Monday, April 30, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

Despite the fact that I'm not really a "meat and potatoes" kind of girl, I sure do love a good Shepherd's Pie. I love the saucy meat mixed with lots of veggies and creamy potatoes. Yum!

My go-to recipe is this one from Marci's blog, just like she says the fried onions really do add some fun pizazz to it. I've played around with that recipe, trying different combos and using whatever I happen to have on hand, and this is currently my favorite. The Italian sausage is a personal preference as it adds a extra flavor from plain ground beef, and I use mushrooms in place of some of the meat because I like the texture they add (and a great way to stretch the meal in a more healthy way!). This is one of the few things I get excited to enjoy as leftovers!


1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups french fried onions
1 can tomato soup
1/2 c. water
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 package (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 cups hot mashed potatoes
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook and crumble sausage in large skillet. When almost cooked through, add the mushrooms; cook a few minutes more until tender. Drain any excess fat and return to pan.

3. Stir in 1 cup fried onions, soup, water, seasoning, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Spoon veggies over sausage mixture, then top with mashed potatoes.

4. Bake 30 min. or until hot. Sprikle with Parmesan and remaining 1 cup onions. Bake 5 min. more or until golden.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poached Salmon in Orzo Broth

This was a fun and delicious new way to enjoy salmon! The fish gets poached in a mild broth so it keeps its great flavor, and all the rest of the goodies are cooked in one pot making this super simple yet super fancy-looking :) After this and our fish curry, eating fish in broth with a spoon is my new favorite way to enjoy it.

I'm going to post the original recipe here pretty much as written, although I did make some changes. I doubled the mushrooms (because I love them), used almost a full pound of salmon, and also a little more broth and orzo.

Poached Salmon in Orzo Broth


1 cup hot water
6 dried shiitake mushrooms (1/2 oz package)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. uncooked orzo pasta
1 salmon fillet (1/2 lb), cut into 2 pieces
1/4 sliced roasted red bell peppers
1 cup thinly sliced spinach leaves
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
2 green onions, sliced diagonally


1. In medium bowl, pour hot water over mushrooms. Let stand about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Rinse with warm water; drain. Squeeze excess moisture from mushrooms. Remove and discard stems; cut caps into 1/2-inch strips.

2. Strain mushroom liquid through fine wire mesh sieve or coffee filter into 4-quart Dutch oven. Stir in broth and garlic. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo; reduce heat. Add salmon. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with fork. Carefully remove salmon with slotted spatula; keep warm.

3. Stir mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach, basil and onions into broth mixture. Cook about 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted and orzo is tender.

4. Place a piece of salmon in each individual bowl; spoon vegetable-orzo broth over top.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sausage and Spinach Rice Bowls

The rice bowl: so simple and unassuming, yet probably the most versatile dinner option out there! I love the concept of these because there are a thousand different ways to customize based on your tastes or what you happen to have in your pantry. You can use any type of meat or seafood, change up the flavor of the rice, use seasonal veggies and have one of these every week yet never have the exact same one.

For this particular one, I worked off a basic recipe that included sausage and spinach from Cooking Light and added a few embellishments - roasted red peppers and mushrooms - just because I had them on hand. Yum!

Oh, and did I mention this took less than 15 minutes to cook? Practically perfect :)


1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used instant brown, but you can use any variety, flavor, etc)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1/2 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 4-oz can sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (jarred or fresh)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and onion; cook, stirring to crumble sausage, until sausage is cooked through and onion is tender. Stir in garlic; cook 2 minutes more. Add mushrooms and peppers, stir to combine, then add spinach. Cook until spinach is just wilted. Stir in rice, mix well to combine and continue cooking until heated through.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oysters Rockefeller

This is definitely not something typically enjoyed at our house (or any other house I know), but its a delectable treat when we can find fresh oysters. I've found there are so many different recipes for Oysters Rockefeller (probably because the original creator of the dish would never reveal his recipe), but this is the one I came up with based on our own personal tastes. The creamy spinach, crunchy topping and light broil makes for one delicious oyster - and its a great way for those who may be wary of slurping them down whole and raw (which I love also) to enjoy them as well.


1 dozen fresh oysters, shucked and cleaned
2 tsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry (not quite a full 10 0z. package)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of dill
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat broiler. Place cleaned oysters on large baking sheet (covered with coarse salt, if you have it. Makes so they sit flat).

2. In a small skillet, melt 1 tsp. butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in spinach, red pepper flakes and dill and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in mayonnaise.

3. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a small bowl. Stir in panko and Parmesan until well-combined.

4. Top each oyster with some of the spinach and then the panko topping. Broil 3-5 minutes or until topping is browned and crispy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Black Beans and Corn

There is something about a foil-packet dinner that seems more adventurous than the average dinner. This might be as good, but wouldn't be as fun without the foil. Plus, easy clean-up!

I really liked the flavors in this dish. You get a mellow heat from the chipotle and just a hint of sweet from the orange. It all worked so well on the mild fish - I think halibut would work great here too - and came together for a pretty-looking meal.

The only changes I made were to add in some cumin to the black bean mixture and a garnish of fresh lime juice at the end.

Foil-Baked Tilapia
adapted from Pink Parsley

4 tilapia fillets (any white fish will work)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. minced chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1/2 red onion, minced
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin
Fresh lime juice


1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 450 degrees.

2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix together the butter, 1 teaspoon chipotle, orange zest, half the garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until well-combined. Spread butter mixture over the fish.

3. Combine the beans, corn, onion, scallions, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle, remaining garlic, scallions, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.

4. Lay four 14-inch lengths of foil on the counter and divide the bean mixture evenly over the lower half of each piece of foil. Top with fish, and fold the foil over the fish, folding the edges to seal. (I used two large pieces of foil and put 2 pieces of fish in each) ).

5. Arrange the packets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully open the packets and sprinkle with remaining cilantro and fresh lime juice. Serve.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ham Jambalaya

I love jambalaya, its a fantastic one-pot meal that's easy to make and full of lots of yummy stuff. I usually make it with smoked sausage and shrimp, but this was a great way to use up leftover Easter ham.


2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups diced ham


1. In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and bell peppers. Season with sale and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetable begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute another 2 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, broth, and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice and ham. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat 20-25 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This Week's Menu

Crockpot Broccoli-Cheese Chicken

Ham Jambalaya

Poached Salmon in Orzo Broth

Chile Relleno Casserole

Sausage and Spinach Rice Bowls

Foil-baked Tilapia with black beans and corn

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Goan Style Fish Curry

I can't take credit for the creation of this dish, that honor goes to my sister. She has been visiting and we had no idea when we took her up on her offer to make dinner that this yumminess would be the result! Her significant other is from India, so she has been learning to make a lot of the Indian food that he loves. I've been telling her that whenever she makes something new and delicious she has to share the recipe!

My favorite thing about this was the sauce, and how you could pour lots of it over the rice and make it almost soupy; a spoon definitely worked better for consuming my plate. It has a mild curry flavor and a nice combo of sweet from the coconut milk and a touch of spicy...and although we kept it pretty low on the heat scale this time around so my 2 year-old could eat it, the spice level is easily adjusted by the amount of chili powder and chiles you use. We used tilapia which did kind of fall apart by the end, no big deal but I think halibut would be great too and would keep its firmness better.

Goan-Style Fish Curry


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, quartered
6 fat garlic cloves
fresh ginger root (I used about a 2 inch piece, peeled)
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. ground coriander
2-4 tsp. chili powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
3/4 tsp. turmeric salt, to taste 1 cup coconut milk (we used lite)
1 tsp. tamarind paste, or to taste (you can sub a few squirts of lime juice for this)
2-4 serrano chiles, whole but pierced
2 lbs of a firm white fish, such as tilapia or halibut
chopped cilantro


1. Saute the onion in the oil until browned. Meanwhile, mix together the tomato, ginger, and garlic in a food processor until smooth (add a little water if needed). Add the paste to the onions. Cook on medium heat for about 7-8 minutes until the paste releases oil.

2. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, and salt along with a splash of water. Cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes.

4. Add the tamarind paste, serranos, and fish. Bring back to a boil and simmer gently until the fish is cooked (about 3-6 minutes depending on the fish and the thickness of the cut). Add a splash more of coconut milk and shake pan to mix. Adjust the salt and spices if needed.

Serve over rice (basmati was perfect), and top with some chopped cilantro.


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