Category Archives: Main Dish

Hawaiian Risotto

I have been waiting a whole year for this.

It has to be one of my favorite leftover recipes I have ever made. I think it will be one of your favorites too.

Cube up some of that baked ham you are going to have sitting forlornly in your refrigerator after tomorrow along with some of the pineapple that sat prettily on top, and toss them into a rich and comforting bowl of risotto. Maybe you turn around to say something to your Little Dude and a little bit (or maybe a lot a bit) of the sweet pan juices and glaze you used on the ham dribbles its way into your pan. I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened in your kitchen. In fact, it might be one of the best.

The rice is creamy and rich with the salty cheddar cheese. The ham cubes offer a hearty filling bite, while the pineapple bursts with their sweet juice giving you that addicting salty-sweet contrast.

Oh and might I suggest swirling in a generous helping of Sriracha? It is definitely the right thing to do.

Mahalo, and Happy Easter.

Hawaiian Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup white wine

4 cups simmering chicken broth

1 cup simmering water

1 cup cubed ham

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup pineapple tidbits

In a large pan, heat olive oil and add onion. Cook until translucent and soft.

Add rice and garlic and toast for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour on white wine and stir until absorbed.

Ladle in the warm chicken broth about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir until the liquid is absorbed by the rice before adding more.

When all of the broth is gone, heat some water in a pot. Begin adding the water 1/3 cup at a time until the rice is soft and creamy (I used about 2/3 cup).

When the rice is done, stir in ham, cheese, and pineapple.

Serve immediately.

Southwest Turkey Burgers

This one has been a favorite in my house for years.

It kind of evolved out of a turkey meatloaf recipe that I found in an awesome church cookbook that my grandmother gave me. Aren’t local church cookbooks the best? I love me some recipes from little old ladies in a rural small town. Good. Stuff.

So anyway, this recipe is something that I have been making for years and have been really excited to share with you ever since I started this blog. It is sort of a tried and true recipe for us.

The Hubs usually asks what we are going to have for supper when he is on his way home from work. Anytime these are on the menu, I can hear how excited he gets. And honestly, I do too. We love them.

They make a hearty, healthy meal. Full of lean protein, fiber, and even a few veggies thanks to the salsa (Hey! Every little bit counts, right?!) And if you are worried about them being dry little hunks of meat in a bun (Oh come on. Dont’ pretend you weren’t worried about that. It’s a turkey burger…I get it.), don’t be! The salsa, olive oil, and beans keep these babies totally moist and tender.

I can tell you that they are perfectly fine to be mixed up and formed into patties earlier in the day when kiddos are schooling, distracted, or napping. You can just put them in the refrigerator and pull them out when you are ready to cook them up. I can also tell you that they sadly do not work on the grill. They are a little too soft and have a tendency to fall apart on the grates. But don’t worry they are fabulous cooked up on a grill pan or iron skillet.

We all like to eat ours with thick slices of cheddar melted on top, and salsa smeared into the bun like ketchup. Other toppings we enjoy are avocado slices, baby spinach, fresh or pickled jalepeno slices, and spicy brown mustard.

I hope you guys like them!

Southwest Turkey Burgers

1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 cup mashed black beans or pinto beans , drained and rinsed

1/4 cup salsa

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 heaping teaspoon each: onion powder, garlic powder, and dried cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb ground turkey

Combine chips, beans, salsa, spices, olive oil and egg in a large bowl.

Add in turkey and gently combine all ingredients with your hands. Form into patties.

Preheat oven to 375.

Preheat a grill pan, iron skillet, or large oven safe pan to medium-high heat.

Turn pan to medium heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Fry burgers for about 10 minutes, and flip.

Place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.

If desired, top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Reuben Fries

Do you guys remember those old Guinness commercials where it would show the grown men running down the stairs in their jammies like Christmas morning to the keg of beer sitting in their living room for St. Patrick’s Day?

Honestly, that is totally how The Hubs and I feel on this day.

We are beer drinkers through and through. So when the one day a year comes around that celebrates the drinking of tasty Irish beers, we get pretty excited about it. It has become a tradition for us to park it on the couch with a tall glass of Guinness or Killian’s, and watch Boondock Saints. We never miss it. Our St. Patty’s Day dinner has changed over the years, but most recently (except for a couple of years ago when I was pregnant with Monkey and couldn’t stand the site, smell, or thought of corned beef) we make a big deal out of noshing on Reuben sandwiches.

This year, I thought I would shake it up a bit and make the sandwich into a sort of french fry nacho thing.

Pretty excellent huh?

And since this is really more of a grown-up holiday, I had my special grown-up helper in the kitchen to help me.

I am trying really hard to resist the urge to say here, “so easy, even The Hubs can do it.”

…oops. Never mind.

Hang on tight friends, this takes pretty intense culinary know-how.

First you bake up some (gasp!) frozen french fries.

Then you brown up some thinly sliced corned beef in a pan, and chop it up along side some Swiss cheese.

Then you layer on the toppings, and put it back in the oven until the cheese melts.

Crazy difficult.

Crazy good.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Reuben Fries

serves 4 to 5

28 oz bag frozen steak fries

1/2 lb thinly sliced corned beef

1/2 cup sauerkraut

6 oz Swiss Cheese, chopped or grated

Thousand Island Dressing to taste

Cook fries according to package directions, and leave on baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium sized skillet, brown corned beef slices over medium high heat.

Chop meat into small pieces and layer over the french fries.

Top meat with sauerkraut, followed by the cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Top with desired amount of dressing.

Pollo Verde Lasagna

Friends, if you did not feel swayed to make the Pollo Verde before, you absolutely have to now. I am not kidding when I tell you how freaking delicious this lasagna is.

THIS LASAGNA IS FREAKING DELICIOUS!!

Saturday’s Slow Cooker Pollo Verde recipe actually yields a good bit of food considering you are only using 2 chicken breasts. So we naturally had a lot left over. While I really enjoyed the chicken, I honestly just kept feeling reluctant to go heat it up and eat it again in tacos or quesadillas like we ate it the first night.  I never mind heating up leftovers for dinner, but I rarely want to eat it the exact same way it was served before, so I will usually think up random new ways to use up what is in the fridge.

When lasagna popped into my head, I realized that I absolutely had to drop everything right then and make this for dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I also realized that we had no lasagna noodles in the house. Not to be deterred, I quickly went to a blog friend to find a recipe to make my own noodles. (Dear Mother Thyme, thank you thank you! I love you. You are my new BFF!). I halved her recipe and it made three beautiful layers for my 8×8 pan. Her recipe was easy and absolutely perfect for this dish.

As for the cheese, I just sort of grabbed things at random really. I sprinkled in some grated mozzarella that needed to be used up, tossed in a little sharp cheddar, and sliced up some beautiful fresh mozzarella for the top. I think that this would be good with any combo of the ones I used with pepper jack, queso fresco, or even a little Paremsan .

I assembled and baked it just like you would a traditional lasagna.

First, I spread about 1/4 cup of the chicken onto a greased 8×8 pan. Then placed a layer of noodles. On top of the noodles went on about 1/2 cup of chicken followed by about 1/4 cup of cheese. Then I was able to repeat the process two more times with the amount of noodles I had. I also used a good bit more cheese on the very top just to make it extra cheesy and gooey.

I actually made this while The Monkey was taking her afternoon nap and when I finished it, it was about an hour away from when I wanted to pop it in the oven. So I just covered it with tin foil and set it on the counter until it was time. I baked it for 40 minutes covered. Then took the tin foil off and baked it for another 10. At that point the cheese was plenty melted, but since I have a real weakness for browned bubbly cheese, I turned on the broiler until it was to my liking. Then we let it rest for what felt like a million years, even though it was only about 10 minutes.

Seriously, guys, I cannot say too many times how great this meal was. I know you are going to love it.

Pollo Verde Lasagna

1 3/4 cups Slow Cooker Pollo Verde

1 cup cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, queso fresco….)

1/2 box lasagna noodles or 1/2 of this wonderful homemade lasagna noodle recipe

Preheat oven to 350.

At the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, spread 1/4 cup of the chicken.

Cover with noodles.

Spread noodles with 1/2 cup of chicken.

Cover chicken with 1/4 cup of cheese.

Repeat twice, but add closer to 1/2 cup of cheese to the top layer.

Bake covered for 40 minutes.

Uncover and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.

If desired, turn on broiler for about 5 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Pollo Verde

…oh yeah people…she’s bilingual too.

Impressed?

Yeah well don’t be. Most of the Spanish I know comes from being locked in the house with two little kids who enjoy a certain Nickelodeon exploradora as their entertainment of choice.

Here are some of the very useful, real-world nuggets she has taught me.

Quieren venir a bike park? — “Would you like to come with us to bike park?” …gosh I love it when the girls and I get to go to the magical bike park together.

Vamos a volar! — “Let’s fly!” …as in, let’s fly on the winged horse Pegasus on a snow fairy adventure.

Hadas de la nieve! — “The snow fairies are flying with us!” …man, if I had a dollar for every time I have to say this every day.

Mmm hmm. Yeah. You feel me, Moms.

You know how else you feel me?

Two English words — slow cooker.

Good lord. The only thing other than Dora that can tame the 5:00 crazies in this house is knowing that supper has been cooked and cleaned up after way before it is ever time to eat.

Gracias!

This sauce basically has two cooking phases, but worry not. It is pretty much all hands off time.

The first phase is the roasting of the veggies. Cut them all into roughly the same sized pieces, rub them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Pretty.

Then roast them for about 30 minutes or until the skins of the veggies are starting to blister a bit.

Now fair warning, this is when the house is going to start smelling really good, and will continue on for the rest of the day. Right as these came out of the oven, The Dude came around the corner as if on cue declaring that she was hungry. I would advise you to have plenty of snacks handy on the day that you make this.

Then plop them into your slow cooker with the seasonings and water (although I have to say that some white wine and chicken broth would also be nice), and blend it up with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just put it in a food processor or regular blender first. No stress, friends.  At this point, start adding salt to your liking. If you notice, I rarely have a recommended amount of salt for you to add to my recipes. Everyone is so different on how much they like, I figure it is just better to leave it up to you. But definitely don’t forget to salt it…it needs some salt.

Once you have it seasoned to your liking, nestle in some chicken breasts (mine were totally frozen, I will have you know…), and, amigos, you are finished for the day. You know the whole slow cooker deal. If you are able to get it all done early in the day then set it to low. However, if your kids get all crazy and you can’t get after it until an afternoon nap, set it to high.

When you are about an hour or so away from supper time (you know…right around the time you cave and turn on Dora in desperation and self-loathing), grab a fork and shred the chicken. It will be so tender at this point, it will literally fall apart at the mere touch of the fork. Lovely.

Here is what it looks like when it is done.

Okay so it isn’t the most gorgeous dish anyone has ever made. But served up in a tortilla with a few extra sprigs of cilantro and crumbled pepper jack cheese…

Hora de comer!  “Time to eat!”

Slow Cooker Pollo Verde

1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1 medium to large poblano pepper

1 medium red onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

6 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups water

juice from 1/2 lime

sea salt to taste

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx 1 lb)

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice tomatillos, poblano, and onion into similar sized pieces. Cover with oil and sea salt.

Roast for 30 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables in a slow cooker with garlic, cilantro, cumin, paprika, pepper, water, and lime. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Season with sea salt to taste.

Add chicken breasts to the sauce, making sure that it is completely covered.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

About 1 to 1/2 hours before serving, shred chicken with a fork and continue to simmer until ready to serve.

Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

So I know I have mentioned it a couple of times already, but my sweet Hubs is a bit CrossFit obsessed.

I mean seriously.

Like to the point where he is voluntarily trying to kill himself to submit his workouts to The Open. And where the subject of the Paleo diet (the CrossFit recommended eating plan), which used to be a totally hypothetical discussion wherein we would end the chat laughing about how ridiculous it would be for us to try to eat that way since he doesn’t eat veggies and I don’t really care if meat is on my plate or not, has now become a real thing that we are trying to do at least one night a week.

So it has turned into sort of a fun new cooking challenge for me. Sure, it is frustrating too because now I have three picky folks to try to feed with a long list of restricted ingredients. But I am trying to make it work. And while I have had a few massive fails. (You know who you are, freaky guacamole/chicken fiasco, from a few nights ago!) Here is one that was definitely not a fail.

This recipe is basically all protein and contains not a single grain, dairy, or legume item (Phew!). If you served it up along side a heaping pile of fruit salad or veggies of choice, you would be doing pretty darn well. Or if you just want them to snack on, they are perfectly delicious at room temperature.

I feel like I should mention here that there really may be something to the urban legend you hear from celebrity chefs about how if you get your kids to help you make something, then they are more likely to eat it. When I made these, I knew that The Hubs and I would like them, but I honestly didn’t think that The Dude would be into it. Ever since she started school, she has gotten terrible about shunning foods that she used to love (eggs being one them). But I had her help me with every step including stirring the egg mixture and I am proud to tell you that she ate an entire egg cup! So maybe kids really are more likely to eat stuff if they have some ownership on it.

Here’s what we did.

I separated out some thin deli ham for The Dude and let her place them in the cups for me while I cracked some eggs in a bowl.

Then I said, “Look! Do you see that over there?!” to distract her while I went through and pressed the ham into the cups neatly.

Then I added the salsa, salt, pepper, paprika, and cilantro to the eggs, handed over the whisk, and let her have a go.

Then I poured the mixture evenly into the ham cups (a bowl with a spout or measuring cup makes things quite easy here) and baked those bad boys up.

Paleo meal (or snack) is served folks!

Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

makes 6 cups

6  slices thin deli ham

3 eggs

1 tablespoons salsa

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Place one slice of ham into 6 ungreased tins, creating little cups and set aside.

Place about 1/4 inch of water in the remaining wells.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, salsa, paprika, cilantro, and salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture into each ham cup about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 2 minutes and then gently lift out with a fork and place on a cooling rack until ready to eat. (The water that bakes out of the ham can make it soggy if you leave them in the pan.)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

P.S. I would just like acknowledge for anyone who noticed, that yes I was gone for a couple of weeks (It really bothers me for some reason when people start off their blog posts with “sorry I have been MIA recently…”). Believe it or not, I still haven’t burned out of this little hobby of mine yet. Rather, someone with whom I was extremely close and has been one of my best friends since I was a teenager passed away a week and a half ago. It was the first time that someone I had a very strong relationship with died, and it has obviously left me reeling. Basically, I just needed a little time to get some motivation to get back in the normal swing of things. I will probably devote a whole post (or ten) to her at some point when it will be something I can write about without it sounding like some sort of a weepy obituary. In the meantime I will just  keep on squeezing my kids every chance I get, telling the people I love that I love them, and cooking up a storm. I urge you to do the same.

P.P.S. Sorry. I couldn’t end the post on such a sad note. This is supposed to be a fun place. So here is my favorite picture of The Dude from this little photo shoot.

Now if you will excuse me, I gotta go give that silly face a kiss.

Mulled Apple Cider Risotto

I didn’t get hooked on mulled apple cider until after The Hubs and I got together.

Every Christmas, my mother-in-law busts out this little old carafe that sits on top of the stove and fills it up with apple cider and mulling spices. She will leave it warming there all day so we can come in and out sipping on it as we please.

It is just a little thing, but it has become something that I look forward to every holiday season the most. So much so in fact that when we couldn’t go do any traveling for Christmas last year because we had a 5 week old, I made sure that our house was stocked with apple cider and spices.

But I naturally over bought, and after a couple of weeks, grew quite tired of drinking apple cider. So I started trying to think of ways to incorporate it elsewhere. I started making my morning oatmeal with the cider, mulling spices, and cayenne. (P.S. It is totally amazing. Do it!) Then one morning, my mind went to risotto. But the problem was, when do you serve a sweet risotto?

Hmmm…maybe breakfast or dessert.

Okay. But who wants to stand over their stove and stir for an hour just for dessert? Or worse, first thing in the morning.

So I started researching some baked risotto recipes and tried it out. Now to be totally honest, you really do lose a little of the creaminess when you bake it as opposed to stirring on the stove top. But again, you only lose a little of the creaminess. It is still risotto. And you barely had to do any work.

You toast up the risotto in some butter and pour in your apple cider and spices. Bring it to a boil and pop it in the oven.

While that is cooking, get some water warming in a pot (or maybe your sweet little carafe) on the stove and when your risotto come out of the oven, gently stir that in about a cup at a time. Don’t worry though, this takes maybe 5 minutes. Stir in some orange zest and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Such a hearty, comforting, warm breakfast. Might be nice for Christmas morning dontcha think? We enjoyed ours on a random Saturday. It was perfect.

Oh and I would like to add that the person who enjoyed this the most at my house was Monkey Mode…just thought you might like to know.

Mulled Apple Cider Risotto

2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 cups Arborio rice

4 cups apple cider

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

3 cups warm water

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 425.

Warm apple cider in a pot until simmering, and add salt, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne, cinnamon, and honey.

In a medium dutch oven or oven proof pan with lid, heat one tablespoon of butter. Toast rice for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour warmed apple cider mixture into the rice, and stir until it comes to a boil.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes.

While the rice is baking, warm 3 cups of water and zest half of an orange.

When rice is done baking, pour in the water 1 cup at a time until it is incorporated.

Stir in orange zest and remaining tablespoon of butter.

Serve immediately with chopped pecans.