Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category


Sloppy Joes from Ellie Krieger

November 9, 2013

Happy Saturday! How about a sloppy joe?

Sloppy Joe

I wouldn’t normally put sloppy joes in the “exciting meal” category, but this recipe made an impact. They don’t have the typical sweet-smoky flavor – not that there’s anything wrong with a standard sloppy joe – but these were a nice change.

I loved the addition of pinto beans and red bell pepper, both of which add a nice flavor and texture. My husband described this as having a “fresh, light” taste and he appreciated that it didn’t make the bun soggy. Speaking of buns, I went the extra mile and made King Arthur Flour’s Beautiful Burger Buns, which are oh-my-gosh so delicious. Homemade buns or not, give these sloppy joes a try!

Recipe notes:

  • The recipe is on page 91 of The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. I’ve made lots of recipes from this book and have enjoyed all of them. You can also find it here on the Food Network’s website.
  • I used ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • I didn’t want to deal with leftover tomato sauce, so I put in a whole can, which was a bit more than the 1 1/2 cups called for in the recipe.

TwD Baking with Julia: Pizza with Onion Confit

January 8, 2013

When I looked at the recipe for Pizza with Onion Confit, it was one of those it looks pretty good, but I’m just not sure recipes. But it certainly looked good enough to try, and since I missed both recipes that the Tuesdays with Dorie group made in December, I knew I better get on it and make some pizza.


And now it’s one of those I’m so glad I gave it a try recipes. I’m always up for trying another pizza crust recipe, and I really liked this one. The edges were chewy, and the base was sturdy enough to support a pile of moist onions that were slow cooked in a little butter and red wine vinegar and a lot of red wine. I followed the suggestion in the book to add some goat cheese, olives (I used green), and a sprinkle of parmesan. It was a great combination of flavors and made for a really enjoyable dinner.

When I first looked at the recipe, it seemed time-consuming, but it really wasn’t bad. I made a full recipe of the crust a day ahead of time and stored it in the refrigerator. The next day, while cooking half a batch of onion confit, I divided the dough in half and brought half up to room temperature and froze the other half for another time. The onions need to cook for about an hour, but they do their thing on the stove and need to be stirred only occasionally.

A couple of additional thoughts for next time:

  • The pizza crust dough might make good breadsticks. Shape like a breadstick and brush with butter or garlic butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. That thought kept coming to mind as I ate the outside crust.
  • As good as a vegetarian version was, some bacon might be really tasty with the onions and goat cheese.

This was another Steve Sullivan recipe (he also contributed the Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf recipe that I loved so much). You can find the recipe on page 157 of Baking with Julia, or pop over to The Boy Can Bake, where this week’s host Paul has the recipe posted, along with lots of tips on making pizza crust.

PS: Sorry Steve Sullivan, but I disagree with you: this was quite good reheated the next day!


What I did on my summer vacation: Savory

September 23, 2012

I didn’t blog over the summer, but I did cook.

I cooked a lot of chickpeas – yes, I said cooked. I buy them dry and cook them in the slow cooker: rinse and pick over 2 cups of dried chickpeas. Add to 6 cups of water in the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. You’ll get about 6 cups of cooked chickpeas. When a recipe calls for 1 can of chickpeas, I use about 1 1/2 cups. Why cook them instead of opening a can? I really think they taste better. I haven’t done the math, but I think it’s got to be cheaper to buy them dried instead of canned. Here’s what they look like before cooking.

I believe that you can freeze cooked chickpeas, but I always end up eating all of them! They’re delicious tossed into a green salad, and of course you can make hummus. If you want to branch out, here are a couple of awesome recipes to try. You don’t need to cook them yourself to make these recipes; if you’d prefer to use canned, go for it.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Cumin and Garlic made more than one appearance on the table this summer. It’s best when made the night before to give the flavors a chance to develop. Also, despite the title, I served it room temperature instead of warm. Warm cucumbers don’t do it for me, but this salad does. I’ve got tons of parsley in the garden, and need to make this at least one more time before gardening season ends. It’s great plain or on top of greens for lunch, and I served it as a side dish with spanakopita (spinach pie).

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is the well-deserved name of this recipe, which I saw on the tv show Mad Hungry. I used boneless chicken and a 50-50 mix of smoked and sweet paprika. The second time I made it, I cut the amount of salt in half, because I thought that the next-day leftovers tasted really salty. This is one of those things I’ll make over and over; the smoked paprika gives it sort of a barbecue flavor, and the dish reheats well (which is good because it makes a ton).

Moving on from chickpeas, I came across the recipe for Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream in a Splendid Table newsletter. Mexican is always popular at our house, and this mixture of shredded chicken, onions, red bell pepper, and spices is delicious! Note that their estimate of 5 minutes prep time is overly optimistic, at least when I’m the one doing the prepping. I poached the chicken in the slow cooker and then shredded it, but to save time, you could shred some rotisserie chicken. Click the recipe link if you’re not familiar with the Splendid Table; I thoroughly enjoy listening to podcasts of the show.



Green Goddess Dressing (CEIMB)

October 28, 2011

This dressing and I are going places. It was delicious on salad (as dressing should be), and was so good on a wrap sandwich with turkey and arugula. Next, I want to try it as a vegetable dip, and I bet it would be oh-so-good as a mayonnaise replacement in egg salad.

I don’t make dressing often, but every time I do, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. This dressing is quick, easy, and delicious. Buttermilk and avocado make it smooth and creamy; tarragon is the dominant flavor. What if you don’t like tarragon or don’t have any handy? Basil and chives sound like great candidates for this recipe. I will definitely be trying this recipe with other herbs that are on hand or are growing in my garden.

You can find the recipe in The Food You Crave, or here on the Food Network’s website.

The Craving Ellie In My Belly (CEIMB) group posts recipes on Fridays; check out the site to see what others made this week!


Pasta with Escarole, White Beans, and Chicken Sausage (CEIMB)

October 8, 2011

Sausage has never been a favorite of mine, but after my recent trip to France, I had a change of heart. The friends we stayed with are big fans of Jamie Oliver, and one of the dinners we had was Proper Blokes’ Sausage Fusilli, from the Cook with Jamie cookbook. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. When I was back from the trip and looking for healthy recipes to cook, I came across Pasta with Escarole, White Beans, and Chicken Sausage in Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. Perfect. I could try a sausage pasta recipe in a healthier version.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I used dried sage instead of fresh. The combination of sausage, white beans, and escarole gave this dish a nice texture and flavor contrast. I’ve probably had escarole in salad blends before, but I had never bought a head of it or cooked with it. It’s crunchy and just a little bitter, and we enjoyed the leftover escarole in salads.

The pasta reheated nicely too. When I was scooping out some leftovers I thought “how did a peanut get in there?” and then realized it was a white bean!

This was really delicious, and definitely something I’ll make again. The only thing I’d change would be to use a little less pasta (maybe 8oz instead of 12 oz). This made a large quantity of food, and there was a lot of pasta in proportion to the other ingredients.

You can find this recipe in The Food You Crave, or here on the Food Network’s website.

The Craving Ellie In My Belly (CEIMB) group is now a “freedom of choice” group, meaning that you can cook whatever Ellie recipe you want. Each Friday, the CEIMB site will have a post where everyone can link to their recipes. I’ve made several of Ellie’s recipes and have liked them, so I hope that this group will inspire me to try more of her recipes and to use my cookbook a little more often!


My Kitchen, My World Goes to Morocco

September 24, 2010

Each month, the My Kitchen, My World group takes a virtual trip by cooking the dishes of another country. As much as I like to travel for real, virtual trips are fun too, plus no jet lag! This month, our destination is Morocco. I haven’t been to Morocco, and other than couscous, didn’t know much about the cuisine. I made three things, all from the book Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Michele gave me this book a while ago, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s divided into different areas of the world and has more than just bread recipes, as you will see…

First up is Moroccan Anise Bread. This is a yeast bread made with white and whole wheat flour, plus anise seed. It bakes up as a flat round loaf.

It’s the same color as my cutting board!

It doesn’t get very tall, but it has a nice texture.

I reduced the amount of anise seed a little, because neither my husband or I are big fans of anise. We were pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed the bread, so I’m glad I made it and didn’t omit the anise. It was particularly good dipped in the next dish: Berber Bean Puree. This dish can be made with kidney beans or small red beans; I picked small red beans, mostly because I thought it was funny that there were beans actually named “small red beans.” Obviously, I don’t spend much time in the dried bean section of the grocery store. It’s been many years since I cooked dried beans, and I was thrilled that they turned out! The beans are cooked with garlic and then mixed with water, salt, cumin, fresh flat-leaf parsley, lemon juice, and dried pepper flakes. I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture, avoiding the heartache of cleaning the food processor.

Even though this is called a “puree,” somehow I expected more of a bean spread. Had I thoroughly read the recipe, which says it is the texture of a thick soup, I would have known what to expect. This was really tasty. The parsley added a wonderful, fresh flavor. We ate it at room temperature the first time and warmed up another time. I even ate a little bit like a soup and it was good that way too.

Finally, I made Chicken Tagine with Olives and Onions. I’m not sure how appetizing this photo looks, but in real life, it was quite good.

Chicken is marinated in lemon juice and garlic and then browned before cooking in a broth of water and seasonings including thyme and parsley. While that was cooking, I cooked sliced onions in a water and tumeric mixture (I did not include the optional saffron). The onions and some olives are added to the chicken during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The recipe calls for chicken legs and breasts, but I used boneless chicken breasts instead. I served this over rice, which I don’t think is the Moroccan way to do it , but it was good. This was even more flavorful the next day.

I have not included the recipes here, but if these look interesting to you, take a look at Flatbreads and Flavors. To see what the other travelers made, check out the roundup at My Kitchen, My World; it will be posted at the end of the month.


Tilapia Tostadas

February 26, 2010

Hola amigos! I was in Mexico a couple of weeks ago, and we had some delicious fish tacos at one of the resort’s restaurants. Back home in the cold winter weather, I found this recipe in a Cooking Light’s August 2009 issue. The cornmeal-coated tilapia is delicious and certainly more healthy than the restaurant version.


  • The first time I made this, I broiled the tortillas as directed in the recipe. It worked fine, but they were hard to eat. The next time, I brushed them with oil and warmed them in a pan on the stove; they were easier to eat this way.
  • My grocery store didn’t have angel hair slaw, so I used regular.
  • My avocado was brown and mushy when I cut it open, so I had to go without. Boo!
  • I used defrosted frozen corn.

I don’t have any photos of the fish tacos, but here are a few from the trip.

Sunny skies and blue water

Have a fruity drink!

Have another fruity drink!

There was no shortage of fancy desserts

I need a chocolate fountain at home!

Mayan ruins at Coba. A few trips up and down will work off some calories!


Baked Couscous and Spinach

February 5, 2010

I had a lot of baby spinach to use up, so I searched through my “recipes to try” file and saw this recipe for Baked Couscous and Spinach. It sounded perfect, and it was.


  • I used tomato flavored couscous, which is why the couscous is so orange.
  • I used baby spinach and tore it up a little bit.
  • I didn’t have pine nuts, but it was good without them.
  • This can be a vegetarian main dish or a side dish for a non-vegetarian meal. We had this with baked lemon garlic tilapia for dinner (a simple but delicious recipe), and I had it as a vegetarian lunch another day.
  • I found this recipe on Food from Books, but the link is broken and I can’t find it on the site. I’m glad I copied the recipe instead of just saving the link! So I bring you my version, below.

Baked Couscous with Spinach and Pine Nuts
from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, by Jeanne Lemlin (1992)
4 servings

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling vegetable stock or water (I dissolved some veggie bouillon cubes in the water)

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil (I used less than that)
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, reserving 1/3 cup juice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup pine nuts (I omitted just because I didn’t have them)

5 cups (about 5 ounces) loosely packed fresh spinach, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces (I used baby spinach and just tore it up a little bit)

freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Muenster cheese (really, any cheese would be good)

Combine the couscous, boiling water and salt in a large bowl; cover with a plate Let sit for five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 375º. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds or so. Add the drained tomatoes (and dried basil, if using) and cook for 10 minutes more, until jammy, stirring frequently. (If you have time, let this mixture cool a little.) Stir the tomato mixture into the couscous and mix in the reserved tomato juice, (fresh basil, if using), pine nuts, raw spinach and pepper.

Spread half the couscous mixture into a shallow baking dish (I used a 9×13 pan sprayed with non- spray; a smaller pan would work too). Sprinkle on the cheese, then cover with the remaining couscous. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. The entire dish can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance.



January 11, 2010

This weekend it was another cross-country baking session with my friend Michele. How the heck did we decide to make pissaladière? I emailed her about my Potato-Leek Pizza and she asked if I’d ever made pissaladière. That word rang a bell, and I remembered marking a recipe for it in a Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Before that magazine, I had never heard of it before, but the recipe looked good. So thanks to Michele, instead of that recipe being relegated to the “I should make this someday” file, I actually made it. And it was really good!

The crust turned out cracker-like on the outside and chewy on the inside, just as advertised in the recipe. I topped my pizza with caramelized onions, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers (not in the recipe), fresh thyme, and fresh parsley (added after baking). What struck me when I read the recipe is that there is no cheese. What struck me when I ate this is that it’s really good even though there is no cheese!


  • The recipe calls for anchovies and it makes a pretty big deal out of using them. I chose not to, but I’m sure they’d be good if you like anchovies.
  • The recipe recommends making the dough in a food processor with a plastic dough blade. I didn’t even know that I had a dough blade, but I took a look in my box of food processor accessories and there it was!
  • There are two options for the dough; a 1.5-2 hour rise or a slow rise in the refrigerator. I let mine rise in the refrigerator for about 20 hours and took it out to bring it to room temperature when I got started on the onions.

The recipe I made from my magazine is also here here; scroll down a little for the recipe. The tips about using a plastic dough blade if you have one and letting the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator are included there, along with a couple more tips.

Be sure to check out Michele’s post on her blog Veggie Num Nums. She used a different recipe to make her pissaladière and she was very happy with the results of hers too. I haven’t seen her recipe yet, so I’m eager to take a look and compare it to the one I made.


Potato-Leek Pizza

January 1, 2010

I waited. And waited. And waited some more. But the Pioneer Woman did not invite me to the ranch for new year’s eve. I was disappointed. But life goes on, and I decided to bring a little bit of the Pioneer Woman to my house by making her Potato-Leek Pizza. It was the last dinner of 2009 and it did not disappoint.

Slice of Poato-Leek Pizza

Did you get The Pioneer Woman Cooks for Christmas like I did? Open it to page 110. If you don’t have the book, the recipe (and a gorgeous photo) are here. I did make some changes to the recipe:

  • I cooked the bacon in the oven. I rarely buy bacon because I dislike cooking it, but this method wasn’t too bad. I lined a baking sheet with foil, sprayed a metal cooling rack with cooking spray, and layed the bacon on the rack on top of the baking sheet. I baked it at 400º for 10-15 minutes (you don’t want it to be too crispy because it’s going back in the oven later). I blotted the bacon when it came out, tossed out the foil, and put the rack in the dishwasher. Not too messy.
  • Because I tossed out my bacon grease, I sauteed the leeks in a little olive oil.
  • I used half the amount of fresh mozarella cheese (8 oz instead of 16 oz).

I’m not sure if the Pioneer Woman would approve of my slightly lighter version of the pizza, but I do not work on a ranch, so I need to watch my intake a little more carefully. I don’t know how it compares to the original version, but my version was delicious!

Besides the book, I also got a mandoline for Christmas. What a great tool! It made quick work of the leeks and potatoes and produced thinner, more even slices than I could ever imagine doing with a knife.

Happy new year; here’s to more wonderful food in 2010!

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