Stuffed peppers, my version

So, I asked Hubby what should we do with the two green peppers languishing away in our fridge’s produce drawer. Mind you, I have stored these in there in one of those mesh produce bags so they are doing just fine. I forgot to take them camping with us so now I feel they need to be used. Hubby suggested stuffed peppers. I’m thinking I have not made stuffed peppers but once in my life and Betty Crocker had me blanch the peppers before stuffing. What a hassle that was! But I figure I would give it my best shot anyway. I looked up a more modern recipe and found that blanching was not essential. Yay! As I am making these for our dinner one weeknight after work, I begin to add all sorts of ingredients. It becomes another version of Southwestern Quinoa salad that I had just thrown together. There are differences so just bear with me. Thanks!

  • 4 small yellow peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup ground beef (I confess, I diced up one frozen pre-formed burger pattie.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (I again used the boil-in-bag kind.)
  • 2 medium sized green bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • and don’t forget the cheese: 1/2 cup shredded
  • olive oil for sauteing

Chop and dice the onion and yellow peppers. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until nicely aromatic. Also add the garlic. (I forgot garlic until later, oops!) Brown the ground beef in this concoction and season with cayenne and black pepper. Get that all nicely browned together. Oh, by this time I am remembering to cut the tops off the green peppers and dice the tops and add this to the skillet. Use a large-ish skillet. Add the corn and stir this around for a bit of a saute as well.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa as directed on the package. Drain or fluff when appropriate. Add the can of tomatoes and the can of drained black beans. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the quinoa and stir all together. This in itself would make a nice meal. But I’ve got these two bell peppers with the tops cut off and the membranes removed sitting like wobbly cups on my cutting board, so let the stuffing begin.

I have semi pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees F. I’m taking a big chance here and hoping this won’t undo the nice cooler house temperature that the cooler weather has brought us over the past two days. My kitchen is not air-conditioned. The small unit in the dining room does not reach it well so we close it off so the dog can stay cool enough at night to breathe. But I digress.

Find a suitably sized baking or casserole dish (this one is 1 1/2 quarts). Spoon the filling into the two peppers. Then spoon the remaining filling all around. Now top each pepper with cheese. Truth be told the only shredded cheese we had was a “pizza blend”, but cheese is cheese! Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the dish and bake another 15 minutes. The peppers will be al dente but that is the way we like them.

Enjoy! The leftover filling will make a good take-to-work lunch.

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Chicken in Orange Sauce

This is a recipe from Eating Well Magazine Spring 2004. I was browsing through the magazines for interesting recipes. I have chicken and I have orange juice, so that is close enough. The manner of making the orange sauce is something different that just thickening juice with cornstarch. And of course just a few of the ingredients change. Actually the amount of the liquids were changed. I just thought 4 cups of liquid would make too much sauce.

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • cooking spray to coat the pan and to spray on the chicken
  • salt and pepper to season the chicken

Place chicken thighs in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled. Spray the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce.

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Put the sugar and the vinegar in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Do not stir, but swirl the pan from time to time until the sugar melts and turns a nice deep amber color. This should take 6-8 minutes. Add the broth and juice and bring to a boil. The caramel will harden but do not worry about that. It does soften as the cooking continues. This should be cooked 30-35 minutes until it is reduced and lightly coats a spoon. It smells wonderful at this point.

After the chicken has cooked its initial 35 minutes, pour the sauce on top. Turn the pieces so they are nicely coated. This is a thin coat. Bake 10-15 more minutes. I baked them until Hubby came home so that was just over 15 minutes.

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I served this with a tri-color quinoa and green beans. I am trying to have us sit at the kitchen table to eat our dinner. This is to prevent our backsides from becoming one with the sofa too early in the evening! We are binge watching the Inspector Lewis series from Masterpiece Theater from a few years back. Love that Sergeant Hathaway!

 

 

Chicken Cooked in Wine with Caramelized Onions

This is an adaptation of a recipe from a “diet book” with the theme of eating the same primary flavor throughout the day. Supposedly this will keep you satisfied and encourage less eating and encourages weight loss. I only tried this theme day once years ago so I have no idea if it would work or not. But this recipe I kept because it sounded good anyway.

We have been trying not to overspend on groceries so my cupboard is sort of bare. Not as bare as Mother Hubbard’s though. Remember that nursery rhyme? I have lots of pantry staples of beans, rice, more beans, pasta, canned tomatoes, more beans. I only had two onions remaining and that is all that this recipe required. And in the freezer I have one of those 5 pound bags of individually frozen chicken breasts. These are great. I pulled two out and put in the fridge to thaw during the day while I went to work.

  • 2 nice sized chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup broth (I used vegetable broth; chicken broth would be preferred)
  • scant 1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary (I had dried this herb from my summer herb pot and used a mortar and pestle to crush the leaves.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breasts into a pan. I used a 10 x 7 inch pan which fit the two breasts just fine. Place in oven.

Meanwhile heat the oil and butter in a skillet and add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. They will be soft but not yet caramelized. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Pour this over the chicken in the pan in the oven. Bake for one hour. The sauce thickens and becomes a glaze.

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Sorry about the picture. It doesn’t really show case the chicken. We were half way through our meal when it occurred to me to take a picture. I served this with peas and carrots and a quinoa/rice mix.

 

 

 

Thoughts:

  • if using two chicken breasts, use half the amount of liquids.
  • one could use up to 6 chicken breasts for the amount of sauce the recipe makes. Just use a bigger baking dish.
  • the chicken was very moist and flavorful as was the sauce.

 

Chicken Vegetable Casserole

Greetings my dear readers! This is an updated version of a casserole I used to make when I first started a family many years ago. I am not sure where I got this but it is one of those canned soup recipes. And back then I used canned soups. I don’t anymore and haven’t for a long time. I have learned how to make my own cream sauce. I thought I would share this with you all. I had thawed chicken thighs and didn’t want to do another lemon chicken recipe. So here is what’s for dinner.

Original recipe: 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 pound large cut vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, shredded cheese if desired, and one cut up chicken.

Here’s my update:

  • 8-10 medium sized chicken thighs; I wanted to be “healthy” so took the skins off.
  • 1/2 super large bag of frozen Normandy style vegetables: zucchini and yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; use at least two pounds of large cut vegetables. You could cut fresh vegetables for this as well.
  • (I could have added about  4 ounces of mushrooms but the ones I had smelled too earthy for my liking.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • generous sprinkling of seasonings of your choice; I used Herbs de Provence; it is my new go-to herb mixture
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; I threw this in at the last minute to add a creamy “healthiness”
  • 1 cup shredded cheese; I used a mixture of cheddar.

Super simple to make: heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, or oil it if you prefer. Place your vegetables in here. Place your chicken on top of the vegetables. Make your sauce.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Add broth. Sprinkle on your seasoning or herbs. Mix the cornstarch with the half-and-half. Add to pan and bring just to boil. This will not be thick but on the verge of thickening. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken. This looked thin to me so I smeared the yogurt on top of the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over this.

Bake for at least one hour. Test chicken for done-ness with meat thermometer: 165-175 for thighs.  Dinner is served. This has your vegetables and your protein. Rice or egg noodles could be a side which would be nice with the sauce.

Enjoy!

Hoppin’ John

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It’s New Year’s Day and these are the ingredients for dinner. My Mom used to make something like this saying it would bring good luck in the New Year. The three basic ingredients are pork, rice, and black-eyed peas. Mom would soak dried peas overnight but I chose canned. The two ladies in the grocery store trying to find them also wanted to use canned although one said her mother also used to soak the dried. The three of us had a time finding these cans as they were buried in a stack of boxes and not readily available on the shelf. They are using a ham bone; I am using pork chops. Some traditions add greens, such as Collard, but I like spinach. I make this differently each time so here’s how I made it this year.

  • bacon, I hacked off about two half- inch chunks of bacon from the end of the package
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 cups frozen spinach
  • about two cups of quinoa/rice mix; this was one envelope from this “cook in ten minutes” box cooked according to directions
  • one can black-eyed peas, undrained
  • several hefty shakes of red pepper flakes
  • one pork chop per person

For the Hoppin’ John, I cooked the bits of bacon and the onion in a cast iron skillet until the bacon was cooked. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes into this. I then added the spinach and continued cooking the concoction for about five minutes before adding the black-eyed peas and the prepared rice mix. Stir that all together and let heat thoroughly. The liquid from the can of black-eyed peas will reduce somewhat.

IMG_0838 1My original plan was to “stuff” each pork chop with the Hoppin’ John mixture. But Hubby wanted to glaze them with the blackberry preserves and he looked so endearing and delighted when he talked of it. So, in the spirit of compromise, I gave him the task of cooking the pork chops. He broiled them in the oven, flipped them over and put about a teaspoon of blackberry preserves on each and left them in the oven to glaze. This whole process took about ten minutes.

The Hoppin’ John was the side dish as well as leftovers for lunches for the week. Yum!

Provencal Chicken

I have completely adapted a recipe that called itself Provencal Chicken Saute. It did not use Herbs de Provence so I don’t know why it called itself Provencal. What follows is my version. And it is not a saute, but a bake.

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Ready to go back into the oven for the finishing touch
  • 8-10 chicken thighs, skin off
  • a bit of olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 minced cloves garlic
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives

Spray a roasting pan and put in the chicken. Sprinkle this liberally with Herbs de Provence. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile put a bit of olive oil in a skillet. Heat on medium and add the garlic and diced onion. Stir and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes and basil and broth. Bring this to boil and let reduce slightly. This took about 5-8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the olives. Spoon this on top of the chicken at the 30 minute bake mark. Put back in oven and bake another 10 minutes.

I served this with egg noodles and a salad. The olives give this a nice saltiness and the tomatoes give a bit of sweetness.

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Chicken and Biscuits

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This is not my usual chicken pot pie. This was inspired by Colleen of Leen Cuisine. Should we call this chicken cobbler because of the biscuit topping? Maybe, maybe not.

I had thawed two chicken breasts and needed to cook them. However, I had not thawed the disk of pie dough nor did I think I had my frozen mixed vegetables which is my “go to” veggie filler for dinner dishes. When I got home after work I found that I did not have frozen mixed vegetables. I did, however, find the frozen peas that I had bought for our Thanksgiving feast but did not use.

Do you know there are women/cooks who do not use frozen vegetables? I am super impressed that they cook real vegetables for dinner every night. I don’t expect to live up to that standard.

  • 1 tablespoon butter and about that in olive oil, too
  • 1 can grand type biscuits
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into “pennies”
  • 1/2 large onion, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic from jar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by putting a little oil or butter in the skillet to saute the garlic, onion, and carrots. Cook these for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like additional spices, you would add them here. If, not just sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Remove these vegetables to the baking dish or pie pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add a little more oil to skillet and cook the chicken until no longer pink, maybe 5-6 minutes. Add a little of the broth to the pan and the vegetables, this time add the peas. Stir the cornstarch into the rest of the broth add to the skillet, and heat on high for a few minutes. Move this concoction from the skillet into the baking dish. Stir the cheese into this.

Remove the biscuits from their tube. And arrange artfully on top of the baking dish. Since all the ingredients are cooked it is just a matter of cooking the biscuits. Since the bottom of the biscuits are in the “stew” they will take a bit longer to cook than the directions on the tube.

I baked this for 20 minutes and then covered loosely with foil to keep warm in the oven while waiting for Hubby to come home. This dinner came together in less than an hour.

I served this with jarred pickled beets from an orchard in the Adirondacks. They did not disappoint! And the cucumber salad is similar to the salad Son made for Sister and me  when we visited him in Armenia. Thinly sliced cucumber and carrots, tomatoes, and green onions in a vinaigrette.

I had intended to make a green salad but the lettuce had gone rusty and was promptly added to the compost bucket. I like having a compost bucket. The service picks it up every other week. When I have to throw away food I know that it is being put to good use. With that, and our town recycling nearly everything in sight, our trash bin is getting emptier and emptier. Just my little part for the environment…I hope everyone can do a little something.