie 4

Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Transfer to a shallow 1.5 to 2-quart baking dish.

Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal.  Cut several vents in the crust.  Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

chicken pot pie 5

cartoon-strawberry-9What a wonderful and easy dinner.  Took a little over an hour for prep to dinner, and it was so good.  I don’t think I’ll ever want or need to learn how to make pie crust, Pillsbury does it better than I ever could.

Chicken and Cashews

Who doesn’t love a cashew?  Crisp and buttery, full of good fats and nutrients.  We have cashews on hand all the time for a go-to healthy snack.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, May 2009.

No substitutions were made.

chick cashew 1

Chicken and Cashews

3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tblsp dry sherry
4 tblsp cornstarch, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tblsp oyster sauce
1 tblsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
3/4 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
1 tblsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1/4 c chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews

Combine 1 tblsp soy sauce, sherry, 2 tsp cornstarch, and chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat.  Combine remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, remaining 2 tsp cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce and honey in a small bowl.

chick cashew 2

Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Add chicken mixture to pan; saute 3 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in pan.  Add onion, celery and bell pepper to pan; saute 2 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic; saute 1 minute.  Stir in broth mixture.  Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle with green onions and cashews.

chicken cashew 3

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a wonderful, quick and healthy go-to meal if you’re craving Chinese food.  I served the chicken over angel hair pasta tossed with dark sesame oil and the green onions from the recipe.  YUM!

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

My poor meat and potatoes husband.  I keep feeding him these vegetarian meals.  If he doesn’t love the dish, his comment will usually be “This’d be better with some chicken in it.”  Fortunately, this lasagna didn’t get the chicken comment.

This recipe is from Real Simple, December 2009.

No substitutions were made.

broccoli lasagna 1

broccoli and three-cheese lasagna

1 15 oz container ricotta
1 lb frozen broccoli florets – thawed, patted dry and chopped
2 1/4 c grated mozzarella
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 16 oz jar marinara sauce
1/2 c heavy cream
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
oilve oil

broccoli lasagna 2

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, broccoli, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 1/4 c Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce and cream.

broccoli lasagna 3

Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.  Top with 2 noodles, a quarter of the remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture; repeat twice.  Top with the remaining 2 noodles and sauce.  sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c of mozzarella and 1/4 c of Parmesan.

Cover tightly with an oiled piece of foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

broccoli lasagna 4

cartoon-strawberry-9Broccoli, cheese and noodles – what could be better?  The heartiness of the broccoli stands up to the richness of the sauce with cream.  Total prep and cook time is about an hour and half, but so worth the effort!

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

I really like eggplant, but for some reason I have never cooked with it before.  After this recipe, I’m ready to find every eggplant recipe and try them all.  Wonder if husband will mind??

This recipe is from Real Simple, March 2012.

No substitutions were made.

eggplant rollatini 1

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

4 tblsp oilve oil
2 large eggplants (about 3 lbs total), sliced lengthwise (about 16 slices total)
1 1/2 c marinara sauce
2 large eggs
1 15oz container ricotta
2 tsp dried oregano
2 c grated mozzarella (8 oz)
1/2 c grated Parmesan (1.5 oz)

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Divide the oil between 2 rimmed baking sheets.  Dividing evenly, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and turn to coat in the oil; season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

eggplant rollatini 2

Bake the eggplant, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until soft and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees.  – I only have one rimmed baking sheet, so this took me 3 rotations in the oven.  I lined the baking sheet with parchment and discarded after each round.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of a 9×13 inch or some other 3-quart baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, oregano, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

eggplant rollatini 3

Place about 3 tblsp of the ricotta mixture on one end of a slice of eggplant, roll it up, and transfer it to the prepared baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and ricotta mixture.

Top the eggplant rolls with the remaining cup of marinara sauce and the remaining cup of mozzarella.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

eggplant rollatini 4

cartoon-strawberry-9I need to find some better descriptors for the way food tastes.  Just saying “Yummo!”  all the time is boring.  But this one?  Super Yummo!  Even my meat & potatoes husband liked it.

Chicken Adobo with Bok Choy

I remember having bok choy all the time growing up, mostly in my mom’s stir fry.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe, but wasn’t sure if I could find bok choy in Mid-TN.  And when I did find it at Kroger, the cashier asked me about a hundred questions.  What is this?  Whatcha gonna do with it?  What does it taste like?  I answered as best I could and got home.

This recipe is from Real Simple, February 2011.

Substitution made, noted below.

chix adobo 2

Chicken Adobo with Bok Choy

2 medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c low-sodium soy sauce
1 tblsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf
black pepper
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 lbs.) – I used aprox 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tsp paprika
1 c long-grain white rice
1 large head bok choy, cut into 1-inch strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Adobo Collage 1

In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the onions, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with the paprika.

Cook, covered, until the chicken and onions are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours.

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Ten minutes before serving, if the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high.  Gently fold the bok choy into the chicken and cook, covered, until tender 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve with rice and sprinkle with scallions.

chix adobo 1

The following tip is included with the recipe: You may be familiar with Latin American adobo, which is a spicy mix of chipotle and tomatoes.  This Filipino version refers to a dish of meat stewed with vinegar, soy sauce, and paprika.  You can easily substitute spinach or chard for the boy choy.

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a fun and super easy weeknight dinner.  Throw it in the crockpot in the morning and dish it out for dinner.  Plus you get to answer a bunch of fun questions from cashiers when you buy bok choy!

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Full disclosure – I wasn’t going to post this recipe.

I’m not a big fan of cooking with ‘cream of ___’ soup.  I miscalculated the cooking time.  The sauce was bubbling up gray during cooking.  I didn’t take any pictures of it.  The whole thing frustrated me.

I took the casserole to potluck anyway and prayed for the best.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2008.

Substitutions made, noted below.

chicken spaghetti casserole

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

2 c chopped cooked chicken breast – I used meat from a rotisarie chicken
2 c (7 oz) uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
1 c (1/4 inch thick) slices celery
1 c chopped red bell pepper – I used a green bell pepper
1 c chopped onion
1 c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 (10.75 oz) can condensed 30% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
Cooking spray
1 c (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine broth, salt, pepper and soup in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add soup mixture to chicken mixture, toss.  Divide mixture evenly between two 8 inch baking dishes coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle 1/2 c cheese over each casserole.  Cover with foil coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.  I put the whole thing in a 13×9 pan and followed time listed for baking.

cartoon-strawberry-9As you can see by an empty pan, this casserole went over fairly well. 😉  All the ingredients and flavors came together very well.  It’s a great casserole to feed a crowd, or to bake one and freeze one for later.

Cabernet-Braised Beef Short Ribs

I decided to make my own birthday dinner, is that weird? We’ve cut out beef and I had a serious craving for red meat. My mouth was watering just reading this recipe.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, March 2008.

No substitutions were made.

short ribs 1

Cabernet-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Cooking spray
2 lbs beef short ribs, trimmed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 c fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 c cabernet sauvigon or other dry red wine
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 1/2 c (1 inch) slices celery
1 c (1 inch) slices carrot
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 6-inch rosemary sprigs
1 med onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 tblsp all-purpose flour
4 c hot cooked wide egg noodles

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Add ribs to pan; cook for 8 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Add beef broth to pan, scraping pan to loosen brown bits.

Combine broth, wine and tomato paste in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Place ribs, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and onion in a 13×9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour broth mixture over rib mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 300 degrees for 3.5 hours or until ribs are very tender.

short ribs 2

Uncover dish; strain broth mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid. Reserve ribs; discard remaining solids. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour reserved liquid into bag. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain liquid into a small saucepan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat.

Add flour to pan, stirring well with a whisk. Place pan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Serve sauce with ribs and noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

short ribs 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Holy Cow. This was just about the best birthday dinner ever. I used boneless short ribs, so total cooking time was 2 hours 45 min. The meat was fork tender. The sauce was rich. And adding grilled asparagus? A perfect compliment.