Spicy Chicken and Veggie Risotto

It seems lately I have been on a spicy kick. I have been adding hot sauce, red chili flakes, and jalapenos on just about everything. Maybe it is the cool weather rolling in that makes me want to spice it up? In any case, I felt like adding a punch to my dinner last night. Everyone was doing their own thing and going in different directions, so it was either have straight up leftovers or create something out of the leftovers from the fridge. I decided to create something new from something old.

Spicy Chicken and Veggie Risotto

Ingredients

1/2 rotisserie chicken, finely chopped or shredded
3 tablespoons butter or oil
half a can of tomato paste
3/4 opened stock in a box
half an onion, chopped
handful of mushrooms, quartered
can of green chilies
about 1/2 cup rice
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup parm cheese

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized pot over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until beginning to soften and brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add in tomato paste and green chilies. Mix together well. Add 1 cup broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining broth by 1/2 cupfuls, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender but still very creamy, stirring gently and often, about 10 minutes longer (about 25 minutes total cooking time). Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and chicken. Stir to warm the chicken through, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl and serve with additional Parmesan cheese. You could make this vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and using veggie stock or water.

002

Crockpot Pork Ragu

I have made pork ragu a few times on the blog. I have made it with different forms of pork and varied the recipe each time to what I had in the cupboard with what I thought I should buy and add in it. It is a really special meal. It is not hard, but it still takes time and love to create. I recently found a nice pork butt in the freezer and wanted to use it in a new and creative way. I had wanted to cook it yesterday, but we went to the zoo and didn’t get home until late in the afternoon. No time to cook it for dinner, so I thought maybe I could make it in the crock pot instead. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but it was a big hit at the house. Tons of leftovers, so that is a plus. Seriously, you have to try this!

Crock Pot Pork Ragu

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
large handful of mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 cups beef broth
red wine-optional

Pork Butt seasoned with…
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, italian seasoning, fennel seed,

Directions

The night before, I brown the pork on all sides (seasoned with the herbs and other seasonings) in a dutch oven. I had to cut my pork in half so it would fit. I actually cooked all the veggies and sauce for just a bit so they could cook down a little to fit in the crock pot. Then I put the meat in the crock pot and covered it with the sauce. I refrigerated it over night. Then I cooked it on low all day. When I got home, my house smelled amazing! Serve over pasta, rice, polenta, mashed potatoes… Always serve with crusty bread for dipping and sopping up all the meaty sauce!

032

034

Steak Tacos

Hey guys! Hope you all had a great weekend! Here is a super fast meal that was a bit hit with the family.

Steak Tacos

1 flank steak (you could use this rub on any steak)

Steak Rub-
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Rub your steak with the mixture. Grill the steak on a screaming hot cast iron grill pan. Cook for 8 minutes on the first side. Flip over and finish cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Remove from the grill to a cutting board and let rest, lightly covered, for 5 minutes.

Add your meat to some tortillas and add your favorite toppings!
Plenty of leftovers for another meal or two.

025

026

Spicy Veggie Pasta

Last night we had a whatever you want/clean out the fridge/breakfast for dinner kind of night. I made this for myself using leftover veggies, less than half a container of thin spaghetti, and the end of the parmesan cheese. I even had plenty of leftovers to bring to work for lunch and share with a couple of work friends.

Spicy Veggie Pasta

1/3 package of thin spaghetti
1 onion thinly sliced
1 container mushrooms, quartered
handful of baby carrots chopped
1 container of spinach.
1 teaspoon, or more, of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
tablespoon or more of parm. cheese
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions

Heat your olive oil and add onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook down until tender. Add your spices. Mix well. Add in your wine. Reduce. Add in your spinach and a little more olive oil. Cook the spinach down and mix with the rest of the veggies.

Meanwhile, cook pasta. Add your pasta to the veggies when the pasta still has a bit of a bite to it. Add in about a cup of pasta water- a little bit at a time to your desired consistency. Add in your cheese and mix well! Enjoy!

amy 010

Sesame Garlic Fish with Sesame Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Evening kids! Hope everyone had a great weekend. We went out to Mexican Friday night, out to lunch at our favorite Chinese spot on Sat., followed by a super fun time at the Pumpkin Patch. Today we slept in until 9:30!!!! Then I made bacon, eggs, and cinnamon rolls. Always a hit! We pretty much sat around being lazy, watching TV, and snuggling together on the couch. Pure bliss! I also went to one of my favorite places; the grocery store. I know lots of people who hate going, but I adore it. I mostly bought stuff to make lunches, a few staples, and a couple of quick and easy dinner ideas. Here is the one I made tonight.

Sesame Garlic Fish with Sesame Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Sesame Garlic Fish-

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of butter, melted with 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large piece cod, cut in to 3-4 sections (or other white fish, like Tilapia)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil.

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional- I only used it on half, since my girls would be eating this. It just adds a peppery kick, which they don’t like.) If you have a lemon or some citrus, it would be great with a bit of juice or zest in the pan cooking with it.
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Heat pan on high.
Melt butter and add your olive oil
Add the garlic and turn down heat to medium
Add your sesame oil and stir in with butter and garlic.
Add your fish filets- salt and pepper, but use with caution. The sesame oil is very salty. Add red pepper flakes if you wish.  If you have a lemon or some citrus, it would be great with a bit of juice or zest in the pan cooking with it.
Turn over when fish changes color one-quarter of way up and seared side has turned brown, 3 min.
Once you turn over, cook one minute, then take the pan off the heat. Let it sit for a minute or so, then take out of the pan to rest.

Sesame Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot or half an onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, small spouts left whole, larger spouts halved
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Brown bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan. Turn pan to make sure olive oil coats pan.
Add shallots/onions to the pan and saute 2 minutes.
Add sprouts and cook 3-4 minutes cut side down. Add your sesame oil in a circular motion in the pan. After they start to smoke, stir your sprouts. Cook until fork tender. Again, if you have a lemon or some citrus, it would be great with a bit of juice or zest in the pan cooking with it.

005

Baked Ziti and Garlic Butter Toast

I had a little bit of time today to make an extra special dinner. I have not cooked anything interesting for dinner in a while. A lot of  pretty amazing people have been making my family some dinners, or we have gotten take out, or I have thrown together something random that was not really blog worthy. It has been a crazy few weeks.

When people find out or know you have a sick kid, it can be a bit awkward. They feel helpless and don’t know what to do. The problem solvers and leaders are the ones who want to take over and figure out a way to help. They rally the troops. They bring you food, money, toys, offer to carpool, take your dog for a walk (good luck with that- I am the only one who can get him on a leash), and pretty much give up their left kidney for you.

I appreciate it all. I am thankful. All these offers actually are amazing and do provide relief and a weight off my shoulders. As much as I love to cook, I do have a cooking blog after all, what I really want to do is sit on my couch and snuggle my girls. I want to play with them as much as possible and just relax together as a family. But lately I have been itching to get back in the kitchen for a bit.

I thought…I meandered in the kitchen; I opened the pantry;I looked in the fridge; I looked in the freezer. I had an idea. I pulled out some ground beef from the freezer, found some canned tomatoes in the pantry, borrowed an onion from my awesome neighbor, poured a glass of wine, and I started to get my groove back in the kitchen. I gave Lizzie the choice of lasagna or baked ziti based in the noodle selection from my pantry. Well, she picked this. And I gladly obliged.

I may be a bit scarce on the blog in the next couple of months. I cannot stop cooking. I won’t. It is my hobby; it is therapeutic. I may post a Sunday roast, an epic Thanksgiving dinner, a glamorous grilled cheese sammie, or a regular Wednesday chicken dish. Whatever I post, it tastes yummy and is made by my love of cooking and making my family and friends happy.

Baked Ziti

Ingredients

1 pound of ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes or 1 small can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons worchestershire
2 tablespoons butter
3 sprigs thyme
1 container mozzarella- whole or shredded
1 box ziti or rigatoni noodles

Directions

Brown your beef. If there is any grease, drain it. Add your onions. Cook down for 5 minutes. Add in your garlic and tomato paste. Cook down for 3-5 minutes. You can actually smell the tomatoes when they are mixed well with the garlic. The aroma is amazing. The beef and onions should be really camariling now. Add just a splash of red wine down in the pot to loosen up all those brown bits. Then add in all your canned tomatoes. Mix well. Add in your sugar, worcestershire sauce, butter, and thyme. Mix and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better.

Make your pasta. Undercook by 3 minutes according to the package. It should still have a bit of a bite to it.

Spray your dish with Pam. Add some sauce on the bottom. Put in your noodles. Cover with sauce. Top with Mozzarella cheese.

I made some quick garlic toast by melting butter with some 3 cloves sliced garlic. I dipped the bread in the garlic butter then put them in the oven on broil. Just check the oven to make sure they don’t burn. Delish!

026

029

030

Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Happy Sunday fellow foodies! These pork chops were the best I have ever made! Bold statement, I know…Pork chops in this house are a pretty big deal, so when I said I was going to try a new recipe, I was met with a bit of skepticism. The girls love their pork, so it had to be good…
I decided not to alter my pan fried pork chop recipe too much. The end result was pretty amazing. Here is how it was done…

Brown Sugar Pork Chops

Ingredients
4 bone in pork chops
2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

salt and pepper both sides of your chops
3 bowls with the follow ingredients- coat your chops in order of these- add a bit of salt and pepper to each bowl
1- flour
2- 1 egg whisked
3- Mix your brown sugar in your bread crumbs
Coat the chops with each and add them in a cast iron pan on medium high heat. Cook each chop until both sides get brown..about 5 minutes or so per side (depending on size and if they have a bone or not).

Serve with your favorite sides…peas and mac and cheese. Oh, and a salad for mom.

030

Creamy Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Ravioli

I made this last night to take for lunches this week. It was very easy to make; a semi-homemade dish, if you will. Ravioli was Buitoni, alfredo sauce was jarred by Classico and added caramelized onions, mushrooms, and white wine.

Pretty simple, ya’ll…Slice 1 onion nice and thin. Slice your mushrooms in half or thirds- larger sized chucks. Reduced them down in 3 tablespoons of butter. Make sure to salt and pepper your veggies. Stir and cook down for about 10-15 minutes. Add in your white wine at the end, stir, and  reduce down about 5 more minutes. Add the jar of sauce.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and mix well.

Top with parmesan. So good!

020

Leftover Risotto

Happy Friday! This is a wonderful comfort food meal that I made from my leftovers last night. Not too colorful and a bit foggy, but it is rich, creamy, and super delicious!

Leftover Risotto with Creamy Tomato and Mushroom Chicken

Ingredients
3/4 stick butter, browned
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
leftover chicken thighs in sauce
5 cups simmering chicken stock, a spoonful at a time
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat your dutch oven or large wide pot on med. high heat
Add your butter. Heat until just brown. Add your rice. Mix and toast for 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add your wine. Stir and reduce 5 minutes.
Add your leftover chicken thighs in sauce
Mix and add your stock a bit at a time on med heat until your rice is tender…about 40 minutes.
Check your seasoning and add more if needed.
Add your cheese in the end.

Your chicken should have fallen off the bone and shredded itself into your risotto. Soul Food. 004

005