Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

My dear friend Alicia sent me this recipe of a soup her father made for her when she was feeling sick to share with all of you.  He got the recipe from Giada De Laurentis.  I wish I had a image of the soup to add to the post but truth told I have been so busy of late and when  I made it  it was consumed to fast to get a picture.  I agree it is extremely delicious and a wonderful comfort food.

  • Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.

  • prep time 15 minutes

  • yields 4-6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 pound swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chipped

  • 1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig

  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed

  • 2 (14 ounce) cans low sodium beef broth

  • 1 ounce piece parmesan cheese rind

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

  • salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, blend 3/4cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off the stem.)

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Bacon, love it…the taste, the smell it’s just the wonder food.  I wonder how many know that they can make their own bacon quite easily from their own homes without needing to subject themselves to all the preservatives and additives thrown into commercial bacon found on the store shelves.

Many are afraid to attempt making bacon at home. The element of needing to either hang it for months or put it in a smoker filled with wood chips sets the fear in so many individuals they avoid it.  You don’t need either of these to make your own bacon, your kitchen oven works just fine and even the apartment dweller can make it.

Bacon does not need to be made only from the stomach of the pig either, pig jowls make excellent, and, in my opinion, flavorful bacon.

To make your own bacon you need the following ingredients:

Pork belly or Pork Jowls.  (See your butcher)

2 oz kosher salt

2 tsp pink salt  (often sold online or some butchers carry this also)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple sugar

2 tbsp liquid smoke

Combine ingredients in a bowl and pour over your pork inside a Ziploc baggie.  Rotate to coat well and place baggy in your refrigerator.  Turn it three times daily, (when you get up, get home from work, before you go to bed) for a total of seven days.

On the seventh day, remove your bacon and place on cookie rack atop a cookie sheet and bake in oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  (You will need a meat thermometer, these are cheap and can be found in most grocery stores).

That’s it….when ready to use simply thick cut (or thin if you are talented enough to) your bacon and fry as you would normally.  Enjoy!

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There have been fall festivals, craft shows, bake sales, costumes to make and walk-a-thons to participate in.  There is gardens to work, herb seeds to start, fruits to pick and food to preserve.  There are Fall craft projects to finish and Christmas gifts and crafts to begin. To say it’s a busy time of year is an understatement.

With the cooler fall air moving into the crisp chill of winter, casseroles are a large staple food to warm not only the body but the soul as well.  Casseroles are wonderful for not only their simplicity to set a nutritious meal on table in hurry, but also to use up leftovers without waste.  Added to their benefits, they can be made in large amounts and frozen for those times you are time pressed.

This dish is very easy to make for your family, or in larger quantity for social events. Make up several and put some in freezer, then you have a quick meal ready for when unexpected holiday company shows, or that last minute “bring dish to pass” event.

Cheesy-Chicken Casserole

2 cups shredded left over chicken

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 can (or 1 cup) garden peas

1 cups milk

1 cup water

2 cups wide egg noodles

1 tbsp corn starch

1 cup sour cream

1 sm. can mushrooms (or 1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced)

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup corn flake style cereal (beaten to crumbs with hammer or rolling pin)

Place chicken in large fry pan on stove place your milk, water and corn starch. Mix well.  Add your egg noodles and cook until beginning to boil. Reduce heat to low and add your chicken, peas, mushrooms, sour cream, and spices.  Cook until noodles are near done.  Add cheese and stir to melt.  Transfer into a casserole dish and sprinkle top with corn flake crumbs.  Put in oven at 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve.

**You can skip the oven step and make it a skillet style meal. I prefer to do the oven step as I like the crispness it gives to the top of the casserole.**

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Spring rolls are a food I’ve grown to love, it was not love at first taste for me to be certain.  There was something about the texture of the cold wrapper that just got to me, but I was determined to grow to love it as much as it’s cousin the egg roll.   An egg roll is essentially a spring roll, deep fried.  They are amazingly simple to make and friendly to a variety of fillings.  This happens to be my personal favorite, though a bit nontraditional.

Homemade Spring Rolls.


1 1/2 cup coleslaw (thick cut and minus the dressing) ….this means basically cabbage, carrots, sweet onion thick cut.

1 cup Shrimp or imitation crab, diced

2 tbsp basil or cilantro

4 green onions, fine cut

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 oz rice noodles

1 pkg spring roll wraps

Prepare your rice noodles per instructions,  mix up your filling ingredients (including rice noodles) and add lime juice and soy sauce in a bowl.  Taking a fry pan, place water in bottom and heat to boiling, remove from heat and add your spring roll wrappings to the steaming water 3-4 wraps at a time.  Steam in water for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.  Set the wrappers carefully on counter or cutting board.  Be very careful doing this as they are rather brittle, I found using a spoon better then tongs or other methods for lift from water to counter.   Add your filler ingredients.  Fold one edge over ingredients, then fold up both ends inwards towards each other, finally wrap the top edge firmly over top.  Serve with soy sauce or spring roll sauce.


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As everyone knows, things down here have been extremely hectic with the fires blazing in my County as well as two adjacent ones, another between Austin and Houston as well as those to the North of us.  So many people are evacuated from their homes and so many firemen and emergency personal haven’t been able to go back to theirs.  The out pouring of the people of the Community to pull together and pull up from their bootstraps to get things done, help and assure everything is being taken care of  in this Community has been amazing. People came from all over, not just our County but others as well to donate their time and services where and how they could.  Trailers and vehicles stuffed full of supplies have filled parking lots.  Not from known corporations or Government, but from your “Good ole’ Joe” who heard and wanted to help.  I could not be more proud of so many.

But, that experience is another story.

This weekend I made a bunch, and I do mean a bunch, of Pork Dumplings.  Most Chinese restaurants have these on their buffets and my children love them.  They are easy to make and highly forgiving on ingredients you choose to put inside.  Chicken and Pork are the traditional, however you can also use sea food such as crab.

Won-ton wrappers are amazing, they can be filled with chicken, pork, rice, beef, crab and seafood, cream cheese, cream cheese and crab, pepperoni and pizza sauce (I know not traditional but oh so good).   You can boil them in water or fry them up in oil.  Cut the wrappers into strips and fry in oil, delicious over salads.  My children even like them cut in strips, fried and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The options are numerous.  Made larger they are what are used to wrap egg rolls in.

Another wonderful thing about these little packets of goodness, they are easy on the pocket book.  Oh, and did I mention also extremely low in calories?

To make Wonton Wrappers.

1 egg

1/3 cup water

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1.) In medium bowl beat egg,  gradually add water and beat water into the egg mix.

2.) In large bowl add flour and salt, mix together and create well in center.  Add your egg/water mix to well and mix.  If to crumbly gradually add water a small dab at time until mixture forms a pliable dough.

3.) On lightly floured surface, knead dough until elastic.  Cut into two separate balls and cover each with damp towel for at least 10 minutes.

4.) Cut each ball into four equal pieces.  Roll out each piece into a 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch square (approximately).  **if you have a pasta machine, this works perfect to get it thin enough, if not…it’s good old fashion hand rolling**.   Cut each square you rolled out into nine 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch squares for wontons….for egg roll wrappers you want 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 inch squares.


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My children love Ramen noodles, while I agree they are cheap food source, they are not exactly good for you being packed full of sodium and MSG. I’ve played around with trying to figure out how to make them from scratch for a while now.  The noodles were simple, it was the flavor packet that always was stumping me.  I think I finally have figured it out, or at least close enough that it’s not noticeable and still very flavorful.

Making your own homemade pasta’s is rather simple, once you have made your various pasta’s they can be dried and stored.  True it’s not as simple as just opening a plastic wrapped bag, but if you truly want to get away from hidden ingredients and to know what you are putting in your families bodies it is worth it.  I would highly suggest putting the money into purchase of a pasta machine.  They are wonderful for making a variety of pasta’s and you can purchase one to suit your daily needs for under $50.00.  A food processor also can come in handy for making the dough if you don’t want to try the “well and hand” method.   Here are the steps I take.

Make Noodles.

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1 tbsp water

Combine your flour and salt in large bowl and make well in center (or food processor bowl).

Stir together your egg and water and add to well (or food processor bowl).

Combine with large spoon, or side of your hand until dough forms a crumb texture (or use food processor on low).

Remove dough onto floured rolling surface and kneed by hand for 10 to 15 minutes or until it feels elastic.

Return to bowl, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough thin on floured surface (or use your pasta dough maker with angel hair or spaghetti fitting).  Pause between rollings if doing so by hand as you want this pasta to be VERY thin.

Cut into thin strips 6 inch long by 1/8 inch thick if doing so by hand.  The pasta maker will do this all for you.

Twirl strips together into little nest bowls and set to side to let dry at least 2 hours if using that day.  Leave dry 12 to 24 hours if you plan to store for later use.

**Difference is in making this.  Rather then 3 minute boiling you need 6-8 minutes to cook fully.**

Seasoning (Bulk)

Oriental – 2 tbsp each :  Onion powder,  ground ginger,  garlic powder, black pepper.

Chicken – 2 tbsp Onion Powder, black pepper, garlic powder and chicken bouillon.

Beef – 2 tbsp Onion Powder, black pepper, garlic powder and beef bouillon.





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I love this recipe, it is not only easy, makes an excellent meal for the hot days of summer, is extremely versatile, but it also helps get your kids to eat their vegetables.  How we do it, every one gets to choose two vegetables to go on the pizza.  You can choose from a wide variety, onions, radishes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, mushrooms, summer squash and green onions are the more traditional ones we usually choose from.

For the base it’s crescent roll dough.  Two can’s fill a cookie sheet.  You can either buy the pre-made canned in the store or you can choose to make your own, either works fine.  Remove from can, squash into a ball and using a little flour roll out to size you need to fill pan.  You want this thin as you can make it.  Using a fork, pierce the dough numerous times to keep it from bubbling and raising.   Cook per directions or at 400 degrees for 12 minutes (watch bottom for browning.)

As you let the dough cool, mix up your spread of 8 oz cream cheese, 2 tbsp sour cream & 1 tsp garlic powder.   You can add other flavorings to this as well.  Some I like to use is Italian seasoning,  parsley, dill, basil, or a few tsp ranch dressing mix.

Spread the now cooled dough with the cream cheese spread, add your chopped vegetables of choice and put the entire mix in the refrigerator for at least half a hour to a hour before serving.  Cut into squares or as a regular pizza and serve.  Delicious!

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Tonight was a dig through freezer and see what I could throw together event.  A few months back there was a good sale on pork steaks, so that became my focus. Finding some frozen bell peppers in assorted colors just sealed the fate of the pork.  I also wanted something that wouldn’t be heavy on the stomach in this heat, luck would have it this fit the bill nicely.


Asian Pork Stir-Fry.

1 pork steak, sliced into thin slices and fried until done in 2 tbsp sesame oil.

1 can green beans

1 cup julianne sliced bell peppers (yellow, green, orange, red varieties)

1/2 cup sliced yellow onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chow mein noodles


1/2 cup orange juice (reserve 2 tbsp to use to add cornstarch later)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp black pepper

2 tsp corn starch


1.) Heat oil in pan with minced garlic and onion.  Add pork and cook until browned and cooked through.

2.) Add bell peppers to pork and let sit on simmer.

3.) In pot mix all other ingredients together and bring to boil, thicken with corn starch.

4.) Pour sauce over pork and stir well.  Let simmer 5 minutes to infuse flavors.

5.) While finishing pork, make rice to serve it with.


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After a day of Science Fair projects with a sick boy, and a girl wanting to be entertained endlessly, I just was not up to making a major dinner.  The strawberries are starting to ripen, so they were the focus for tonight’s dinner, with both kids wanting pancakes and sausage it was easy to go from there.

First, take your sausage (one per person or half for smaller children), using either patties or ground fry in a pan on stove.  I prefer to make my sausage from scratch into patties.  This lets me monitor, and fake out the mind, on how much sausage is actually being consumed. I then use the spatula to return the patties into a rough ground stage once more.  In this way, my son who usually asks for two or more sausage patties finds he’s content with a single patty.  After browned, set to side on paper towels to drain.

Next make the strawberry pancakes, just mix up your favorite pancake mix or better yet, make up your own mix. Cut up 3/4 cup of strawberries into small cubes and add to the batter and prepare as you would traditional pancakes.

Place your bottom pancake on plate, add layer of sausage and top with your top pancake. Finish with maple syrup or honey,  sliced berries and dollop of whipped cream if you so desire.  Easy peasy.

**If you want to avoid the sausage all together, a nice layer of cream cheese between layers also is delicious**

My daughter offered her seal of approval on the meal, and a lap quilt I had whipped up from scraps.  She looks so angelic.

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I purchased 60 lbs of potatoes the other day.  Half of these went to making hashbrowns, the other half went into making Country fries, or American fries.  These are basically just diced potatoes fried brown like a hashbrown.

To make these I used the same method for making hashbrowns. Peel and boil the potatoes to near done and put in refrigerator until cool or overnight. Next day cut into cubes and fry in oil on stove.

These are excellent freezer staples and are wonderful reheated. Just refry in pan, or put in oven to reheat.  They can even be microwaved.

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